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STAR WARS: READERS RESPONSE

7/6/99
Sorry Paul Fischer - you don't know what you're talking about. I saw Phantom Menace last night, and was completely blown away. He (Paul) has completely missed the point - the Star Wars movies (including this one) are not intended to be great literary works. They are meant to be easily accessible stories about the struggle between good and evil.

As Lucas has gone on the record as saying, he is trying to give modern children back the fairy tales that society seems intent on stripping from them (and I must say, many adults I know appreciate this too). The movies are about archetypes, not art. And in that they succeed admirably. The fact that many of the archetypes come from religions, including Christianity, is hardly surprising. Lucas is re-telling the old stories in a new way that modern audiences can relate to. Just like any good story-teller, he makes the story accessible to his audience.

This new movie does not disappoint at all. As for the similarities to the originals Ė well, der !! Since it is meant to be the prequel, there are obviously going to be links into episodes 4-6. But as for a carbon-copy, hardly!! If anything, Lucas has honed his skills and has finally been able to do justice to what is a great epic story. And the fact that he directs this one adds to its splendour rather than detracting. The light-saber duels were brilliant - the extra martial arts training certainly shows - and the pod-race and battles scenes were excellent.

Ignore the critics and just see it with an open mind. You'll love it! Thanks Lucas for giving us our heroes back. I have loved the movies since childhood, and now my children are growing up with them.

Oh, and Paul - perhaps you should leave the reviews to the real masters - the fans. In the end, that's all that counts.
Reba Kearns

6/6/99
I'm a nineteen-year-old student from Melbourne, and I saw Phantom Menace today. Before that, I read a lot of negative reviews from both American and Australian critics, and I found it hilarious how they criticised Phantom Menace for exactly the same flaws any earlier Star Wars films (which most critics and hard-core fans adore) displayed.

Can anyone honestly say that the first trilogy could boast great dialogue, storyline or acting? I always thought that the dialogue in earlier Star Wars movies was so lame it was funny, and none of the characters were well-developed or had any real depth to them. Nothing even remotely original about the space-soap-opera-like storyline either.

As for performances... let's just say that Mark Hamill's poor dramatic skills nearly ruined the great final scenes in the Return of the Jedi, at least for me. If you judge the Star Wars films on those criteria alone, you would realise that they are really, really bad. But guess what? ALL THOSE FLAWS DIDN'T MATTER A BIT. We could overlook them all because of the sheer novelty and excitement those films offered to us.

Now, because Phantom Menace didn't come first, because it doesn't have an advantage of being fresh and ground-breaking, critics focused more on bashing the plot, characters and performances. I read a lot of comments on how bad the acting was, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I actually thought that the cast did a good job, with Liam Neeson and Jake Lloyd being the stand-outs (I liked Natalie Portman a lot too), especially taking into account the fact that the poor guys had the challenge of acting against tons of digital effects. Granted, Ewan McGregor didn't have much to work with, but hey, there are two more films to go, and I firmly believe that his character will get more interesting with time. Many critics called the dialogue stiff and dreary, especially when it concerned the Jedies, but aren't those guys supposed to speak in that solemn, cryptic way? Sounded perfectly natural to me.

As for Jar-Jar, who, just like the infamous Ewoks, seems to inspire homicidal rage in lots of people, I thought him rather cute and clumsy, even if his undecipherable speech was a nuisance from time to time. The scene where he stole apples with his tongue was hilarious. He's there to entertain the kids, people, and they seem to like him a lot.

Anyway, that's not the point. I didn't go to the movie with hopes of receiving a major insight into human behavior. If I wanted to see great acting and dialogue, I would stay home and watch LA Confidential for the hundredth time, or go and see Ed Norton in American History X once more. I wanted to see what new places and creatures George Lucas had to offer me, I wanted to be taken to the worlds I would never hope to see in the normal life, and I got all that in plenty. Many people say that every good film should have a good storyline and well-developed charaters, but I always believed that Star Wars are more about visuals and imagination. That's why I find it ridiculous when critics bash the film for being "overloaded with special effects". That's like criticising melodramas for being melodramatic or comedies for being funny.
Like Roger Ebert said, give me underwater city any day.
Sincerely yours,
Daria Angelova

Congratulations Mr Lucas. Not only did you give us another thrilling episode in the Star Wars saga, it was bigger,brighter, faster than ever before. Dare I say Star Wars on steroids. However, the highlight for me was the six eight-year-olds that sat in front of me. That was me in '77, as they sat and watched an adventure unfold that will stay with them forever.
Deborah Sebbens

After just viewing Star Wars Episode 1, I can only applaud George Lucas for his creative genius. It is refreshing to view an original movie so superbly crafted in the current movie environment of copy cat films. To deliver a cleverly crafted tale of good versus evil without using the F word is a refreshing change. I have been a Star Wars fan for some time and expected the movie not to live up to all of the marketing hype, but it exceeded my expectations. It is a visual feast of different cultures, different creatures, great storyline and dazzling special effects. Some critics might give this movie bad ratings but remember that they also did the same for the original Star Wars. In my opinion check this movie out for yourself because it is definitely worth it - even if it is just to hear the beautiful movie score. I give it 9.5/10
Michael Everitt

There is no doubt about it! Star Wars Episode 1- The Phantom Menace was absolutely brilliant!! It combined excellent scenery, architecture, music, sound, and special effects with the imagination and direction of a movie making genius in George Lucas. Unless you expected too much there is no way you could give this movie less than 8 out of 10 (at the very least). One thing about it that really blew me away was the musical score. John Williams has done his best work yet on this movie and that's saying something considering he has already written outstanding scores for movies such as Jaws, Indiana Jones trilogy, Superman, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Schindler's List, Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, The Poltergeist, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, E.T, and of course the Star Wars trilogy. John Williams is the master: 10/10.

