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5.9

Mixed or average reviews- based on 492 Ratings

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  1. Jan 8, 2013
    3
    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) 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. Expand
  2. Nov 1, 2010
    10
    George Lucas's epic masterpiece before the dark times.
  3. Sep 24, 2011
    5
    "The Phantom Menace" is a decent movie that I would overall recommend only to those obsessed with the franchise because the film is a explanation film that connects what happened before the age of Luke, not amazing CGI or powerful quotes like the other ones did.
  4. Feb 5, 2012
    4
    When people say this movie is good, they can't back themselves up with the story, only with the effects. The movie continuously adds on to the characters character, we always question their decisions, and don't understand why anyone doesn't act like a normal person.
  5. Nov 21, 2011
    10
    IMO the best Star Wars film. I thought it was great from start to finish. The acting was good, The story was far more interesting this time around as well.
  6. Jul 1, 2011
    2
    The Phantom Menace takes away from everything the original Star Wars films were all about. A good story, likable and relatable characters, a universe that drawed you in, and good acting. The Phantom Menace (one of the most hyped and anticipated films of all time) manages to do almost none of these, trying to please our minds with childish humor, bright colors, and silly, ridiculous characters. *Hint* Jar-Jar Binks is one of the worst characters ever created in any movie...ever. The other problems arise with some utterly horrible character development and acting in general. Liam Neeson leads the cast as the strongest but still stumbles and falls here and there. Natalie Portman comes over as likable, but we never get to know her character enough to even care. The same goes for the new villain, Darth Maul, who would have been better if we had learned a bit of his backstory. Obi-Wan is played by Ewan McGregor, who fails on all fronts and just gives a bland impression. Lastly Anakin Skywalker just...well he's a kid, and he's an actor with a decent future but just comes across as though he is reading the script in front of him. Overall Phatnom Menace is a disaster and the worst Star Wars yet. Expand
  7. Feb 26, 2013
    1
    Jar Jar, midi-chlorians, droids, The Trade Federation, C3PO built by Darth Vader are just a few reasons why I have a mirror shatteringly bad feeling about this.
  8. Apr 27, 2013
    3
    The Phantom Menace may be one of the biggest cinematic disappointments of all time. Although it would have been almost impossible for this film to live up to the ridiculously high expectations that the fanboy's had but upon it, the final product is so monstrously dull it has unearned the dubious honor of one of the worsts films I have seen. Although the pod race and final duel scenes were quite enjoyable, I can't shake the feeling that the only reason they stand out is because of the awfulness that surrounds the picture. Expand
  9. Mar 28, 2011
    10
    Let me say a few things: 1. I love this movie just as much as the other five movies. 2. I actually like Jar Jar Binks. 3. I actually find the concept of midichlorians interesting. 4. I didn't think there was too much CGI, but rather, it was just the right amount. 5. I actually took interest in the Senate scene. 6. I didn't think there was a problem with Anakin being called "Ani" considering he was nine years old in the movie. 7. Acting was just as good as in the original trilogy.

    You haters offended? Good, because you don't deserve any respect.
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  10. Feb 19, 2011
    10
    This is just as good as the entries in the original trilogy, it has an enjoyable plot and characters, and great actors, and really gives you a feeling of excitement for the rest of the trilogy, a must see for Star Wars fans.
  11. May 10, 2011
    10
    The Phantom Menace is an UNDERRATED MASTERPIECE!!!!!


    "The Phantom Menace" WOW! The audience went ape s-(well you know the rest) every time I saw it. I couldn't get it out of my head, I read the novel 3 times (after I seen the film) that summer, as well as the screenplay. Man I love this film, and the more I see it the more I love it. Qui-Gon, Darth Maul and Watto three of my top ten
    favorite characters. 8 times between May and Dec. of '99, and every time I seen it the crowd cheered, and at the end erupted in applauds. It was cool, very cool. For me I didn't want to see a rehash of ANH, and what I got was a new twist to and old universe. I was pleasantly surprised by the out come, of all three prequels.

