Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

1999

Action / Adventure

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn
Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala/Padme
Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker
1080p
1.80 GB
1920*816
English
PG
English
23.976 fps
2hr 16 min
P/S 334 / 617

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by wgh 7 / 10

A solid but flawed addition to the Star Wars Saga


Well, after waiting 16 years for his next installment, George has given us "The Phantom Menace". As a Star Wars fan I got what I expected - another chance to immerse myself in the Star Wars universe - a film whose sole purpose is essentially escapism. But as a movie fan, and judging it as I would any other movie, I frankly feel mildly disappointed. Any movie that's made can always be improved upon but I feel that this SHOULD have been better. Firstly the good points :

1) The visuals are stunning - a lot of love and hard work has quite obviously gone into the effects and the people involved can quite rightly be proud of their work

2) All the performances by the main cast were good. Particularly Natalie Portman and Pernilla August.

3) The Pod Race was exciting and amusing.

4) The final sabre duel was quite fantastic : Darth Maul prowling up and down like a caged tiger was a particularly excellent touch - it added real tension and anticipation to the scene.

5) The music as always was magnificent. The Star Wars saga would lose much of its charm and intensity without Williams' scores.

And now the negatives :

1) The pacing was too fast in parts! The first half hour of the film just left me cold - you weren't led into the story. You were dumped straight into the action. On paper I'm sure the first half hour looked fantastic but I found myself sitting in the theatre going - 'hey, great special effect shot there!' I wasn't involved in the story and the scenes lacked tension and danger.

2) The film only truly started for me on reaching Tatooine. I finally got a chance to get to know the characters. However there still was not enough character development in the film as a whole. For example, Obi Wan had nothing to do or say throughout the movie except flash his light sabre around from time-to-time. Who is Obi Wan??? After seeing the film I'm none the wiser. And the final sabre duel (good as it was) would have been infinitely better had the relationship between Qui-Gon and Obi Wan been explored past the mere mentor-apprentice motif. The final sabre duel lacked emotional involvement as a consequence.

3) Why did they make Jar-Jar so incomprehensible?? I found myself becoming annoyed at having to strain to understand his nonsensical utterings! (Having said that, he wasn't as annoying as I'd been led to expect) Why George used easily identifiable racial accents for his alien characters completely puzzled me. It just shows a lack of imagination!

4) Not enough Darth Maul.

5) What's with the biological exposition on the Force! Was that necessary? The first three films pointed to links between the Force and genetics but I don't need tiresome cold scientific explanations as to the Force's origin, thank you very much! It just ruins the mystique.

6) Can we have less of the mindless gaffes that occur in the final battle scenes (You know the ones that save the day!) Its an insult to the audience's intelligence (In a full theatre I swear I didn't see a single soul who looked under sixteen! - has George forgotten about the original fans). In the original trilogy there was none of this cringeful embarrassing material (Ewoks excepted!!)

Well I think I'll stop there. To summarise : a good movie that could have been a whole lot better. Perhaps there was too much story to cover in two hours? In which case the plot should have been shortened on the adage that "less is more". I've always thought that episode one was always going to be the lamest of the new films so I await the next installment with anticipation and hope .....

Reviewed by JohnIL 7 / 10

Too many "Yes Men" around George Lucas



Of course this movie had a ton of hype and what movie can live up to all of that....yada yada yada. Even allowing for that, this movie is somewhat of a dissapointment. This movie proves that it wasn't just special FX that made "Star Wars" fun to watch. It was as if George Lucas was so thrilled with what he could do with CGI effects, he forgot what made the original trilogy so great, which is writing and characters. It's not a bad film but the problems are many.

-Many people have forgiven this movie for being lackluster as they say "It is only the first in another trilogy and it is just setting up everything to follow". WRONG WRONG WRONG, this film needed to be it's own movie first and foremost as the other three films were. It needed to have good characters and a somewhat interesting story....it didn't.

-The conflict in this story revolves around a trade dispute and the fate of the planet Naboo. Was anybody really caring about this? The details of the dispute are somewhat vague and what is revealed doesn't real generate enough interest for us to root for a particular side. The important conflict regarding Darth Sideous and his rise is kept far far in the background. We don't even know why Darth Maul hates the Jedi's so much....he just does. Possibly Lucas wanted Darth Maul to be somewhat like Boba Fett (silent and mysterious). It worked with Boba Fett because he was only a supporting character, not a main villian. This film really has no clear villian. I wish somebody would have had the courage and just told Lucas that his basic story was lousy.

