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Critical Perception of the Prequels
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sithsaber408
Intelligently Designed

Registered: Apr 2004
Location: Impacting nations and generations


 

Question Critical Perception of the Prequels

Hey all....

I find it interesting that most of the critics/reviewers (70-80%) gave Episode III a good review, saying that it went back to the magic of the original StarWars and all, but they made sure to point out that it was superior to the inferior Episodes I and II.


While most (I know not all wink ) of us would say that they got better as they went along, I also find it really interesting that these same critics gave Episode I a good review, then trashed II.

I think the general consensus is that II was better than I, based on what I have read hear, at TFN, SW.com, and heard from folks I know at theatres,exit polls, etc..... (Feel free to chime in here if I'm wrong big grin )

So one question I have is: What caused this?

Why say Episode I was great, then bag on II?

Because other critics hate them?

Because of fan backlash over I?

Because Lucarse put out an Episode I that you reviewed well, but people were dissapointed in, and still saw to the tune of over 400 Mill?

Seriously now, what happened here? I'll post some reviews to show you what I mean....


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:18 AM
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sithsaber408
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Location: Impacting nations and generations


 

Star Wars -- Episode I: The Phantom Menace


BY ROGER EBERT / May 17, 1999

Cast & CreditsStar Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace
Qui-Gon Jinn: Liam Neeson
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Ewan McGregor
Queen Amidala: Natalie Portman
Anakin Skywalker: Jake Lloyd
Jar Jar Binks: Ahmed Best
Shmi Skywalker: Pernilla August
Yoda: Frank Oz
Mace Windu: Samuel L. Jackson
Darth Maul: Ray Park
Chancellor Valorum: Terence Stamp

Written And Directed By George Lucas. Running Time: 133 Minutes. Rated PG.


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I f it were the first "Star Wars" movie, "The Phantom Menace" would be hailed as a visionary breakthrough. But this is the fourth movie of the famous series, and we think we know the territory; many of the early reviews have been blase, paying lip service to the visuals and wondering why the characters aren't better developed. How quickly do we grow accustomed to wonders. I am reminded of the Isaac Asimov story "Nightfall," about the planet where the stars were visible only once in a thousand years.


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:19 AM
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sithsaber408
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(CONT.)
So awesome was the sight that it drove men mad. We who can see the stars every night glance up casually at the cosmos and then quickly down again, searching for a Dairy Queen.

"Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace," to cite its full title, is an astonishing achievement in imaginative filmmaking. If some of the characters are less than compelling, perhaps that's inevitable: This is the first story in the chronology and has to set up characters who (we already know) will become more interesting with the passage of time. Here we first see Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Yoda and R2-D2 and C-3PO. Anakin is only a fresh-faced kid in Episode I; in IV, V and VI, he has become Darth Vader.

At the risk of offending devotees of the Force, I will say that the stories of the "Star Wars" movies have always been space operas, and that the importance of the movies comes from their energy, their sense of fun, their colorful inventions and their state-of-the-art special effects. I do not attend with the hope of gaining insights into human behavior. Unlike many movies, these are made to be looked at more than listened to, and George Lucas and his collaborators have filled "The Phantom Menace" with wonderful visuals.

There are new places here--new kinds of places. Consider the underwater cities, floating in their transparent membranes. The Senate chamber, a vast sphere with senators arrayed along the inside walls, and speakers floating on pods in the center. And other places: the cityscape with the waterfall that has a dizzying descent through space. And the other cities: one city Venetian, with canals, another looking like a hothouse version of imperial Rome, and a third that seems to have grown out of desert sands.

Set against awesome backdrops, the characters in "The Phantom Menace" inhabit a plot that is little more complex than the stories I grew up on in science-fiction magazines.


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:21 AM
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sithsaber408
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(CONT.)
The whole series sometimes feel like a cover from Thrilling Wonder Stories, come to life. The dialogue is pretty flat and straightforward, although seasoned with a little quasi-classical formality, as if the characters had read but not retained "Julius Caesar." I wish the "Star Wars" characters spoke with more elegance and wit (as Gore Vidal's Greeks and Romans do), but dialogue isn't the point, anyway: These movies are about new things to look at.

