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

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1:34 | Trailer
Two Jedi 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 claim their old glory.

Director:

George Lucas

Writer:

George Lucas
Popularity
171 ( 52)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 26 wins & 65 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Liam Neeson ... Qui-Gon Jinn
Ewan McGregor ... Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman ... Queen Amidala / Padmé
Jake Lloyd ... Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid ... Senator Palpatine
Pernilla August ... Shmi Skywalker
Oliver Ford Davies ... Sio Bibble
Hugh Quarshie ... Captain Panaka
Ahmed Best ... Jar Jar Binks
Anthony Daniels ... C-3PO (voice)
Kenny Baker ... R2-D2
Frank Oz ... Yoda (voice)
Terence Stamp ... Chancellor Valorum
Brian Blessed ... Boss Nass (voice)
Andy Secombe ... Watto (voice) (as Andrew Secombe)

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Storyline

The evil Trade Federation, led by Nute Gunray is planning to take over the peaceful world of Naboo. Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi are sent to confront the leaders. But not everything goes to plan. The two Jedi escape, and along with their new Gungan friend, Jar Jar Binks head to Naboo to warn Queen Amidala, but droids have already started to capture Naboo and the Queen is not safe there. Eventually, they land on Tatooine, where they become friends with a young boy known as Anakin Skywalker. Qui-Gon is curious about the boy, and sees a bright future for him. The group must now find a way of getting to Coruscant and to finally solve this trade dispute, but there is someone else hiding in the shadows. Are the Sith really extinct? Is the Queen really who she says she is? And what's so special about this young boy? Written by simon

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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The Saga Begins May 19th See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for sci-fi action/violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Keira Knightly claimed that although they tried to be consistent having her play only Sabé when she is decoying for Queen Amidala, there are a few long shots of her standing in for Natalie Portman when Padmé is supposed to be in-character as the Queen. See more »

Goofs

When Queen Amidala is standing before a big window (she watches the Trade Federation enter the city) she is wearing a dress with lights at the bottom. Behind her the power cable of those bulbs is visible. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Qui-Gon Jinn: Captain.
Republic Cruiser Captain: Yes, sir?
Qui-Gon Jinn: Tell them we wish to board at once.
Republic Cruiser Captain: [to communication device] With all due respect, the ambassadors for the Supreme Chancellor wish to board immediately.
Nute Gunray: [on view screen] Yes, of course. As you know, our blockade is perfectly legal and we'd be happy to receive the ambassadors.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Visual effects crew fuelled by Michael Smith of Javva The Hutt See more »

Alternate Versions

The DVD reinstates footage into the feature and increases its running time by 3 minutes. Restored footage includes the Coruscant air taxi sequence, extended starting grid sequence and extended lap two sequence. See more »

User Reviews

 
A perspective after all the hype has died down
29 October 2005 | by kylopodSee all my reviews

Lucas may have problems as a director and writer, but I've always thought that those flaws are balanced by his great storytelling ability. The problem with "The Phantom Menace" is that he simply has no story to tell. The film merely adds an introductory chapter to a story that has already been told, and stretches it out into a two-hour movie. It is no accident that prequels of this kind are rare. They are very difficult to make properly. And apparently he's just not a sophisticated enough filmmaker to pull it off.

For one thing, this project is limited by the fact that anyone familiar with the first trilogy knows the story's outcome, and it therefore lacks some of the suspense associated with a gradually unfolding saga. More importantly, however, this situation leaves Lucas with very little freedom as a storyteller. It also encourages him to gloss over key events; because their outcome is a foregone conclusion, he forgets to bring them to life.

For example, we know there will eventually be a romance between Anakin and Padme. So Lucas has the two characters meet here and--surprise, surprise--they seem to like each other. Their developing friendship isn't portrayed that clearly, and their motivations for becoming close aren't explained. Because Lucas fails to make scenes like these believable, we can't help being conscious of how he's manipulating the plot in his effort to connect the two trilogies. Another good example of this problem is Anakin's portrayal as a potential Jedi. There doesn't appear to be anything about this kid remotely out of the ordinary, even though the other characters keep talking like there is. Our only reason for thinking he's special is that the plot requires it.

If the story fails to be engaging, it is because we never see the important events. Lucas makes a fatal error in not showing what's happening on Naboo, the small planet whose capture is the focus of the plot. Numerous atrocities are supposedly being committed against the planet's inhabitants, but we only know about this because the characters on screen refer to the events, usually rather woodenly.

The deadpan performances are a problem in themselves, but they only highlight our lack of involvement in the story. Think of Han Solo sweating in fear, then think of the emotional vacuums passing for characters in this film. Whenever any of the characters do express emotion, as in the scene where Anakin and his mom part, it still seems awfully restrained. Somehow, Lucas manages to keep the emotional reactions of his characters to a minimum, which gives the film an almost mechanical feel.

It's true that "A New Hope" never showed Alderaan's inhabitants, but we still could feel the tragedy of the planet's destruction through the horrified reactions of Princess Leia and Obi Wan. Moreover, there were many other involving events which we witnessed directly, such as the slaying of rebels at the beginning; the capture and torture of the princess; and the murder of Luke's foster parents. Furthermore, the major plot elements were intriguing in and of themselves. They weren't there merely to show us how they were to be linked to later events, which seems to be the case with the new film.

I suspect that Lucas was not as concerned in the first trilogy with what had to happen later in the story and was therefore able to focus his attention on the events at hand. The weakest segment was "Return of the Jedi," which had the task of bringing the story to an end. Only then did Lucas start to show signs of forcing plot points. In "The Phantom Menace," he gets so bogged down in the task of bringing his story from point A to point B that he ends up with only the bare bones of a plot, and none of it comes alive.

This is especially true of the characterization. In the old trilogy, characters like Yoda and Han reveal distinct personalities in their first few minutes on screen. This film goes for more than two hours and the characters, including the familiar ones, come off vague and nondescript. We aren't given much of a chance to experience their personalities in the way they interact. We must take Qui Gon's word for it when he describes Obi Wan as "headstrong." What's most odd is that the cartoons seem better developed than the humans. The scenes where Qui Gon negotiates with the birdlike slave-owner Watto are amusing and well-done--probably the movie's best scenes aside from the stunning action sequences--but they can't hold a candle to the constant interactions throughout the first trilogy.

One thing I cannot do is accuse the film of lacking creativity. The design of the creatures, the technologies, and the planets is impressive. Watching the film is sort of like reading a children's book that isn't very good but abounds with beautiful illustrations. There is certainly a "wow" factor in the movie's visuals, but the effect of it is short-lived.

I get irked when I hear fans talk as though the "Star Wars" movies were never about anything beyond special effects. While the inventive visuals are part of what made the originals so revolutionary, they're not what made the films so fun to watch. And in no way can they explain the trilogy's continuing popularity today. After all, many of the original effects look primitive by today's standards, and their novelty has certainly worn off. Only an enduring and compelling storyline could have allowed the first three films to become the classics they're almost universally acknowledged to be.


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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 May 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Star Wars: Episode I - The Beginning See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$115,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$64,820,970, 23 May 1999

Gross USA:

$474,544,677

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,027,082,707
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lucasfilm See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital EX | SDDS (8 channels)| DTS-ES | Dolby Atmos

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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