warfare in africa, europe, and a galaxy far, far away

this weekend i watched star wars: episode i - the phantom menace and patton, two films i had never seen before. (yes, i waited this long to see the phantom menace.)

watching the phantom menace, i was reminded how much i love the star wars universe despite the numerous flaws and shortcomings manifested in all of the movies. my biggest gripe with this movie would be that the characters simply bob along, being carried along by a current of events that they seem to take very little interest in controlling. and in contrast with something like down and out in the magic kingdom, the quasi-future (yes, it is long, long ago) of the star wars universe just doesn't follow from our present. in particular, the idea of a robot army with a centralized control center is just super lame. (i’m surprised anakin didn't pull out a tibook and upload a virus to the central computer.)

another thing i found particularly obnoxious was the way the battle scenes were staged. it just seemed positively revolutionary-era with two forces coming at each other in a valley between two ridges. patton certainly had more interesting and believable battle scenes, even without the aid of ilm trickery.

i really enjoyed patton. i’m not much of a military history buff, but he’s clearly a fascinating character, and would probably be a great person to read more about if you wanted to go down the path of being a military history buff because of his deep interest in the subject. it’s interesting how the movie focuses so closely on patton and his actions during the second world war without any real insight into his life outside of the war, except to suggest that he has none.

it was also nice to have all the references to the film i’ve encountered over time get linked with the actual scenes from the movie. “Rommel, you magnificent bastard! I read your book!” has to be one of the best lines ever.

all that said, the phantom menace was a fun film, especially if you accept it as a film for kids, which is clearly how it was intended. the visual design is pretty stunning, of course. even though i found the battle droids annoyingly anachronistic, i really loved the character design.