A bit short of 20 years ago I attended an all-media screening of The Phantom Menace at the now-vanished National in Westwood. I emerged a bit stunned, struggling for words. Eventually my head clarified and my thoughts took shape. I looked up at the night sky and vowed to expel Jake Lloyd from my movie-watching realm for the rest of my days.
At the very least The Phantom Menace launched the beginnings of an industry-wide realization — a process that took many, many years to reach fruition and maturity — that George Lucas was creatively over and had in fact become a kind of malevolent force. Whatever genuine inspiration he had inside him during the making of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back had escaped, leaving him more or less hollow and adrift and adept only at marketing and manufacturing and screwing up Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Who saw Topher Grace’s 85-Minute Prequel Re-Edit? I never did.