    To this day I still LOVE this movie. It's just gets better and better!
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  12. Aug 18, 2012
    8
    Holds a special place in my list as the first movie I can remember seeing in a theatre with my father. It's a good movie, but the prequel trilogy is no comparison to the original films.
  13. Apr 6, 2012
    10
    Alongside seething anticipation and mountains of specific expectations for something this movie absolutely wasn't, people hated it. Lucas' problem was in make a movie in a franchise that wasn't comprised of 95% material presented in previous films. Lucas wanted to go beyond what he did before, when people were expecting the same. People wanted a movie that had some happy character development that reinforced their happy little lives, but they got way more than that, and all it did was piss them all off.

    Episode I has high political commentary including the nature of politics and warfare, nearly unmatched special effects, depth of world and lore that only great sci-fi's have, and much more. Next time you want to not like this movie, really consider if it's based on what your friends say or how you felt while watching the movie.
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  14. May 21, 2012
    10
    Awesome movie, haters gonna hate. Awesome movie, haters gonna hate. Awesome movie, haters gonna hate. Awesome movie, haters gonna hate. Awesome movie, haters gonna hate. Awesome movie, haters gonna hate.
  15. Mar 19, 2013
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The locations and scenery are beautiful and exotic; the extremely well-done overall design of each planet and the specific places we are taken to is proof of that. From the lush and delectable beauty of Naboo to the vast and overwhelming city-planet of Coruscant, the environments are simply wonderful to behold. I simply don't understand why the use of CGI in the film is ridiculed as it is-CGI is something created by humans, just like animatronics-I don't believe CGI is "less human" than animatronics. The CGI enhances the visual quality of the environment and the characters that are CGI; this was what CGI was created to do, after all. The action sequences are amazing to behold, especially in the film's 20-minute climax; the pacing was perfect-the quick cuts between the three major conflicts matched the intense, fast-paced style of the battle-George Lucas' mastery in the visual arts was evident in the film. The symbolism and mythology-a Star Wars hallmark-is still a force to be reckoned with. Darth Maul's image, the duality in characters like Palpatine, and the symbiosis between prevalent organizations are all compelling, as well as the character types. Speaking of characters, I enjoyed Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Padmé, and Anakin. I was interested by each of their journeys, and where they began and ended. I cared about them, as well; they weren't "wooden" and "boring," and nor were the performances behind them. The writing was good-not written by a 5-year-old-Lucas kept me interested in the characters and the story. I liked the politics involved in the story, as I am very interested in politics. The pacing for the story was good, as well. The supposed "plot-holes" are easily explained and/or easily ignored, and are more like nit-picks than actual criticism. I realize the problems both certain fans and critics alike have with this film-I understand their criticisms, but, to me, they either hold no water, or aren't significant enough to undermine the film, as I see it. I thought at least some of Jar-Jar Binks' antics were funny; he didn't annoy me, and I'm willing to bet he didn't annoy most of the kids who watched the film. Not only was Jar-Jar a character for kids, but he represents a "wise fool" in the film. Additionally, I hope people realize that this film isn't "universally hated;" look at this site-62% of fans gave this film a 3.5/5, and 57% of critics, just 3 points under "fresh" status, gave the film a positive review. All in all, Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace is an excellent film, and a more than worthy beginning to the saga; if you haven't seen it already, it is at least worth watching once. Expand
  16. Jun 17, 2011
    0
    Incoherent, dull. No characterization. clunky dialog. Headache-inducing overly busy CGI. If the original Star Wars movies had never been made this would be a forgotten cult movie watched merely for the lulz.â
  17. Nov 12, 2010
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This movie is alright, it's not bad, but still it was good.

    Jar jar binks was kinda annoying but he was funny at the same time.

    The action sequences were cool and the characters were good.
