Maxwell B.'s Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I feel that I should get one thing out of the way before this review really gets underway. I never saw this film in theaters. I never rented it when it initially came out on VHS and DVD. I saw this film AFTER I saw Episodes II and III. In fact, I didn't see Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace until late in 2010. So, my experience with the film will undoubtedly be different from most who read this review.

I love Star Wars. Well, the films anyway. I tried reading the Expanded Universe novels and comic books, only to have them slowly and deliberately annihilate everything I enjoyed about that characters and Galaxy I had come to love. But, back on topic, I love the original trilogy of films. I grew up with them and I continue to love them to this day. So, I was more than excited to see this film, but for some reason, I just never got around to seeing it until just recently. And I enjoyed it immensely.

If you're reading this, and you despise this movie, if the very thought of it makes your blood boil, I can understand. I'll never tell you that I can't, in some way, get where you're coming from. The Phantom Menace is very flawed, one could argue fundamentally so. I'm more than willing to admit that. But, I still enjoy it. I won't defend it (though there are a few arguments I could refute) and I won't call you out, but I did genuinely enjoy this entry into the Star Wars saga.

First, lets' look at the failings of the film. First is the writing. While I personally enjoyed the story of The Phantom Menace, the writing is, well, rather shoddy. Hell, the dialogue is downright MST3K worthy at times and the way in which the plot is told can be quite head-scratching at times. I really think the plot should have been presented in more straightforward fashion, but instead Lucas attempted what I think was supposed to be non-linear storytelling and wound up muddling things up a bit. Certain things, such as the Trade Federation's reason(s) for joining Palpatine remain unexplained (which is really a sticking point since EVERYONE else's motivations are explained). This isn't helped by scenes (chiefly the Pod Race) that go on for WAY too long. Some careful scene trimming would have been nice, George.

Next, and I really hate to jump so late onto a bandwagon point, is Jar Jar. I have never been so annoyed with a character in a film. I can understand why Lucas put him in, but dear god. A character that inept, that oafish, that utterly boorishly stupid deserves all the problems they step into. I'm sorry, but I really hate Jar Jar Binks.

Finally, we have the children. Oi. Normally, acting doesn't mean as much to me as it does to others, but in this case i have to make an exception. Why is Anakin, sorry, "Annie" so young? Why are there 17 hyperbullilion children in this film? And does every one of their actors have to be as godawful as they are? Good lord, these are the worst child actors I've ever scene. I swear, I'll be hearing "Annie's" cries of 'Yippie!' in my nightmares 'til doomsday.

Now, most folks would think, after those bullet points, that I would hate this film. Not so. I like the Phantom Menace despite it's flaws. I normally don't enjoy films for the "experience", I usually at the core working the plot/direction/writing/characters bits, but there are a few movies out and about that have provided me with an excellent experience that I get totally absorbed into, and The Phantom Menace is one such film. The music, the CG-organic effects, the characters, the music everything just weave together to give me that Star Wars feel and I get totally sucked in. It's far, FAR from perfect, and it's not as good the original three entries, but Episode One is a worthwhile and fun entry into the mythic Star Wars saga.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

This is where it all begins, the beginning of one of the most popular fantasy stories ever written. Or least, this is where the nearly decade old series of film adaptations begins. Either way, this is the start of 'Harry Potter'.

I'm a huge fan of the Harry Potter books. I've long loved the richly detailed world, surprising twists, lavish writing and lovable characters. When this film was first announced, I was more than excited, and I simply could not wait to see Ron, harry, Hermione, Dumbledore and the Dursleys on the big screen. Much to my untold joy, I was not let down.

Even though I love this film, I'd actually like to knock out the issues I have with it first, so as to put thing in what I feel will be a better perspective. First, although acting has never really been on the top of my list of important elements of a film (more like third or fourth down), the child actors in this entry, with the notable exception of Rupert Grint, are quite bad. Emma Watson is just barely tolerable and Radcliffe and the others just blend into the background talent wise. Also, despite being a very faithful adaptation of the book, there are a few little touches here and there altered for seemingly no reason. No one but the fans would notice or care, so why bother? Also, I'm not much of a fan of some of the dialogue, as it can come across as a bit wooden sometimes. But, really, all that's just nit picking.

