action, crime, drama, movie, movie review, western

June 22nd, 2018 Movie – Young Guns

young guns

So the Brat Pack decided to make a western movie. That was pretty much my opinion when I first heard about this movie. Anyways, I remember thinking that this would be an interesting movie to watch but never saw it while it was in theaters. I would end up catching bits and pieces of it on TV over the years before I finally decided to rent it one day so I could watch the whole thing. Westerns are not really my normal wheelhouse but I was entertained enough to end up getting both this and the sequel when the opportunity presented itself. So let’s sit back and enjoy today’s movie, Young Guns.

The plot: In Lincoln County, New Mexico, local ranch owner John Tunstall is in town with Doc Scurlock, one of the young men he has hired to help work the ranch, when they hear the sound of a gun shot and see a young man, Billy, running down the street, being chased by some men who work for Lawrence Murphy, a well connected Irishman who Tunstall is at odds with. Tunstall decides to help Billy get out of town and takes him back to his place, where Billy sees the other Regulators (Jose Chavez y Chavez, Richard M. “Dick” Brewer, Steve Stephens, and Charlie Bowdre) and Tunstall offers to let him stay there provided he earn his keep. The next day, Billy works at tending to the pigs as Charlie explains what it is they do around there and after supper, Tunstall works at teaching everyone how to read and write. The next day, Billy hides when he sees Murphy, ride up with the sheriff and some of his men. Tunstall and the Regulators go to meet them and when the sheriff says that Murphy is accusing Tunstall of stealing some of his land but Tunstall denies the claim, causing Tunstall and Murphy to argue over their place in town. The next day, a former worker for Murphy, J. McCloskey, shows up looking for work and Tunstall agrees to let him in. That night, they head into town for the New Year’s Eve dance and while he is there, Tunstall speaks to his lawyer, Alexander McSween, about trying to expose Murphy’s corruption to the governor only to be told that Murphy had given a large donation to the governor’s election campaign. During the course of the night, Billy meets a man named Pat Garrett and Doc dances with Yen Sun, a Chinese girl under Murphy’s care only to later be told that she is actually his house slave. As Tunstall and the Regulators head home in the morning, Murphy’s men kill Tunstall and chase after the Regulators but they manage to get away. Later, Alex goes to the Justice of the Peace and asks if he is going to serve warrants on the men responsible for Tunstall’s death and he says no but does deputize the Regulators so they can issue the warrants and arrest the men. When they go to arrest Henry Hill, they send Billy in to the shack he tends to hide out in but when Billy hears that Hill is going to the outhouse, he heads over there and ends up shooting Hill, causing a gun fight to erupt. The next day, Doc reads a newspaper article about the gunfight and Billy, who they nickname The Kid, to the others when he notices Yen Sun walking by and goes to talk to her, but when she refuses to take the flowers he offers her then he tells her to give Murphy a message that they are coming for him. The Regulators manage to capture two of Murphy’s men that they have warrants for but Billy wants to kill them. When McCloskey says that they should go a different route than the one Dick wants to go but Billy notices McCloskey and one of the men sharing a glance and realizes that McCloskey is a traitor and kills him, prompting the Regulators to kill the other men when they try to escape. As they try to figure out there next move, and Billy and Dick argue over who should be leading the group, they see Buckshot Roberts approaching them, as he wants to collect the bounty on Billy’s head. A shoot out occurs, with Chavez and Doc both being wounded as Roberts takes shelter in an outhouse. The Regulators fire into the outhouse and when they don’t hear anything, Dick goes to check it out only to be killed by Roberts. The Regulators agin fire into the outhouse, then leave before more of Murphy’s men can arrive. Later, Doc heads off to write to Dick’s family about his death and get some fresh wrappings for his and Chavez’s wounds. Though Billy warns him to stay out of Lincoln, he heads there anyways and sneaks in to see Yen Sun, trying to convince her to leave with him but she refuses and he is forced to leave when Murphy heads up to her room. When Doc returns, Billy convinces the group that they need to go after Sheriff Brady, as he helped Murphy get away with Tunstall’s murder, and they head into Lincoln and kill him and some of his men. When they go to see Alex, he is furious with them as the governor has revoked their deputization and now the military will be after them. He says they were just supposed to serve the warrants and expose Murphy’s corruption but Billy argues that by killing Brady and bringing more attention to the situation, that President Hayes will have to take notice of what is going on out there. As they go to leave, Alex tells them that he is going to reopen Tunstall’s store and tells them to be careful. As they go to hide out, Charlie wants to spend the night with a woman so they head into a town and give him money for a prostitute. While they wait for him, Billy overhears a man at the bar looking for him and he taunts the man briefly, as he doesn’t know what Billy looks like, before revealing himself and killing him. Suddenly, Charlie bursts into the bar and tells them that John Kinney, an ex soldier turned bounty hunter, and his men are coming and they all quickly ride off, hiding in some thorn bushes to escape detection. As they rest for a while, Billy wants to head back to Lincoln to take out Murphy but the others all want to head to Mexico to get away and Billy, describing the risk it will entail to get to Mexico, decides to go with them. They reach a border town and rest up for the night only to be surprised when Charlie falls in love and decides to marry a local girl. As they celebrate the wedding, Pat Garrett shows up and approaches Billy, telling him that their mutual friend Alex is in danger, as Murphy is planning on killing him on his return to Lincoln. Billy calls out for the Regulators to get ready to ride out and both he and Doc tell Charlie that he should stay, as he has a wife now, but Charlie refuses to let his friends ride off without him. The Regulators head back to Lincoln and go to get Alex and his wife Susan out of town but they realize that it is trap as Murphy’s men begin setting up barricades in front of the house. Kinney and his men show up as well and the Regulators find themselves trapped in the house. As Murphy and Kinney’s men begin shooting at the house, Billy and the others take refuge on the second floor. Murphy arrives to oversee the events just as some soldiers arrive from the nearest army camp, and Murphy tries to get them to leave as he doesn’t want too much attention brought on them. While he argues with the colonel, Yen Sun leaves his wagon and races into the house, choosing to be with Doc. Murphy orders his men to set fire to the house in an attempt to smoke out Billy and the others and Alex yells down that he is sending his wife out so she can get away. Chavez sneaks out of the house and when Steve discovers he is missing, he starts ranting that he went and saved his own skin. Coming up with a plan to try and get away, they all start throwing items out of the windows to avoid having them catch fire, including a large trunk. Suddenly, Billy bursts out of the trunk and begins shooting at the men, while Doc and the others head out the side door. They see Chavez riding towards them with some horses he procured and they move to get on the horses but Billy is wounded. Charlie ends up getting into a shootout with Kinney and they end up killing each other. Doc is wounded but manages to get both him and Yen on a horse so they can ride off. Chavez is shot but Steve helps him back onto the horse, only to be killed as well. Billy is able to get on a horse and escape as well and Alex heads out and yells good luck after them only to be gunned down by a Gatling gun. Murphy starts ranting for everyone to go after them when Billy rides back and shoots Murphy in the head, then leaves town. In a voice over, Doc says that Chavez headed to California, changing his name in the process, and began working on a farm. Doc and Yen moved to New York and got married while Susan stayed in town and continued Alex and Tunstall’s work, resulting in the governor being forced to step down. Billy the kid continued to ride in the New Mexico area until he was eventually killed by Pat Garrett after he was made sheriff. He was buried next to Charlie in Fort Sumner and one night, someone inscribed the word “Pals” on his tombstone.

