Among the host of new characters, there are a few familiar walk-ons. We witness the first meeting between R2-D2 and C-3PO, Jabba the Hutt looks younger and slimmer (but not young and slim), and Yoda is as crabby as ever. Natalie Portman's stately Queen Amidala sports hairdos that make Princess Leia look dowdy and wields a mean laser. We never bond with Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), and Obi-Wan's day is yet to come. Jar Jar Binks, a cross between a Muppet, a frog, and a hippie, provides many of the movie's lighter moments, while Sith Lord Darth Maul is a formidable force. Baby-faced Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) looks too young and innocent to command the powers of the Force or wield a lightsaber (much less transmute into the future Darth Vader), but his boyish exuberance wins over skeptics.
Near the end of the movie, Palpatine, the new leader of the Republic, may be speaking for fans eagerly awaiting Episode II when he pats young Anakin on the head and says, "We will watch your career with great interest." Indeed! --Tod Nelson
Of Disc Two's cornucopia of bonus features, the most notable are the seven deleted scenes and a long documentary. The deleted scenes, which are all interesting enough to watch at least once, can be viewed individually or as a group along with discussions of why they were cut. These rough scenes were completed for the DVD and parts of them (including an introduction of the individual Podracers and a longer view of the skies over Coruscant) were reincorporated into the version of the film that appears on the DVD. The 66-minute behind-the-scenes documentary was compiled from 600 hours of footage shot during various stages of the film and includes Anakin screen tests, script-reading sessions, location shooting in Italy and Tunisia, and giddy fans on opening night. --David Horiuchi
I see "The Phantom Menace" as simply an entertaining adventure. It has a criminally slow first half, but some of the scenes in its second half are truly spectacular, such as the pod race and the Darth Maul fight. Everyone says how bad the acting is, but I found most of the actors passable- only Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker irritated me. The special effects are incredible for the most part, and the final space battle leaves you breathless.
Of course, "The Phantom Menace" is not a great movie by any means. Darth Maul was criminally underdeveloped, and the Trade Federation bad guys were dull and lifeless. Whenever Jake Lloyd appeared on the screen, I wondered if I was watching a dumb kids movie. Overall, "The Phantom Menace" simply cannot compare with "The Empire Strikes Back". Then, of course, there's the immortal Jar Jar Binks. If Episode III has a chance of being as successful as the original "Star Wars" films, it will feature Jar Jar's slow and painful death, perhaps replayed over and over again in a flashback.
In the end, "The Phantom Menace" is just a couple hours of good entertainment, neither as bad nor as good as many claim it is. I actually slightly prefer "The Phantom Menace" to "Attack of the Clones", which was boring and too serious for its own good. However, there may be some nostalglia factor there- I miss the days of 1999, when everything was going great and the world had nothing better to do than freak out over the new "Star Wars" movie.
I was mightily dissapointed with this movie, and I could go on and on about contrived plots and love stories, purile dialogue, and gungans who could insult the intelligence of a horsefly... but I wont.
The DVD in itself was very well made, worthy of the LucasArts logo.
But (and maybe I was expecting too much), I found the movie uninteresting, the stakes not high enough, and I didnt care if any character lived or died.
And I fell asleep. Read more