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The Phandom Menace
The Phandom Menace
Genres: Documentary
NR     2002     1hr 2min

The Phandom Menace presents the definitive look at the most devoted fans on the planet. Follow the lives of Australia's most passionate Star Wars fans as the moment they've waited 16 years for is suddenly upon them. See th...  more »


Movie Details

Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Biography
Studio: Eclectic DVD Dist.
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 04/30/2002
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 2min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Essential viewing for Geoge Lucas
Christopher B. Hoehne | Columbus, OH United States | 05/13/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)

"In the promotional poster for the Phandom Menace that I saw at my local video rental store, this Documentary billed itself as the "Australian Trekkies". If only this were the case.The documentary tells the tale of several Australian "Star Wars" fan clubs and the events leading up to their first viewing of the long anticipated "Episode I" of the Star Wars saga. As in "Trekkies" many of the fans take their passion to extreme lengths (though the Australians seem a bit less quirky, and a bit less socially maladapted, than their American "trek" counterparts) and have often invested a great deal of money in purchasing Star Wars figurines, lunch boxes, posters, clothing, assorted promotional packaging, and actual artifacts from the first three films. It is clear that they love Lucas's universe. As with the Trekkies, many Star Wars fans enjoy dressing up as favorite characters or alien races- sometimes earning a little money on the side by making promotional appearances at the local mall. Many of the costumes are astounding. And, just as the Trekkies do, nothing pleases Star Wars fans more than to obsess about the minutiae of their fantasy universe.This subject matter would seem perfect for an amusing documentary on people pursuing their greatest passions- as several of the films of Errol Morris demonstrate. Sadly, however, this documentary is bland and largely without humor. What it does have is modern editing technique. It appears to have been edited by expert, but overly exuberant, students wanting to try all the features of their fresh new copy of Final Cut Pro. Too many MTV-like do-dads appearing on the screen during interviews and transitions distract from the humanity of the people who are the subject of the film. Watching it, one has the strange feeling that one is watching an extended promotion for an actual documentary yet to come. Moreover, many of interviews and video snippets seem to have been cut short just before things began to get interesting. For instance, a "Star Wars" trivia contest is talked about, and the opening ceremonies for it are shown, but, as soon as an actual and amusing question is asked the impatient editor cuts away. The worst omission occurs during the premiere of "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace". Jittery, anxious, exuberant fans are made to wait while various thank yous are given, but, when the lights dim, and the film is about to begin- at exactly the point where one would expect a orgiastic roar of approval to the immortal words "a long, long, time ago..."- the editors have decided that it would be more interesting to cut away. We never see the wild applause and cheering- though we do get a moon.The one worthwhile element to this film is the last third. We follow the process of members of the fan club as they wait in line for tickets, then wait in line to enter the first midnight showing of "Episode I". It is a festival atmosphere. Many have pre-ordered tickets for 4 or 5 or 6 showings of the film on the very first day. Some announce that they plan to see it once a day for the next week. "I hope it's good" one says, because he's invested a great deal of money and time in pre-paid tickets. Of course it will be, others assure him, is the great George Lucas we're talking about, here. After the showing, the filmmakers cleverly include the initial reaction to the movie- exuberant, positive, strangely a bit forced- and the reaction several weeks on- for most it is one of disappointment. "It lacks the soul of the earlier ones" the president of the fan club states. In follow up interviews we get the sense that part of the reason why this founder and president of the documented fan club- a man who lived, breathed and invested in Star Wars for the better part of 15 years-was pushed into final retirement by the monumental letdown that was "Episode I."The "extra features" of the film are only mildly interesting. Much of the material in the is simply an unedited version of the same interviews we saw in the documentary itself. The commentary track is similarly redundant.Sadly, this film was not released until recently. George Lucas, who seems oblivious to the fact the primary reason "TPM" was as successful as it was is that it rode on the coattails of the original three episodes, would have been well served to have watched this film. All Star Wars fans would have been well served. People were ready to like "TPM" and would have forgiven its many ills had it not been the soul-less snooze-fest that it was. As I write this, the opening day of "Attack of the Clones" is 3 days off and the initial critical review is in. It appears Lucas has not learned his lesson. If only this documentary had been released in late 1999..."