on February 11, 2007
Okay this is old now I know, but re-watched it the second time.
Overall - better then I remembered and worse all at once, the DVD had some awesome special features though.
Summary: that start of the Star Wars series. Don't think I need to sumarize this one. See Anikin Skywalker as a kid, see young Obi-Wan, see Jar-Jar and a pod race.
The good: the effects are awesome. It's Star Wars, sure it's not the best Star Wars but it's still better then 90% of the movies that come out. Darth Maul rocks. Young Obi-Wan is awesome. The pod race is pretty cool. Seeing Corusant for the first time was sweet. The battles are great.
The bad: Darth Maul dies too easily (now not as easy as Dukoo or General Grevious). The pod race is cool but long. Kids can't act and Anakin is no exception. The budding love between Amidala and Anakin is creepy. Jar-Jar annoyed me. I much prefered 3P0 for comedic releif. He wouldn't have been that bad if they didn't have to slip him into every scene.
The ugly: Midicloriens and the virgin birth of Darth Vader. WTF?!? I can overlook Jar-Jar, but not the scientific explanation for The Force. Why not leave it mystical like it was. Why not leave every viewer with that faint hope that The Force does exist and if they just try enough they can use it. Why rationalize it. Argh I hated that, and still do and always will.
Overall: worth seeing if you are a Star Wars fan. There was no way in hell no matter how good it could have been that it would live up to the original series. Some people will love it, some will hate it, but its still Star Wars and it's still a good time.
on June 18, 2004
This was a nice way to begin the Star Wars Saga. Immediatly, we are introduced to Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn and of course our main hero, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The film takes off from the Federation Control ship to the awesome Pod Race and then on to the final battle on the planet Naboo. This film is action packed and worthy of being called a Star Wars movie. The characters are well set up for Attack of the Clones and gives us a whole new look on Star Wars. Best Scene: The Three Way duel between Darth Maul, Jinn, and Kenobi is a Star Wars fans dream!
"We'll watch your future with great interest!"
- Chancellor Palpatine to Anakin Skywalker
on June 29, 2004
I was one of the only people in the world who did not see "The Phantom Menace" in theaters, and instead waited until it came out on video and all the hype had died down. Perhaps this was why I did not see it as a monumental disappointment, since I didn't watch it believing it was going to be the best movie of the year. This is one of the most bashed films of modern times, and I don't think it deserves all of its negative publicity. Ironically, for how bad everyone says it is, Lucas still got what he wanted out of the movie- it's still the highest grossing post-"Titanic" film (though "Shrek 2" is closing fast, and "Spider-Man 2" may reach it also), and was the third-highest grossing film of the 1990's when adjusted for inflation.
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.
on June 29, 2004
This movie gets a lot of criticism and I understand why: Childish humor, the annoying Jar Jar Binks, and the prevalence of dull dialoque among some not so great actors (e.g., Nathalie Portman (even though she's not bad to look at!), Captain Panaka (why did Lucas even consider him! etc) and even some good actors (Liam Neeson & Ewan McGregor). Despite all that, I think the movie is a fun, fast-paced film that introduces a lot of the aspects that will occur in the sequels. The special effects are notable, but are overwhelming at times. I like the new advancements, but not to the point where the film cannot mesh with the original trilogy. Contrary to many, I think the pod race would have been better if it were shorter. The film definately excels more in the FX department than in the substance department, but really that's what the sequels are for....This film serves to grab your attention and introduce you to the Star Wars universe. Many criticize the plot, but I found the plot no less developed than other SW films. Aside from some of the criticisms, I really appreciate the new different look to the film with more colors, grandiose vistas and flowing designs, and really find the subtle references to future films really thoughtful. Although the film is not as good as the originals (which part of me would rather that it not be as good), the movie is entertaining, fun to watch and definately worthy of the Star Wars title......
on May 4, 2004
Now I'm not a nerd, I'm a geek, there's a big difference!!
I really enjoy this Star Wars movie. Great special effects, a touch of humour, even Jar Jar is witty if you give him half a chance.
Darth Maul was my favourite charecter in this one. I'ts a pity he bit the dust but there are some awesome lightsabre battles to enjoy between him and Qui Gon (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan (Ewan Mcgregor). Speaking of Obi-Wan, Mcgregor did a really great job of playing a younger version, he had Alec Guinness down pat.
The pod race was also awesome, reminded me of the chariot race in Ben-Hur. Natalie Portman was a little reserved but considering she was playing the queen of Naboo I don't know what else people expected. Loved the younger Yoda in this and was interesting to see Palpatine as a politican in pre-Emperor days behind the scenes operating like a puppet-master.
