Scene of the Week: Darth Maul and The Phantom Menace
The Phantom Menace is what we used to call my dad’s farts when we were kids; we never saw them coming and they were destructive in their sheer force, able to drive any man from a room. Equally destructive was the finished product of Staw Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. After years of waiting for more adventures from the Skywalker clan we were instead introduced to a neutered SW Universe where Jedi are wandering hippies and annoying children are praised for accidentally causing the death of thousands. It is no surprise to anyone that Episode 1 is universally at the bottom of the list when it comes to people’s favorite SW flicks but there is one good thing that came from TPM and that is the character of Darth Maul.
Little was known before Maul is introduced and barely more is known at the end of the film. He definitely looked super cool, wielded a double-edged lightsaber, and practiced what I would call a version of martial arts previously unknown to the universe. Portrayed by excellent stuntman Ray Park, the Sith apprentice Darth Maul was the lone bright spot in a film that I already compared to one of my dad’s farts.
The lightsaber battle that happens between Jedi Master Qui Gon Jinn and his padawan Obi Wan Kenobi against Darth Maul is the sports equivalent of watching an NBA game from 1954 and then seeing Lebron James and Kevin Durant dunk the shit out of the ball today. The saber battles in the original trilogy, while their pace is much slower, are more focused on the emotional significance of the duels. The prequels, on the other hand, are balls to the wall action, surrounded by ridiculously unnatural looking environments. There is a place for guys jumping 30 feet into the air and there is also a place for Alec Guinness’s geriatric ass clipping his lightsaber to his suspenders. As the old Jedi saying goes, “it’s all good in the hood.”