Young Guns met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics felt that despite the star power it had, it fell flat as a whole. Much like almost every other movie about the Lincoln County War, John Tunstall is depicted as an older gentleman when he was actually 24 when he was killed. In fact, he was younger than most of the Regulators, with Billy the Kid being one of the only ones younger than him, as he was 20 at the time. Despite the mixed reviews, the movie was a box office success, earning $45.6 million off of an $11 million budget and would spawn a sequel two years later.

So, I may be in the minority on this one but I find this movie pretty entertaining in a guilty pleasure type of way. The acting was good, with Emilio Estevez doing a good job as Billy the Kid. I also liked Keifer Sutherland (Doc), Casey Siemaszko (Charlie) and Lou Diamond Phillips (Chavez) but was kind of indifferent to the others. The story was based on the real events of the Lincoln County Wars, which helped make Billy the Kid famous and they had some fun with their version of it. I thought the scene where Chavez had them drink some mescaline to guide them on a spirit journey was pretty funny. Some of the gun fights seemed a little out there in the sense that nobody was getting hit, while they had an affinity with the slow motion shots when some of the guns were firing and people were actually shot. It’s not the greatest western ever but it is an entertaining movie.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

action, adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi

December 11th, 2017 Movie – Superman II

superman 2

As successful as Superman was, I don’t think there was any doubt that a sequel would be made. The funny thing is, the sequel was actually being filmed at the same time as the first movie but was put on hold before it was finished, as the studio wanted to get the first movie finished and see how it did before they completed work on the sequel. Now I don’t remember if I saw this in theaters but I do remember watching it on TV with my dad years ago and the kid in me thought it was awesome to see Superman fighting some other Kryptonians who were just as strong as him. So let’s see if this feeling still holds up with today’s movie, Superman II.