-Nobody looks particularly happy in this film. Qui-gon is really the only character that can be related to and even he is rather distant. The queen acts like a mannequin in much of her scenes (and looks like one to). Obi-wan Kenobi wanders through the entire movie to no avail and never says anything interesting. The characters never seem to talk about anything besides the plot (unlike in the first film). C3PO and R2-D2 were pretty pointless. The Jedi council comes across as extremely cold and buracratic. And I will never understand WHY they wrote Annakin as a grade school kid in this film. He should have been a teenager. His scenes with the queen were awkward. We're not even going to discuss Jar Jar.

Various other things...

-The "midochlorians" thing seems to have just been tacked on. The humor falls flat unless you are an extremely small child. Annakin destroys the trade ship at the end and safves everyone, basically BY MISTAKE!!! ILM and George Lucas seem to be so happy with their new CGI toys that they spent 95% of their time perfecting them. Quite frankly I thought the FX in "Return of the Jedi" were sharper, more dimensional and less cartoonish. Nothing all that memorable seems to happen here. This movie may never have been as good as the hype, but it could have easily been much better than this. I waited so long for this film, yet the first time I saw this movie I was actually bored in the middle of it.

There are good moments. The pod race was fun, as was the light sabre battle at the end. There are some very nice special effects throughout.


Hopefully Lucas just had writers block when he wrote this one. Maybe he will remember what made the other films so good in time for "Episode II". Though he seems to have botched the title of it already.

Reviewed by Grifter84 1 / 10

When does the hurting stop?


This movie is a perfect example of when what could have been one of the most brilliant movies ever is made, through the incompetence of only one man, into one of the worst. I cannot list in detail the number of ways this movie could have been made better, and they are all mind-bogglingly simple and all George Lucas's fault. Even so, I will try to condense them into a short list.

1. Actors/Casting - I have to give all of the actors credit for this because I know they tried their best, even Jake Lloyd. The movie did not give me a single reason why I should have cared for any of the characters and I can't explain why I did anyway.

I can't count how many times people have told me how much better Haley Joel Osment would have been in the role, and I am almost inclined to agree with them. Supposedly there's something dark and ominous about the Anakin character that all of the Jedi council can see, after all, he's gonna be Darth Vader, right? Osment projects that fear which leads to anger which leads to etc., and Lloyd just looks like your run-of-the-mill blond California Cabbage Patch kid. I'd call Jake Lloyd a terrible actor if it weren't for what the great sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card, who personally knows Lloyd, observed: "Jake Lloyd's a good actor, and it's a pity you didn't get to see that on-screen, since he had no direction or screenplay. In the same way, Liam Neeson is a great actor, but you didn't see that onscreen because he had no direction or screenplay."

Which brings me to my second fault:

2. Direction - Let's face it, George Lucas has lost it. He has gone from the great actors' director he was when he made American Graffiti to a special effects artist gone wildly out of control. I do give him some credit: It takes a lot of deliberate effort to sap all of the energy and life out of Ewan McGregor.

3. Screenplay/Plot - This is the section that really makes me wince, and proves that there is nobody left in Hollywood with the courage to tell George Lucas that he can't write. I mean, logical inconsistencies aside, this dialogue is simply ridiculous. If a first-grader were called in as a script consultant, he could most likely have improved this movie.


There are a thousand instances of questionable logic in this movie like, why did Queen Amidala reveal herself when she did? Why did she want to go back to Naboo so badly if it would do no good whatsoever and she would probably just get killed? Are we supposed to believe that a ten year old is going to have twins with her eventually? Why is she called a Queen anyway, if Naboo is supposed to be a democracy? Do the natives of Naboo share one collective brain cell to elect a teenager to run their planet? And what kind of name is Naboo anyway?

Beyond that, it doesn't even make sense in terms of the rest of the established Star Wars universe. For example, the shields that repelled blaster fire, obviously added so the death count would be lower and they could appeal to the 'family' market. Why do we not see them in the later episodes, when they seem to be of immeasurable tactical value?

As for the so-called 'Phantom Menace' conspiracy, does the initiation into the Jedi knighthood include an IQ curtailment? Why didn't those clods figure out at once that Palpatine was behind it all along? In the end, I found myself rooting for Palpatine/Sidious, simply because he was geometrically more intelligent than any of the other characters and would probably do a pretty good job of ruling the universe. At least he would be a better emperor than George Lucas is a screenwriter.

Well, it seems that I didn't do a very good job at condensing, but oh well.

I am ashamed to say that I saw this movie three times and hated it more each time. That it has grossed over $400 million makes me wonder that the entire American society doesn't grind to a halt as soon as someone sees a bright shiny object. Did I mention that the special effects were too amazing for their own good?

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