My Superior Version of The Phantom Menace - Caleb Jones

One of the biggest squandered opportunities in Hollywood history was The Phantom Menace. If you’re old enough, just remember the surge of excitement you felt when you saw trailer for that movie the very first time. Man, I was pumped.

Then I saw the movie.

Hm. Yeah. You know the rest of the story.

Although I can still watch The Phantom Menace today and somewhat enjoy it (it’s light-years better than The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi), it’s a movie that, as you already know, is riddled with problems. Bad acting, horrible dialog, a plot that often doesn’t make sense, and so on.

So I’m going to give you my modified version of The Phantom Menace that fixes these problems. I’ve seen other articles and videos (and even fan edits) trying to do this, but most of these things re-write the entire movie into something very different. Instead, I’m going to keep the The Phantom Menace as close as I can to the original while tweaking it just enough to make it into a good movie. You can decide if I succeed or not. Obviously, major spoilers for The Phantom Menace are about to follow.

First, I would rename the damn thing. “The Phantom Menace” is the second dumbest name for a movie in the universe. (The first dumbest is “Attack of the Clones.”) So I would call it something like The Hidden Darkness. It took me about 15 seconds to come up with that. That’s how bad “The Phantom Menace” is. Okay, here we go:

Star Wars: The Hidden Darkness

The opening crawl explains that the evil Trade Federation is about to start all-out war on the peaceful planet of Naboo. (This is instead of the stupid shit about taxation and trade routes.)

A ship docks at one of the Trade Federation vessels and an envoy of about ten diplomats emerge, sent by Chancellor Velorum. (Sending diplomats makes more sense than sending Jedi.) They are sent to a boardroom where they wait. The Trade Federation leaders contact their evil master, Darth Sideous, who instructs them to tell the diplomats that the Trade Federation will invade Naboo tomorrow, that there will be no further negotiations, and to send the diplomats on their way. (Sideous wants the Senate to know about the invasion so that Queen Amidala will assist in removing Chancellor Velorum from office.)

Sideous signs off, and the Trade Federation goons obey, but one of them panics, and against orders, instructs his combat droids to kill all of diplomats and destroy the bodies and evidence. When the droids enter the boardroom and open fire, they are shocked to find that two of the diplomats are actually Jedi in disguise! They are Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, who is the hero of the movie. (The original movie had no hero or main character. Obi-Wan is the hero of my version.)

The droids are Destroyer Droids, very dangerous and lethal, and the two Jedi defeat them, but only barely, and are greatly tired at the end of the battle (instead of the droids being completely useless and easily killed by the Jedi with barely any effort or danger). The group make a harrowing escape from the ship, during which all eight diplomats are killed and the two Jedi barely escape with their lives, stowing away on one of the dropships (again, showing the Trade Federation is a real threat instead of just a bunch of bumbling robots).

On Naboo, the two Jedi meet Jar Jar Binks, who is an intelligent, proud and capable warrior of the Gungans, who was banished because he upset one of the leaders. He speaks completely normally, and brings the two Jedi to the underwater city, where they secretly gain access to an underwater craft to take them to the Naboo capital city, and from there, leave the planet.

While the three of them have a harrowing underwater adventure with giant monsters, the Trade Federation armies take control of all of Naboo’s major cities and imprison Queen Amidala in a dark cell. The two Jedi and Jar Jar arrive at the capital city and attempt to rescue the queen. They are unable to, until assisted by a mysterious cloaked figure, who then vanishes.

The two Jedi, Jar Jar, the queen, and her staff blast off and attempt to run through the Trade Federation’s blockade, assisted by R2-D2. Just about when the ships of the Trade Federation destroy the queen’s ship, a strange malfunction in the Federation’s weapon systems allows the queen to escape. The good guys jump to hyperspace and land on Tattooine to repair their ship.

