Star Wars:The Phantom Menace (a 15-Minute Force production): Chapter Nine: There Are Always Two: No More; No Less. Well…More or Less.

 

2:00:01 – The End

Qui-Gon Jinn has just been skewered by Darth Maul’s wicked-looking double lightsaber as we begin this, the final segment of our movie. Obi-Wan remains separated from his master by one of those random red force screens that seem to exist only for dramatic purposes.

Qui-Gon didn’t vanish when the Sith Lord stabbed him. He didn’t leave only a smoking pile of clothes behind. Does that mean he wasn’t as powerful in the Force as his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi becomes? Hmmm…

We cut to the Gungans surrendering to the Trade Federation’s battle droid army.

Then, elsewhere on Naboo, Queen Amidala, Captain Panaka and the rest of their team are brought before Viceroy Nute Gunray in the throne room. Nute tells them that their little insurrection is over. Another team we’ve not seen since this started shows up behind them, led by another Queen Amidala. Gunray thinks the one he has is the decoy, but he is mistaken. The second queen is the decoy. As he is distracted, Padme retrieves weapons that are hidden in the throne itself (for a planet with only a volunteer security force, they seem to expect the worst) and her team finishes capturing Gunray, just as the 14-year-old girl had planned.

That more or less wraps up two of the action sequences we’ve been cutting back and forth to. The ground war is over and the Gungans lost. Queen Amidala was successful in her mission to capture the Trade Federation viceroy. That leaves two story threads remaining: the Darth Maul confrontation scene and the Lil’ Anakin in Space sequence.

For now, we’re back to Darth Maul. The red energy field drops and then Obi-Wan and Darth Maul begin to duel. It’s going to be a while before I watch the older Obi-Wan dueling with Darth Vader. I remember that bout being a lot less energetic. Not to reveal too much of my Sith leanings, I’ll just say it: Darth Maul is a badass. Obi-Wan seems to have the upper hand for a moment when he cuts Maul’s double lightsaber down to a single, but then Maul knocks the young padawan into one of those inexplicable shafts to nowhere. Obi-Wan, of course, loses his lightsaber. As one does in situations such as this. While Obi-Wan hangs from some convenient protuberance, watching his lightsaber fall into the chasm, it should be apparent to everyone that he has lost this duel. There’s no way he could recover from this blow.

But, we are left with an almost literal cliffhanger when we cut to our other remaining story thread, which is Anakin sitting in the cockpit of one of those snazzy yellow Naboo fighterships, inside the hangar of the great Droid-Controlling Donut that orbits the planet. Anakin has been flipping toggle switches and pushing buttons at random, which is one of the first recommendations in the Star Wars Survival Guide. This has returned power to the ship, of course, and Lil’ Anakin begins firing wildly, trying to take out battle droids, but succeeding instead in blowing up the battle donut’s reactor. The other fighter pilots are also pleased as Anakin exits the donut as it is blowing up behind him. He has succeeded where all of the adults have failed.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Jar Jar would agree with this.

Speaking of Jar Jar, the destruction of the droid control battleship causes all of the battle droids on Naboo to suddenly power down. This means that the Gungans aren’t surrendering after all. Move that X from the loss column to the win column.

That means three of our four story threads have ended in victory now. Leaving only Obi-Wan where we left him hanging—

This remaining sequence could only end as a phyrric victory at best, since Qui-Gon was killed. As we return, Darth Maul is silently taunting the dangling Obi-Wan rather than finishing him off. This is an example of the hubris of all Star Wars and Batman villains. At least we didn’t have to hear a monologue from Maul, who is apparently a mute.

This gives Obi-Wan a chance to use the Force. We already know that the Force is strong with Obi-Wan, don’t we? He simultaneously catapults himself out of the randomly placed death shaft and uses his telekinetic Jedi powers to retrieve Qui-Gon’s lightsaber from beside his master’s still-warm body. All the while he is flipping acrobatically through the air, powering up the lightsaber and executing a boss finishing move on Darth Maul. Maul falls back into the death pit, the halves of his body separating as he tumbles, a surprised look on his face.

Now this was an impressive death scene. Boba Fett should have watched some game film.