The plot: On Krypton, General Zod, Ursa, and Non break into a facility, killing the guard and breaking one of the crystals inside, but they are quickly captured, where a trial is held and they are banished to the Phantom Zone. Years later, Clark Kent arrives at the Daily Planet only to learn that a terrorist group has taken hostages at the Eiffel Tower and threaten to blow up Paris with a hydrogen bomb if their demands aren’t met. When he learns that Lois Lane has been sent there to cover the story, Clark quickly leaves the building before changing into Superman and flies off towards Paris. In Paris, Lois arrives at the Eiffel Tower but when she hears about the bomb, she sneaks into the Eiffel Tower and climbs underneath one of the elevators so she can get closer to the terrorists for a better story but her purse strap gets snagged on one of the struts, trapping her underneath. The terrorists release the hostages and send them down in one of the elevators while sending the bomb up on one of the others, which happens to be the one Lois is trapped underneath. When the terrorists leave the elevator, the police detonate explosives the placed in the junction box, sending the elevator crashing down but accidentally causing the bomb to be activated. Superman arrives in Paris and quickly flies down and stops the elevator from crashing, rescuing Lois, then flies the elevator car up into space to let it explode safely. When the bomb explodes, it sends shockwaves out that knock Superman back but he quickly recovers and flies back to Earth. However, the shockwaves also strike the Phantom Zone prism as it flies by Earth, freeing Zod, Ursa, and Non. The three Kryptonian fly to the moon, where they proceed to attack and kill three astronauts before flying down to Earth. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor and his henchman Otis, make plans to break out of prison, with Eve Teschmacher’s help by piloting a hot air balloon, but Otis’ weight is too much for the balloon so Luthor kicks the ladder off, leaving Otis behind as he and Teschmacher fly off. Clark and Lois are sent on assignment to Niagara Falls, posing as newlyweds to expose a honeymoon scam. While they are walking by the falls, Lois starts to get suspicious about Clark when Superman shows up to save a boy who fell off the railing and Clark is nowhere to be seen. At the same time, Luthor and Teschmacher head north and eventually reach the Fortress of Solitude, where Luthor learns of the existence of Zod, Ursa, and Non. Learning that there was a chance the three could escape the Phantom Zone, Luthor realizes that the strange alpha waves he had been detecting were the criminals and makes plans to contact them. Back at Niagara Falls, Lois voices her suspicions to Clark about his being Superman and decides to jump in the falls to prove her theory. As she makes her way down the river, Clark rushes along the bank and tries to save Lois without revealing his secret identity, eventually using his heat vision to sever a tree branch for her to use to stay afloat before she is able to get to shore. As she is chastising herself back in their hotel room, Lois asks Clark to hand her a brush and as he moves towards her, he trips over a bear-skin rug and his hand falls into the nearby fire. When Lois checks his hand and realizes it is unharmed, Clark finally comes clean and Lois says that he probably did so subconsciously. Realizing that they need to talk, especially after Lois says that she loves him, so he takes her to the Fortress of Solitude so he can explain everything. Meanwhile, Zod, Ursa, and Non arrive in the small town of East Houston, Idaho and quickly take over the town. When the military arrives to deal with them, the three Kryptonians easily defeat the military and then head to Washington to force the President to surrender. Back in the Fortress, Superman speaks with the image of his mother and learns there is a way to remove his powers and make him mortal, so he can live his life with Lois, but she cautions him that the process is irreversible. Clark agrees to go with it and enters a chamber that is filled with red solar radiation, removing his powers from him. Lois is shocked that he gave up his powers for her as the two end up sleeping together before making the journey back to Metropolis. When they stop at a diner to eat, Clark gets into a fight with a man harassing Lois and ends up getting beat up. As Lois helps him to his feet and tends to him, they see a televised broadcast of the President surrendering to Zod before pleading for Superman to help them. As Zod comes on camera and calls out Superman, Clark realizes the danger that he has placed on the Earth by surrendering his powers and decides to head back to the Fortress to see if there is anyway to get them back. Making his way up North, he finds the Fortress apparently destroyed by the process that removed his powers and calls out to his father, only to notice the green crystal that built the Fortress glowing on the ground. Meanwhile, Luthor arrives at the White House and informs Zod that Superman is the son of Jor-El, which angers Zod and the three Kryptonians head to Metropolis and attack the Daily Planet to draw him out. As they threaten Lois and Perry, Superman, having regained his powers, appears outside and draws the three villains outside to fight. The three Kryptonians battle with Superman throughout the city, and Zod takes advantage of Superman’s weakness by constantly attacking the people in the city. Realizing the battle couldn’t continue without hurting someone, Superman flies away, drawing reproach from the crowd below. Zod returns to the Daily Planet to declare his victory and tells Non to kill Luthor but Luthor says he knows where Superman is going and so Zod tells Non to stop and they take Luthor and Lois to follow after Superman. When they arrive at the Fortress, they renew their attack on Superman, who manages to use several tricks in order to grab Zod but Non and Ursa grab Lois and threaten to rip her in half unless Superman releases Zod. Superman reluctantly does so and Luthor approaches the group, only for Zod to say that he has outlived his usefulness. Luthor approaches Superman to ask for his help and Superman tells him to get the Kryptonian into the chamber so they can steal their powers. Luthor immediately warns Zod of the trap and Zod forces Superman to go into the chamber and then tells Luthor to activate the chamber. The room is bathed in light and when Superman exits the chamber, Zod orders Superman to kneel before him and swear fealty to him. Superman kneels but when he grabs Zod’s hand, Superman easily crushes it before picking him up and tossing him into a wall, where Zod falls into a crevice. Non tries to attack Superman but when he tries to fly, he fails and falls into another crevice while Lois knocks Ursa into a third crevice. Luthor realizes that Superman had switched things so that he was protected in the chamber while Zod and the others were exposed outside and Superman admits he knew that Luthor would try to double cross him which is why he didn’t tell him the truth. Superman flies Lois back home, and supposedly takes Luthor back to prison, and the next day, Clark goes to talk with Lois at work. Lois admits how hard it is knowing that he will always be flying off to save people and she can’t react any differently to him at work or outside without accidentally revealing who he is or how she feels about him. Clark kisses her and uses the kiss to wipe her memory of the last few days so that she doesn’t remember that he is Superman. Clark then leaves to go get Lois a hamburger and ends up running into the man who beat him up, where he easily beats the man this time. Superman then flies an American flag back to the top of the White House, apologizing to the President for being late and promising he will be there they next time they need help, then flies off to orbit the Earth.