While Qui-Gon stays on the ship, Obi-Wan, Jar Jar, and Padme, pretending to be one of her handmaids, go into the city to get the part they need to repair the ship. Wattoo refuses to sell them the part they need and the Force doesn’t work on him. As they leave the shop, Obi-Wan feels a great wave from the Force emanating from a teenage slave named Anakin. Instead of ten years old, Anakin in my movie is about 15, so as to get a better actor and have him more compatible with Padme’s age.

Obi-Wan just buys the part from another parts dealer, but before leaving, he speaks with Anakin and realizes that the Force is strong with him. He decides to take Anakin along with them without asking for Qui-Gon’s permission. He could just take him, but as a Jedi, he is forced by his Jedi code to follow local laws. Thus, only way to legally free Anakin is to let him enter the pod race. Obi-Wan bets Wattoo money against Anakin’s freedom. Anakin wins the pod race and Obi-Wan convinces a reluctant Qui-Gon to allow Anakin to join their group, who leaves his mother (who is not a slave) behind. (C-3PO does not exist in this movie.)

On the way back to the ship, the group is attacked by Darth Maul, the same cloaked figure who helped them rescue the queen! Obi-Wan is severely wounded (lightsaber slash across the chest) and almost killed when saved at the last minute by Qui-Gon, and they barely escape Maul.

The group lands on Coruscant, and Obi-Wan is healed. (There is no scene with the Jedi Council.) There is a very brief scene with Queen Amidala with the Senate and Senator Palpatine, except about with about 20 minutes of the boring crap cut out, no midi-chlorians, better acting, and better dialog. It is revealed that Darth Sideous has engineered this entire thing. He wanted Naboo harassed and the queen to complain about it at the Senate. That’s why he had Darth Maul ensure the queen was rescued from the Trade Federation, and made sure the queen escaped the blockade via a weapons malfunction. He even force-choked to death the Trade Federation goon who disobeyed his orders.

Thinking the queen was going into hiding instead of Coruscant, he had Maul attempt to capture the queen. When that failed, she came to Coruscant on her own anyway. Perfect… for Palpatine. (Now everything in the entire plot makes sense.)

The group arrives back on Naboo, and things play out more or less as it does in the original movie, though with some minor differences. Four battles take place at the same time; the battle in space (where Anakin shows his amazing, natural, Force-based piloting skills), the ground Gungan war (where Jar Jar fights valiantly), under the city Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon battle Darth Maul (sent by Palpatine to kill the two Jedi to remove the two most dangerous witnesses to all of this), and in the palace where the Queen’s guard attempt to capture the Viceroy. (The queen is not involved in this battle, since she’s a god damn 14-year-old girl with no combat training. She stays back at the camp.)

The space battle is won by the Naboo, the ground war won by the Gungans (though barely with and with great losses) and the Viceroy is captured. (The Trade Federation robots do not suddenly shut off when their mothership is destroyed, since that’s dumb. They are simply defeated and surrender.)

However, below the city, Darth Maul is victorious. He kills Qui-Gon right in front of Obi-Wan, then knocks Obi-Wan into a deep shaft. Darth Maul then escapes into the darkness so he can return in the sequels. Obi-Wan, bruised and battered but still barely alive (like Luke Skywalker at the end of Empire Strikes Back) is barely able to claw himself back (with the aid of the Force) and is eventually rescued.

Later, Obi-Wan is made a Jedi Knight and asks for Anakin to be his apprentice. Yoda wisely says no, sensing too much fear and darkness in the boy. Obi-Wan, in his arrogance, starts training Anakin anyway, against orders (just like he said he did in A New Hope).

The movie ends with Palapatine becoming chancellor of the Republic and the Naboo celebrating their victory. As the screen fades to black, you can hear the Emperor’s distant voice saying “Goooood. Everything is proceeding as I have forseen….”

The End.