The plot details (of embargoes and blockades) tend to diminish the size of the movie's universe--to shrink it to the scale of a 19th century trade dispute. The stars themselves are little more than pinpoints on a black curtain, and "Star Wars" has not drawn inspiration from the color photographs being captured by the Hubble Telescope. The series is essentially human mythology, set in space, but not occupying it. If Stanley Kubrick gave us man humbled by the universe, Lucas gives us the universe domesticated by man. His aliens are really just humans in odd skins. For "The Phantom Menace," he introduces Jar Jar Binks, a fully realized computer-animated alien character whose physical movements seem based on afterthoughts. And Jabba the Hutt (who presides over the Podrace) has always seemed positively Dickensian to me.

Yet within the rules he has established, Lucas tells a good story. The key development in "Phantom" is the first meeting between the Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and the young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd)--who is, the Jedi immediately senses, fated for great things. Qui-Gon meets Anakin in a store where he's seeking replacement parts for his crippled ship. Qui-Gon soon finds himself backing the young slave in a high-speed Podrace--betting his ship itself against the cost of the replacement parts. The race is one of the film's high points, as the entrants zoom between high cliff walls in a refinement of a similar race through metal canyons on a spaceship in "Star Wars." Why is Qui-Gon so confident that Anakin can win? Because he senses an unusual concentration of the Force-


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:23 AM
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sithsaber408
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(CONT.)
--and perhaps because, like John the Baptist, he instinctively recognizes the one whose way he is destined to prepare. The film's shakiness on the psychological level is evident, however, in the scene where young Anakin is told he must leave his mother (Pernilla August) and follow this tall Jedi stranger. Their mutual resignation to the parting seems awfully restrained. I expected a tearful scene of parting between mother and child, but the best we get is when Anakin asks if his mother can come along, and she replies, "Son, my place is here." As a slave? The discovery and testing of Anakin supplies the film's most important action, but in a sense all the action is equally important, because it provides platforms for special-effects sequences. Sometimes our common sense undermines a sequence (for instance, when Jar Jar's people and the good guys fight a 'droid army, it becomes obvious that the droids are such bad fighters, they should be returned for a refund). But mostly I was happy to drink in the sights on the screen, in the same spirit that I might enjoy "Metropolis," "Forbidden Planet," "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Dark City" or "The Matrix." The difference is that Lucas' visuals are more fanciful and his film's energy level is more cheerful; he doesn't share the prevailing view that the future is a dark and lonely place.

What he does have, in abundance, is exhilaration. There is a sense of discovery in scene after scene of "The Phantom Menace," as he tries out new effects and ideas, and seamlessly integrates real characters and digital ones, real landscapes and imaginary places. We are standing at the threshold of a new age of epic cinema, I think, in which digital techniques mean that budgets will no longer limit the scope of scenes; filmmakers will be able to show us just about anything they can imagine.

As surely as Anakin Skywalker points the way into the future of "Star Wars," so does "The Phantom Menace" raise the curtain on this new freedom for filmmakers. And it's a lot of fun. The film has correctly been given the PG rating; it's suitable for younger viewers and doesn't depend on violence for its effects.


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:24 AM
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sithsaber408
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As for the bad rap about the characters--hey, I've seen space operas that put their emphasis on human personalities and relationships. They're called "Star Trek" movies. Give me transparent underwater cities and vast hollow senatorial spheres any day.

smokin'

That bit at the end is for you, TW-Janick big grin Just kiddin' buddie. smile


That review was from Roger Ebert, the infamous fatso with a thumb up his ass (or down his ass, depending on what he's watching evil face )

I'll post one more to show you what I mean...


Then I'll post the same critics reviews of Episode II.