Being a Star Wars fanatic, I awaited this movie like none other since the original trilogy and the day it came out I went twice and was not disappointed, the people who hate this film really need to find peace in their lives and quit being so petty and bitter. And don't hate me for liking this film, I'm really a nice guy!
Thanks for reading.
on May 6, 2004
The most eagerly-awaited prequel in movie history, "Episode I: The Phantom Menace" carried so many false hopes into theatres many were bound to be disappointed. But the problem isn't with the movie itself, which is first-rate. There were just too many people who had their own ideas of what the first new Star Wars film in nearly a generation should be like for creator George Lucas to possibly satisfy. Sadly, those persons' negative reviews have somewhat marred an otherwise phenomenal blockbuster, which by any well-reasoned definition is a highly worthy extension of the beloved Star Wars mythos.
Even the film's critics agree that this movie looks spectacular. Lucas spared no expense in the set design and special effects, and the result is simply magical. From the iconic architecture of the planet Naboo to the wastes of Tatooine and the cold reaches of space, everything shimmers with life and you almost feel like you could walk right into the story yourself. Beyond that, the story itself is excellent and in line with the familiar Star Wars formula of good vs. evil on an interplanetary scale. Likewise, the cast is terrific and does a tremendous job. Liam Neeson is an commanding Qui-Gon Jinn who dominates every scene he is in, and Ewan McGregor is also excellent as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi just growing into his full power but clearly destined to be one of the greatest Jedi of all. Natalie Portman's Padme is appealing and believable, and Jake Lloyd is surprisingly effective as the ill-fated Anakin Skywalker. Ian McDiarmid lends a sinister air as the shadowy Senator Palpatine, whose suave elegance barely conceals his true dark nature.
Yes, there is Jar Jar Binks, and while Jar Jar does occasionally strike a funny note he is more often annoying. And young Mr. Lloyd does have to utter some rather painful lines from time to time. But these minor flaws hardly hinder the overall drama, which is quite strong. Particularly moving is Anakin's final dialogue with his mother, when he stands at the crossroads of his destiny and realizes that once he chooses which path to take, he can never look back. Of course there is also the famous pod race, a deadly race against fate that shoots across the Tatooine desert like lightning. The masterful extended climax (divided amongst no less than four different battles)is incredibly exciting. Here young Anakin foreshadows Luke Skywalker's later Death Star heroics, and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan face the diabolical Darth Maul in an incredible display of lightsaber wizardry.
No review of this film would be complete without mention of John Williams's usual fantastic score. The soundtrack is magnificent, one of the most thrilling any movie has ever had, and it should've been used a bit more liberally in "Attack of the Clones."
Not only is the movie great, but the DVD is something special too. There are tons of special features that are sure to enhance what should be an already awesome viewing experience.
Overall, most of the negative press this movie got was undeserved. The characters are strong, the action unceasing, and the final product is nothing less than sensational. If it's not quite as good as the original Star Wars films, "The Phantom Menace" nonetheless recaptures the spirit of those immortal movies and opens a brand new door to wonder and fantasy. Don't be afraid...come on in!
on October 2, 2001
I think this movie is great. The saber duels and 3d are one of the best I ever seen.
The negative about this movie is that jarjar is in it. Did chewy make stupid jokes in episode4-6? No! And that thing about our cells talking to the force? I mean, comeon! The force is supposed to be something that you cannot explain, like God, not anything logical that scientists have proof of.
And the story are a little bit shaking. Anakin was a good P I L- O T when obiwan met him, not a R A C E R. How can he then learn exactly how to fly a fighter in a minute when adult people learn to fly only after a year? Sure luke is a good fighter, but i dont think he flied when he was 9 years old. I know Lucas can do better than this, its clear that he did this movie to make money. But I read that he creates episode 2 especially for 12-year old children, "if adults like it, then its just a plus", he said that on an interview.
We can only hope the force is still with him, like it was 30 years ago...
on February 1, 2000
In the sixteen years since the release of Return of the Jedi, I have patiently been waiting for the next installment. I believe that comparing The Phantom Menace to the other films is totally unfair. It's the beginning of a much longer story, and it has only been a part of our culture for less than a year. The others have had 20 years to grow on us. For most Star Wars fans, their favorite Episode is The Empire Strikes Back. Mine, however, is The Phantom Menace. The level of storytelling that is going on throughout the movie is overwhelming. This is just the beginning to a story that everyone already knows the end to. As for Jar Jar? Well, I had trouble understanding him, but in no way did he ruin the film for me. As for living up to the hype? No film in the world could have lived up to the hype that surrounded this one. Comparing it to The Matrix? They are two totally different films. No words of mine will change people's mind about what this film should have been and what it wound up being. If you didn't like it, give it some time to grow on you. What is in store for us in Episodes II and III are sure to be mind blowing. When we can finally sit down and watch all six movies in chronological order, the flaws that The Phantom Menace has will be of no matter.
on March 4, 2000
"Phantom Menace" is simply a good movie, not a great one. The sheer volume of the pre-release hype and the stellar expectations which resulted are at least partially responsible for the many unflattering reviews that the movie has received. It is probably unfair to expect George Lucas, or anyone else, to completely measure up to expectations and hype that his original movies did not have to contend with. However, "Phantom Menace" does have problematic features, along with successful formulas.
