The Episodic Order Reviews #1: Darth Jar Jar and The Phantom Menace

Howdy folks! Davestrrr here. As part of our countdown to the Force Awakens, I’m going review the Star Wars Saga in chronological order, every Friday until The Force Awakens! While I’m watching TPM this time, I’m going to have some fun and also contemplate the “Darth Jar Jar” theory going around. This sure sounds like an exciting task to me, so let’s get to it.


I’m among the older, original trilogy fans that likes the Prequels. The first time I saw TPM, I was 23 years old. My first reaction was “I like it”. My later reaction was “I still like it”. I was staying in Los Alamos, NM for the summer of ’99 and I saw that movie like every weekend at the local theater with a couple of other fans. Admittedly, it was a theater that only showed 2 movies and it was the only thing to do in town. I didn’t mind, and I liked the excuse to see the movie again and again. Yeah, there were some slow parts, but it was worth it for the good parts. I remember loving the fight scene with Obi Wan and Darth Maul. Still do.

Watching it again tonight was fun, but I must say I’ve seen it many many times since. On the blue-ray, a few things stand out to me. The CGI work on Yoda is amazing. Yoda is way more emotive and better in this version compared to the puppet. This is pretty much well known that this is the case, it just seemed especially true to me tonight.

A couple of CGI characters still look rubbery. Some of the pod racing pilots look a little dated, but for the most part, I think the special effects in TPM have held up quite well.

Personally, I think Jake Lloyd played the part of Anakin well. Some people wanted him to be darker, but I think it works out well by contrasting the levity of TPM with the darkness of RotS. If anything, I think Ewan McGregor’s performance could have been amped up. It seems really subdued in this film and it feels strange that he plays such a small “side role” for most of the film.

One thing jumps out to me that “Luck” plays a big role. I mean dumb luck. Let me take that back, there is some things that look like luck that are really the Force, and there are things that look like dumb luck. For example, Qui-gon winning with Watto’s chance-cube was the Force. Anakin blowing up the Droid control ship, was dumb luck. He is just fiddling with the controls and ends up shooting the main reactor. He just seems like a kid trying out the controls on a new video game, and just happens to get the high score. Makes you wonder, given how strong with the Force Anakin is, was he tapping into the Force? Was it not luck, but in fact some sort of playful use of the Force? Were other examples of dumb luck that won the day also part of the Force?

So, I have to bring up a new theory that has emerged on the internet. The “Darth Jar Jar” theory. If you haven’t read it, head over to the original post, or here for a good synopsis, here for a skeptical view, or the subreddit devoted to this theory.

Not many people in the Star Wars universe can do a standing, spinning leap like this, but Jedi , Sith, and Jar Jar can. Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Although I find this theory unlikely, I think it is a lot of fun and great to hear a new, well thought-out theory that looks at TPM in an original way, over 15 years after the movie was released. It brings up the interesting point: how did a bumbling fool make his way to one of the highest positions in the galaxy? If you consider for a moment that he isn’t a complete fool, you have to start wondering if he is a Force-sensitive genius for accomplishing what he has accomplished. Not to mention, Jar Jar, with his glowing yellow eyes (I think brighter than most Gungans), always kind of looked like a Sith.


General Binks effortlessly defeats more droids than any other Gungan.

Jar Jar taking out droids. Image Credit: Lucasfilm

He waves his hands around at key points in the film to get what he wants.


The list goes on. One thing that did stand out to me in support of this theory was what looked like a smile during Qui-gon’s Furneral, right before he looks down. Check this out:

I saw this in this reddit post here, but I don’t think his gif does justice to it. It’s better to see it in the context of the video. I may have also took more notice because it reminded me of the smile on Palpatine’s face when Queen Amidala prepares to leave Coruscant. You know, the one right before the wipe. That smile was a little wink wink to the fans about Palpatine. Jar Jar’s smile felt eerily similar.

Unlikely though it may be, this is still a cool way to look at TPM with some fresh eyes.

On the whole, I think TPM holds up pretty well for a 15 year old movie. Still a lot of fun. Although it is different than ANH, it came out over 20 years later in a very different time. I think it suited its time quite well.

4 out of 5 stars

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