The Phantom Menace came out in 1999 and I was six years old when I first saw it and I loved it. I saw it four times in theaters, and thought that it was the most awesome thing since Return of the Jedi. Everybody was excited for this movie and no one even thought that this movie could be bad. People camped out during months for this movie the hype was insane and… well, the movie sucked.
There is nothing remotely exciting that happens throughout the majority runtime of this movie. There are a lot of exposition scenes, where people are just sitting in a room talking and the dialogue is so boring and awful that it makes it so unbearable to watch. The film should be re-name Star Talk, instead of Star Wars, which is exactly what this film is.
The movie starts out and Obiwan Kenobi and Qui-Gon-Jinn are sent by Chancellor Palpatine to negotiate trade negotiations in order to free the Planet Naboo. The opening action scene to The Phantom Menace is fine, and why do Obiwan and Qui-Gon have superspeed for scene and then it is completely dropped? It just doesn’t make any sense.
The two Jedi are in their prime and it’s cool to see for the first time in the Star Wars saga, but you soon realize that they never show fear or emotions of some kind whatsoever just like every actor in this movie. The trade turns out to be a trap set by Viceroy Nute Gunray and the two Jedi meet on Naboo, where they meet Jar Jar Binks. This CREATURE is the worst character ever invented. I can’t think of a character more useless, boring, stupid and just plain offensive. Twice in this movie Jar Jar could just have left to never be seen again but no he just has to stay around in order to entertain the kids at home.
The two Jedi go to the underwater Gungan and this world actually looks cool. The two ask Gungan leader Boss Nass to lend them a ship so that they can help the Queen of Naboo. They decide to tag Jar Jar along for no apparent reason. This guy is useless. “No, no, Mesa, wants to stay, Mesa, wants to tag along.”
So we have no choice but to endure Jar Jar as the two Jedi travel underwater as they encounter sea creatures that are eating each other one after the other, just like a food chain. In the entirety of this scene, none of the Jedi except Jar Jar seem stress at all. They just travel through the water as if everything’s fine which makes this scene feel tensionless.
They eventually arrive to the capitol city and free Queen Amidala, ruler of Naboo and flee the planet with the Queen’s ship, which is damaged as they pass through the negotiation blockade. The ship is saved by R2D2.
The crew soon finds the planet Tatoinne, where they could find some pieces in order to repair the ship. Qui-Gon brings Jar Jar along for some reason and not Obiwan, and the Queen sends order that she wants Amidala to join since she wants to learn more about the desert planet.
Our main characters soon meet Watto, who is a powerful businessman and has the parts they need but won’t take credits. They soon meet Anakin Skywalker, who is to become Darth Vader, and his first line spoken is to Natalie Portman, “Are you an angel?”
That’s the big opener that Darth Vader has? Really? It’s horrible and awkward too. It just doesn’t work.
It’s interesting that Vader has been born on the same planet as Luke, but him building C3PO is so forced and illogical.
Some people really like the Podrace scene but I always found it to be one of the most boring parts of the movie. It’s so long and uneventful. It’s like thirty minutes of this movie and it’s something that would have never been part of the original trilogy. The race seems so… boring and not exciting to watch at all. There is no suspense whatsoever.
It goes on forever until little Ani finally wins and he is freed while his mother is left behind since Qui-Gonn can’t bring her because they are explosives inside her head. Would you really just let a stranger take your son? He is a Jedi, but it just doesn’t really seem like something a mother would do.
Every performance is stoic and wooden and you just don’t care about any of the characters so the action scenes have no weight. It’s hard to blame any of the actors for any of these performances. Jake LIoyd is not good as Anakin Skywalker, but he was nine during the filming of this film and no other child actor would have done a much better job. Every actor is stuck in this director’s movie and it makes everyone look bad.
Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor are all trying their best, but every performance in this film is stale and completely wooden. I’d say that Natalie Portman gives probably the worst performance in the entire film after Jar Jar. Samuel L. Jackson is fine as Mace Windu but he doesn’t do anything in The Phantom Menace. He’s probably the most useless Jedi in the entire movie.
Yoda, who was one of the greatest characters in the Empire Strikes Back is terrible in this movie. He doesn’t even look like a real character. The decision to make him a soulless, unfunny character was fucking awful. It lost his entire personality and it made him a boring and lifeless character.