This film is wonderfully immersive. The setting is so wonderfully realized that it feels as though you have been transported to Hogwarts. The sets, the visual style, the costumes, the trappings, all of it. Adding into that is the wonderful visual storytelling. The world and visual magic of Harry Potter weave just as much of the narrative as the characters and writing do.

The characters all come across very well too. each one is so well developed and personalized. Each one has a wide range of emotions and quirks that all come through very well. and with a supporting cast of great actors including the likes of Alan Rickman, everyone come across quite naturally.

And of course there's the story. The well thought out and vividly detailed plot of young Harry's first year of magical schooling is just as fascinating and multi-layered as it was in the book. Quite a lot of effort was put fourth to make the story resemble it's source material as much as possible, and that commendable effort is greatly appreciated, no matter what the critical consensus here on RT says. There's such a sense of wonder and enchantment (no pun intended)here, and it makes for a truly wonderous experience.

Roger Ebert called this film "this generations' 'Wizard of Oz'." I couldn't agree more. The feeling of wonder and mystery, coupled with the top tier visuals and great storytelling make 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' one of the best fantasy films in history, a stupendous adaption and one of the most heartfelt and excellent films I've ever scene.


Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Ugh. There are bad book-to-film adaptations, and there are movies like 'Eragon' and 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians: the Lightning Thief'. As someone who actually read the books upon which this film is based (they're great fun regardless of how old you are), I can very easily say that this couldn't have missed the mark any more than if it had been aiming in the wrong direction and if the target had been in another country all together.

Before I go in to what can only be described as a tirade on how this film destroys much of what the book(s) entail, I'd first like to detail how 'Percy Jackson' just does not work as a film. Hoo boy, here we go.

This is one of the most boring films I have scene in a long time. Every single scene, every single line, every action sequence is so telegraphed that those who have not read the books could very well predict well over half the films' events within the first 10 minutes. But, even a film mired in predictability can be fun. 'Rocky' was as insanely predictable, and yet it was one of the most entertaining films ever made, mostly due to it's well rounded characters and solid writing. 'Percy', possess neither of these attributes.

The characters are poorly developed and ultimately come across as very flat and wooden. The bland and very awkward dialogue coupled some truly embarrassing acting (Sean Bean and Pierce Brosnan being the note worthy exceptions) only exacerbate said characterization issues.

The plot is also an exercise in putting the audience to sleep. The movie does it's (laughable) best to try make it seem fairly complex, but the writers aren't fooling anyone: this is as basic a Muggfin quest as you can get. Oh, but one can't forget the scenes that blatantly rip off the 'Harry Potter' franchise, which totally make the film seem that much more fascinating and imaginative. And by fascinating and imaginative I mean derivative and insipid.

The only thing that'll keep you awake during this snooze-a-thon is the ridiculous break neck pacing. The poorly stitched together scenes whiz by so fast that one barely has time to register what just occurred on screen. And because each scene is filled to the brim with cheesy visuals, clanging swords, epic proclamations and general frenetic noisyness it's hard to actually be COMPLETELY bored to death.

Now then, as an adaptation, 'Percy Jackson' doesn't fair much better. Where the book balanced divine politics, dark undertones, and epic battles with wit, humor and charm, the film takes itself far to seriously. Gone is the inquisitive yet stubborn Percy, he's been replaced by a brooding-for-no-reason teenager. The light hearted yet still complex world of monsters, gods and magic that felt so fresh and interesting has been diluted to a washed out version of the wizarding world of a very broken down Hogwarts. Every interesting or imaginative aspect of the 'Percy Jackson' universe has been watered down, edited or out right gutted. That's not even touching on the scrambling up of the plotline. This is seriously the worst book based movie I've seen since 'Eragon'.

The only reason to see this film is if you have some very easily entertained kids with poor taste in fantasy.