Badass Digest just posted this old (from way back in 1999) video of celebrity reaction from a special advance private screening of The Phantom Menace. It's a fascinating thing to watch.
I was 20 years old when the Star Wars prequels finally forced themselves upon The Rage of Dorkdom and I can honestly say that I've never been the same since. No, I'm not going to rant on and on about how George Lucas raped my childhood or any of that nonsense--he totally did by the way--but the level of hype building to this film was just utterly tremendous.
It was the first trailer I ever downloaded online and I must have watched it fifty times over the course of one night. I remember thinking that the Jar Jar character was definitely annoying but Lucas will make him work in the grande scheme of things. I was extremely excited to see Liam Neeson (Darkman!!!!), Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting!!!!), and Sam Jackson (Pulp Fiction!!!!) join the Star Wars universe and nothing was going to distract my excitement. I even skipped my classes to wait 8 hours in line with a hundred other geeks for my midnight release tickets. I Had Pizza Delivered To Me In Line for those tickets! I had gone to the Toys R Us Midnight Release party and purchased all The Phantom Menace action figures (and yes, I still have them in tubs & tubs in my parents basement). That's just crazy to me! But it was a different time. Sure, I had been jaded by the Planet of the Apes remake but nothing had prepared me for this.
And then I saw the movie. I actually watched it six times in the theater. It was about the third viewing before I realized I did not like the movie. It was the fourth time I realized I hated the damn thing. The fifth and sixth time were an attempt to trick myself into liking what Lucas had wrought. Time would pass. Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith would traumatize me further, but by that third film I had totally moved away from Star Wars. The love was gone.
I'm 32 now. Last year, my wife and I watched all six of the films together. It was fun to see them again through her eyes (somehow her childhood had been deprived of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, & Return of the Jedi). I still love those original films...even the tinkered/mucked about 90s editions are fun to watch, although why would you when the crappy mono original editions are available on DVD. The Prequels still suck. But I can see fun stuff in The Phantom Menace and maybe even a few nice things about Revenge of the Sith--F Attack of the Clones though. That movie is still a piece.
My return to loving Star Wars came from the unlikeliest of sources. I thought Genndy Tartkovsky mini Clone Wars cartoons were fun, but I didn't think much of them. The CGI Clone Wars movie featuring Roto the Huttlet was, perhaps, even worse than all the prequels combined. So, I avoided the spin-off tv show for the Cartoon Network. But then, my co-Dork, Matt Netflixed the first couple of seasons. He kept telling me that they were pretty decent and eventually he wore me down and I check em out. The first season was okay, but I fell in love with the second season. And by the third season I was in love.
Now, I've got a Savage Opress figure on one of my book shelves and every time I stare at it I'm amazed that such a thing exists in my apartment. My hate for the prequels had become such a part of me. Could I love Star Wars again? The answer is yes.
And I've decided that I will check out The Phantom Menace 3D. More money to line the pockets of Lucas, but dammit I'm gonna honestly enjoy it this time. It's been thirteen years. Time to get over myself. Just enjoy The Neeson and Darth Maulmadness. John Williams' score for Menace is great as well. Jar Jar and Kid Vader...whatever.
The First Trailer for The Phantom Menace
The Phantom Menace 3D Super Bowl Commercial
Did I say at the start of this that I wasn't going to rant? Well, I certainly wasn't cohesive.