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 original glory.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 original glory.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 original glory.
Here's Your Cheat Sheet for the 'Star Wars' Saga
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
- Feb 15, 2011