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Last edited by sithsaber408 on Jan 21st, 2006 at 12:36 AM

Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:25 AM
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sithsaber408
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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phanton Menace B+
20th Century Fox / Lucasfilm


Year Released: 1999
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas
Cast: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Pernilla August, Oliver Ford Davies, Hugh Quarshie, Ahmed Best, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz.

Review by Rob Vaux


"Strip this film of its often striking images and its high-falutin' scientific jargon and you get a story, characters, and dialogue of overwhelming banality..."

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Like a lot of criticisms of The Phantom Menace. Thin characters, dull plot, a weak link in the franchise. The only trouble is, it's not a criticism of The Phantom Menace. It's a review of the original Star Wars, released in 1977. Amazing how little has changed in 20 years. After insufferable hype and fan-fed hysteria, The Phantom Menace opened to the exact same complaints as its now-canonical predecessor. Only this time, its very real assets have been almost completely dismissed. After two decades, we've grown so used to George Lucas' fairy-tale kingdom that we've forgotten what was so magical about it in the first place.


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:37 AM
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sithsaber408
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(CONT.)
And magical it is. While most films today have the ability to render anything on-screen, few realize that potential as well as The Phantom Menace. Consider the city of Coruscant, a planet-wide capital composed of countless layers of buildings and ships; the Senate chambers, where an ineffective republic debates a seemingly minor squabble with ominous implications; or the underwater vistas of Naboo, filled with fearsome creatures and delicate cities alike. All of this covers territory that three other films have passed before, and yet finds something startlingly original there. The universe in this movie lives, it breathes, it surrounds us with three-dimensional vibrancy. Every character here has a background, every building a story to be told. Lucas has infused so much detail into his world that it attains a completeness that few other science-fiction films even aspire to. Every shot feels real, no matter how wild or fanciful its appearance.

Against that backdrop, any story would be hard-pressed to keep up. George Lucas has enough sense to keep his simple -- he sticks to the celebrated archetypes the series started with, and maintains a proper sense of fun. The Phantom Menace paves the way for the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker, discovered here as a little boy by a Jedi named Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). Anakin's trials, and the beginnings of the evil that will eventually consume him, are drawn along with high energy, exhilaration, and a genuine sense of wonder. The action sequences are breathtaking (topped by a lightsaber duel that may be one of the best examples of pure cinema I've ever seen) but never compete with the story for attention. A more complicated plot would get lost amid the exquisite visuals; here, it's straightforward enough to always stay on track.

Is the film perfect? Of course not. The truly obscene prerelease hype generated expectations that no movie could meet. The dialogue does clunk, the story is simple, and no human being on Earth is going to the mat for Jar Jar Binks.


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:39 AM
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sithsaber408
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(Jar Jar's the only reason I didn't rate this film higher.) That, unfortunately, is part of the package; this has never been a series about arch conversations and convoluted plot developments. Lucas has likened the Star Wars movies to silent films, telling a story visually rather than with words. The Phantom Menace follows the same pattern. The script could have been tighter (and was rightfully critiqued for its tin ear), but that's really not the purpose of the exercise.

And the drama isn't as thin as it may appear. The best thing about The Phantom Menace is the way it sheds new light on characters we thought we knew by heart. Yoda's resigned bitterness in Empire becomes all the more poignant after seeing his quiet caution in Phantom; the twinkle in Obi-Wan's eye is just as clear in Ewan McGregor as it was in Alec Guiness (we know now why he moved through the first film's Death Star with such confidence); and there's something chilling behind Anakin's face... something that says he's making a list and all of us are on it. When you look at The Phantom Menace alone, these details are hard to notice. Taken as one chapter in a larger story, it brings out subtle nuances that didn't exist before. For that -- and for many other reasons -- it deserves our admiration.

I'm not trying to invalidate criticism of the film: its shortcomings are not insignificant, and the disappointment many people feel has some very real foundations. I hear the complaints, and I note their validity, and I agree: The Phantom Menace could have been better. When I respond -- when I try to show others the genuine magic that shines through despite the flaws -- my strongest argument comes from a little boy I saw in the lobby after my first viewing last May. Amid the hyperactive energy around him, he was still and quiet, and you could see his brow furrowed in thought. As I walked by, I saw him look up at his father and softly ask a simple question.

