A long time ago in a galaxy far far away there was this merchandising franchise. Huge and oppressive it was. It started out small, a nice little story, a hero's journey really. A young orphan boy grows up, meets some wacky characters, has a crush on his sister, battles his evil father, saves the galaxy from a powerful evil empire with the help of some little furry creatures. You know, normal everyday stuff. Millions watched and cheered the hero on, and bought the merchandise.
Now, more than twenty years latter the franchise needs new blood.
What could be better than the story of how the hero's evil father became
evil. And how the evil empire was born. Why not continue the
story where we left off? Well, those actors are just too old now.
So we have to go back, before the last story began, where younger actors
can be used. This time it doesn't start small, no, the franchise
needs to score big right from the start. The hype begins well before
the story hits the big screens, and millions buy the merchandise.
Then the story comes, the franchise tries to make it suspenseful but since
we know how it will all turn out they just can't pull it off.
The story of episode one goes like this:
Evil senator wants to become evil emperor.
Evil senator makes secret deal to send big bad army to nice planet.
Queen of nice planet doesn't like this and asks senator for help.
Two jedi knights are sent to nice planet to negotiate.
The army isn't listening and attacks nice planet.
After picking up an annoying CG character and traveling through the core of the planet (like we haven't seen that in plenty of si-fi movies before)(oh, the planet has some really weird geology that allows the ocean to pass through the core so they get to use a cool little submarine and encounter some really big fish) the jedi knights rescue the queen and set out to bring her to the capital planet so she can plead her case for her nice planet.
The queens' ship get hit on the way out and they have to stop at this out of the way, not so nice planet to make repairs.
Evil senator sends his evil apprentice dude to track down the queen. We know he is evil because he has horns, is colored black and red, and always has a mean looking facial expression. He may have had one or two lines of dialog but I don't remember them.
On the not so nice planet the older jedi meets a shop keeper that flies around like a bee despite the fact that he must weigh a hundred pounds and his wings are only about 10 inches long.
He also meets the shop keepers slave boy, who happens to be very strong with the force. There we have it, the boy who will someday become evil deadbeat dad.
Older jedi makes a bunch of bets that the slave boy will win the big pod race. It's a big surprise when the boy does in fact win the race despite some not so tense moments where it looked like he wasn't going to. Oh, everyone else in the pod race gets blown up, hey, this is a not so nice planet after all.
Older jedi frees the slave boy but not his mom and takes boy away when the jedi and the queen get off the planet. But not before a short fight between older jedi and black and red faced evil apprentice dude.
Once at the capitol evil senator talks the queen into getting the senate to vote for a new leader. The jedi counsel talks allot about who the red and black faced evil dude is and what to do with the boy. Big surprise, they think the boy might be trouble.
Big surprise when evil senator is voted chancellor and promises to help bring peace. I wonder if he will succeed?
The queen, jedi, and boy all go back to the nice planet.
There they enlist a whole bunch of annoying CG characters to battle the really cool looking CG warrior droid army.
While the battle is going on the queen, the jedi, and the boy fight their way back to the palace where they free a bunch of pilots that take off to blow up some ship in orbit. The boy gets into one of the ships to hide and accidentally takes off and joins the battle. Then he accidentally flies inside the ship, and accidentally fires on the main reactor destroying the ship just as he flies out.
Due to a complete lack of backup systems once the main control ship in orbit is destroyed all the cool CG droid warriors on the planet just fall over. No smart weapons here.
While all this is going on there is a major fight between the two jedi and evil apprentice dude. Here there is an unexplained plot device that separates the 2 jedi. This of course allows the evil apprentice dude to kill the older jedi while the younger one watches. Then the younger jedi gets his turn and kills evil apprentice dude. As older jedi is dying he makes younger jedi promise to teach the boy to be a jedi. I guess we all know he doesn't do a very good job of that.
The queens' nice planet is saved and everyone dances.
The jedi counsel wonders if the evil dude that was killed was the master or the apprentice. But we already know the answer to that.
What do we get to look forward to as the franchise steams along?
Boy and queen fall in love and have some kids, despite the fact
that he is now only about 10 years old and she is somewhat older.
Young jedi doesn't do that great a job teaching the boy the ways of the jedi.
Evil chancellor does do a good job teaching growing boy the dark side of the force.
The kids of the boy and queen get split up to hide them from their now evil father, one gets to be a princess, the other a dirt farmer.
The evil boy helps evil chancellor become evil emperor and wipe out all but 2 of the jedi. We already know which ones survive.
Evil boy gets badly injured in the process and has to wear a big bad looking black suit to stay alive, oh and he gets a much lower more commanding voice (kinda like James Earl Jones).
Young jedi gets old and teaches the dirt farmer kid how to fight his own father, but now we're getting into the old story.
I do have to say that episode I is fun to watch, most of the time there is plenty of stuff flying across the screen to keep you interested. Even when things get slow there is cool stuff in the background to look for. And even if the dialog is not so hot most of the actors do a good job with their parts.
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