Star Wars:The Phantom Menace (a 15-Minute Force production): Chapter Five: And the Winner Is…

1:00:01 – 1:15:00

Anakin starts the race already in the hole. That’s the rule for writers, isn’t it? Get your protagonist up a tree, and then throw rocks at him. We’re making things difficult for Lil’ Anakin at the beginning of the race, because there would be little tension if he led the race the entire way, right?

The race sequence is technically amazing, and incredibly boring. One of the racers dies in an explosive crash in a cavern. At the 1:02:00 mark, Tuskan raiders show up and take pot shots at Anakin’s podracer. It’s nice to see—and hear—the Tuskan raiders. As I watched them this time around, I thought they sounded a lot like Wookies. Maybe it’s just me.

After the first lap, Anakin is still far behind. Muttley—I mean, Sebulba—is still in the lead.

Anakin briefly loses control of his podracer (this, around the 01:05:00 mark) and then—well, he regains control.

The Tuskan raiders fire again. Anakin speeds through unscathed, but one of his competitors is taken out. The two-headed announcer keeps up a running commentary that is better left ignored.

After lap number two, the race is between Sebulba and Anakin. In many ways, the race has always been just between Sebulba and Anakin. It’s a real nail-biter. Who, oh who, will win this race?

Anakin takes the lead, after being forced onto a service ramp, flying high into the air and then returning to the track in front of Sebulba. He speeds past some excited Jawas, who probably have money riding on this race.

A part falls off of Anakin’s podracer. A result of the initial sabotage? I don’t know. That’s not clear to me. This allows Sebulba to regain the lead.

In the time-honored tradition of all Star Wars heroes and heroines, Lil’ Anakin presses buttons and flicks toggle switches, which somehow repairs all of his mechanical problems (what the hell was that part that fell off?). This allows Ani to once again catch up to Sebulba, who again employs what’s known as dirty pool to try to prevent Anakin from passing him. The two podracers become briefly entangled until Anakin gives it full throttle and soundly passes Sebulba. He also wrecks Sebulba, although Sebulba survives the crash in a manner that would have made the A-Team proud.

And, oh yeah, Anakin wins the race. And the crowd goes wild. Lil’ Greedo and Anakin’s other friend are excited. Qui-Gon, Padmé, and Shmi greet the victorious little boy at the winner’s circle. Jabba the Hutt fell asleep during the race and has to be awakened by his personal assistant Bib Fortuna.

This is one instance where I completely identify with Jabba. This podracing sequence is ten minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. Again.

I feel compelled to make the comparison to Hanna-Barbera’s Wacky Races again. This was what I assume to have been an incredibly expensive CGI sequence that was basically a fancy cartoon race. Again, if you found this sequence exciting and compelling, I apologize to you. Your perception is your reality. For me, this was excruciating.

So, Qui-Gon has the parts he needs to repair the chrome starship, and Anakin has been freed from slavery. Shmi is still a slave, however, so there is the obligatory touching scene where Qui-Gon takes Anakin from his mother. Anakin is going to be trained as a Jedi. That should work out well.

Qui-Gon gives Shmi his word that he’ll look out for Anakin. He lied.

At the 01:15:00 mark, Qui-Gon is leading Anakin away from his mother as the musical score swells. Anakin left C-3PO, still mostly naked wires and servos, behind with Shmi. I have a feeling we’ll see both again.

I’m glad that’s over.

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