"Daddy, can we see it again?"

Couldn't have said it better myself. - Rob Vaux

smokin'-Sithsaber


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:40 AM
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sithsaber408
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I found at leat 30 more that rate it as "B", "B+", "8/10"...etc..
at mrqe.com (its a review archive site), and you're all welcome to check (of course there are a few crap ones too.. but far more good ones).

I wont argue that, some reviewers just hated the PT, and some, just hate StarWars.

This thread is about reviewers who liked it, then flipped sides, then flipped back again...(a twisted series of feelings that I suspect many jaded fans are in the middle of... wink

Episode II reviews:


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:50 AM
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tlbauerle
thestarwarsfan

Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Kearns, Utah


 

Aside from the fact that you just posted 9 times in a row when a link would suffice...

I liked TPM...
I hated AOTC...
I like ROTS less and less. While the end is great, the beginning is terrible.

I think this is the opinion of most critical viewers. Episode II was terrible...it was a mystery without a mystery, a love story without love...one big long set up to a thrity minute action sequence.


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:51 AM
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sithsaber408
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It is not what's there on the screen that disappoints me, but what's not there. It is easy to hail the imaginative computer images that George Lucas brings to "Star Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones." To marvel at his strange new aliens and towering cities and sights such as thousands of clones all marching in perfect ranks into a huge spaceship. To see the beginnings of the dark side in young Anakin Skywalker. All of those experiences are there to be cheered by fans of the "Star Wars" series, and for them this movie will affirm their faith.

But what about the agnostic viewer? The hopeful ticket buyer walking in not as a cultist, but as a moviegoer hoping for a great experience? Is this "Star Wars" critic-proof and scoff-resistant? Yes, probably, at the box office. But as someone who admired the freshness and energy of the earlier films, I was amazed, at the end of "Episode II," to realize that I had not heard one line of quotable, memorable dialogue. And the images, however magnificently conceived, did not have the impact they deserved. I'll get to them in a moment.

The first hour of "Episode II" contains a sensational chase through the skyscraper canyons of a city, and assorted briefer shots of space ships and planets. But most of that first hour consists of dialogue, as the characters establish plot points, update viewers on what has happened since "Episode I," and debate the political crisis facing the Republic. They talk and talk and talk. And their talk is in a flat utilitarian style: They seem more like lawyers than the heroes of a romantic fantasy.

In the classic movie adventures that inspired "Star Wars," dialogue was often colorful, energetic, witty and memorable. The dialogue in "Episode II" exists primarily to advance the plot, provide necessary information, and give a little screen time to continuing characters who are back for a new episode. The only characters in this stretch of the film who have inimitable personal styles are the beloved Yoda and the hated Jar-Jar Binks, whose idiosyncrasies turned off audiences for "Phantom Menace." Yes, Jar-Jar's accent may be odd and his mannerisms irritating, but at least he's a unique individual and not a bland cipher.


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:55 AM
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sithsaber408
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The other characters--Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padme Amidala, Anakin Skywalker--seem so strangely stiff and formal in their speech that an unwary viewer might be excused for thinking they were the clones, soon to be exposed.

Too much of the rest of the film is given over to a romance between Padme and Anakin in which they're incapable of uttering anything other than the most basic and weary romantic cliches, while regarding each other as if love was something to be endured rather than cherished. There is not a romantic word they exchange that has not long since been reduced to cliche.

No, wait: Anakin tells Padme at one point: "I don't like the sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating--not like you. You're soft and smooth." I hadn't heard that before.

When it comes to the computer-generated images, I feel that I cannot entirely trust the screening experience I had. I could see that in conception many of these sequences were thrilling and inventive. I liked the planet of rain, and the vast coliseum in which the heroes battle strange alien beasts, and the towering Senate chamber, and the secret factory where clones were being manufactured.

