January 04, 2010

McKee meets the "Menace"

"Some guy named Mike from Milwaukee, Wisconsin" deconstructs The Phantom Menace in seven YouTube videos (produced by Red Letter Media). And when I say "deconstructed," I mean he takes it apart and reduces it to artistic rubble.

As my brother notes, the criticism is so relentless that adopting the brain-damaged persona of Larry Flynt-meets-sociopathic fanboy (imagine Anthony Perkins from Psycho teaching a course in film criticism) makes it easier to digest the punishment he dishes out.

Even more unexpected, the incongruous psycho-killer segments add up to a story in the story that pays off at the end (if you enjoy very black humor). And though the seven-part series is edited to suggest an amateurish effort, it is expertly produced and written.

Star Trek producer Damon Lindelof reportedly calls it "astounding film making." He's not being hyperbolic.

I think the narrator is Robert McKee in disguise. Okay, not seriously. But after describing the hero in the monomyth story structure, he then lists directors capable of telling stories without following it. He could just as well be reading straight from McKee's Story.

And when he attempts to psychoanalyze how Lucas consciously created something so awful, he qualifies his observations in ways that you wouldn't expect from a disgruntled fan. But in ways you would expect from an objective critic.

In any case, if you don't want to wade through McKee's Story, set aside seventy minutes (first send the children out of the room) and watch of all the main ideas systematically illustrated here instead.

Related posts

Attack of the Clones
The Force Awakens
The Phantom Menace

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# posted by Blogger Kate Woodbury
1/05/2010 2:53 PM   
I just watched the first part of the Phantom Menace critique: it is one of the best explanations of story arcs I've ever seen! It is surprisingly hard to get my students to understand that a narrative has to have a problem that is solved, not just a series of happenings that go on and on and on. The main character has to change! Apparently, George Lucas belongs in my English 100 Composition class.

(And I love the critic's mispronunciation of "protagonist.")
# posted by Blogger Kate Woodbury
1/05/2010 4:12 PM   
Okay, I finished them all (most excellent!), and I had to add that although I liked the critic's behind-the-scenes effort to explain Lucas (and I agree with his explanations), the part I found most touching was the critic's deconstruction of the fight scenes. It was SOOO insightful. I was working on my review of Die Hard while I watched/listened to the critic's videos, and I went, "Yes!" when he showed McClane. All the fight scenes in Die Hard have immediate emotional investment and purpose because the audience is invested in the hero! The special effects may not be as "advanced" as in current films (although they hold up amazingly well), but they never get boring or samey.