Review: Star Wars The Phantom Menace audiobook

I was surprised when I first listened to it that not only it contains sound effects and music but also added bits that aren’t in the films. As such the motivations of some of the characters are flashed out a bit from the films and some of the order of the scenes means they’re in a slightly different order.

Some examples:

  • Anakin’s first race – the one where he crashes the pod – is described. As is him working on his own pod and Watto sending him off to the Jawas to barter for droids including I believe the droid Jar Jar sets off in the shop “hit him on the nose”. To barter he takes C-3PO along with him to advise which is nice to see for a boy who knows everything.
  • Anakin’s motivations: He is obsessed with Padme stating after their first meet that he’ll marry her – a thought he has again a few times. He dreams of her [leading forces into the battle] and admires her when she fights to retake Naboo.
  • Anakin’s motivations of a tough guy surviving slavery and fighting his way through. Anakin’s portrayal in the films isn’t that bad for what we’d think of a slave. He gets to leave early, has a fairly good home, free time. He’s certainly not a kid working 16 hours in a factory doing manual labour. The book hints that life isn’t quite so easy.
  • Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The book talks a bit more about the rift between them following the meeting of the council. QGJ knows him suggesting he’ll train the boy was a sign of rejection to Obi-Wan and they then don’t talk unless about other things for days until they return to Naboo. In the film there’s just a brief scene where Obi-Wan asks if QGJ is sure he’s ready for the trials.

The audiobook was done wonderfully. The occasional sound effects work really well and aren’t too frequent, loud, or overdone. For example R2-D2 doesn’t always make his sounds. Ships make a sound taking off but not continuously. Surrounded by droids the marching sounds is heard by a couple of seconds, but not the entire time. The Duel of the Fates is played at the first appearance, not throughout the entire battle.

Terry Brook’s voices are spot on and so similar to the film. Some of my favourites were the “vote of no confidence” scene in the senate, Obi-Wan and QGJ, Boss Nass, and even Yoda is pretty good. I’d have liked to hear a bit more of the harsh flat voice of Padme, but suppose that’s quite hard to replicate. A major criticism of mine is the pronounciation of Palpatine who is pronounced as Palpa-thai-n rather than Palpa-tee-n. With all the odd sounding names of people and locations, I am surprised that this could have gotten so wrong and really killed immersion for me, especially during the senate part where he’s obviously mentioned a lot.

4/5 – The audiobook and novel don’t change the world, but they supplement well. The extra sections work, similar to the Force Awakens audiobook, and it has the feel of an extended cut. If it wasn’t for the immersion killer of the Palpatine pronounciation it probably would have been a 5/5.

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