Superman II met with high praise from the critics, holding an 87% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The humor occasionally stumbles into slapstick territory, and the special effects are dated, but Superman II meets, if not exceeds, the standard set by its predecessor.” The movie was about 75% filmed at the same time that Superman was filmed but when the studio went to finish the movie, director Richard Donner was no longer directing it as he was fired over disagreements with the studio. However, there were roughly 24 minutes of unused footage that Donner shot which were incorporated into an alternate DVD release titled the Richard Donner cut. While not as successful as it’s predecessor, the movie was still a box office success, earning $190.4 million off of a $50 million budget.

Ok, child me kind of died a little inside because this didn’t really hold up over time. Still, it wasn’t that bad of a movie. The acting was good, with Christopher Reeve (Clark), Margot Kidder (Lois), and Gene Hackman (Luthor) doing great jobs reprising their roles. I also liked Terrence Stamp (Zod) and Sarah Douglas (Ursa) but my favorite was Jack O’Halloran (Non), as his child-like innocence mixed with the Kryptonian powers made for some great, and sometimes funny, scenes. The story was pretty good though, as I haven’t seen the Donner cut, I am curious to see how the two versions compare and differ. However, one thing I didn’t like is the additional powers they seemed to give Zod and the others, such as the finger beams or the somewhat telekinetic powers they had. Also, and I apologize if this upsets anyone, but what was up with the stupid expanding chest shield thing that Superman threw at Non? The special effects honestly didn’t stand up to the test of time, as they truly look dated when watching it now. Still, this is a fun movie to watch and honestly better than some of the more recent efforts.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 11th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

star wars episode I - the phantom menace

At the end of the 20th century (shut up purists, I know the 20th century didn’t end until Dec. 31st, 2000), fans lined up for miles outside theaters in order to watch the first new Star Wars film in 16 years. Teaser trailers abounded for a year, which wasn’t really necessary as the mere mention of a new Star Wars movie was enough to get fans salivating. I know they weren’t necessary for me, as I did my part waiting in line to be there at a midnight showing opening night, hoping that my expectations would be met with the movie. Well, I enjoyed it and bought it so let’s get to watching how Vader came to be with today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