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  18. Apr 28, 2013
    7
    Despite all the fanboy hate, Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace was a decent sci-fi adventure film. There are some impressive scenes like the pod race and the climactic light-saber duel. The political maneuvering of Palpatine is also fun to watch. The movie is overlong, though, and slips in to tedium now and again. Still, nowhere near a bad movie.
  19. Jan 3, 2012
    10
    It begins as a great film, Liam Neeson is absolutely amazing!! But then comes in jar jar and Annakin, all at once this film becomes a kid's movie. I may be a hippocrit because I watched it when I was 5 and thought that jar jar was my favourite character from the new trilogy (Obi wan still is #1). The beggining and the end are amazing, but other than the car race, Annakin is waaaay too cutesy and jar jar's failed attemps at being funny make me face-palm. Expand
  20. May 10, 2011
    0
    I was one of the original SW fans who camped outside the multiplex up to a year before The Phantom Menace opened in May 1999. Fair enough this was the Odeon in Manchester, England (and not Sunny California), but hey at least I can say I was there, with the tramps and junkies, in the rain, mud and urine and semen... Yep a great time to be homeless it was. Anyway when the police finally told me the cinemas restraining order against me was no longer enforceable I went straight in to see this movie. And what a movie it was. First off I was really happy it had the original trilogy's opening (and closing) credits. I was also glad it was set in outer space, just like the other films. I was also glad they decided to re-use the original John Williams theme and not go for some rubbish modern pop music. As for the rest of the film, the acting across the board was on the whole cleverly under stated, with occasional moments of over statement. The length of the film was about average. Meanwhile the title of the film proved to be no where near as bad as other potential film titles such as: â Expand
  21. Oct 14, 2011
    6
    Metachlorines, Jar Jar Binks, Jake Lloyd, under developed characters, over reliance on special effects, awkward story pacing and weak acting - there will never be another movie more anticipated to then be so disappointing. Critics who claim that there isnt some 'entertainment value' in this movie are not being honest but the Phantom Menace is mediocre, is the biggest missed opportunity in movie history, and people who think its a good movie are uncritically minded fan boys. With the privilege of making a movie comes the responsibility of making a good one, a responsibility to which has George failed. Expand
  22. Jul 20, 2011
    10
    This one isn't only my favorite Star Wars film, it is my favorite movie of all time. I know, the story can be boring sometimes, Jar-Jar Binks and Anakin are annoying and many characters are useless, but at the time I watched it, in 1999, I had not seen any Star Wars before. Because of this, I watched every Star Wars the week after and became a great fan until... now. Fans of the first trilogy were disappointed, but I had nothing to be disppointed about. 10. Expand
  23. Sep 29, 2011
    8
    I just watched this for the first time since the theatre in 1999 and have to admit to rather enjoying. Back when it was released, I felt the same as nearly everyone else did but now, with 12 years and not a lot of thought about the Star Wars universe until the Bluray edition came out. I can say, this isn't as bad as I remember or as most people say. Its a children's film that a lot of adults spent way to much time getting upset about, take it for what it is and you can enjoy it. Expand
  24. Aug 9, 2011
    5
    Jar-Jar Binks didn't bother me that much. The attempts at comedy were pretty rough though as was the rest of the script. But this movie had some incredible moments. The bad acting couldn't destroy all the genius battles and other entertaining sequences such as the podrace
  25. Oct 21, 2011
    6
    The Star Wars saga according to many a fan took a lot of hits with this instalment but in my opinion it took more from the Return of the Jedi (a overly long, preachy pile of hogwash). Phantom of the Menace is entertaining to say the least and while it doesnâ
  26. Jul 13, 2013
    6
    Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace is nostalgic, silly and campy fun filled with cheesy dialogue and hit-and-miss performance. It may not be as good as the originals, but it still manages to entertain, especially in the film's third act.
  27. Nov 16, 2011
    8
    It may feel stretched out too long and the story may not be too powerful compared to episodes IV, V, and VI, but it still does have a strong tale to tell.
