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APRIL 16, 2002
Lucas' Phantom continues
the episodic Star Wars saga
Meet the Beatles' 1
By Ed Sholinsky
A long time a ago, in a galaxy not so far away
(Brooklyn, NY, actually) my pregnant mother
accompanied my father to a new movie called
"Star Wars." That was the beginning of a long love
affair with a special trilogy of
films that has a unique place
I in American culture and the
* hearts of many people of all
Showed at Showcase,
The Michigan Theater
and Quality 16
So, it's with great anticipa-
tion that the newest film from
legend George Lucas, "Star
Wars: Episode I - The Phan-
tom Menace," hyperdrives
into theaters. And it doesn't
There are few films that are
as special as the original "Star
Wars" - a blend of science
fiction, mythology and reli-
It's remembered by many as
the pair end up fighting for their lives.
Beyond that, there is no point in revealing the
plot. It would just ruin a perfectly enjoyably movie
going experience. You should go into the theater as
I did - free of spoilers and critical derision.
For fans of the original three films, "The Phan-
tom Menace," holds many special moments: Obi-
Wan meeting Anakin Skywalker, the introduction
of C3-PO and R2-D2 and many other treats.
But those not familiar with the trilogy can also
enjoy the film that works as any myth or legend
does, with the film's fantastic creatures and majes-
tically enacted battles.
There are a few scenes that stand out from the
rest of the film. The pod race scene on Tatooine is
an intense marvel that will have your heart thun-
dering from beginning to end. And to get your
blood racing just a little faster, the final lightsaber
battle is simply unbelievable.
It's evident that the choreography of "The Phan-
tom Menace" is light years ahead of where it was
in "Return of the Jedi."
Ray Parks as Darth Maul embodies pure terror.
It's possible that as "The Phantom Menace"'s vil-
lain, Darth Maul is even more frightening than
Additionally, there is a terrific scene in the
Republic Senate Chamber that rewards close view-
ing. Keep an eye out for cameo appearances by a
group of Wookies and a group of E.T.s.
Though the film is a joy, it isn't without prob-
lems. In fact, there are two glaring problems that
at times interfere with your enjoyment of the film.
Jar Jar Binks (voice of Ahmed Best) is a com-
puter generated character and an annoyance.
Though you might stare in wonder at what a tech-
nical marvel the character is, from the get-go it's
hard to bear him on the screen.
I'm sure Lucas intended him as some sort of
comic relief, but the whole time you're hoping he
will be the victim of stray blaster fire. On the
annoyance scale, he definitely beats the Ewoks
This is compounded by just how bad Jake Lloyd
("Jingle All the Way") is as Anakin Skywalker.
The kid just can't act and brings less range to the
a movie that brings pure joy while instilling a
sense of adventure and pride. The rebel forces bat-
tling the evil empire, embarking on a journey to
free the galaxy from those who would terrorize it.
Not many people will shy away from the first in
the new trilogy of "Star Wars" movies because of a
bad review. So despite critical attacks on the film,
it will break the bank. And that's a good thing.
"The Phantom Menace" leaves you with the
feeling of bubbly excitement that the first three
left you with, while deftly telling the story that
kicked off the original trilogy.
Centering on a conflict between the Trade Fed-
eration and the peaceful planet Naboo, "The Phan-
tom Menace" plants the seeds for the destruction
of the Republic and the genesis of the evil Empire.
Audiences are launched into the story when two
Jedi - Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson, "Michael
Collins") and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor,
"Trainspotting") - are dispatched to settle the
dispute. But there is something sinister afoot and
Sixteen-year-old Portman. Yeah, 16.
part than Mark Hamill brought to Luke. It's just
good that Anakin will grow up and Lloyd hopeful-
ly won't make a repeat appearance in "Episode
With the exception of Lloyd, though, the cast is
wonderful. Unlike in the original "Star Wars," Lucas
actually hired real actors for "The Phantom Menace"
Both Neeson and McGregor give solid performanc-
es as calm and collected Jedi. It will be a pleasure to
see McGregor really develop the role in "Episode II"
when he gets more screen time and a chance to take
more risks with the character.
As Queen Amidala, Natalie Portman ("Mars
Attacks!") proves that she's an actress to keep your
eye on. She can play regal and vulnerable without
missing a beat and is frequently a scene stealer,
giving the film's best performance.
Other respectable performances are turned in by
Ian McDiarmid as Senator Palpatine, picking up
his role from "Return of the Jedi," and Ingmar
Bergman favorite Pernilla August as Shmi Sky-
walker, Anakin's mother.
With only a few more minor problems, "The
Phantom Menace" is terrific. Though it's impossi-
ble not to come into the film without expectations,
try to imagine the mindframe in which .you saw
"Star Wars - A New Hope" "The Phantom Men-
ace" is better than "Return of the Jedi," but not
quite as good as "Star Wars" and "The Empire
Strikes Back." It's with the purity that you saw
"Star Wars" that you will best appreciate "The
1, The Beatles; Capitol/EMI
By Luke Smith
Nov. 30, 2000
Brand new Brit-pop quartet the
Beatles enter a music market flooded
with pre-fab boy bands with an
attempt to hang with popsmart rock-
stars and countrymen Blur and
Radiohead, they have released their
pretentiously-titled debut album 1.
