Beware The Phantom Menace

by J. A. Hitchcock

So, the critics have panned the new Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace. Some of the fans think it's too much of a kid's movie. And there's a "Death to Jar Jar Binks" web site.


I've been a Star Wars fan since I saw the first (technically the fourth) movie in 1977. My older brother took me - I was 18 at the time (you do the math). We went to a theatre in Manchester, New Hampshire - there were no long lines to get in.

Just about two hours later, we walked out of the theatre in a daze. We were stunned. Star Wars was the best I'd ever seen! The special effects were brilliant! Han Solo was a hunk! Luke Skywalker was a hero! I wanted to be Princess Leia! (and I was for a company Halloween party later that year)

It's funny how some people say Star Wars changed their lives and others will laugh at them. Well, laugh all you want, but Star Wars did change my life. It made me realize that I could do anything if I set my mind to it ("Try not - DO"), that I could be a hero ("Use the Force, Jayne") and that dreams do come true.

I began collecting Star Wars memorabilia then - mine is an eclectic collection. I have hardly any action figures (all of the are Han Solo-related). I have loads of magazines - from Starlog to TIME to Star Force (from the UK) to Rolling Stone - and more I didn't even knew existed. I have autographed photos of Harrison Ford as Han Solo, David Prowse as Darth Vader and the guy who played Boba Fett (yes, I know his real name, it's Jeremy Bullock - I wanted to see how many of you were still awake). I have Star Wars Walkie-Talkies, a Stormtrooper room alarm (which drives my hubby nuts when he walks in my office and is told "Move away, move away.") and other nifty, weird things.

So, when The Phantom Menace came out and was panned, I remembered something - the very first Star Wars movie was also panned.

My husband and I went to see it. And we were pleasantly surprised. More than pleasantly surprised - we loved it! Again, it was the special effects! Obi-wan Kenobi is a hunk! Anakin Skywalker is a hero! I want to be Queen Amidala, well, not really, but I did love her costumes.

    Now, I would like to pick apart the critics problems with the film:
  1. Jar Jar Binks is annoying, was a Caribbean stereotype and a "Steppin' Fetchit" of the future
  2. There were all kinds of other stereotypes in the movie
  3. The story lacked a character like Han Solo
  4. Who cares about Anakin Skywalker as a kid? Let's get to the good stuff, when he becomes the evil Darth Vader!
  5. Anakin was immaculately conceived!

I think I pretty much covered all the criticism.

    But now I have a list of questions for George Lucas, questions I haven't seen or heard anyone else ask:
  1. Just who or what is The Phantom Menace? Is it Anakin? Emperor Palpatine? The Force?
  2. Queen Amidala has a "decoy" - is she a twin? A clone? A cyborg/robot? This totally confused me.
  3. Jabba The Hutt has another Hutt standing next to him at the pod races - I've heard that this is supposed to be a female Hutt, but they're "just friends." Come on - give us a real answer here. And on that note, why is it that the Hutts rule Tatooine, but in the mid-quels, they don't? What happened there?
  4. What is the big red "ball" that is given to the leader of the Gungans at the end of the movie? Can someone please explain this to me?

All in all, what it really comes down to is personal taste. I loved The Phantom Menace. I thought Darth Maul was one of the cooler characters - so cool, in fact, I've now got an autographed photo of Ray Parks as Darth Maul hanging under Han Solo. I also have some Darth Maul action figures. My hubby thinks I'm still nuts.

Star Wars nuts.

J.A. Hitchcock is a regular contributor to Compute Me. Visit her web site at

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