  28. Jun 9, 2012
    6
    The Phantom Menace is one of the worst movie in the whole Star Wars saga. It has uneven pacing, wooden acting, weird screen play; on the other hand, it has some of the best set pieces in the whole saga. Lucas seems to be paying more attention to ILM compared to his actors and it really shows. I still watch it regularly from time to time, but it shows how the master is starting to get left behind in the type of films (blockbuster movies) that he 'created' more than thirty years ago. Expand
  29. Dec 19, 2011
    8
    In 99, I didn't much care for Episode 1, but now, after watching it on blu ray in 2011, it's not as bad as I remembered. It's just the first chapter of the saga, and like many character introduction pieces, they can be a little dry. I just think that expectations were very high, and we all had our own version of how this was going to play out in 99. Don't close your mind to it, but just rewatch and judge it removed from the anticipation. Expand
  30. Jan 19, 2012
    0
    This film broke my star wars loving heart. I totally agree with this movie critic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxKtZmQgxrI . The 50 minute long roast of this scar on the star wars universe is by far more enjoyable than the movie.
    Only redeeming feature was Darth Maul who was without a doubt the most interesting character.
  31. Feb 17, 2012
    8
    I watched this film years ago and after watching it again (in the 3D re-release), It still lives up to what I thought about it as a kid. The action sequences are good and entertaining, The story is solid as well. However the acting was pretty bad, Definently below average imo and it brought the movie down quite a bit. However, I still enjoy it and I think that it lives up to the original trilogy.
  32. Feb 6, 2012
    6
    Im a Star Wars fan from since the beginning and in my opinion George Lucas should have let Episode I been were it was before ... in a drawer! But we cant go backwards in time so Im writing a review for this. For a movie on its own its a medium done work. The acting is good and for its time the special effects are good as well. The plot is important for the Star Wars Saga but all the rest is rubbish. Its way to much a kids movie - cant even try to mess with the originals. Expand
  33. Feb 13, 2012
    2
    Why George Lucas? Why? Way to completely ruin the backstory to Star Wars with these awful prequel films. Yes, every single one is bad. Each film lacks a decent plot, lacks good characters, and lacks any emotional involvement that made the original films so great. If you think these movies are good, then I suggest you go on to Youtube and type in "Red Letter Media" and watch their in depth reviews of these terrible films. Expand
  34. May 21, 2012
    0
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Far from being a successor to the original trilogy, 'The Phantom Menace' (what were they thinking?) is boring, nonsensical and would, in fact, have been better if they had just gone all out with it being a child's cartoon so there was no implication that adults who enjoyed the original films were meant to enjoy this trash. It's clear this is meant to appeal to kids; you've got Jar Jar providing unfunny slapstick, an annoying brat who has no idea what's going on and somehow magically figures out how to pilot a ship in the end to save the day and simple one dimensional characters that any adult would recognise as cardboard cut outs of people. I don't think there's a single likeable character in this film. Obi-wan is whiny and does nothing for the whole film, Qui-Gon is just a flat boring character, Padme is similarly devoid of character, Jar Jar is a cartoon character and Anakin is just an annoying kid. The sure-fire best way to ruin the character of the fearsome Darth Vader was to make a new film that showed him to be a stupid kid who says "BOOM- they blow you UP!".

    The plot doesn't make any damn sense, the characters are just awful and after watching this I'm left feeling like I just banged my head against a wall for half an hour because I feel about 50 IQ points dumber.
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  35. Jul 12, 2012
    6
    The first of the three Star Wars prequels. The story and character development are mediocre, making this a considerable downgrade from the original Star Wars movies, but on the good side the special effects add more depth to battle scenes and make them all the more impressive.
