Director: George Lucas
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Jake Lloyd.
The storyline, much like earlier installments, is simple yet captivating. Still present are the obvious influences from myths and fables we are all familiar with and that give the story an undeniable credibility. Good versus evil was never presented so well as in the Star Wars movies and this installment is no exception. There are some good new themes as well, such as the critique on how governments are often tangled up into a useless web of red tape and procedure. The characters are all well done (and played well by their respective actors), especially the underutilized Obi-Wan and Darth Maul. The latter is a particularly effective villain who has certainly earned a spot next to Darth Vader as the ultimate villain (the word most frequently used to describe Darth Maul: Baddass). Neeson and Portman were commendable as well as young Jake Lloyd, who manages to do a reasonable job (he is only 9 years old and has to say lines like "yipee!"). The one character that I found myself not liking too much was the always goofy Jar Jar Binks, whose antics were sometimes (actually, never) funny, but oftentimes just annoying.
I must admit that, when I first found out just how many special effects shots there were, I felt that Lucas may have jumped the gun a bit and used too much computer generated imagery. But the special effects were first rate all the way, despite maybe a minor problem here or there (latex doesn't look too good when compared to cgi). The action sequences were breathtaking to say the least, especially the light saber dual between Darth Maul, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. No zombie like movements here and I wouldn't dare to give away any more details than I already have.
To put it simply, the movie is not perfect but I still loved it and in my opinion it has lived up to the hype (of course, I tried my hardest to stay away from the hype). Remember that this is possibly one of the hardest movies to make; Lucas has to lay the groundwork for the next two films while keeping in mind that we already know how the story will end. Not to mention the fact that people have been waiting for this film for well over a decade. Any problems with the film are definitely minor and will eventually be forgotten (except maybe Jar Jar). There are a few things that could be exploited well in the next two movies that would make this movie seem better (and of course, the opposite is true). The previously mentioned underuse of Obi Wan and Darth Maul was not necissarily a problem because they leave you starving for more (the same way I wanted to see more star destroyers and more of Boba Fett). And no, Yoda's dialog does not seem forced and Mace Windu's light saber does not say "bad mother fucker" on it (though I think Qui-Gon's did). The force was with this movie. There is a certain subconscious, intangible glory that permeates the film and the audience alike making for a wonderfully entertaining experience that is sure to capture (or recapture) the imagination of a new generation.
Did you notice:
The actor who played Willow (another George Lucas flick) at the Pod Race?
The familiar breathing pattern at the end of the credits
The conspicuous "Intel Inside" stickers that suddenly appeared on C3PO and R2-D2? (Just kidding:)
"The ablilty to speak does not make you intelligent." - Qui-Gon Jinn
"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you." - Yoda
"And you, young Skywalker; we shall watch your career with great interest." - Senator Palpatine
Are you sure the midi-chlorians are "good"? Since they don't appear in the later films, one could reason that they are "evil".
Will Darth Maul make an appearance in Episodes II or III (as a clone perhaps)?
Will George Lucas decide to kill off Jar Jar Binks or maybe just make him more usefull (please!!)?
Do the steriotypes (Asian Trade Federation? Black buffoonery of Jar Jar?) presented in the film detract from it?
How awesome was that Light Saber dual (or, uh, tri-meet)? And is it possible to top it?
Star Wars: IMDB Page
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (VHS - Widescreen): Special Edition, comes with a booklet and movie cells. Tape also has a behind the scenes featurette.
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (VHS):
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (soundtrack): Music composed by John Williams
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (book): Novelization written by Terry Brooks
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