The first of the Star Wars prequels is approaching its twenty-five-year anniversary. Incredible, isn’t it? A quarter of a century ago. The hype, the anticipation, the merchandise… the wait to download that trailer from Apple Quicktime via a dial-up modem.
Obi-Wan Kenobi actor Ewan McGregor has been talking about his work on the Star Wars prequels as this anniversary approaches. As reported by Variety, he spoke in depth about the release of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and specifically the critical reaction to the project when it landed.
He was appearing at the Goteborg Film Festival this week to receive a lifetime achievement award, and one of the roles he discussed was his Star Wars appearance. He was clear that he was very aware of the reactions at the time.
“I am happy that I am this character for a lot of people, but when these films came out, they were so disliked. That was hard. The first one was panned and we still had to make another two! It was weird to be in a film that was hammered.”
The Phantom Menace, arguably, was a touchstone. The dawn of the Star Wars prequels coincided with, almost drove, the online movie community that we are all part of today. For many of us, it was our insatiable thirst for information about these movies, combined with our newly obtained access to the internet, that pulled us together in the first place.
From Corona Coming Attractions, Dark Horizons, and Aint It Cool News, those heady early days of the movement were a hilarious Wild West of spy reports and claimed “insider knowledge” that basically laid the foundations for what we are today, nearly 30 years later. Between these movies and Batman & Robin, it was also the first time that fandom had risen up in almost a single voice and declared – “Well, that was shit!”
Movie studios had lost control of the narrative, and they took over a decade to regain any element of control. Good times.
The Star Wars prequels are being viewed in a more favorable light these days. This is a mind trick. Do not fall for it. Just because the Disney Star Wars experience has been so terrible, it does not make the prequels magically into good movies.
McGregor’s next project is Bleeding Love, with his daughter Clara. That opens on February 16th. Meanwhile, there is a lot of talk about McGregor returning as Obi-Wan again for a second season of the Disney+ show.
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