Obi-Wan rushes to Qui-Gon’s side. He’s still alive! Didn’t see that coming.

Okay, not really alive. He’s dying. He’s just sticking around for some portentous final words. That must be why he didn’t crumple into a pile of empty robes the way a good Jedi should. He makes Obi-Wan promise to train Anakin, of course. He is the Chosen One, after all, the one who will bring Balance to the Force. Whatever that means. Seems to me that Darth Vader causes a whole lot of pain before he dies. And does his death bring Balance to the Force? I’m not sure I can see how. Ah, you and your crazy ancient religion…

Chancellor Palpatine shows up on Naboo after the dust settles down. He thanks Obi-Wan and tells young Skywalker that he’ll be keeping a close eye on his development. Then, he speaks with the fully-regaled Queen Amidala. He says that working together they will bring peace to the republic. The queen is speaking in her weird queen voice again, the one that makes her sound like a Kardashian.

Cut to Coruscant. Master Yoda grants Obi-Wan the title of Jedi Knight, but says he doesn’t agree with him taking on the training of Anakin Skywalker. Obi-Wan says he’s going to do it without the Council’s permission if he must; he promised Qui-Gon. Yoda says he senses Qui-Gon’s defiance in Obi-Wan, and he reluctantly relents.

Go on, then. Train the little fatherless bastard, even though I just told you that he’s going to cause all sorts of trouble for us, probably to the point of wiping out all of the Jedi.

Okay, Yoda doesn’t say all this, but that’s what he meant. It seems to me that Yoda could have used some of Qui-Gon’s stubborness. How would this story have played out differently if Anakin had been taken away from Obi-Wan at this point? Maybe Anakin would have been corrupted by Palpatine anyway, since most Jedi don’t go around killing children, it seems. Or, just speculating here, maybe Obi-Wan would have gone over to the Dark Side. I kind of like that option. There should be some sort of What If? series for Star Wars stories.

Qui-Gon is given a Viking funeral without the boat. Obi-Wan chooses this occasion to tell Anakin he’s been granted permission to train him as his apprentice. Yoda and Mace Windu are whispering in another part of the chamber. Pretty disrespectful funeral behavior.

Windu says there’s no doubt that the fallen warrior was a Sith. Yoda says that there are always two Sith. No more; no less. A master and an apprentice.

What does that mean, exactly? I will admit that I had to look this up. The so-called Sith Rule of Two. This seems to be a weakness among the Sith. Because they are evil, the Sith are always trying to kill each other to gain dominance. The apprentice is expected to try to overthrow the master. Seems like a bad system. So, Darth Sidious, who will become Emperor Palpatine, has only one apprentice. That was Darth Maul in this movie. It’s understood that his next apprentice will be Anakin Skywalker, who becomes Darth Vader. Right?

Or is that right? Who the hell is Count Dooku? Or General Greivous? I have questions, but they can wait.

We finish up with a Star Wars-style celebration on Naboo. The Gungans have a dancing, rythmic drumline. I just wanted to point that out, though the less said about it, the better. The Gungans and Nabooians are united in peace and friendship. Anakin has a new haircut and robe. Everyone smiles at one another, and R2-D2 twitters and coos. Then we roll credits.

Not much to say about the credits after the written, directed, produced by George Lucas part, except that they go on for about six minutes. We do get some of the best John Williams music here, though.

The official end of my DVD version of this movie is at 2:16:04. And that brings this particular 15-Minute Force project to a close.

During this viewing, I discovered that there were things about the movie that I liked a lot. Then there was Jar Jar, the pod race, the endless holographic conference calls, and what I can only hope was unintentional racism, all of which conspired to make this an unpleasant movie-watching experience for me. Again.

I’ve heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Probably not said by Einstein, even though it’s often attributed to him.

This will be my final viewing of The Phantom Menace, I think. I plan to donate the DVD to Goodwill. However, the insanity continues with Attack of the Clones, the next 15-Minute Force production.

Until then, May the Force Be with You. Always.*

*dedicated with respect and admiration to The Star Wars Minute, Alex Robinson , and Pete the Retailer.

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