Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The Ten Year Old Menace
I remember the lead up to The Phantom Menace, I got really caught up in all the hype. I bought most of the toys (before I was really a collector), the collector editions of magazines, and soaked up any small bit of information I could find floating around the internet at the time.
And then it came out.
I specifically remember when it came out. It was the era before fancy early midnight showings and online ticketing where there was a real danger something might be sold out when you got to the theater, something made even worse for a kid like me who lived a good thirty minutes from the nearest quality theater. So I sent my Dad up earlier in the week to secure tickets, and god bless him he came back with eight of the hottest tickets this 17 year old had ever seen.
The day it came out the excitement was palpable. The wild rumors had been tempered a bit by the trailers, action figures, and early news reports to give us a better idea of what we would see.
Lord how wrong we were.
We were all hyped, I tend to recall, to see a Star Wars we could call our own. Something that we could proudly tell future geeks, "We were there when..." and not in an ironic sense. What we got was an over-hyped, exposition-heavy, toy-driven movie that was trying way too hard to be exactly what we wanted it to be.
Quickly The Phantom Menace became the butt of many jokes, a pox on all things Star Wars. But in the past ten years I noticed something: people started to like it.
Or at least, started to appreciate it more.
A few years ago I found myself watching it again with a group of friends and everyone was enthralled. Sure, the jokes still didn't work and Jar Jar was still as annoying as ever, but like that cousin you can't quite get rid of, it was oddly enjoyable, and not in an ironic sense. And when pit against Episode II (which, when it came out was seen as much more in line with what people wanted out of the prequels), The Phantom Menace was deemed much better.
Who knows, maybe in another five to ten years people will be proudly wearing Jar Jar shirts, pontificate on Qui Gon's forbidden romance with Shmi, and be complaining as loud as we did when they release the Episode I Special Edition.
Or maybe not...