Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (Movie Review)

Hey guys welcome back to another movie review! I know it’s been a while that I’ve done a movie review but hopefully in the next few weeks I shall have more reviews posted.

Today I’ll be reviewing a movie that is part of a well known franchise and that is Star Wars. I don’t like Star Wars. I LOVE Star Wars. Star Wars played a huge part of my childhood and still to this day I still enjoy the films and the video games that are out there. I’ll be reviewing the prequel trilogy first due to the sake of the chronological order the movies are in. So yes, the first film I’ll be reviewing is The Phantom Menace.

I know many people don’t like this movie or the prequel trilogy in general too much but I don’t mind the film and the prequel trilogy. Yes, the first movie seems dull at certain points but it’s watchable in my opinion. There are certain stuff in the movie that I thought was really cool so it’s not THAT bad. However, the best movie in the prequel trilogy is Revenge of the Sith. Hands down. I love that film. If Revenge of the Sith was bad, then the first two movies and the entire trilogy would’ve been trash. But thankfully the third film was great and it makes the first two movies and the entire prequel trilogy worth the watch. It’s like the first two films are telling us “Look I know this seems dull, but we got something huge to show at the end so it’s all worth it.” I’ll talk more in depth of Revenge of the Sith when it’s time to review that film. But right now let’s dive right in to The Phantom Menace.

The Phantom Menace is a 1999 film directed by George Lucas which stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Jake Lloyd, and Natalie Portman. The film starts off with a Jedi Knight named Qui-Gon Jinn and his padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi arriving at a Separtist ship to negotiate with the Trade Federation to end the blockade of several battleships in the planet Naboo. Darth Sidious who is a Sith Lord gives an order to Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray to kill the two Jedi and enter Naboo with the battle droids. The two Jedi who have good combat skills with their lightsabers manage to defend themselves against the battle droids and escape. The two Jedi go to Naboo and the invasion already has begun. Qui-Gon manages to save an gungan outcast named Jar Jar Binks from the invasion and he leads them to an underwater Gungan city. Boss Nass who is the leader of the Gungans refuses to help the people of Naboo after the Jedi try to persuade him. They eventually save Queen Amidala who is the queen of Naboo and escape on her starship. Her ship eventually gets damaged while going through the blockade.

The ship can’t go to hyperdrive so it must need to get fixed. They land on Tatooine and go to a junk shop to buy parts for the ship. Qui Gon, Jar Jar, a droid named R2D2, and Amidala who is in disguise as Padmè meet Watto (the owner of the junk shop) and his child slave Anakin Skywalker. Anakin Skywalker is a very good engineer and pilot. He created a protocol droid named C-3PO by himself. Qui-Gon feels a strong presence in the force surrounding Anakin. He believes Anakin is the “chosen one” that will bring balance to the force. Qui-Gon decides to free Anakin and his mom Shmi from Watto if Anakin wins the podrace he’s entering. After Anakin goes through some problems during the race, he still manages to win. Watto however decides to free Anakin only and not his mom. Qui-Gon tells Anakin and his mom the news about Anakin being free and how he’ll come with him to be trained as a Jedi. Anakin is happy but he’s upset he has to leave his mom behind but he still goes with Qui-Gon.

While Qui-Gon and Anakin are about to board the ship, Darth Maul makes his debut and clashes with Qui-Gon just before he enters the ship. Qui-Gon manages to retreat and boards the ship. Obi-Wan meets Anakin for the first time in the ship. They go to Coruscant with Queen Amidala so she can plead her case and Qui-Gon meets with the Jedi Council. Qui-Gon tells them he was attacked by Maul and the Jedi Council will find out the identity of his attacker. They don’t believe it’s a Sith Lord since the Sith have been extinct for a long time. Qui-Gon also asks the Jedi Council if he can train Anakin as a Jedi but the council has doubts. Anakin meets with the Jedi Council and grandmaster Yoda senses his fears about him losing his mother. He tells him “Fear is a path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Such a great line from Yoda. As the Jedi Council refuses to have Anakin being trained, Qui-Gon decides to train him himself and not have Obi-Wan as his padawan any longer. Obi-Wan and Qui Gonn himself believes Obi-Wan is ready for the trials. 

Amidala goes back to Naboo so Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan escort her back. Padmè reveals herself as the real Amidala to Boss Nass and asks them for their help against the fight with the Trade Federation. The entire droid army arrives at Naboo and the battle begins. Meanwhile Padmè and a few others goes after Nute Gunray in Theed (capital city of Naboo). Qui-Gon tells Anakin to stay at a vacant starship’s cockpilot but he ends up making the starship go on autopilot and joins the battle in space against the Trade Federation droid control ship. He actually turned out to be a big help during the space battle.

Darth Maul makes his appearance once again and the clash between Darth Maul and Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon begins. Padmè and her allies takes a different route to find Gunray. During the battle, Obi-Wan gets separated a bit from Qui-Gon so the battle is between Qui-Gon and Maul. Maul manages to kill Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan yells “NOO!!” as he sees his master die. Maul waits for Obi-Wan and the battle is now between them. Maul manages to have Obi-Wan hanging in the Naboo generator while he throws his light saber away. Obi-Wan uses the force to get Qui-Gon’s lightsaber and is able to jump back on secure ground. He strikes at Maul and Maul falls all the way down with his body split in two.