The plot: The Trade Federation has set up a blockade around the planet of Naboo so Chancellor Valorum dispatches Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi to Naboo to negotiate with them. When they arrive on Viceroy Nute Gunray’s ship, Gunray contacts Darth Sidious, a Sith Lord, and tells him about the Jedi’s arrival so Sidious tells him to kill the Jedi, while he works on making the blockade legal. Gunray has the Jedi’s ship destroyed but fails to kill the Jedi, who attempt to reach Gunray on the bridge of his ship before they are forced to leave when a pair of destroyer droids arrive. Sneaking down onto the loading docks, they see an invasion army preparing for launch and stow aboard the ships so they can make their way to the planet’s surface. Meanwhile, Gunray receives a transmission from Queen Amidala of Naboo, demanding he cease the blockade and saying she knows that the Chancellor’s ambassadors are on his ship but Gunray denies any knowledge of them, then orders the invasion to begin after ending the transmission. After the invasion ships land on the surface, Qui-Gon rescues Jar Jar Binks, a Gungan who has been banished from the Gungan city. After meeting up with Obi-Wan, the two Jedi convince Jar Jar to take them to the city so they can get help in reaching Naboo. When they reach the city, they are taken to see Boss Nass, the Gungan leader, who ignores their pleas to help the Naboo so Qui-Gon uses the Force to influence him into giving them a ship so they can go, then arranges for Jar Jar to accompany them, saying that Jar Jar owes him a life debt. The trio make their way in a Gungan sub through the waters and after being attacked by several large predators, arrive in the capital city of Naboo. Meanwhile, Gunray’s droid army has taken control of the city and captured Queen Amidala and her court, then tells Amidala that he wants her to sign a treaty to legalize his occupation of Naboo but she refuses. As Amidala and her court are taken away, they are rescued by Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, who want to take her to Coruscant, as Qui-Gon believes that there is more than just an occupation at work here. Heading to the hangars, they rescue some pilots and make their way to a cruiser and leave, but the ship is damaged as they make their way through the blockade and they are forced to land on Tatooine in order to make repairs, though Captain Panaka, Amidala’s Chief of Security, doesn’t like the idea and voices his displeasure. Meanwhile, Gunray and his aide contact Sidious and explain Amidala’s escape but Sidious tells them his apprentice, Darth Maul, will find her and bring her back to Naboo to sign the treaty. On Tatooine, Qui-Gon, Jar Jar, and R2-D2, the astromech droid that repaired the shield generator as they were leaving Naboo, head towards Mos Espa to search for the parts they need when Panaka stops them and says that Amidala wants one of her handmaidens, Padme, to accompany them and though he says it is a bad idea, Qui-Gon reluctantly agrees. Heading into one of the shops, Qui-Gon speaks with the owner, a Toydarian named Watto, and Qui-Gon learns that Watto has the parts they need but finds the Toydarian immune to mind control and is unable to make a deal with him. Meanwhile, Padme speaks with nine-year old Anakin Skywalker, a slave that Watto owns, who tells her he is a pilot and one day plans on leaving Tatooine. After leaving the shop to figure out there next move, Jar Jar has a run in with Sebulba, a mean-tempered Dug, but Jar Jar is saved by Anakin, who taunts Sebulba about the upcoming pod race. As a sandstorm approaches, Anakin takes them to his home to seek shelter, introducing them to his mom, Shmi. When they get there, Anakin shows Padme C-3P0, the protocol droid he is building to help his mother, and 3P0 starts to bond with R2. Meanwhile, Amidala receives a message from Naboo detailing what is happening but Obi-Wan tells her not to contact them back, as it could be a trap, but unfortunately, Darth Maul is able to track their location and he heads to Tatooine to find them. Back on Tatooine, Qui-Gon is talking with Shmi and Anakin and ends up explaining their situation to them. Anakin says he is building a racing pod and suggest entering him into the race, which would allow them to make the money needed to buy the parts, and though Shmi doesn’t like it, she agrees it is their best chance. When the storm passes, Qui-Gon returns to Watto’s shop with Anakin and makes a deal with Watto, using their ship as collateral. That afternoon, Anakin works on getting his pod racer ready and Qui-Gon speaks with Shmi about Anakin and his father, to which Shmi said he didn’t have one. That night, as he tends to some of Anakin’s cuts, Qui-Gon takes a blood sample and sends it to Obi-Wan, who