Whenever you ask any Star Wars fans about the worst Star Wars film ever, the answer is invariably going to be The Phantom Menace. The beginning of a new prequel trilogy to the much loved original classics, The Phantom Menace featured a younger Obi-Wan, the boy who went on to become Darth Vader and a universe about to fall prey to the tyranny of one person. The problem was that it totally sucked, and the two follow up movies had their own problems (did they?).
Fast forward to 2015, and the first movie from a sequel trilogy came out, called The Force Awakens, which received overwhelming love from fans who had become fed up of George Lucas and his extremely weird modifications to the existing trilogies.
Episode VII went on to become an incredible critical as well as financial success, and it was hailed by Star Wars fans as the icon which rescued the franchise from the clutches of an old man who was not capable of understanding his own creation anymore.
Sounds great, but, what if it was a false notion? What if this claim foxed scores of people from realizing that The Force Awakens was not only terrible but, even worse than The Phantom Menace?
Just check out the top 7 reasons which prove that The Force Awakens is worse than The Phantom Menace.
7. POORLY DESIGNED ALIENS
It is true that The Phantom Menace features an alien character that happens to be the most hated Star Wars character ever, the much slammed Jar Jar Binks. Still, Jar Jar, his race and all other alines in The Phantom Menace seemed to belong to the same Star Wars world and created from the same mold which was used to create all other characters from the original trilogy.
Whereas we saw some terrible designs in The Force Awakens and gave us creatures which were missing the well-set aesthetic of the original George Lucas’ vision.
For example let’s talk about Maz Kanata, a character as weird as possible (female Yoda, absurd..), but, it is her design which is nothing but a tiny alien wearing cartoon style spectacles. She seemed to be better suited to a Pixar movie rather than Star Wars.
Next, we can look at the Rathtars. While there were non-humanoids in Star Wars earlier as well, but, these weird mouths with tentacles beings sloshing around on Han Solo’s cargo ship were extremely ordinary, especially in comparison to the garbage compactor lover Dianoga.
6. TRIES TO BETTER THE EARLIER TRILOGIES AND FAILS
Do you recall the old meme featuring Xzibit saying stuff like “yo dawg, I heard you like speakers, so we put speakers in your speakers so you can listen to your music while you listen to your music?” To sum it up, Xzibit was explaining The Force Awakens.
No need to look beyond the slap-worthy Resistance briefing scene showing someone call Starkiller Base being like the Death Star, but much bigger. That was the whole idea of the movie.
‘Do you like double-bladed lightsabers? We have added a third blade to Kylo Ren’s lightsaber. Do you like desert planets? We have another one with crashed star destroyers dotting it. What is it? We heard you loved the iconic cantina scene from A New Hope. So we created this funny and extremely dangerous scene with its own brand of music playing in the background.
The Phantom Menace managed to generally avoid all this by creating its own thing but remaining true to the franchise’s core spirit. It didn’t have the ‘bigger and better’ references, but, only the story it has tried telling in its settled universe.
The worst example of a lead villain ever seen in a Star Wars film is Snoke. Before the unveiling, Andy Serkis talked about how the character “could never have been done” without using motion capture. However, when he appeared, he was nothing more than a huge, sick looking scarred humanoid and that was frankly easily doable without motion capture.
In comparison to the Emperor Palpatine or the supreme Sith, Darth Vader, Snoke is a very poor effort at trying to create a menacing, alien villain. He talks about frightening things, and that’s pretty much all about him.
Even in comparison to Darth Maul, who also spoke no more than two lines of dialogue, Snoke is still more watered down. Darth Maul had an intrigue about him, and he charmed people more than Snoke, despite his near absence of dialogue and presence. What’s even worse is that you can see that the creatives tried pushing the audiences to be scared of Snoke and to take him more seriously. That didn’t happen.