16 Comments on “My Superior Version of The Phantom Menace

  1. A very interesting article, this is.

    Here are some comments, good and bad, in order of appearance(approximately)

    The first part is fantastic. Maybe 10 diplomats(with 2 Jedi in disguise) looks like a bit too much, but since I’m no expert in this kind of negotiation matters, I’ll leave it at that. The participation of (at that moment undisclosed)Maul in the rescue and later escape of the queen is brilliant. The reveal later in the movie of that mysterious hooded figure turning out to actually be one of the Sith makes for a great surprise.

    As for the Tatooine part, here is where I see some problems:
    Resolving the issue with the parts by just buying them somewhere else doesn’t seem like a viable solution. It is stated that Tatooine, being a shithole planet from the Outer Rim, uses its own currency and not the Republic Credits, which is the only money they have at the moment, so they would encounter that same problem at any other store. That being said, it is possible that the owner of that other place is more susceptible to the Force and could be convinced that way. In addition to that, Watto does mention that nobody else around has the parts they need, but it’s entirely possible he’s just bluffing.
    The alternative way I see they could have solved this would be to sell the Royal Ship(however it was named) for Tatooine-money and use that to buy a cheaper(but functional) ship that could at least take them to Coruscant, where they could sort everything else out.
    One other issue about this part is how Anakin is a slave but his mother isn’t. In the movies, it is implied that Anakin is a slave precisely because his mother is a slave, making him a slave by default at birth.
    The last thing, more of a nitpick, is how you state “Obi-Wan bet Watto money against Anakin’s freedom”, when the only money they have at the time(in your version) are Republic Credits, which are no good in Tatooine, especially for Watto, but that would be easily fixed by making the wager for that specific bet be Anakin’s Pod-Race Machine, as it was in the movie.

    Next part is after arriving on Coruscant. I’m not completely sure about cutting the entirety of the Jedi Council scene. I feel that discussing the entire dilemma of whether or not let Anakin be trained as a Jedi in a quick scene at the ending may come in as a bit rushed if the matter was never mentioned before. But can probably be fine if executed well, so really no problem here.

    Back in Naboo, the changes are good. A special mention goes to Anakin being 15 in this version, which makes the scenes with his piloting much more believable.
    One thing that I think could further improve it would be if Obi-Wan doesn’t completely lose against Darth Maul. I feel it could go something like: After being filled with anger at the death of his master, Obi-Wan attacks much more fiercely than ever before. After a short struggle, Obi-Wan manages to catch Darth Maul off-balance and cuts one of his hands off. Being wounded, Darth Maul resorts to pushing Obi-Wan into the deep shaft(as you said) and quickly escape, not able to afford to linger around any longer to make sure he’s dead.
    This would make Obi-Wan’s survival feel more likely, and also would make Darth Maul hold a personal grudge against him, making his appearance in a later movie more dramatic.

    The final part is all good. Special mention on how Obi-Wan decides to train Anakin on his own accord, and not because that’s “what Qui-Gon wanted”.

    I guess this is coming out a little long for a comment, but I’m posting it anyway…

  2. I’ve had this conversation with friends before as well!

    Sticking incredibly close to the script, we said the following:

    Bad acting by everyone, except Qui-Gon – Eliminate, or drastically fix Jar Jar – Make Anakin older – Eliminate the scene where Anakin’s friends make fun of him for racing (about 90 sec of worthless footage) – get rid of the queen/disguised queen thing – eliminate the overall childish feel of the movie – the last celebration scene needs to be changed to something else.

    I actually think the movie was really good, and a few changes would have done wonders.  I also don’t mind the midichlorians conversation, but most disagree with me on that.

     

  3. I would watch this. Star Wars lost their way after the first three episodes. Terrible when I watched it recently.

    The last two episodes were light also.

    Don’t get me started on Star Trek(and i’m a trekkie). No need for ST: Beyond.

    Its a shame tbh.

  4. Not bad, although I don’t even think the prequels were even necessary. When I first saw The Phantom Menace (which I agree is the WORST title for anything), I was pretty bored. Walked out of it being like “that was kinda weak.” The other two were not that great either. In fact, the only Star Wars movies I did enjoy were The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi. None of the other ones were that great.