says the Midi-Chlorian count is off the charts, higher even than Master Yoda. On the day of the race, Watto taunts Qui-Gon about the race, saying he is betting on Sebulba to win the race, so Qui-Gon takes the bet and if Anakin wins, he is free to go with Qui-Gon. As the racers move to the starting line and the announcers introduce them, Sebulba secretly heads over to Anakin’s pod and sabotages it, before taunting Anakin. As the race starts, Anakin’s pod stalls out but he manages to get the engine started and takes off after the other racers while Sebulba, who is in the lead, does whatever he can to keep it. After two laps, Anakin and Sebulba are the only two racers left and Anakin takes the lead when Sebulba’s sabotage finally takes effect, causing one of his engines to catch fire. As Sebulba retakes the lead, Anakin is able to put out the fire and restart the engine, then catches up to Sebulba and as they jockey for position, one of Anakin’s engines latches onto one of Sebulba’s and Anakin leaps forward, causing Sebulba to crash as his engines separate, leaving Anakin the winner. As Jar Jar, Padme, and Shmi congratulate Anakin on his victory, Qui-Gon speaks with Watto, who is angry at losing his bet and starts to refuse to give Qui-Gon Anakin but reluctantly agrees when Qui-Gon threatens to take the matter up with the Hutts. After taking the parts to the ship so Obi-Wan and the others can get started on repairs, Qui-Gon heads back to town to get Anakin and tell him he is free and Anakin is excited about leaving but sad about leaving his mom. As the two make their way back to the ship, they are attacked by Darth Maul and Qui-Gon battles with him as Anakin runs ahead to the ship. Once Anakin is on board, Obi-Wan has the ship fly towards the battle and Qui-Gon is able to leap onto the open gang plank and they make their escape. When they arrive on Coruscant, they are greeted by Naboo’s senator Palpatine and the Republic’s Supreme Chancellor Valorum and Valorum says that he has arranged a special meeting of the Senate so Amidala can speak of what is happening on Naboo while Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan head to the Jedi Temple to speak to the Jedi Council. In the Council, the Jedi believe that Qui-Gon’s attacker is a Sith Lord but are surprised that the Sith could have come back without their knowledge. Qui-Gon then speaks to the Council about Anakin, asking that he be tested for entry into the Jedi, as he believes he might be the child spoken about in a Jedi prophecy. At the Senate meeting, Amidala pleads her case but when Valorum asks that it be turned over to committee, Amidala, at Palpatine’s subtle urging, calls for a vote of no confidence against Valorum. After returning to her chambers, Padme is approached by Jar Jar, who talks about the situation back on Naboo, and when she learns that Palpatine is one of the men in contention to be the next Supreme Chancellor, she decides to head back to Naboo. Meanwhile, Anakin is tested by the Jedi Council and though he is strong in the Force, they refuse to train him as a Jedi. Qui-Gon argues against their ruling, so he will take Anakin as his Padawan, as he believes Obi-Wan is ready to become a Jedi Knight, but the council forbids it, then has him and Obi-Wan accompany Amidala back to Naboo. When they arrive on Naboo, Amidala sends Jar Jar to seek out the Gungans but when Jar Jar finds the city deserted, he feels that the Gungans went to their hidden place to regroup and leads them there. When they approach Boss Nass, Padme reveals herself to actually be Queen Amidala, explaining that the other Amidala was merely her bodyguard serving as a decoy. Padme then begs the Gungans for help in defeating the droid army and Boss Nass, liking the fact that Padme does not act like she is better than the Gungans, agrees to help. Padme lays out her plan, having the Gungan army lure out the droid army into the plains, while she leads the rest of her group into the city to capture Gunray and send her ships out to take out the droid control ship in space, shutting down the droids. The Gungans head out into the plains and activate an energy shield, which is able to withstand the droid army’s tank fire so the droids march on foot into the shield to fight the Gungans. Padme’s group enter the city and manage to secure the hangar, sending their ships out to destroy the command ship. As Padme heads out to go after Gunray, they are confronted by Darth Maul, wielding a double-bladed lightsaber, and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan move to deal with him while Padme and the rest of her soldiers are attacked by 3 Destroyer droids. Anakin, who had hidden inside a Naboo fighter with R2, accidentally activates it and manages to take out the Destroyer droids as the auto pilots takes him out into space. