Yesterday we talked about the ways that The Force Awakens as a first installment of a trilogy improves upon the first installment of the Original Trilogy, Star Wars: A New Hope. Today, we’re looking at the first installment of the other trilogy – the Prequel Trilogy. Yup, here’s just 4 ways that The Force Awakens outshines The Phantom Menace.
1. No kids. There were a handful of kids in The Phantom Menace, not the least of which was Jake Lloyd’s Anakin. But we’re not here to knock on Jake. We’re here to point out that it’s a fool’s errand to cast a kid for something as big as this. In my lifetime, only Macaulay Culkin in the Home Alone movies was able to carry a movie at a single-digit age level. Maybe Dakota Fanning in a supporting role in I Am Sam, too, though I haven’t seen it myself.
It didn’t work in The Phantom Menace, and the one quick kid shot in The Force Awakens was all it needed to be, and no one attempted to wring any more out of it.
2. More mystery. At the end of The Phantom Menace – even assuming you’re not familiar with the Star Wars saga – there are only two mysteries at the end of TPM. Namely, who is Darth Sidious, and how will the Jedi catch him. Meanwhile, The Force Awakens abounds with mystery. Who are Rey’s parents? Why was she abandoned? What went down at the Jedi Academy? How did Snoke get Kylo Ren away from Han and Leia? How did they get Anakin’s/Luke’s lightsaber back? And on and on and on.
3. Sparseness. Unlike Lucas, who had to fill every frame with moving parts and creatures, The Force Awakens has some very harsh climates (Starkiller Base, Jakku) where very little exists. And even the verdant Takodana doesn’t show off any of what must be a prodigious native animal life. It certainly seems appropriate for the Outer Rim for things to be sparse, for example, and thus Jakku feels more real than Mos Espa.
4. Better humor. Humor is few and far between in The Phantom Menace, and what passes for it is low-brow. Jar Jar steps in poop. A creature passes gas at Jar Jar. Jar Jar gets kicked in the crotch by a pit droid. You get the idea. The only genuinely funny line in the movie is this one from Obi-Wan:
Meanwhile, The Force Awakens is funny from the get-go. Poe’s exchange with Kylo Ren; Finn trying to con Poe and failing; Finn talking to himself as he escorts Poe toward their TIE escape; and that’s just in the first few minutes. Better, zippier, funnier dialogue overall.
How about you? What are some of the big-picture ways you think The Force Awakens outshines The Phantom Menace? Share in the comments!
Trivia Time!Test your knowledge of the Star Wars universe!
Yesterday’s answer: Niima Outpost
Today’s question: How many of BB-8’s tools/compartments can you name?