But I felt like I had to lean with my eyes toward the screen in order to see what I was being shown. The images didn't pop out and smack me with delight, the way they did in earlier films. There was a certain fuzziness, an indistinctness that seemed to undermine their potential power.

Later I went on the Web to look at the trailers for the movie, and was startled to see how much brighter, crisper and more colorful they seemed on my computer screen than in the theater. Although I know that video images are routinely timed to be brighter than movie images, I suspect another reason for this.


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:56 AM
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tlbauerle
thestarwarsfan

Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Kearns, Utah


 

DUDE...just post a link


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:57 AM
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@stroFan
SMUDGE

Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Spring Texas


 

From the topic name, I thought this would be a good thread, oops. stick out tongue


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:58 AM
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sithsaber408
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(CONT.)
"Episode II" was shot entirely on digital video. It is being projected in digital video on 19 screens, but on some 3,000 others, audiences will see it as I did, transferred to film.

How it looks in digital projection I cannot say, although I hope to get a chance to see it that way. I know Lucas believes it looks better than film, but then he has cast his lot with digital. My guess is that the film version of "Episode II" might jump more sharply from the screen in a small multiplex theater. But I saw it on the largest screen in Chicago, and my suspicion is, the density and saturation of the image were not adequate to imprint the image there in a forceful way.

Digital images contain less information than 35mm film images, and the more you test their limits, the more you see that. Two weeks ago I saw "Patton" shown in 70mm Dimension 150, and it was the most astonishing projection I had ever seen--absolute detail on a giant screen, which was 6,000 times larger than a frame of the 70mm film. That's what large-format film can do, but it's a standard Hollywood has abandoned (except for IMAX), and we are being asked to forget how good screen images can look--to accept the compromises. I am sure I will hear from countless fans who assure me that "Episode II" looks terrific, but it does not. At least, what I saw did not. It may look great in digital projection on multiplex-size screens, and I'm sure it will look great on DVD, but on a big screen it lacks the authority it needs.

I have to see the film again to do it justice. I'm sure I will greatly enjoy its visionary sequences on DVD; I like stuff like that. The dialogue is another matter. Perhaps because a movie like this opens everywhere in the world on the same day, the dialogue has to be dumbed down for easier dubbing or subtitling. Wit, poetry and imagination are specific to the languages where they originate, and although translators can work wonders, sometimes you get the words but not the music. So it's safer to avoid the music.


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:58 AM
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tlbauerle
thestarwarsfan

Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Kearns, Utah


 

Is KMC really this lameo?


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 12:58 AM
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sithsaber408
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Registered: Apr 2004
Location: Impacting nations and generations


 

But in a film with a built-in audience, why not go for the high notes? Why not allow the dialogue to be inventive, stylish and expressive? There is a certain lifelessness in some of the acting, perhaps because the actors were often filmed in front of blue screens so their environments could be added later by computer. Actors speak more slowly than they might--flatly, factually, formally, as if reciting. Sometimes that reflects the ponderous load of the mythology they represent. At other times it simply shows that what they have to say is banal. "Episode II-- Attack of the Clones" is a technological exercise that lacks juice and delight. The title is more appropriate than it should be. - Roger Ebert.

NOOB!!!!
one eye -Sithsaber


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 01:00 AM
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tlbauerle
thestarwarsfan

Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Kearns, Utah


 

Do you want to post someone else's words or have a conversation about it?


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 01:04 AM
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sithsaber408
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Registered: Apr 2004
Location: Impacting nations and generations


 

See what I mean though,?

He made a few good criticisms (which, to me, were just reversals of things that he defended in his earlier review), then spent the rest of the review talking about old hollywood's 70mm movies, Patton, Lucas adventure into digital filmaking, and a bunch of other horseshite.

I wonder where that review came from?

If he truly meant what he said about Episode I, then it's hard for me to picture him feeling this way about II.

I know I didn't.

One more review....


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Old Post Jan 21st, 2006 01:04 AM
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