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Two Jedi Knights escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to reclaim their old glory.

Title :Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace(1999)
Rating :6.5/10
Release : 5 November 1999
Genre :Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Runtime:2h 16min
Director:George Lucas
Writers:George Lucas
Stars :Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman

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Star Wars: Episode I trailer

Star Wars: Episode I review

I think it’s important to note that when The Phantom Menace came out, I had just turned 15 and was so excited for new Star Wars. I bought toys and books and partook in this silly sweepstakes campaign through Taco Bell where you had to buy large soft drinks to get tokens to possibly win a million dollars (I never won anything). This is all to say, I was in it. And when I watched it in theaters, I liked it. I was a dumb, sci-fi obsessed kid. It wasn’t until later that I realized it was bad. In fact, I liked all the prequels the first time I saw them and then later went “Oh…” So, I now own the prequels on Blu-ray (for experimental purposes) and I’ve thrown in TPM.

I think at once, Episode I is the best and worst looking of the prequels. It was made at a time when George Lucas was still trying to perfect his and ILM’s visual effects, and a lot of them, especially the larger battle scenes toward the end, don’t look very good. Jar Jar and some of the battle droids look pretty good, but the backgrounds of the Naboo pastureland look like half-rendered video game footage by today’s standards. However, it was shot on actual sets and locations so it looks the most like the original trilogy because the characters aren’t all on blue screen sets interacting exclusively with tennis balls on sticks… the downfall of the later prequels.

There’s still a texture to the filming in The Phantom Menace, mostly because it was actually shot on film, so we get things like the Theed palace and grounds looking actual like they were actually filmed outside. Anything on Tatooine had a much different feeling than stuff shot in a studio. And for that reason, I think this movie actually looks pretty good. Yes, it has the late-’90s funk all over it, but it’s actually real. People wore prosthetics some of the time; it wasn’t all CGI creatures. Oh, hey, the Blu-ray replaced crappy-weird puppet Yoda with slightly better CGI Yoda. All right, cool!

That’s kind of all the good things I have to say about the movie. I’m not going to pile on and talk about how certain performances (all of them, really) aren’t very good and how Jar Jar Binks was an unimaginably huge mistake. We all know this. What I AM going to talk about is how Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace might just have the most convoluted, least sensical plot in history (excuse the hyperbole; I haven’t rewatched the other two prequels yet).

First, we need to point out that George Lucas, for all his faults regarding these three movies, had a vision, and that vision was to repeat everything good about the original trilogy. He also produced the films himself and answered to no one. That’s not bad in theory. But what is bad is that it seems like they went ahead with a first draft of the screenplay and nobody ever stopped to tell him it makes no sense at all and is a narrative and conversational mess.

Darth Sidious’ plan makes no sense given what he wants the outcome to be. Lucas wrote Sidious and Senator Palpatine (whom we already know are the same person) like completely different characters with no knowledge of each other. The whole plot hinges on the Trade Federation occupying the planet of Naboo in order to force Queen Amidala to sign a treaty that “makes the invasion legal.” And invasion is never legal, that’s why it’s called an invasion. A legal invasion would be called “a dinner party.” But this is all a ruse so that Palpatine can call for a vote of no-confidence against the Republic Chancellor so that he could take over. Right? Like, that’s the plot?