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From the Wire: Director Eli Roth’s Negative Review of ‘The Phantom Menace’

From the Wire: Director Eli Roth's Negative Review of 'The Phantom Menace'

Before he was “Hostel” director Eli Roth, he was aspiring filmmaker and “Star Wars” nerd Eli Roth. And today at Huffington Post, Mike Ryan unearthed a fascinating document from Roth’s early, angry period: his cranky, jokey, fairly accurate review of “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” from 1999, written for the now-defunct culture website LeisureSuit.net. Among the review’s many highlights: Roth’s claim that the movie made him want to punch someone in the face, and his fantasy of an romantic tryst with the “totally hot” Natalie Portman. 

Reached for comment about the review, Roth told Ryan:

“I didn’t really worry about making enemies because I was dead certain nobody I mention in the review would ever read it. Oops. Now I know the people at Skywalker and they’re so nice and invite me to all kinds of Star Wars events, but I’m guessing that now that you’ve unearthed this treasure I won’t be on their Christmas list, despite my enduring love for ‘Star Wars.’ (Note to everyone at Skywalker — I was young and impressionable and still hadn’t had sex yet.) Now I look back at that review and all I can say is, I’m so happy I have a life now. Having received similar scathing reviews (and worse ones), I read it and laugh and realize that the only crime against cinema was getting that upset at a movie that was never intended for me. I’ve met so many young people who love the ‘new’ Star Wars films, because that’s who they were made for.”

Here’s the lede to the piece that might get Roth nixed from the Lucasfilm Christmas list:

“Few films in history have had greater anticipation than ‘The Phantom Menace.’ People have been waiting on line for over a month to get tickets. I know I have been waiting since 5th grade, following every rumor in ‘Starlog’ and on the Internet. So here’s the kicker: IT SUCKS. I’m sorry, it does. I know it’s sacrilege to criticize George Lucas or the Holy Grail of movie trilogies, but after waiting 16 years I can honestly tell you this film is an unbelievable disappointment. People may say that waiting 16 years for anything will be a disappointment, but I waited 16 years to get laid and that really lived up to all my expectations. Okay, I’m lying, I didn’t get laid until I was 18, but you get my point.”

Hold up. “Star Wars” nerd Eli Roth jokes that he got laid when he was 18, but “Hostel” director Eli Roth jokes that he still hadn’t had sex when he wrote this “Phantom Menace” review back in 1999 — when was 27 years old. Which Eli Roth is telling the truth? Either way, you’re going to want to read this review. It’s pretty funny.

Read more of “Eli Roth’s Lost ‘Phantom Menace’ Review.”

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