  36. Dec 4, 2012
    3
    I absolutely loved the original trilogy as a kid. 17 years waiting in anticipation for the prequels (since Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977 stated it was "Chapter 4") raised expectations very high that almost no movie could live up to it. But I didn't expect something as horrible as Episode I. A poorly rendered and annoying Jar Jar Binks ruins almost every scene with his clumsy antics bordering on racist (he behaves the way African-Americans were portrayed in old racist shows in the past and he's based on a Jamaican Rasta-man type character too!). The acting by Anakin was boring too, but it might not be his fault, after-all George Lucus somehow manages to take amazing actors like Ewen McGregor and Samuel L. Jackson and make them look mediocre. I saw this movie once in the theater and never wanted to see it again. Once it was on TV and I muted it while talking on the phone and noticed the visuals are absolutely beautiful, it is too bad the story and directing sucks so bad. However, there is a version of this movie out there called "The Phantom Edit 1.11" which is an edit of the movie by a Star Wars fan that cuts most of Jar Jar's annoying antics out of the movie along with all of the redundant scenes where the characters are explaining to other characters what you have just witnessed happening in the scene before. The Phantom Edit 1.11 is much more watchable and enjoyable, do yourself a favor and watch that one instead, it is way better than the official version. Expand
  37. Nov 12, 2012
    6
    Phantom Menace is easily the worst of the six Star Wars films, but is it really as bad as everyone says? No, it's not. They're all just pissed they had to wait 15 years to see it.
  38. Dec 4, 2012
    3
    And so begins the terror of the prequels. Poorly made, not to mention some of the worst acting on the planet. Lucas could do way better than that. Sadly we need the prequels to know the beloved Star Wars began. Until next time Lucas you suck
  39. Jun 7, 2013
    2
    From the stupid Podrace plot to the terrible, boring story set on a forest world and featuring stereotypical characters, all what this movie does is not only ruins the backstory, but also turns Star Wars into an annoying kiddie movie with racist stereotypes, annoying dialogue and stupid characters. And apparently it was Darth Vader who made C3PO, a 9 year old kid. Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace is a complete embarrassment towards the Star Wars fans and Star Wars itself. And Lucas tries to entertain us with that outrageous "Jar Jar Binks" trying to be funny, and guess what? nobodies laughing. Expand
  40. Dec 6, 2012
    5
    Problems: Death mauls death (should have kept him alive.), Jar Jar Binks (awful character), two pointless battles. Bad attempt at trying to funny.
  41. Mar 8, 2013
    6
    Not as good as the prequel trilogy, but this film is far more enjoyable than Attack Of The Clones. The Podrace was the highlight of the film, and the lightsaber battle at the end was good as well. Some of the film is a bit predictable and the jokes a bit, and Jar Jar is very annoying, but the movie is still enjoyable.
  42. Mar 24, 2013
    7
    Well written and amazing effects.
  43. Jul 15, 2013
    9
    It may not be as fun or funny as the original trilogy was (instead this new trilogy takes on the more serious tone), the film is still awesome. The action is epic, the visuals are top class and eye popping, the music is awesome (John Williams does great here again). My only criticisms would be that Jar Jar Binks needed to die. HATED HIS CHARACTER. Also Natalie Portman really needed an acting lesson. Other than those two things, this film is a great installment to the series. Expand
  44. Sep 28, 2013
    7
    A good start to the Saga. The Podraces are awesome, Darth Maul is awesome, and the lightsaber fights are cool. I see everyone whining, moaning and complaining about this film just because for what it is, there is no reason for any of the hate. F*** the haters. Score: 3/5.
  45. Dec 27, 2013
    0
    George Lucas dumped all over this travesty of a movie. How can you not compare it to the original Star Wars episodes 4, 5, and 6? And in comparison I cannot sit through this entire movie and watch the painful train-wreck that it is. Like watching a computer generated video game that frequently throws miserable one-liner humor at you.