4. INEXPLICABLE POLITICS
The Phantom Menace was slammed for its overindulgence in politics and trade agreements. The film was weighed down with such boring scenes, but, at least, they were defined, and audiences understood them (irrelevant of the fact whether they wanted to understand the trade routes or not).
On the other hand, The Force Awakens already had little context, and it also decided to feature intricate political scenarios, without explanation, simply assuming that the audience won’t bother enough to know because of the X-wings.
To be clear, the Republic was in charge after the Empire’s collapse, and it is like five planets, whereas the entire galaxy ruling Empire is simply gone, barring something called the First Order, which is uncannily similar to the Empire, but, belonged to the Unknown Regions.
Rather than taking them on, the Republic rejects and a group is created comprising of a motley Rebel Alliance called ‘The Resistance’ to battle the threat. Hang on..What was the threat posed by the First Order? What was their mission? Did they control any planets?
Forget about all that. Let’s just have a look at how Kylo Ren stopped the laser bolt in mid-air using the Force. Isn’t that fantastic?
3. DISAPPOINTING SET PIECES
What are your portions of Star Wars? It might be the sequence where Millennium Falcon took on the TIEs in A New Hope, or the Battle of Hoth in Empire Strikes Back. Maybe it was the climactic duel between Darth Vader and his son.
The Episode VII didn’t feature any memorable set pieces, and most of its special moments gave the feel of been-there-done that because it rehashed the elements of old movies.
The final attack on Starkiller Base is pretty much routine (could be because they had already blasted two Death Stars by then), the Falcon dodging the TIE’s has also been done, and Rey vs. Kylo Ren, despite being exciting, was yet another lightsaber duel in a franchise which is replete with various legendary duels.
In fact, everything that Episode VII showed was probably done better in the Episode I itself, whether it was the iconic Pod Race or the undersea chase, and it also gave us one of the most impressive lightsaber duels in the Star Wars saga, as well as a fantastic start that showed what the Jedi could do in their prime.
2. UNTIDY PLOT AND SEQUEL TEMPTATION
By their basic premise, The Phantom Menace and the prequel trilogy were supposed to set-up the original trilogy. Despite that, The Phantom Menace gave the feel of a stand-alone movie, just the way A New Hope felt.
The good guys won, Anakin became a Padawan, and Naboo was free. It is true that we knew what was coming up, but, The Phantom Menace had its own balance, even if there was a lot more to show.
On the contrary, The Force Awakens went the other way and stuffed itself with a lot of open ends which are barely contained in it as a single, enjoyable movie. It turned out to be only the footnote of a new full-fledged trilogy, where we hope its various loose ends to be tied up.
What was even worse was how the film shamelessly promoted its sequel. What about the lightsaber of Luke? Let’s save it for future. What was the thing about the Knights of Ren and how did the students of Luke die? Let’s leave it for the sequel to tell.
At least Rey’s visions? That will also come later. These were key plot points related to the various characters, but, they were left unattended for a sequel to tackle. Even a little bit of explanation would have been so much helpful rather than what was a “See you next time!” response to all questions.
1. ARTISTICALLY DEAD
The Force Awakens completely endeavored to copy the original trilogy and was a reboot of A New Hope with a fresh coat of paint. The Force Awakens makes you feel as if it was the result of a number of Star Wars focus groups, involving all that the fans liked in the original films, disliked about the prequels, and then everything put into a mixer before being marketed as a “return to form.”
These are the factors which make The Force Awakens a creatively dead work which is devoid of the creative brilliance that made the original movie such a huge icon. While The Force Awakens used all the right elements according to fans, it didn’t take risks, nor did it tell a story unheard. But, the prequels did that, especially The Phantom Menace, even if its quality left us wanting.
Star Wars: Episode I wasn’t the film that the fans wanted to see, and it wasn’t a good film either. However, eventually, it is still the dedicated vision of George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars universe and a person who has an artistic heart. This was the story he wanted to tell, and he told it the way he wanted it. This is what art is. The Force Awakens can’t claim that.