The story itself is actually not bad, given that this movie was to reveal the origins of characters and events that would become grander and more complex over time. Saving Princess Amidala from the corporate clutches of a greedy Trade Federation and its senatorial allies (how late 20th century!) is certainly appropriate work for Jedi knights. It is even a fittingly inauspicious way for Lucas to unfurl the greater saga that emerges in the later movies. However, concentrating on 9-year-old Anakin Skywalker gives the movie too much of a juvenile feel, thus trivializing some of the more serious and interesting themes. Ironically, the young audience that Lucas is appealing to was surely baffled by the unduly complicated story line which pitted corporate greed and bureaucratic caprice against Jedi moral righteousness and galactic republicanism (again, how late 20th century!).
The acting is average--generally, the younger the actor, the less credible. Regrettably, the most formidable characters, such as the members of the Jedi council, only make brief appearances, and even then seemed too aloof to help the sometimes sagging plot. Also, there are a few unfortunate ethnic and racial stereotypes that would best be left out of future episodes. The only major exception to the otherwise bland cast of characters is Darth Maul. Though he delivered few lines, his presence actually carried weight and even a certain dark charisma. His dueling and martial arts skills were first rate, and the lightsabre battles are breathtaking. In a way, it's a pity that he is killed in this movie, for he would definitely have been a worthy villain for the next episode, or until Anakin Skywalker is finally "seduced" by the dark side.
In most instances, the special effects worked quite well. The ever-present computer-generated imagery usually meshed well with "real" scenes and action. Some scenes were over-done, such as the pod race and the final battle on Naboo. And unlike the first three movies, the heavy reliance of "Phantom Menace" on technology, robots, and non-humans to carry the plot and do the bidding of human characters obscured some of the more intriguing, human nuances that were so well portrayed in the earlier movies.
The musical score was disappointing and hardly measured up to the standards that John WIlliams set in "Star Wars" and "Empire." It's not that the music is bad, but just the average sci-fi fare--not epic and passionate as the earlier scores were. Overall, "Phantom Menace" is a B+ movie in A-movie wrapping. However, it is probably enough for now, assuming that there are better things to come from George Lucas.
on January 8, 2003
Solid good fun from George Lucas' fertile imagination that precedes the events in his 1977 blockbuster Star Wars (the second-most successful film of all time after Titanic at press time). In this episode, the story suffers from being overburdened by a strong emphasis on computer graphic animation: where the first three entries in the film series (which has practically become a religion for some) succeed because of their excellent character development and very tangible emotional quality, The Phantom Menace has a rather hackneyed plot and no truly sympathetic characters. Resisting the strain of this size a project can't be easy, though, and the film's stars Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Liam Neeson do exceptionally well, as does Pernilla August (The Best Intentions) in a supporting role. The plot involves Queen Amidalah (Portman) doing her best to ease difficult trade relations between unfriendly planets, and Jedi Knights (McGregor, Neeson) who after discovering a force-blessed young man named Anakin Skywalker (aka Darth Vader) are compelled to escort him safely back to the Jedi counsel for closer examination (watch for the scene where Anakin's mother talks about how she conceived him-it might remind you of something...) Jake Lloyd's performance as little Anakin is terribly weak (even for a child actor) and all the obvious racial stereotypes that Lucas indulges himself in (the shady vehicle salesman has an Italian mafia accent, and the duplicitous dignitaries from the outer reaches of the galaxy are distinctly Japanese) mar the clean enjoyment this film has potentially to offer. None of these myriad of criticisms, however, can compare to the sham of Jar-Jar Binks, a character who dresses like Lenny Kravitz and has an accent that can only make one think of Prissy from Gone With The Wind. Confirmation of his being featured in the next film of the series was met with dire disapproval. My favourite part of the film, at least for historical importance, is the part where C-3PO first introduces himself to R2D2: watching the start of my very favourite ... romance in all of film history almost leaves my eyes misty. This is the first film George Lucas has directed since the original Star Wars film in 1977.