  46. Jun 13, 2014
    10
    For me this is the perfect family action film. All of George lucas' film making led to this point where lucasfilm could seemlessly integrate the first full screen cg character jar jar. I love jar jar! I love the complex political plot this new trilogy enabled and anyone who takes issue with jar jar need only look at mordern animated film like despicable me to see how forward thinking that character design was. The perfect example of a perfect cinematic 'ride' encapsulating everything previous star wars worked to show at a digestable pace wrapped in high art. Expand
  47. Mar 13, 2011
    3
    i loved the original trilogy and was so excited to see the new trilogy. it opens pretty good and i had a good feeling ... and then jar jar binks shows up and the horror starts . he can only be found humorous by 5 year olds any one older then that will be preying dath maul takes his head off ASAP. it only keeps heading down hill after that. then we get to meet a young anikin skywalker and who ever this kid is who did his acting was horrendous and i dont put it all on this kid i give most of the blame to lucas who directed this mess. lucas pretty much abandoned one of the key features that made most of us love star wars so much . that being charicters we liked and rooted for . in this one there is no one outside of maybe obi wan and qui gon who i remotly thought where ok. lucus focases all his energy on special effects and nothing els . which yes do look good when i am not cursing jar jar and aniken. Expand
  48. Sep 8, 2010
    7
    As much as Jar Jar Binks is disliked I actually quite liked him. I know I'll probably be killed by most fans for saying this but I did think he was alright. I felt Liam Neeson had a good performance but McGregor needed some serious work. The Pod Race was way to long and the kid playing Anakin kind of annoyed me. A fairly good movie but no classic.
  49. Sep 28, 2010
    4
    The only reason this movie is not a 3 or lower is simply due to the fact that an interesting character - Darth Maul was introduced. Aside from this there are no good takeaways from this movie.
  50. May 23, 2014
    1
    An awful mess that shouldn't have been made in the first place...
    Great actors wasted, plot that makes no bloody sense, unlikable bland characters that are completely unrelatable and **** JAR JAR. BINKS. Do I need to add more?..
  51. Jun 19, 2011
    3
    The reboot or return to the widely successful and acclaimed Star Wars saga was disappointing in just about every way. With the exception of the Ewan McGregor and Liam Nesson, the acting was underwhelming, the dialogue made me barf in my mouth, the pacing was awkward and often slow, and the villains were not only unclear and underdeveloped, but lacked the threat and power that Darth Vader and the emperor had in the original trilogy. The ending was a little better, with some solid action, and throughout there were some decent effects, but many of the actions scenes had no real weight to them and felt like they were there just for the sake of being there. Episode I is disappointing, boring, and not worth your time if you are a Star Wars fan. Expand
  52. Feb 9, 2011
    5
    This was (regrettably) the first Star Wars film I saw. I was seven at the time and naturally I was enthralled by the undeniably good special effects. Several years on and I have fallen in love with the original trilogy as one should!! What separates the old trilogy from the new one is the distinction between good story telling, and good visual effects; George Lucas relied too much on effects in the prequels and forgot all about character development. Episode I does have some good aspects (Qui-Gon / Darth Maul) but the acting is so bland and the story so dull, not to mention the abomination known as Jar Jar - Lucas' defence is that it's a kid's film too but I think Jar Jar is even an insult to a three year old). The saddest thing about this film is the amount of hype that was created and the subsequent let down which has forever tarnished the Star Wars series. Yes it can be an enjoyable film, but it completely ruins the magic and heart of Star Wars. Expand
  53. Dec 9, 2011
    4
    If you loved the original trilogy, prepare to be shocked by the disaster that is 'Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.' Bad acting and an annoying Jar Jar Binks cause excited Star Wars fans to lose the will to live when watching this film. Despite the messiness of the film, it is not a bad film as such, and I recommend you watch it before judging it by its lack of originality.
  54. Mar 4, 2011
    3
    I was extremely disappointed. There was too much CGI and not enough story. Although the series was always conceived to have a trilogy prior to the trilogy, you would think it was written, acted and directed just to make some more money.
