Thursday, January 27, 2011

A teen who was in a coma from 1974 to 2008 recaps the first Star Wars prequel

Nah, John Shaft could take this horned muthafucka. You see Shaft in Africa?
By special guest blogger Sonny Gautier

Me, Sonny Gautier.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Sonny Gautier is a Fistful of Soundtracks listener from Bed-Stuy who previously wrote for this blog a review of the 2008 trailer for Star Trek because his favorite TV show was Star Trek--the '70s animated series, not the much more popular '60s live-action show the cartoon was based on. Due to brain damage caused by exposure to too many Sid and Marty Krofft shows, a then-adolescent Sonny lapsed into a coma in 1974 and didn't wake up until 2008. Sonny has had a lot to catch up on. When I suggested he check out New Jack City because it has far doper production values than the pre-New Jack blaction flicks he grew up watching, he said, "I've seen that flick so many times already." He was much more interested in a series of fantasy flicks he'd never seen before: Star Wars. Here's Sonny's recap of one of the six Star Wars installments, which he opted to watch in chronological order, from The Phantom Menace to Return of the Jedi, instead of the way most of the rest of us watched the series, from A New Hope to Revenge of the Sith.)

Does John Williams do high school assemblies? Because I know some boring-ass assemblies that could really use the Phantom Menace music.
Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace

Holy shit.

I had never seen a movie open like that before. BLAAAAM! Horn stabs out of nowhere! It felt like a pimp kicking you in the nuts with one of his high heels. And there was no "Starring James Cagney in..." or "Pam Grier is..." It just cut to the chase and said, "Screw the opening credits. Who gives a shit about the old lady who sewed together all the robes or the sucker who shined the skinny robot's shoes? This is what you need to know about the phantom menace."

I used to play trumpet for my high school marching band, so I dug the abrupt fanfare that kicked off The Phantom Menace. Jim told me the music was written by a man named John Williams. Where was this Williams cat when I was in my coma? If he had been by my bedside and gotten together a bunch of musicians to play the Phantom Menace theme, that would have woken my ass up.

After the opening theme, an Irish priest in space brings along with him a younger priest for a mission to keep the peace in the galaxy. I forgot what exactly their mission was because I couldn't remember most of the yellow words that scrolled upward into the horizon before the opening action scene--some complicated bullshit about "trade" and "taxation," I think. I felt like I was watching my eighth grade history teacher Mr. Greenblatt try to write a screenplay about the Revolutionary War but then gave up early on and turned it into a movie about Irish priests in space.

I thought the point of a comic relief is that they're always supposed to say something funny. Apparently, Star Wars disagrees with me.
The Jedi priests carry swords of light that buzz and can cut through steel walls. Those are some dynamite-looking weapons. The bug-eyed aliens who interfere with the priests' mission talk like the dudes who run the nearby sushi bar. Later on, a donkey who talks like a gay Jamaican ice cream man and is named Jar Jar tags along with the priests. What's up with all the accents in this movie? It's set in an unspecified future where priests pilot spaceships and arm themselves with light swords, yet the priests and aliens all sound like they're from certain parts of the other boroughs. If that shufflin' donkey's supposed to be the comic relief, he's not very funny. (The queen in whiteface who sounds like a transsexual ho cracked me up much more than the donkey or the little robots that kept saying "Roger, roger.") The six-year-old white kids in the audience might find Jar Jar funny, but I don't. I'd rather see Redd Foxx be the comic relief. Is he still busy?

Father Jinn, his "padawan" Obi-Wan and the Jamaican donkey are forced to get their damaged ship repaired on a desert planet, where they encounter a slave woman and her son, whom Jinn believes to be the Messiah because of his "midichlorians." You know it's science fiction because the slaves are a white woman and her blond son. Yet I kind of enjoyed seeing a couple of white folks in shackles. Still, that doesn't make up for the Stepin Fetchit shit with the donkey.

That's why his mama named him Anakin. Because it rhymes with mannequin.
Father Jinn needs to stay off the, uh, gin because the kid doesn't look like much of a savior. A future leader in a star war needs to have what white folks call charisma, and this sulky little turkey doesn't. The kid must be half-robot, half-human because he only had one expression for the entire movie.

I dug the kid's futuristic car race and the sword fight between the Jedis and Darth Maul, but where's the "wars" of the title? There wasn't much bloodshed like there is in the war movies I know--and most of them don't even have "wars" in the title. I know this is only the first installment in the series, and they're building towards something monumental, but that's kind of false advertising. The Phantom Menace script comes off as boring instead of exciting, although I like how Star Wars doesn't got any overdramatic scenes of somebody shaking their fists at the sky and crying "Nooooooooo!!!"

I wonder how this would have played out with Bing Crosby as the Irish priest. Maybe there would have been lots of unnecessary singing.
The Irish priest looks constipated for the whole movie and then dies in the climactic sword fight. Obi-Wan takes over as the kid's mentor so that he can teach him how to make some new facial expressions. A brother named Mace Windu looks like he could whup some ass with his purple blade but isn't given shit to do in the movie. The cat who plays Mace must be one of those strong, silent types who never scream and shout in their movies.

Mace Windu gets ready to stab that fool Jar Jar.
I heard Billy Dee Williams, an even cooler dude than Mace, doesn't show up until Episode V. This is going to be one long-ass space saga. In this first movie, there wasn't enough of that Darth cat or Mace, and there was way too much of unfunny Jar Jar. Man, I feel sorry for all the Jamaican ice cream men out there who have to be subjected to this dumbass donkey.

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