*And for all of those critics out there who bagged out The Phantom Menace - go and watch some movie like Lolita, you might get a kick out of it!!!!!
Ross, Hobart

4/6/99
I am a 13 year old male from Australia and I saw this film on June 3 (the day it was released) at a 4:30 session, the first one after school at a magnificent cinema. The movie was brilliant, and I dispute any criticism about it; here is what I say to criticism about this film:

I think what a lot of people expect from this movie is a shock or a surprise, because of something new like the first three gave.

We all learnt new things about the Star Wars universe from the first three movies, and that is why people like them so much. Not because they were exciting or thrilling, but because of the imagination and originality in it. However now that we have seen the first three there isn't much more to learn, so what comes from this movie is more of the same. However, this movie has taken what we learnt from the first three and made it exciting, thrilling and even funny. Lucas has done a great job at making this movie exciting.

I think Paul Fischer saw this film expecting something new more than expecting something exciting. But what comes out of Episode 1 is two Jedis, a lot of use of the force, a lot of light-saber fighting, and a lot of thrills. The characters naturally would have been very, very different to the ones in Episode 4, 5 and 6 because this is Episode 1 and it was set in a time when there were lots of Jedis and the force was much more common.

Overall, the film is fantastic and won't disappoint Star Wars fans. However you must go into the film with the right attitude. This is a prequel not a sequel. If you do this you will love the film, like I did.
(Name supplied, withheld on request), Melbourne

To all those that bag this movie they need to remember that there are three other movies already made and two more to be made. I think Lucas did an amazing job with the script considering he had to think about the three that were already made and the two still to come. And you also need to remember that character development has to occur over the three for some and six films for others. Lucas canít have everyone knowing everything about the characters other wise episodes 2 and 3 will bite the weiner. All in all, I gave it 5 out of 5, or ten out of ten, or a donít miss, in whatever stars you want - but it rocked and it will rule, like episodes 4, 5 and 6 for many years to come. Iím 18 and from Melbourne.
Heath Robert Lee-Archer

Paul Fischer's stinging criticism for Episode 1 disappoints me. His criticisms seem to be based on some notion that Starwars was at some point some kind of 'art' film. His contempt for George Lucas' attempts to create a Biblical theme seems to ignore the role of mythology in many aspects of popular culture, the "clumsy" use of these metaphors some sort of corruption. I believe Fischer has ignored or missed altogether the fundamental aim of the Star Wars story - to provide entertainment of a family sort - and his objections seem centred mainly on his desire to measure the film on an altogether inappropriate scale. To lambast Lucas for using imagery that is accessible to a wider audience seems to me akin to applying a full literary critique to what amounts to a comic book. Overkill in the extreme. I applaud Lucas in his use of recurring themes throughout the original trilogy and in the latest installment, if it helps an audience without the training of an experienced (as I assume Fischer is) film reviewer achieve a greater understanding of the story and its implications, then where is the harm?

I think Paul Fischer has missed the mark with his review, perhaps in his eagerness to criticise what he sees as the marketing dark side of the film world. I remind him that much of the hype surrounding the film was fan-generated, not organised. It was much less of a saturation job than some of the real contenders for most insulting film of the decade, which I'm sure Fischer could figure out if he put his mind to it. I urge all fans and non-fans alike to see the film. For those who enjoyed the originals, it was a great reunion. For the uninitiated, it's a very watchable introduction. To the critics... if you can't enjoy this film, you're taking yourselves too seriously.
Tim Renowden.

3/6/99
I imagine Paul Fischer's review is going to come under attack from the fans, me being one of them ! Paul is obviously not a Star Wars fan, and, being 31 now (10 in 1977 when I saw Episode 4 - A New Hope), I am a fan, and must speak for all fans in saying that this film does not disappoint.

Sure, on a critical level it has plot and character flaws, but remember what Lucas himself says, this is entertainment, and is a family film, particularly for kids. (Marketing and merchandising is simply a reality of the world we live in, not the end to which this film is the means) I'm just a big kid and love this film for its escapism and truth to the Star Wars world. We expect the Jedi knights to behave the way they do (how calm did they remain during the frightening underwater scenes with those monsters, whilst Jar Jar was freaking out") We expect the Jedi Council to be the way they are, Jabba to be a little thinner, the droids to be their usual funny selves. The pod race, saber duel and musical score do not disappoint the fans.

For anyone who enjoyed the imagination and mystery of the original films, Episode 1, The Phantom Menace, is brilliant. 4.5/5 from me.
Tony Hollingsworth, Sydney

I am a 20 year old female Australian film student currently studying theatre in Illinois, USA. I saw the new Star Wars on opening night in a small town, I was taken by my boyfriend who had high hopes for the new part to films that had been a landmark of his childhood, and nearly fell asleep.

George Lucas has lost sight of his original vision and has made, at best, a video game with good graphics. I wonder exactly when it was that he forgot that every good film has a storyline and well developed characters. Does he assume we already know enough about Obi Wan that he can just put him to the side and have him say 'yes master, no master' every time we see him?

Jar Jar Binks should be shot, and that annoying little kid.. well, thank god he won't be in the next one.

I am an intelligent person and I did not understand any of the 'storyline'. I picked up what I assume are vital pieces of information about the chancellor being the future emperor and that it was Anakin who made c3po and a few other tidbits that were given small importance next to the visual effects sequences and had no relation to what was going on, but had to be put in somewhere. Bad bad boring film. I give it 2 stars at the most.
Leah Gabriel, USA

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