The Phantom Menace was not the worst Star Wars movie
Debate Rounds (4)
I argue that its sequel, Attack of the Clones, was a far more flawed.
I'll argue the story wasn't any worse than a few of the others, but the combination of bad acting and the proliferation of FAR too much CGI (giving the film an overly artificial and unbelievable feel) doomed the film and the legacy that preceded it.
At best, it's a forgettable film that isn't even required viewing. The Machete Order argues that it isn't even relevant to the overarching storyline, which is the story of Luke. To me, if it makes no difference whether or not it's actually viewed to understand and enjoy the story - something you really can't say about any other one of the films - that validates it's reputation as the worst.
Attack of Clones is a victim of misdirection, which suppresses its ability to meaningfully add to the Star Wars universe. To address a criticism raised by my opponent, it is important to note that the overarching story of the saga is not one of Luke, but rather of how balance was brought to the force. In this way, barring the most recent film which diverges onto its own path, the first six films all fundamentally "add" something to the storyline. Even if the overarching story of Luke was to be considered as that which is most valued, Phantom Menace at least succeeds in establishing Luke's parents, how they met, how the Emperor began his rise to power, and the connection between Obi Wan and Anakin. All of these are elements that have relevant application to Luke's tale, while Attack of the Clones fails to do anything more than show Anakin and Padme "falling in love".
I use quotations, because these sequences show the greatest issues with Attack of the Clones, as well as providing evidence as to where Phantom Menace is comparably less flawed. Neither of these films are good, but there is a clear distinction in flaws.
My opponent noted how Phantom Menace featured bad acting, too much CGI, poor direction, a bad story, and was overall forgettable. These are all flaws more visible in Attack of the Clones.
Phantom Menace was a movie primarily focused on Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor, both of which can be cited as the least bad actors featured in the prequel trilogy. The boy who played Anakin was bad, however he does not compare to the atrocity that was Hayden Christensen. A lackluster delivery devoid of any emotion, other than exaggerated whininess, easily makes Christensen's acting the worst of the films. Furthermore, the movie is primarily focused on Anakin's activities, so the audience has to suffer through this terrible performance far longer than they should have to. Unlike Phantom Menace, where McGregor and Neeson were present to save the film's acting, at least partially, there is nothing to offset Christensen's failings.
CGI was overused in Phantom Menace, I will admit this, however this problem did not improve in Attack of the Clones. In fact, it got much worse. The entire landscape was created digitally, in addition to the creatures and many characters. The greatest flaw, however, arises in the total lack of effort that was put into the CGI-ing of Attack of the Clones. Phantom Menace at least had some indication that the people behind the effects cared, but the staff that worked on the sequel clearly were lazy and unmotivated. The greatest example of the overuse of CGI in Attack of the Clones came in a scene where Anakin and Padme are sharing a meal. The special effects team decided to digitally insert a pear into the scene that Anakin uses the force to lift, but it looks far more like a gelatinous blob concocted by a preschooler. This situation is made even worse when considering how unnecessary it was to add in a pear of all things.
The direction of Attack of the Clones is just horrid. While Phantom Menace at least had moderately good pacing, and substantially emotive actors, its sequel simply does not. There is too much time wasted on elements that do not add to the overall story of Attack of the Clones that steal screen time from essential plot building. Additionally, the actors are clearly given very little to work with. Again I recognize Hayden Christensen as proof of this.
Speaking of the story, it too is far more flawed in Attack of the Clones than in Phantom Menace. The first prequel film was intended to introduce the audience to these characters, and explain how Anakin Skywalker came to be in the Jedi Order. It had moments of distraction, namely Jar-Jar, but it ultimately sticks to this subjectively interesting point of focus. Attack of the Clones exists to explain the beginning of the "Clone Wars", which it really fails to do. It allocates more time to Anakin and Padme "falling in love", which is about as convincing as the aforementioned CGI pear, than to actually building tension. The movie goes on to show Anakin's melodramatic breakdown, and then rapidly jumps into the Battle of Geonsis. There is a badly CGI-animated fight, and then because the movie realizes that it needs an ending, war begins! Phantom Menace at least sticks to its plot and follows it. Attack of the Clones does nothing to set up its already failing story, lazily stumbles into an ending that was not properly set up, and then just ends.
These things all combine into a very forgettable experience, where the only thing you will recall is how much money you wasted to see it. There is one more defining flaw that further explains how it is forgettable, however this is the most major of the many flaws that afflict Attack of the Clone, and it will be explored more deeply during the next round.
I would vehemently argue your analysis that "the overarching story of the saga is not one of Luke, but rather how balance was brought to the force." That simply isn't true. The Star Wars story is a mono-myth, based upon Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, which greatly influenced George Lucas. All the other themes are window dressing, which is why Star Wars has been referred to as a western set in space by many critics. The Hero's Journey is one of Luke's, and The Phantom Menace simply isn't necessary for establishing his story. Luke is a perfect example of Campbell's "hero of a thousand faces", who starts out a simple farm boy who dreams of bigger and better things, is brought on a journey that transforms him to a hero, and in the end has become a whole person, having completed his trials and emerged victorious.
Now, it may be that Lucas was attempting the same model with Anakin, but was far less successful. Anakin started out some kind of super genius whiz kid loaded with midichlorians, and fails miserably at being a hero over and over again. So I'm sticking with what Lucas intended when he started the Star Wars saga - that it was Luke's hero journey.
Discussing acting, we agree Haydn Christensen was awful. But so was Jake Lloyd. Haydn at least captured the essence of the annoying, moody, unlikeable teenager who constantly rebels against his father figure. Jake flat out couldn't act, and that's one of the problems with trying to develop a movie around a very young, inexperienced actor. The love story in the 2nd movie was also awful, but really only consumed about 15 minutes of the movie and could be fast-forwarded without impacting any of the storyline.
Liam and Ewan were awesome. But I'd argue that Ewan's character was even stronger and more convincing in Attack of the Clones. Much more comparable to Harrison Ford's maturation in the first trilogy. Whereas Liam really wasn't around long enough to establish his character, and neither was Darth Maul, who would have been an incredible character to flesh out. Contrast that with Christopher Lee, who was absolutely incredible as Count Dooku and brought about one of the best fight scenes in the series between he and Anakin/Obi Wan, and then against a supercharged, ninja-like Yoda. Which beats anything Jar Jar brought to the table. The other memorable action scene is the Genosis Arena battle, bringing together all the Jedis. There is no battle scene of that magnitude that quite compares with that in The Phantom Menace.
Periwinkle_Warrior forfeited this round.
netdirector forfeited this round.
Periwinkle_Warrior forfeited this round.
netdirector forfeited this round.
No votes have been placed for this debate.
You are not eligible to vote on this debate
This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges.