So, this is an idea I have for something between a discussion and a forum game (but please, do take it somewhat seriously). You take a movie, dissect it, and try to "remake" it, altering cast, director decisions, plot and character. Since the prequel trilogy of Star Wars has already been dissected several times (Belated media on Episode I, Belated Media on Episode II, some random guy on Episode II), I figured out that it is the perfect movie (or movies) to begin these threads. Several notes before I begin: Firstly, if a Moderator thinks that this is more suitable for Forum Games, do move it; however I do want to give it a try at A&E, since I want a more serious discussion, and not just laughs and giggles. Secondly, please join the discussion only if you have something to add, other than puns, funny jokes and derailments. Thirdly, no Mary Sues, please. I cannot emphasize this enough. This ain't a fanfiction writing contest, so the last thing is - try to stick as much to the source material as possible. It's a remake, not a completely new story. Without further ado, here's STAR WARS Episode I: A Phantom Menace The Movie itself What did the movie do wrong: The original "The Phantom Menace" certainly did not live to the fans expectation and because of that has been dissected countless of times since it came out. The main frustration comes from the badly written characters of Jar-Jar Binks, and more importantly - the franchise's poster boy, Anakin Skywalker. However I won't discuss Jar-Jar here, it's been done enough times. The way Anakin is depicted in Episode I has little to do with Anakin from Episode II-VI. Here, instead of the "Chosen One" or a villainous son of a gun, we're treated with a overly obnoxious young kid, who's overly special and extremely bland simultaneously. The Jesus-savior-of-all analogy with the virgin birth does not stand well with the rest of the character. Anakin is a somewhat technically competent young kid, with dreams and interests just like any other kid from his social community. There's nothing to his character that makes us care for him if we haven't seen the original trilogy beforehand. Lucas tried to portrait him as a somewhat social outcast, but this didn't work - mainly because portraying him as a slave AND portraying him in everyday situations, where he clearly acts as a free kid, does not add up. Not to mention, that he does have friends, so so much for the "outcast" theory. Another thing that Episode I messed up is the MacGuffin. We start with no MacGuffin at all, then we have the Queen of Naboo as the MacGuffin, then we have Anakin as the MacGuffin and the central character for 40 minutes, then we have a mysterious Sith lord as a MacGuffin, before finally killing him off without any conclusion of this story arc. Some say that the MacGuffin then changes to his master, and indeed it does, but this is not made clear for the audience. We are left with a somewhat bitter taste in our mouths, with a movie that couldn't decide who the central character should be, and who - the MacGuffin. The Battle of Naboo is another thing that the movie did wrong. We have four simultaneous battles going on - the one in the Hanger, the one in the Power Generators room, the one on the Plains, and the one in Space. The later two do not add anything to the movie - the one in the plains serves mostly as a comic relief, and the one in space tries to establish character traits for Anakin that should've been established through character development. However I do not mind the midichorians. I actually liked it that the movie tried to give a scientific explanation for the nature of the force, especially given that it is a sci-fi franchise (and we've already been treated with such things in the expanded universe - *ehm-ehm* Thrawn Trilogy *ehm-ehm*). Still, they could've kept the whole explanation a little bit more mysterious, and not so bloody goofy. To sum it up, Episode I suffers from: No clear main character MacGuffin changes too oftenly and without any conclusion Aimless battles that serve no real purpose General goofiness at moments Things the movie did right: The beginning. Knowing how flawed this movie is, one should be thankful that it didn't waste half an hour to establish a small-scale conflict that should serve only as the first domino to fall in the upcoming conflict. The "negotiations-turn-violent" handling serves quite well to the plot. Another thing the movie did extremely well was Qui-Gon's character. The audience cherishes for him quite a lot for a character that has been introduced and killed off in what is the fourth movie of a franchise. Which leads us to the next thing the movie did extremely well - the battle of the hangar and the duel of the fates. The only complain here is that Maul shouldn't've been killed in the end, or at least not with such certainty. The most impressive thing the movie pulled off is Obi-Wan's struggles. They are not with Qui-Gon Jinn, neither with the Jedi Council. His struggle comes from the mere fact that he feels powerless to stop the destruction that is happening right in front of his eyes - yet