Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

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Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Meesa dislike dis.

Everyone loves the old Star Wars trilogy, and most hate the new, and I’ve seen them all…but don’t agree with most everyone. To me, both trilogies are different projects and should be seen as such instead of being compared to each other. That being said, I knew the first movie of the newer trilogy was without a doubt the worst, but I’d like to explain why today. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace may have some really, really important bits throughout the film, but MOST of it was unnecessary garbage that doesn’t make a lot of sense…and that’s just as a movie all on its own. Let’s just say the difference between this movie and, say, a parody…is a thin line.

The Phantom Menace when you get down to the nitty gritty is about the introduction of Anakin Skywalker, later known as Darth Vader – and how he came into the world of the Jedis, and where Obi-Wan Kenobi comes into play. Queen Amidala is also introduced, purely for her importance later on in the series. The rest of it is meaningless, but there are some really great parts with Darth Maul thrown in towards the end.

When I was a kid and first watched this film, I wasn’t really ever paying close attention to anything because it was Star Wars, and that’s all that mattered. I loved it then, because it was a dream come true, but watching it time and time again, I realize a few things. The entire movie, as just a movie, is pretty bad. The entire film is filled with annoying characters and a ludicrous plot. Let’s take a look at the plot – it’s about a trade federation trying desperately to get a bill passed that makes an invasion legal, so they can legally invade Naboo. Are you serious? You don’t have to legalize an invasion, you just invade, end of story – and the ENTIRE movie is based around this absolutely bonkers plot. But like I said, they filled the story because they couldn’t just introduce one character, they had to have some wars in some stars too…their choice in the matter wasn’t the best though.

Beyond that, you have characters that you can’t stand, including Anakin himself and Jar Jar Binks. Both characters are equally as annoying, and turn this movie into something that no longer feels like Star Wars, but instead some kind of silly kid’s sci-fi flick. Jake Lloyd’s presence doesn’t help matters though, for the boy that would one day come the darkest villain ever. He was just a dweeb that whines all the time, and Jar Jar was just annoying. He was created to be annoying, complete with a voice that purposefully sounds idiotic. Past that, all Gungans aren’t as annoying, but they’re up there.

Finally, we don’t have the best visual effects in this movie. There may be better effects here than the original trilogy, but in a war between practical and visual effects, I prefer practical. Practical effects are smarter, and harder to make, but the audience can tell that something is actually there when they filmed. Almost every creature in this movie is CGI-based, and not rendered in a way that looks real – at least not anymore. Almost everything in this movie was a disappointment.

Okay, so what’s actually good. A couple of things come to mind – the concept of the movie. They had to tell the story in order to introduce Anakin Skywalker – so the concept is very good. Also, Darth Maul is one of the most memorable villains in film history. He’s dark, demonic, that face and that double-edged saber is something you’ll never forget…ever. That combined with the Dual of the Fates song that John Williams composed makes the last half hour of this movie unbelievably great. Unfortunately that’s the only real GREAT part of it, the rest is either bad or just okay.

The Good:

Alright, so this IS Star Wars, as many flaws as this film has, it still feels mostly like a Star Wars film that fits in with the franchise. Plus, this introduced a brand new way lightsabers were seen and used – and I don’t care what you think – this way is much better than the original films.

The Bad:

A lot – but I’m just going to boil it down to two things – annoying characters and a ludicrous plot that carries on for far too long.

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3 thoughts on “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

  1. What to say about this film. The biggest frustration about Episode 1, and indeed all of the prequels, is that there is nothing wrong with the story despite some what may say. The problem lies with the execution. The acting is so dull and lifeless it’s hard to believe and it is true it features two of the most annoying characters ever to be seen on screen. Obviously as a Star Wards fan I have the DVD, I just don’t watch it. Probably will as we get closer to Christmas.

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