  55. Feb 22, 2011
    3
    The film represents a story that didn't need to be told. He could have started the prequel trilogy at Attack of the Clones, given himself greater room to breathe and left this story to the novelists. Unfortunately George Lucas didn't think his charachters needed to develop as long as he sent the audience on a ride, which was something that worked in the 80's but didn't cut the mustard in '99.
  56. Oct 9, 2011
    5
    Cast your mind back to May 1999. You may remember quite a buzz of excitement in the air. The world was awaiting the release of a new edition to the Star Wars saga, 16 years after it ended. To put it mildly, The Phantom Menace had a lot to live up to. It may yet go down in history as the most divisive film of all time. As often parodied, it split Star Wars fans down the middle. No one could deny that the effects were superb, flawless even. But what bothered many was the clunky dialogue, the wooden acting and the fact that it didn't seem to belong in quite the same world as the series which shares its name. My main problem with the Phantom Menace is that I'm relatively indifferent to it. It's not awful by any means, in fact it has many redeeming features (but no where near enough to make it a great film). The visuals were the best in the world at the time of the film's release, and still hold up today. The realisation of Coruscant, the "capital of the galaxy" in the form of a planet-wide city is an interesting idea, as is the Gungan's underwater "bubble city" and both look sensational. The film also has two stand-out action sequences - the pod-race, a creative, heart-thumping Ben-Hur tribute, and the "duel of the fates" which forms the finale of the film. This three-way lightsabre battle between a young Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) against the formidable Darth Maul (Ray Park) wielding an iconic double-bladed lightsabre. This has to be among the finest fight scenes of all time - the choreography is extremely creative and the execution flawless - it's a real testement to the stunt crew working on the film. Brilliant visuals and two memorable scenes cannot save a film, however. The story isn't up to much, and you don't have the high stakes of the original films - you know who's going to survive, it being a prequel to the original series. Lucas has never been great at dialogue, but during his Star Wars prequels, he seems to become worse at it over time. In the Phantom Menace you can look forward to such gems as Obi-Wan's "do not defy the council master, not again", young Anakin's "Are you an Angel?" speech, Yoda's classic "how feel you?" and pretty much everything said by Jar-Jar Binks. Ah Jar-Jar Binks - no other three words send shivers down the spine of a Star Wars fan so effectively (accept maybe a debate into who shot first). He's a truly irradeemable character - narratively unnecessary, insulting, and very, very annoying. The other actors and their characters are either unremarkable (MacGregor, Lloyd and Portman) or look thoroughly embarrassed to be on screen (I'm talking about you, Mr Neason). The Phantom Meanace is a disappointment, but in truth, it could never live up to Star Wars fans' high expectations, but it's good for providing the odd cheap thrill. And John Williams' scoring for the series is still great. Expand
  57. Nov 17, 2011
    5
    This film has no tension, drama, suspense, focus, excitement, development, and most importantly, it has no story to tell. For what it is, it's a joyless ride of random nothingness filled with flat, undeveloped, boring stereotypical characters that none of us would care about. Why didn't George Lucas hired others to direct the prequels just like he did in The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi? Why didn't he? If he did, the prequels could have ended up way better. But no, he himself had to direct all the prequels, and for that he has destroyed his godlike reputation. Expand
  58. Jun 10, 2013
    4
    My dad brought me to see the first Star Wars movie (A New Hope) when I was 7 years old, back in 77, and it created a magical memory that will remain through the rest of my life. When this 'prequel' hit in 99, I took my elderly father to see it with me. If only there could have been some magic in that experience. Instead, there was only confusion for my dad, and embarrassment for me. With an overemphasis on cartoon-like characters (and voices) and multi-zillion dollar animation and CGI, and an underemphasis on character development and coherent plot storytelling, the whole thing felt like one big mess (although a mess within a fireworks show, if that makes any sense quite nice to look at most of the time). It's amazing to see actors like Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman so absolutely rigid and cardboard-like. There is no equal to any of the characters of the original Star Wars series, no wet-behind-the-ears Luke to cheer on, no Leia to secretly lust for, no Han Solo to crack us up. Instead there is the inclusion of the most annoying characters ever to grace a screen, a character who constantly reminded me that, at 30ish years of age, I had no business being there at that movie, let alone taking my father to it. A far cry from the kind of mass appeal the first set had with all kinds (and ages) of people. I truly feel that these 'prequels' will go down in history as the most unnecessary movies of all time. And yet I own them, I am THAT connected to the franchise, that I own movies I probably won't watch again, purely in honor of the original series and the hope that maybe, just SOMEHOW, some kid somewhere felt the magic like I did when I was a kid. In this age where all action and sci-fi movies look and feel like these 'prequels', I find that unlikely, but I can hope. Expand
  59. Jul 16, 2012
    4
    The story is alright, but there are several plot holes, the script is bad and wooden, there isn't enough great action but the duel between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Darth Maul, and the acting is also bad, and Jar Jar Binks is annoying to the Star Wars Universe.