    And The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi are clear propaganda, I mean they don’t even hint at it like the original ones did.

  5. You should check out Plinkett’s review of Phantom Menace on YouTube.  It’s quite insightful and entertaining.

  6. Yea they missed a YUGE opportunity with Episode I!

    The new Star Wars are fucking dog shit though, I’m praying they don’t fuck up the Boba Fett movie, but they will somehow. 

    They really could do well with a Darth Plagueis movie if they go into the great detail and depth of that book, it would most def be a 3 Hour movie.

    They really should do movies on the Darth Bane books, those IMO are the best Star Wars books to ever be written.

    But of course with all the modern SJW bullshit, they’ll NEVER do a Sith focused movie.

  7. @CTV

    We can’t do movies about Darth Plagueis or Bane not because of SJWs, but because those old stories are no longer canon.  Even if they did, a movie is not long enough to portray either of their respective stories, let alone a story of an influential Sith lord.  Unless you’re someone like James Luceno or Timothy Zahn who truly understands what the Sith are meant to be, a Sith movie would just be an edgy mess.

  8. You should check out Plinkett’s review of Phantom Menace on YouTube.

    Seen it more than once. One of the best channels on YouTube.

  9. I actually think the movie was really good, and a few changes would have done wonders.

    That’s the bottom line for me with Phantom Menace. It always had the seeds of greatness; it just needed a few simple changes.

  10. “Bad acting, horrible dialog”

    Can you watch that “my hands are dirty” scene in TESP without cringing? Star Wars is just plain bad, and it always was.

  11. “He even force-choked to death the Trade Federation goon who disobeyed his orders.”

    I would change it to have him arguing with Palpatine and then he (Palpatine)  talks about how they (Trade Federation Leaders)  can you be certain you relay on droids. Three droids walk into the room lift up their guns point it at the goon, he puts arm yells out “no, please no”, at which point the droids open fire at the glee of Palpatine and the horror of the others in the room.

  12. Very cool ideas!  Agree Anakin should have been older and less of little puss. His whole arc made Vader seem much less, ahem, menacing…  Where you used to see him as this badass, now you envision this whiny boy with oneitis under the helmet.

    I love the videos where they dub over Vader with 10 year old Anakin’s lines from this movie.  Yahooooooo!!!!

  13. Can you watch that “my hands are dirty” scene in TESP without cringing?

    Yes. That scene is just fine.

    Star Wars is just plain bad, and it always was.

    That’s a matter of opinion.

    I would change it to have him arguing with Palpatine and then he (Palpatine)  talks about how they (Trade Federation Leaders)  can you be certain you relay on droids. Three droids walk into the room lift up their guns point it at the goon, he puts arm yells out “no, please no”, at which point the droids open fire at the glee of Palpatine and the horror of the others in the room.

    Damn, yeah, that’s good.

    I love the videos where they dub over Vader with 10 year old Anakin’s lines from this movie.  Yahooooooo!!!!

    Oh man, that’s one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen.

  14. I love the videos where they dub over Vader with 10 year old Anakin’s lines from this movie.  Yahooooooo!!!!

    Oh man, that’s one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen.

    https://youtu.be/g_H3_g9PhnM

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    I almost didn’t read this article or comments since I was so done with Star Wars eons ago (having grown up with the original). But that video just renewed my interest in the franchise. Nearly pissed my pants.

    Thanks for the mention.

  15. It’s like the guys in red letter media say, the new movies were so bad and industrial crap that we can value the prequels a little bit after them. At least they had original ideas.

    My 2 cents:

    Get the Jedis to wear something else. Obi wan lived in a desert and wore robes, okay, that doesn’t mean every Jedi ever has to wear damn robes

    Anakin doesn’t need to have a mother

    The goons of the trade federation could be real villains not stupid characters. Too many stupid characters overall

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