Obi-Wan rushes to his dying master and Qui-Gon wants him to train Anakin. Senator Palpatine of Naboo becomes Chancellor after he convinces Amidala to make a vote of no confidence in current chancellor Valorum back at Coruscant. Gunray is arrested and the Jedi Council grants Obi-Wan as Jedi Knight and allows him to train Anakin. Everyone is at Qui-Gon’s funeral and Master Windu and Yoda have a talk. They know for sure it’s a Sith that killed Qui-Gon but they don’t know if it’s the master or the apprentice that killed Qui-Gon. Obi-Wan also promises Anakin that he’ll be a Jedi. The film ends with a ceremony where Padmè gives gifts to the Gungans for their help.

That’s basically the entire film. As I finished seeing the film recently, I didn’t mind the movie for what it was. The introduction story of the prequel trilogy, the introduction to the characters,etc was solid. It is dull at certain points but still a good film in my opinion. It’s not great but it’s a good start to the entire prequel trilogy.

The character that stood out the most in this film was Jar Jar Binks. Just joking. He’s the least character that stood out. I didn’t mind his character but his character was definitely unneeded. If there was one major thing George Lucas could’ve done to make the movie better, it should be cutting off Jar Jar Binks and his race and instead add something else. Jar Jar Binks was just a time wasting goofy character. Lucas could’ve added something even better other than Binks but oh well.

Liam Neeson’s performance as Qui-Gon Jinn was good. Qui-Gon Jinn is a very wise Jedi who always obeys the Jedi code and throughout most of the film he keeps a close eye on Anakin. Even though he disagrees with the Jedi Council about Anakin being a risk to be trained as a Jedi, he still decides to train him. That shows Qui-Gon is fighting for what he thinks is right for the Galaxy and he has a lot of confidence that everything will go right. He was really good fighting with his lightsaber. It was really sad to see him die at the last act of the film.

Ewan McGregor’s performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi was good as well. It’s not his best performance in the prequel trilogy but still good nonetheless. He is an apprentice in this film and he was always obedient to Qui-Gon. He had good chemistry with Qui-Gon as well. He was a very good Jedi and his Jedi combat skills were great.

Ray Park as Darth Maul was amazing. His lightsaber was badass! At first he fought Qui-Gon at Tatooine with only one side of his lightsaber. But as he fought Qui-Gon and Obi Wan at the generator room at Naboo, his lightsaber was double sided. His lightsaber is definitely one of my favorite lightsabers in Star Wars. Darth Maul barely talked in the film but it did not matter because his lightsaber combat skills talked for itself. Darth Maul actually survived after Obi Wan “killed” him. I actually didn’t know that Darth Maul survived the battle between him and Obi-Wan. I think in the Clone Wars cartoon series, it showed that he survived and he wanted revenge against Darth Sidious. But don’t take my word if it’s in the cartoon series It may be in the Canon comics. I’m not sure. It would’ve been great to see him come back in the second film of the prequel trilogy. Darth Maul is probably the character that stood out the most.

Natalie Portman’s performance as Queen Amidala/Padmè was good. She’s a very clever woman to have a decoy of herself so she can be protected. She did whatever it took to have her home planet of Naboo be in peace once again.

Jake Lloyd’s performance as Anakin Skywalker was great. He is a little boy who always wanted to be free as a slave and follow his dreams. The film shows he’s very talented and him winning the podrace and him being in the space battle showed he has great potential to be a great Jedi. He’s very innocent in the movie and he’s the second character that stood out the most in the film.

Pernilla August’s performance as Shmi Skywalker was good. She was always nice and very supportive to Anakin. She always wanted the best for him. The chemistry between her and Anakin was phenomenal. The film shows well that she and Anakin were really close as mother and son.

My first favorite scene in the entire film was the battle scene between Darth Maul and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. That lightsaber duel was great. The prequel trilogy does have some flaws (except Revenge of the Sith) but all their lightsaber duels was top notch. My second favorite scene was when Anakin bids farewell to his mom and goes off with Qui-Gon to start his new journey.

The music in this film (and of course the rest of the films) was phenomenal. The opening crawl music intro of this film and even the other films gives me goosebumps. The music playing when Anakin bids farewell to his mom to go with Qui-Gon was amazing. The music perfectly fits with that scene! Also the music that plays when Darth Maul battles Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan is great. The music’s name is Duel of the Fates. John Williams is such a great composer. He’ll always be one of my favorite composers of all time.

But anyways guys, that wraps up my review of The Phantom Menace. This movie is not that memorable but it’s memorable at times for a bad reason (Jar Jar Binks, etc). This is my second least favorite out of all the current Star Wars films. There are good things in this film that showed it did have the potential to start off the prequel trilogy. But there are dull things that could’ve been replaced with something better. If you have seen the original trilogy but not the prequel trilogy then I would recommend seeing the prequel trilogy. It’s definitely worth the watch. But if you’ve never seen any Star Wars films, then I’d definitely would suggest seeing the original trilogy as soon as possible. It’s one of the best trilogies in cinematic history.  Stay tuned for my next review which will be Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. 🙂

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