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Star Wars In Greyscale: The Phantom Menace

Confession time: This is actually the movie I was the most excited to watch. Does that make me a bit of a masochist? Of course, I’m a Star Wars fan.

I have an interesting relationship with this one because firstly, I was too young to remember the fanfare surrounding it, even though advertisements and tie-ins were everywhere (Namely the Taco Bell disco ones?) but it was a happy surprise to me. Heck, I didn’t even watch it until someone brought the VHS (Gone but not forgotten, RIP, VHS) home. I was getting more Star Wars, and we were finally going to learn what started everything and hey, what’s a “prequel”?. Oh, sweet summer child….


Second reason why my views on this movie is different than than the others, (including the original trilogy) is that I’ve already rewatched it with new eyes when I saw it in 3-D. I went into the theater, ready to bash the movie for all of its flaws (*Waves again to midichlorians, awkward cultural cosplays and racist caricatures*) only to leave with the same awe and love that I had when I was a kid.

Much like I said in my review of A New Hope, the new format made me realize just how beautiful the movie is. For example, did you know that this dress has lights in it? I sure didn’t until I rewatched it. The pod race mesmerized me and despite knowing the scene beat for beat, the reveal of the double-sided lightsaber and the ensuing fight filled my heart with glee.


Unfortunately, The Phantom Menace in greyscale hasn’t been as....Whimsical as I’d hoped. Quickly, I realized how bloated the movie is with politics, set pieces and CGI spectacle. Speaking of CGI, it doesn’t fare well in greyscale, often making the whole thing look cartoonish and giving me whiplash between the obviously built sets and the green set.


The movie doesn’t have any of the personality its predecessors had either. The Phantom Menace tries to be impressive and it comes off as a childish display of resources. Where the past movies had visually beautiful frames and moments, it’s been replaced with cluttered and uninteresting frames. The feeling is reminiscent of the scene of Anakin giving Padme a tour of his house; A child showing off his past creations, his cluttered workspace and the ambitious plans for the future, desperate to impress. In a way, Anakin is both The Phantom Menace and Lucas himself.

Once a rather simple plot with a clear antagonist, now a bloated, overly complicated plot where the villains is a guy who shows up sometimes….and politics.I’m not saying that it couldn’t have been good but in Lucas’ hands, it’s lacking.


The performances aren’t much better. By the time Anakin shows up and show some personality other than idiotic foil or stoic person, I was only too happy to watch Lloyd’s over the top acting.


This movie was a bit of a slog but it reminded of the Youtuber Patrick H. Williems’ “What Do We Want From a Star Wars Movie” essay. He mentioned that we want the feeling we got when we first watched the series. Watching the movies in greyscale has got me thinking about that feeling and how he has a point. I wanted this to rekindle my love for the prequels just as seeing it in 3-D or A New Hope did and when it didn’t, I got really bummed. I literally finished watching the movie about an hour before posting this.

I’m not saying that the movie isn’t bad. We should just say it’s bad on its own merits, not on episodes 4-6. Which I did because this movie is ROUGH.


ETA: Just saw this timely articl

Bullet point thoughts!!

  • Ugh, even Yoda looks worse for wear. I’m sorry, buddy
  • Admittedly, I did play the game “Is that Keira Knightley or Natalie Portman in that costume?’ and it was fun! I hope those two get to do another movie together where they’re cousins or something and mischief ensures.
  • Since Disney owns Star Wars and the MCU, Macu Windu is Fury’s distant relative. New head canon
  • Again, Star Wars reminds me of Black Panther because the Gungans are a really, REALLY rough draft of the Jabari and Anakin Killmonger in a way. It’s weird.
  • Padme couldn’t have slid Anakin a fivers to get his mom? Everyone in the prequel is trash and deserved to lose.
  • Yes, even Yoda. He clowned a former slave child for being too old and missing his mom.
  • Hi, Warwick!!

Okay, so that’s it for this week. Next week is Attack of the Clones and....I need some blue milk to sooth my nerdy heart for that one. Keep calm and Carrie on, y’all.

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