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
During the first week of the first trailer's release, many theaters reported up to seventy-five percent of their audiences paying full price for a movie, then walking out after the Star Wars: Episode I trailer was shown. See more »
Qui-Gon says that he tried to free Shmi too "but Watto wouldn't have it". Watto is not a powerful nobleman. He is a bankrupt and disreputable junk dealer in a town run by gangsters. Qui-Gon could easily find local muscle to help "persuade" Watto. See more »
The opening logo for 20th Century Fox is static (to match the opening of previous Star Wars movies), instead of the animated 3-D logo used in Fox films at the time. The Fox logo also fades out halfway through the fanfare, and the final flourish is played over the Lucasfilm logo. Modern Fox films keep the company logo on-screen throughout the entire fanfare. See more »
The 2011 Blu-ray version replaces the Yoda puppet with a computer generated Yoda. See more »
Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace is written, produced and directed by George Lucas and stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd and Ian McDiarmid. The fourth film released in the Star Wars franchise, it is, however, the first of three prequels that lead up to Star Wars that was released in 1977. Plot basically follows Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Neeson) and his apprentice padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor), who escort and protect Queen Amidala (Portman) from Naboo to Coruscant in the hope of finding peace as an interplanetary trade dispute starts to boil over. During the journey the party stops over at Tatooine and encounter a young boy named Anakin Skywalker. The Jedi feel the force is strong with young Skywalker and enlist him into the group with the intention of training him to become a Jedi Knight. Meanwhile, as hostilities escalate in the galaxy, the mysterious Sith is moving into the equation.
The most anticipated movie of all time arrived in 1999, hyped into the stratosphere, the fanfare and bunting stretched from Hollywood to the far corners of the cinema loving world. Perhaps unsurprisingly? The Phantom Menace failed to meet the expectation of Star Wars fans and critics alike. That the film in box office receipts alone made almost $930 million, has, tended to be forgotten. But that's not to say the film deserved such rich financial rewards, because all told it didn't. It's not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a fun movie experience, and in retrospect it can be said that Lucas and co learnt from the film to make the next two film's in the series better. Mistakes were made, for sure, but for action and intrigue the film scores points well enough.
On a personal note, I was one of the fans who came out of the cinema after watching it the first time and hated it. So whilst I wasn't one of the "fans" who at the time accused Lucas of ruining childhood memories, I was suitably annoyed to stay away from the film for over ten years. After the prequel trilogy had run its course, I was often asked by some film loving friends to give "Menace" another go. Their argument was that free of hype and expectation, "Menace" can really be enjoyed as a sort of popcorn and beer sci-fi blockbuster. And they were right. Watching it sparkle in HD and disassociating it with those golden memories of 77, 80 and 83, it has much to enjoy. Sure the old problems still exist, dodgy acting (why is McGregor playing it so fey?), Binks (aargh), fart gags (really Mr. Lucas? Really?), close to the knuckle racial stereotyping and the absence of a Hans Solo type to stir the blood of both sexes. While of course the writing is borderline tepid, full of a need to explain things and prove itself as a reason to exist. So yes, full of flaws (many others exist for different people of course), but the whizz bangery of the action and set pieces keep it, to my mind, far away from stinker status.
The pod race, a souped up extension to Return of the Jedi's speed-biker pursuits, is one of the series' highlights, as is the showdown between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Darth Maul (Ray Park), a superbly cool villain with an even cooler double ended light sabre. The latter of which is excellently scored by John Williams and features top notch choreography. The battles widen the eyes and the ears, notably the Droid army versus the Gungan's, and there's a whole host of new creatures and aliens to get acquainted with (check out those underwater beasties). The charge of CGI overkill is a fair one, and this issue is a more prominent problem in standard HD, never mind the Blu-ray, as the non human characters look too obviously CGI next to the human's. Which is just another reason to pick apart what's wrong with the Phantom Menace. But why do that? Sit back, relax, munch some snacks and sip that beer, it's not that bad a movie experience. Honestly. 7/10
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