RECORD STORE TALES Part 209: The Phanton Menace
Some at the record store made fun of me for being such a serious Star Wars fan. I’m not a hard core fanboy; I don’t go to conventions or follow the books and TV shows, but I am pretty dedicated to the films. I booked May 19, 1999 off work well in advance to see The Phantom Menace on opening day.
I’m not going to turn this story into a review for Phantom Menace. That movie’s been reviewed by thousands of people and I’m not interested in contributing to the background noise. The only thing you need to really agree with me on is that there was a tremendous excitement for Phantom Menace back in 1999. I had been dreaming of what might happen before and after the Holy Trilogy since I was 5 years old. My sister was only a baby when the first Star Wars came out, but she did get to see Empire in the theaters. She is a slightly bigger fan than I am, but she doesn’t follow the expanded universe or any of that stuff.
We both booked the day off work and planned to go together. Our strategy was this: Since we knew that the theaters would be absolutely packed for the midnight opening, we picked an out of the way (but still THX) theater that had a noon showing. So, all we had to do was wait an extra 12 hours (at home), and we’d get in no problem!
We showed up at the theater and were, like, seventh in line. No sweat. Soon we had our seats in a sparsely seated theater. Then the trailers (something called Titan AE, which inspired a heckle of “What the hell was that?” from the audience). Then the Fox fanfare, the Lucasfilm logo and finally…”A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….”
136 minutes later (we stayed for the credits of course) we were pretty satisfied with the movie. Keep in mind that fast shit had been whizzing in front of our faces for over two hours. There were things that didn’t make sense, there were things we didn’t like much (the kid, Jar Jar) but we kept telling ourselves the same thing.
“Yeah, but it’s the first chapter. The next one will be where it really starts.”
As we were talking about it, I said, “Wanna see it again? It went so fast there was a ton of stuff I’m sure I missed.”
“Sure!” she answered. “Yeah!”
We went back out to the ticket counter. There were a few people in line, but not many. “Two for Star Wars, please,” I said as I approached the counter.
“Didn’t you just come out of Star Wars?” she said with that snooty tone.
“Yep. We liked it,” I answered.
“And you want to see it again?” We did.
We went back in. The second time lacked a bit of the awe. This time, I paid more attention to the details. Questions came to my mind. “If Yoda is the Jedi Master that instructed Obi-Wan, then why is Liam Neeson training him?” Stuff like that.
I still remember that on the way home, we stopped at the HMV store, and I bought Ed Hunter by Iron Maiden. When we got home, we were still excited about the movie, telling Mom and Dad all the details. My dad was skeptical.
“Does it have the emotion of the first one? Does it have the feeling?” he inquired.
“Well…no not exactly,” I rationalized. “This is just the first chapter. The next one will be where it really starts.”
My dad was onto something.
The hilarious Red Letter Media review
I also distinctly remember watching Phantom Menace again with Tom and a franchise owner, on VHS, shortly after it came out.
In 2005 I first met the girl who would later become my wife, but she had never seen Star Wars. I was really excited to be the guy that got to watch Star Wars with her for the first time. For some stupid reason that to this day I will never understand, I decided to start her off with Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Bad idea.
“That stupid fucking dino-guy” is what she named Jar-Jar Binks. She hated it. (She liked Episode III though.) Then, her dad (rest his soul) decided that he wanted to see the Star Wars prequels too. One Saturday night I went over there with my DVD copy of Phanton Menace in hand. And so it was that Jen had to see Phantom Menace not once, but twice.
We’ll be married five years this August, more awesomer than ever, so “that stupid fucking dino-guy” couldn’t have been all that bad, right?
NEXT TIME ON RECORD STORE TALES…
LeBrain on the radio!