I challenge you to find a main character in The Phantom Menace. The prequels are supposed to be about Anakin Skywalker, but he doesn’t appear until 50 minutes into the movie. So whom are we rooting for? Qui-Gon has the most screen time, and is Obiwan’s master, but he doesn’t matter in the rest of the Star Wars saga. So why not make Obiwan the main character and have him find Anakin on Tatoinne when he’s like 17 years old? Anakin could have saved Obiwan from danger and the two could have become friends. Obiwan never wants to train Anakin, so you don’t feel as an audience member that they are friends at all.
There are some positives that this movie offered us, and that is Ray Park as Darth Maul. Everybody likes Darth Maul. You know why? He barely talks. He doesn’t have to say George Lucas’s terrible dialogue. “At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge.” Those are literally like the only lines that Darth Maul has in the entire film. He is shrouded in mystery and is without a doubt the best part of The Phantom Menace.
Darth Maul arrives on Tatoinne and he fights Qui-Gon and you get the feeling that Darth Maul means business. Ian Mcdiarmid is also one of the bright spots of the prequel, and probably is the actor that takes the most risks. It’s great to see him back as The Emperor, even though his scheme here is to make the queen sign a treaty, which makes you think he doesn’t want her to sign the treaty since he won’t get into power if she does.
The special effects themselves feel dated. The whole film feels artificial. Nothing seems real. Everything was done on a giant green screen and that doesn’t help your actors when the only indication you give them is “Do that better, or more intense next time.” George Lucas was never a director who worked well with actors and in The Phantom Menace, it completely shows.
The next thirty minutes of the movie are endless political debates that happen on Coruscant and it’s this portion of the movie that everybody alive get’s bored out of their minds. The dialogue is terrible so it just is unbearable to watch. Coruscant is by far the most boring aspect of the Phantom Menace, and it feels like it lasts forever. People are walking and talking, sitting and talking and it never ends! The Jedi Council are all useless in this movie. They don’t want to train Anakin and all they do is sit in their chair and do nothing for the entire film. Why didn’t go after Darth Maul when Qui-Gonn and Obiwan we’re fighting him? Because the screen play is written by George Lucas.
The finale of this film is way too bloated. There is way too much going on. There is the battle between the Gungans and the droids that take place and that should not have been in this film. It’s just not exciting. We don’t really care about the Gungans as a species because they’re the same species as Jar Jar so we’re not invested.
Anakin accidently blowing the ship is just dumb. That scene just feels out of place and it would have been so much better if he had been older.
Padmé leading the guards to arrest Gunray needs to be there, but it’s not really exciting. It just sort of happens and there’s no real tension to the scene because you don’t care at all about Padmé. It’s more entertaining than the Gungan’s war that for sure, but it’s still pretty uneventful.
The battle between Darth Maul, Obiwan and Qui-Gon is hands down the best part of this movie. It’s exciting, beautiful to look at and actually engaging and the song Duel of the Fates, is one of the best theme of the entire series, even though there’s no really conflict happening.
You guys all know what goes down. Darth Maul kills Qui-Gon, Obiwan falls through a shaft. And Darth Maul just swings his lightsaber at him, which doesn’t do anything. He’s not even touching him. All he does is make pretty little sparks. So instead of doing something logical like using the force to cut Obiwan in half with his lightsaber he just stands there, letting Obiwan the time to get Qui-Gon’s lightsaber and chop Darth Maul in half. The body falls down in the pit and Obiwan goes to Qui-Gon’s body, who isn’t dead yet, for some reason, and Qui-Gon tells him to train Anakin and Obiwan accepts his master’s last wish. And it’s so weird that Yoda just accepts that Obiwan trains Anakin even though he said no twenty minutes prior. What changed? The council has a funeral for Qui-Gon like in Return of the Jedi because apparently Luke just knew that that was the Jedi way.
And there’s this big celebration at the end just like in episode 4 and in Return of the Jedi, and I will say that I do like the music at the end. It’s happy and makes you feel good because you’ve just spent two hours and a half watching a terrible movie.
Overall, The Phantom Menace is a watchable bad movie. You can watch it and be somewhat entertained by it since it is a Star Wars movie. However, it is very underwhelming, the special effects are also already dated, the acting is wooden, the dialogue is horrendous and Jar Jar is an abomination to cinema.
Star Wars Episode 1 a very disappointing movie that should have been a lot better than it was concerning the hype and everything that came before it.
Favorite Characters: Darth Maul, The Emperor
Favortie quote: “At last we will reveal ourselves to the jedi. At last we will have revenge.”
Favorite scene: Darth Maul fight scene.