this does not cause him to enter a state of despair. It could have been a good contrast to how Anakin deals with the same problem later on if Anakin's story arc was done in the way it should've been. Suggested Changes Main Goal/MacGuffin As we are talking about a franchise here, this movie has a specific goal to fulfill. You may have noticed that I've changed the name a little bit - instead of the definite article "the", I've used the indefinite article "a". The movie exposes too much of that Phantom Menace that it actually does not leave our main Jedi characters guessing for its nature. Our main villain appears too early in the movie, which in this case is actually a bad thing. Leave the audience guessing! First-time viewers will be truly intrigued, while people who've seen the original trilogy will be guessing that the Emperor will be the main villain of the movie. Still, the damage is done, and the only way to repair it is to introduce Darth Maul later on in the movie, but as a much, much more vicious character. Make him an unstoppable force, remove any interaction between him and the Emperor until the end of the movie, remove almost all dialogue, make him appear as the Devil himself. Now here's a MacGuffin to remember. Who's behind the Trade Federation? First time viewers would be left guessing, people who've seen the original trilogy would think it'd be the Emperor, people who've seen the original prequels would be treated with a much more vicious villain. Now that we have our MacGuffin established, what should be the main goal of the movie? Well, it is clearly to introduce disturbance in the peaceful Republican civil order. The way the movie begins - with a small-scale conflict, is the perfect way to make the dominoes falling. However, we should have the Jedi Council more involved in the matters. Have them sense what nobody else can sense - an evil growing strong behind the mask of the Trade Federation. A little more action on Coruscant would be welcomed - have the Jedi struggle to persuade the Council that the dangers at Naboo are real. Show the audience that the Republic was already in a state of decay, only that nobody has realized it yet - much like Asimov treats the Empire in his Foundation series. That would be a perfect goal for the movie - to introduce not only the fall of the Republic, but the forces that are working to speed its untimely death. Main Characters Obi-Wan Kenobi Obi-Wan IS the main character of Episode I, but this needs a more clear definition in the original prequel. His struggle is quite an original one, as I already mentioned, and the philosophical way he reacts to the death and despair around him could contrast well with the destruction itself. However he does need more clear definition, more screentime as the main character, and he also needs more of that Romantic hero archetype flavor. Anakin Skywalker Anakin, on the other hand, should be portrayed either as a more realistic kid, or as a more over-the-top one. It seems to me that Lucas was unable to decide between the playful daredevil kid and the emotionally tormented social outcast, and decided to go the middle road, while also trying to make him as realistic as possible. This is not a bad thing, not by definition, and one of my all-time favorite characters has been written the same way, albeit successfully. I'm talking about Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. The main difference? Calvin is an everyday kid in an everyday environment, within an everyday family. He is not the chosen one, living on a remote desert planet, as a slave, without father and with mother who allegedly gave virgin birth to him. If you want to go with the daredevil-social outcast trope, I'm totally fine, but we need more of that daredevilry flavor. He is the chosen one? Make him believe it instantly, or even believe it from the beginning! He is a pod racer? Make him a good one, and not just a kid that got lucky-to-be-alive, make him win podracing events with ease! The suspense could come from a racer that he has never faced before. Currently it looks more like "I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing-oh-I-won" thing. However that's Star Wars and not Home Alone. Darth Maul As I said, make him more vicious! He needs at least one more appearance in the movie. Make it seem as he's playing games with his prey, much like a cat is playing with the mice. Don't show us that he's taking orders from somebody above him in the Sith hierarchy and leave the audience guessing if he is the master or the apprentice. Show him contacting Darth Sidious but don't show who's the master. Also, do leave some room for ambiguity for whether or not he's alive or dead. ************** Well, for now that's all from me. I'll reserve one post below this, where I can sum up the best ideas. I'll also probably edit this post to add summaries for movies II and III, but since I'm encouraging discussion on Episode I first, it will happen in the next week. I also won't discuss the plot, cause I do not want to turn this into a blog post of mine; I want to leave room for discussion! Have fun!