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan continue their fight with Darth Maul but eventually end up being separated from each other by some energy shields near the power core. As the shields go down, Qui-Gon continues the fight with Darth Maul while Obi-Wan rushes to join him but is trapped behind the energy shields again and can only watch as Qui-Gon is stabbed in the gut by Darth Maul’s lightsaber. Meanwhile, Padme leads her troops to capture Gunray, splitting up when their way is blocked, but she ends up being captured. As she is taken to see Gunray, Sabe, her decoy, appears and Gunray sends his droids after her, allowing Padme to grab some hidden weapons and take Gunray hostage. Out in space, R2 is finally able to take the ship off auto pilot and as Anakin pilots the ship, he ends up crashing into the control ship’s hangar. As R2 gets the systems restored, Anakin uses the weapons and ends up blasting the power core, then flies out of the ship as it explodes around him. On the surface, the Gungan’s shield is destroyed and they are forced to retreat but are quickly captured by the droid army when they suddenly shut down, and the Gungans begin cheering over their victory. Back in the power core, Obi-Wan continues the fight against Darth Maul and though he manages to cut Darth Maul’s double bladed lightsaber in half, Maul Force shoves him and knocks him down the central shaft. Obi-Wan manages to grab onto a handhold and as Darth Maul swings the lightsaber towards him, Obi-Wan is able to leap over him, and summon Qui-Gon’s lightsaber to his hand, using it to cut Darth Maul in half. As Gunray is led to a shuttle and forced to leave the planet, Palpatine arrives, having won the special election and is now the Supreme Chancellor. Members of the Jedi Council and in a private meeting, Yoda confirms Obi-Wan as a Jedi Knight and, though he thinks it is a bad idea, says the Council agree to let Obi-Wan train Anakin. As a funeral pyre is held to cremate Qui-Gon, Yoda and Mace Windu speak about the attacker, wondering if it was the Sith Master or Apprentice that Obi-Wan killed. The next day, a ceremony is held as Boss Nass, Jar Jar, and Captain Tarpals of the Gungans join Padme, Palpatine, Anakin, Obi-Wan, Panaka, and the rest of Padme’s court in a peace celebration between the two races.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Burdened by exposition and populated with stock characters, The Phantom Menace gets the Star Wars prequels off to a bumpy — albeit visually dazzling — start.” When the first trailers for the movie were released, theaters reported that up to 75% of audiences would buy tickets for movies which screened the trailer, then leave after the trailer was shown. Audiences were surprised, and delighted, to see E.T.’s species featured as a Senate contingent, which was done as a tribute to George Lucas’ longtime friendship with Steven Spielberg and to show that the two movies shared the same universe. The movie was a box office hit, earning $924.3 million off of a $115 million budget, making it the highest grossing movie in the franchise at the time, until it was surpassed by Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

This has some good parts to it, but I was honestly a little disappointed in the movie as a whole. The acting was fairly good, with Liam Neeson doing a great job as Qui-Gon, playing the mentor role with Obi-Wan as well as showcasing the tendency to move to the beat of his own drum, which would sometimes move against the wishes of the Jedi Council. I thought Ewan McGregor did a good job in playing a young Obi-Wan, and I liked Natalie Portman as Padme, but the idea of bringing back Ian McDiarmid reprising his role as Palpatine was genius in my opinion. The story was good in the sense that it set up future events that we know will happen, but it was a little weak on it’s own merits. Another thing I felt that they could have done a better job with was that the added too much of a comic twist to this movie. I mean, Jar Jar was nothing more than a comic foil for the entire movie and it took away from the depth of the story. Yes, there was some humor in the original Star Wars trilogy but it was more subtle and usually a line or two, or a line and a reaction or situation resulting from it, but Jar Jar was just annoying. The special effects were very good but I honestly think they relied on the special effects a little too much at times to try and help carry the story. That aside, the scenes of the citys (Gungan City, Naboo, Coruscant) were spectacular and definitely showcased some of the best elements of the effects. A great start for a new generation of films, but definitely lacking compared to the original trilogy.

Rating: 4 out of 5