Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (a 15-Minute Force production): Chapter Seven: A Lot More Meetings and General Jar Jar

1:30:01 – 1:45:00

As this 15-Minute Force segment begins, Anakin is still being tested by the Jedi Council. Master Yoda asks Anakin how he feels and Anakin says he feels cold. At this point, it seems Yoda interprets that as fear, although this is a callback to his earlier conversation with Padmé; he’s cold because he’s from a desert planet. When Ani says he’s not afraid, Yoda pretty much calls him a liar, saying that the Jedi can see through him.

Jedi Conehead says that Anakin’s thoughts are of his mother. He’s a little slave boy who was taken away from his mother, who, still a slave, remains on a different planet. Even without well-cultivated Jedi mind powers, wouldn’t it be pretty easy to assume that he was thinking about his mother? Are all other youngling Jedi recruits orphans who’ve never known their mother or father?

Which begs the question: just how effective are Jedi at reading minds?

The evidence suggests not very. I apologize for spoilers (if it’s even possible to spoil these movies for anyone), but the Jedi Council is on the same planet as the Republican Senate. The available evidence suggests it’s even in close geographic proximity. And Senator Palpatine, who is about to topple the government from within, doesn’t seem to shy away from contact with Jedi. You may argue that it is Palpatine’s Sith Lord powers that shield him from mind-reading, and you may be correct. Or, I may be correct in assuming that their powers are hit-and-miss at best. Jedi may all be con men.

Yoda suggests that Ani is afraid to lose his mother (again, not an incredible leap), and Ani responds, somewhat disrespectfully, what’s that got to do with anything?

I find myself agreeing with the impudent imp, But, Yoda is correct: it has everything to do with it. It being Yoda’s speech about fear and how it leads to the Dark Side, that is. This sounds familiar. I think I’ve heard something similar a couple of decades into the future.

Master Yoda senses much fear in Lil’ Anakin. Mace Windu strokes his beardless chin.

A note about Yoda: he just doesn’t look right in this scene. I’m assuming this is all CGI rather than practical effects at this point, but somehow Yoda comes across as more fake than when Frank Oz had his hand up his ass. Something seems slightly off about the character, just a few degrees left of center. I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly. He just doesn’t look right to me.

Cut to a scene back in Queen Amidala’s quarters in some anonymous high rise. The queen has executed another costume-and-hairstyle change, keeping the kabuki face makeup. She and Jar Jar are discussing a probable future in which many Nabooites will be dying when Captain Panaka and Senator Palpatine burst in to share the good news (!) that Palpatine has been nominated to succeed Valorum as supreme chancellor. Other nominees include Bail Antilles of Alderaan (Leia’s future adopted dad?) and Ainlee Teem of Malastare. Palpatine thinks that Naboo’s current situation will generate sympathy votes, and my Jedi soothsaying abilities tells me he’s probably correct.

Queen Amidala says she’s going back to Naboo. Palpatine pleads with her to stay, but she’s not going to. She tells Captain Panaka to ready her ship. She will share the fate of her people, but she assures Senator Palpatine that she will not be forced to sign any treaties.

When she is dressed as the queen, Natalie Portman continues to use an odd accent and a lot of vocal fry. I have to assume that this is a royal requirement since she doesn’t speak this way as Padmé.

Back to the Jedi Council. Mace Windu breaks the news that Anakin will not be trained to be a Jedi, even though the Force is strong with him. Qui-Gon says they must see that he is the Chosen One; he will take on Anakin as his own padawan learner. Yoda says that he already has a padawan, and Anakin’s future is cloudy. Qui-Gon says that Obi-Wan can learn no more from him and is ready to become a Master. The Jedi Council tells Qui-Gon that they will decide about Obi-Wan but that his timing is shit. With the queen going back to Naboo, she might draw out her attacker again, and they want Qui-Gon to travel back with her. This is the clue which might unravel the secret of the Sith.

As they are preparing to board the ship, Obi-Wan says that Anakin is dangerous. The council sees this, so why can’t Qui-Gon? Qui-Gon verbally bitch-slaps him, saying that Anakin’s future is uncertain not necessarily dangerous, and orders him to get on board the ship. As it turns out, Anakin was nearby, and probably overheard all of this conversation, and he tells Qui-Gon that he doesn’t want to be a bother. Qui-Gon says he’s not allowed to train him, but wants Anakin to stay close to him and remain mindful.

