Redlettermedia’s video review of The Phantom Menace is not new to the world, since it was uploaded to YouTube in 2012, but it is new to me, and I definitely think it’s worth sharing with anyone who has yet to experience it.
It’s no secret that I think The Phantom Menace is a waste of digital space. I have, though, not always found the words to express my disdain. Part of the problem is that I haven’t revisited it since seeing it in the theaters. I believe I saw it twice back in 1999 but have had no desire to see it since. So I have a hard time being specific in my complaints.
Redlettermedia’s now somewhat infamous critical take on The Phantom Menace is full of specificity. About character, plot, and cinematic visuals. It’s delivered as a satire of film critique. The narrator is a constructed persona with a “funny” voice and a sketchy background. He gets things like William Shakespeare’s name wrong, but the points he makes are dead-on accurate.
The full video essay is 70 minutes, so you can just imagine the level of deep criticism he offers. Part 1 deals with the character problems–no personality, no connection. Part 2 discusses the overall criticisms of the story and how it’s presented–too much stuff thrown in. Parts 3 and 4 and beyond make scene-by-scene analysis of plot and its many, many inconsistencies and holes. Part 5 takes on the characters of Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Anakin Skywalker. Part 6 returns to the completely nonsensical finale. Part 7 addresses the multiplication effect of the endings of the Star Wars films and the catastrophe the cross-cutting of four tonally different scenes in the finale of The Phantom Menace.
I’m going to embed the first two parts, because they are truly spot-on analysis. The others you can seek out on your own, because unfortunately the narrator’s “comedic” persona is a violent psychopathic misogynist, and the “jokes” that are made in this arena get more pronounced and offensive starting in part 3. If that won’t bother you, forge ahead! If on the other hand, you’d prefer not to, end your fun with part 2.