I feel I have to correct a fundamental untruth that is making the rounds these days.
I am used to people saying that The Empire Strikes Back is better than Star Wars (Or, A New Hope for you pedants.) That statement is wrong, of course, but I’m used to it being made, and content for people to be wrong by saying it.
But there’s a new one going around that must be corrected, and it is this: “Attack of the Clones is the worst movie in the Prequel Trilogy.”
Now, I realize that when discussing the Prequels, we’re looking at a pool of…oh, let’s say “vomit”…and trying to decide which chunk is better or worse. Nevertheless, this statement should at least be symbolically fought against.
The physicist Wolfgang Pauli is quoted as saying about some theory, “It’s not good enough to be wrong.” Meaning that it’s so bad, it can’t even be considered as part of the continuum of quality. Equating 2+2 to 5 is merely wrong. Equating it to “apple” defies categorization.
Attack of the Clones is a bad movie, to be sure. But The Phantom Menace qualifies as “not good enough to be wrong.” It is a complete misfire, an absolute aberration.
This is underlined by the fact that Attack of the Clones all but ignores The Phantom Menace. As does Revenge of the Sith. In fact, it’s such an outlier that you can watch the other five movies and never at all be aware that there was an Episode One, except for the title sequence. Obi-Wan himself, using the Force to see twenty years into the future, declines to mention “Qui-Gon Jinn” at all. Darth Vader and C-3PO, in Cloud City, pretend never to have met, since that would not only be awkward, but it would acknowledge the sad, stupid origins of both. For this reason, however you feel about Attack of the Clones, you are forced to concede that The Phantom Menace cannot be considered superior to it in any way.
I realize that this is a lost cause, that once geeks get some dumbass idea in their heads, such as The Empire Strikes Back being the best movie (because, of course, it’s “darker”) or Susan not being Doctor Who’s granddaughter or Stargate being worth watching at all, nothing can sway their collective hive-mind. But one has to at least make the effort.
So geeks, you are wrong. The Phantom Menace is a much, much worse movie than Attack of the Clones.
(Look at that, I didn’t even mention Jar-Jar Binks!)