Mixed or average reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 36
  2. Negative: 6 out of 36
Watch On
  1. 91
    Phantom may not be the best entry in the series, but it's the most technically accomplished, and it makes you as hungry for the next film as you've been for this one.
  2. 88
    An astonishing achievement in imaginative filmmaking.
  3. Reviewed by: John Podhoretz
    Forget the hype, and the backlash. The Phantom Menace is captivating.
  4. A highly entertaining and visually breathtaking movie, capable at times of rocking and delighting you.
  5. 88
    Not a masterpiece, but it's an example of how imagination, craftsmanship, and technological bravura can fashion superior entertainment out of something that is far from flawless.
  6. Avoid the hype, just go enjoy the movie
  7. Reviewed by: Janet Maslin
    It's up to snuff. It sustains the gee-whiz spirit of the series.
  8. Reviewed by: Ted Fry
    A breathless, exciting family movie with a couple of truly memorable sequences, and just enough in the way of story and character to keep the franchise going for another 20 years.
  9. 75
    Let the killjoys squawk. Lucas has proved he has the Naboos to pull it off again. And again. And again.
  10. The computer-driven effects are impressive, but the adventure is hampered by a flat screenplay, dull acting, and just a hint as to why the dark side of the Force will eventually transform cute little Anakin into the evil Darth Vader.
  11. 70
    Despite a shaky start and the presence of questionable elements throughout, by the time it arrives at its finale -- which copies Return Of The Jedi's triple-climax structure -- The Phantom Menace has won its place alongside the original Star Wars trilogy.
  12. Fails to recapture the elemental magic of Star Wars, and that, ironically, is because it represents the coarse culmination of the original film's adrenaline aesthetic.
  13. It does the job just fine. That job, as director George Lucas freely admits, is quite simply to thrill the beating hearts and the inquiring minds of 12-year-old boys.
  14. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Good enough, but only just. It's got the hardware, but neither the characters, the imagination, nor the resonance one had hoped for.
  15. In the end, Phantom needed more human and less digital scale. The magic of "Star Wars" lay in Lucas' ability to play the human comedy in a fantastic future. With Phantom, he has brought the series to the brink of total artificiality, the future as a video game.
  16. 60
    It's a kiddie movie rejiggered for childish grown-ups, of whom there are enough to make it a hit. How such childishness has become a virtual secular religion is hard to imagine.
  17. Not at all bad for a toy commercial.
  18. 60
    What I mean is that to watch The Phantom Menace as a lifelong "Star Wars" fan is to engage in constant, fragile negotiations between a cherished familiarity and the shock of the new.
  19. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Phantom is easily consumable eye candy, but it contains no nutrients for the heart or mind.
  20. Reviewed by: Greg Burk
    I warn you, I'm gonna continue whining about the movie. Just keep in mind that I liked it.
  21. 50
    The entire film is curiously soulless, with major characters making their entrances and exits (some of which are unexpectedly final) as if they were breezing in from some other screening next door.
  22. 50
    "Star Wars" fans deserve better.
  23. Reviewed by: Sean Means
    It earns an "Incomplete'' -- because we won't know the results until we see Lucas' next chapter.
  24. In special effects, Lucas has moved a galaxy beyond. In energy, not yet.
  25. While the new film is certainly serviceable, it's noticeably lacking in warmth and humor, and though its visual strengths are real and considerable, from a dramatic point of view it's ponderous and plodding.
  26. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    Story. Character. They used to mean something to George Lucas.
  27. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    All the state-of-the-art technology in the world is no help to an actor saddled with Lucas's tinny dialogue.
  28. Reviewed by: Andy Jones
    Not only is it just a movie, it's just a ho-hum movie.
  29. It is likely to disappoint more people than creator George Lucas would have liked.
  30. Reviewed by: Tom Keogh
    It's a complete drag.
  31. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    Computer technology may be the actual phantom menace, after all.
  32. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    George Lucas does it his way in the pallid Phantom Menace. Even cultists will wish he'd hired a director and some writers.
  33. This ain't no movie. It's a very long, very tedious infomercial for Phantom Menace action figures, on sale now at a Target or Toys "R" Us near you.
  34. 20
    The Phantom Menace is simply a billboard for itself. Anyone who sees it will be experiencing it for the second time. The hype was not about the movie, the hype was the movie.
  35. Reviewed by: Calum Marsh
    Feb 5, 2012
    It's difficult to discern precisely where this all went wrong, and even more difficult to speculate about possible improvements.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 594 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 88 out of 170
  2. Negative: 45 out of 170
  1. VincentV.
    Sep 28, 2008
    Dear George, the story was okay, just okay, but the very boring race, jar jar binks and the failed tries to be funny just made it a long Dear George, the story was okay, just okay, but the very boring race, jar jar binks and the failed tries to be funny just made it a long annoying movie... Full Review »
  2. Nov 1, 2010
    George Lucas's epic masterpiece before the dark times.
  3. Jan 8, 2013
    Okay, let's face it: If episode I would have been the first star wars movie, there would not have been a episode II. If the only (good) thingOkay, let's face it: If episode I would have been the first star wars movie, there would not have been a episode II. If the only (good) thing everybody remembers about a movie are some eye-candy scenes (and I am talking of course about the pod race and the double light sabre duel), you know your movie is in trouble, because it fails on all other levels: storytelling, character development, acting, pacing and tone. This movie feels like a well-calculated commercial product that should deliver to all audiences, but it's all about a shiny surface and nothing beyond that. And let's not forget about Jarjar, the most annoying character ever to be put in a movie. Full Review »