Then comes another unnecessary conversation between Qui-Gon and Anakin about midichlorians. They are subatomic particles that exist in all of our cells and make all life possible. Blah blah blah. A little like mitochondria without the benefit of being real. Anakin says he doesn’t understand all of that, and I have to nod my head in agreement at this. None of us do, Lil’ Anakin. None of us do.

A holographic conference session between Darth Sidious and Nute Gunray and the other Neimoidian. Sidious is sending his apprentice Darth Maul.

The chrome astroglider approaches Naboo. Queen Amidala is decked in purple this time. Qui-Gon and Captain Panaka are confused as to what she intends to accomplish by returning to Naboo. They are certain that the Trade Federation will arrest her immediately and force her to sign the treaty. Captain Panaka adds the fact that they have no army. This is something they should genuinely reconsider, in my opinion. The queen tells Jar Jar Binks that she needs his help.

Oh no. It seems that Jar Jar is the key to overcoming the Trade Federation’s control. Meesa so unhappy.

Jar Jar travels alone to Gunga City to persuade the Gungans with the queen’s plans, whatever they may be. While he is gone, Obi-Wan apologizes to Qui-Gon for disagreeing about the boy, and thanks him for thinking he is ready for the Trials. Qui-Gon tells Obi-Wan that he is already a wiser man than he is and sees him being a great Jedi Knight.

Jar Jar returns and says Gunga City is deserted. Captain Panaka suggests that they’ve been wiped out. Jar Jar doesn’t think so. In times of trouble, the Gungans retreat to a sacred place. He’s going to show them where.

And then we’re back before Big Boss Nass again. The queen wants to propose an alliance with the Gungans. And then—What?!? Padmé steps forward. They fooled me again! I thought she was the one dressed up. Boss Nass wants to know who she is, too, and Padmé introduces herself as the true Queen Amidala. Why should anyone believe her at this point? The queen and her entire retinue, including Jar Jar, the Jedi masters and Lil’ Anakin, get down on their knees to beg Boss Nass to help them. Boss Nass likes this and announces that they are now friends.

Quick holographic conference between Darth Sidious and the Neimoidians and Darth Maul. Gunray says they’ve located the queen’s ship in the swamps. Sidious says this was an unexpected move from Queen Amidala, too aggressive. He instructs his apprentice Darth Maul to let them make the first move.

Boss Nass, who is also apparently an idiot, promotes Jar Jar to general.

Captain Panaka returns with as many of their security force leaders as he can. Most are in camps, it seems. Panaka tells Amidala that this is battle that he doesn’t think they can win. Amidala informs him that the battle is a diversion. They are going to sneak into the palace through secret entrances on the waterfall side and then capture Viceroy Gunray. R2-D2 as always, has the plans on his hard drive.

Not to complicate the plan, Amidala is also sending all of their pilots to attack to droid control battleship (the big donut in the sky). But, everything hinges on capturing the viceroy. If they fail, they could not withstand the counterattack of a second droid army. At the moment, they stand to sacrifice a lot of Gungans to achieve their goal. Boss Nass seems perfectly okay with this. Jedi mind control, I suspect.

Yet another holographic conference call between Sidious, the Neimoidians, and Darth Maul. As this 15-Minute Force segment draws to a close, Sidious says this battle with the primitive Gungans could work to their advantage. He orders Gunray to have his troops wipe all of them out.

This segment was all about meetings. No action to speak of. Padmé was revealed to be the real Queen Amidala. Everyone looked more surprised than they should have. Padmé came through with plan to defeat the Trade Federation, even though she’s just a fourteen-year-old girl. The Gungans are suddenly ready to die for the human-looking Nabooites, for reasons that escape me. Jar Jar is now a general. Anakin’s not going to be trained as a Jedi because there’s too much anger in him. Or is it fear? Or both, maybe? All the pieces are in place for a great battle. Maybe we’ll see that during out next segment.

The 15-Minute Force is Strong With You, But You Have Too Much Anger to Be Trained as a Jedi. Until next time, my friends…

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