Borrowing heavily from the
Rolling Stones and the Dave Clark
Five, the Beatles have jumped on the
British bandwagon, hastily following
in the footsteps of Travis and Oasis.
The Gallagher sound-a-likes borrow
hooks, melodies and even hairstyles
from the '95 Oasis release What's the
Story Morning Glory?
"Love Me Do" delves deep into
the land of "pop" music with simple
chord changes and catchy lyics. The
ambitious "I Want to Hold Your
Hand" is a silly long song geared
more toward the affections of your
parents and their parents than this
Complementary songwriters John
Lennon and Paul McCartney pen a
few sharp tunes of their own, but
pale in comparison to the genius of
the brothers Gallagher. "Hey Jude"
drags endlessly through a chorus of
"na na, na, na-na-na-na" redundant-
ly droning on for minutes on end.
There is no way this song will ever
be played on radio.
Liam-esque front man John
Lennon lacks the beer-swilling
swagger of his Liam, but sports the
Gallagher trademark sunglasses, as
well as the ear for a sweet melody.
"Help!" marks the beginning of
the change within the record, as
giddy titles and melodies shift to
more abstract concepts; clearly
marking a period of development
and growth during the recording of
"Yellow Submarine" lends
singing duties to another set of
pipes, with drummer Ringo Starr
sending his vocals to the front.
Starr's no-nonsense approach is a
fresh-faced change from the pitch-
shifting dueling harmonies of
Lennon and McCartney.
"Hel10, Goodbye," awash in
three-part harmonies and lyrics
about coming and going speaks vol-
umes for the pedestrian antics and
songcrafting the Beatles put on
their debut record.
The four mop-top Liverpudlians
are sure to elicit screams from
female fans in the midst of the boy
band craze, and the leather-clad
Backstreet Boys may have some-
thing to fear in this suit-wearing
pop quartet. Despite the all-too-
clear nods to the Police and Oasis,
the Beatles have proven themselves
to be more than brit-pop rip-offs.
Despite more often than not relying
on generic musical staples, the 27
songs on 1 very possibly could top
the charts if they are ever released
Beck meets 'U' at Hill Auditorium
By Gabe Fajuri and Chris Kula
Last night at Hill Auditorium, Beck
turned it up and made "all the people
The seminal solo artist of our genera-
Feb. 3, 2000
tion (so far), Beck
has been called
loser, slacker and
genius. On Thurs-
day, he proved
himself a master-
mind, both theatri-
call and musically.
For a solid hour
and 40 minutes,
Beck and his skin-
tight backing band
delivered a rous-
ing mix of funk,
folk and rock -
The bouncing hype of "Where It's
At" served as the perfect musical
springboard for "Debra," the crazy-
sexy-cool soul jam that closes Beck's
new album and was the showstopper
at the concert. When Beck hit the ultra-
high falsetto line "I met you/At J.C. Pen-
ney/I think your nametag/ Said Jenny,"
the ladies in the audience made no doubt
that they wanted to "get with" the man
Listening to Beck's voice reach
Smokey Robinson heights, one can't
help but wonder about its origin. To
quote Charles S. Dutton from the tri-
umphant '90s film "Rudy" "You're five
foot nothing, a hundred and nothing -
where the hell is that falsetto coming
from, young man?"
Not long after the band left the stage
following the romping, horn-driven
"Sexx Laws," the cheering masses were
granted a two song encore - but not
before they were treated to a display of
turntable wizardry from DJ Swamp. The
mix-man had supplied tasteful backing
effects throughout the show, but during
his short solo set let his chops fly and
left the crowd gaping at his dextrous
Beck and his hockey-pad clad min-
ions returned to the stage with the ear-
numbing "Novocaine" and ended the
evening with another ferocious "Odelay"
selection, "Devil's Haircut." Following
the final chords of the night, the band
degenerated into a state of total and utter
onstage anarchy with Beck leading the
charge. Horn players mounted stage
scenery, guitarists writhed across the
floor and the mastermind himself shuf-
fled offstage, shoulders burdened with
guitar stands, set to a soundscape creat-
ed by a thoroughly entertained audience.
x Brand new heavies - the Beatles.
to our. graduating
genre and warping labels.
From the opening groove of "Mixed
Bizness," Beck and Co. (made up of a
three-piece horn section, two backing
singers and the typical rock outfit) tore
through a mishmash of music lifted
from more than four of his releases,
including the latest - and greatest
party album of the year - Midnite Vul-
On stage, Beck cut a slight figure -
by far the smallest member of his
assembled ensemble. But stature was no
indication of the man's stamina, voice
and outpouring of energy that, once
rolling, nearly overwhelmed the sold-
Surrounded by industrial sized duct
work and bathed in a barrage of high
speed lighting, Beck took the audience
on a trip through the depths of his often
unintelligible mind, stopping at destina-
tions that included six additional tracks
from Vultures, including upbeat num-
bers like "Milk & Honey," "Peaches &
Cream" and "Sexx Laws," the album's
Though the first three songs of the
evening seemed a bit tentative, as soon
as the now familiar opening sample of
"New Pollution" rang through the loud-
speakers, a triumphant cheer escaped
the crowd's lips, an the Beck train was
truly off and rolling.
For a few moments, though, during a
mid-set acoustic' portion of the show,
the train nearly ground to a halt, though
Beck - adding harmonica to his
.acoustic guitar strumming - made
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