  60. Dec 29, 2012
    4
    Although it's certainly accomplished from a technical level, the characters, dialogue, and story are certainly lacking, and this is a major fall in quality for a Star Wars movie.
  61. Jan 7, 2012
    4
    The lack of story and horrible characters make this into the worst of the saga (although its sequel was not far behind). Jar Jar, medichlorians, and a general lack of any true plot makes for a terrible movie, and the fact that it is Star Wars and has Liam Neeson as the closest thing to a lead role makes it into an average, albeit mediocre adventure.
  62. Feb 8, 2012
    3
    This movie is a train wreck in slow motion. This is easily the worst of the franchise, mainly because Jar Jar and Anikan are insufferable and pollute the film with every uttered line. There are some strong moments. I particularly enjoy Darth Maul and the podracing sequence, but these elements are fleeting, and the film stumbles along at a miserable pace. George Lucas has a wildly creative imagination, and some of his ideas are brilliant beyond measure, but he does not know how to direct or write. This movie could have been something great, but instead it is mediocre. Expand
  63. May 21, 2012
    5
    Star wars: episode I: the phantom menace is kind of okay. A lot of it is boring politics, but some of it is exciting action. The good: some good action, good music, okay acting (mostly). The bad: boring politics, jar jar binks (I know it's a name and names have capitals at the start of them, but this character doesn't deserve a capital.), not much of Darth maul (he's an alright enemy), it's really cheesy. Expand
  64. Aug 28, 2014
    7
    The original trilogy of Star Wars will always be classic. Nevertheless, The Phantom Menace does kick-off a compelling prequel trilogy. The visuals are better than ever--and because of our love of the original films we are easily invested in the exploration that will lead into the age of Luke and Leia.
  65. Apr 2, 2012
    5
    Soy muy joven, pero puedo decir cuando una pelicula es decepcionante. Despues de ver The Phantom Menace vi la trilogia anterior y tengo que decir que comparada con las viejas es desastrosa. Alguna de las cosas que no debieron ser añadidas fueron a un Jar Jar, un master Yoda computadorizado y a un joven Anakin con personalidad de niño aventurero. Hubiese sido mejor un niño con serios problemas de conducta o "raro", pero al final tenemos a un jovencito nada parecido al super-villano que seria...Vader. Expand
  66. Oct 31, 2012
    3
    For the start of a new trilogy in the Star Wars universe The Phantom Menace sure does show people how not to do it. This is the start of a trilogy to highlight the young Anakin and his inevitable journey to the dark side of the force and become Darth Vader and father to Luke Skywalker. This is Star Wars gone kiddy though, with the kid who plays a child Anakin being annoying as **** and having a stupid sub plot with a race of toad like people called Gungans who make painfully unfunny jokes. Good CGI but poor execution and Liam Neeson being the only saving grace. Expand
  67. Dec 30, 2013
    5
    Not having watched the original "Star Wars" series, I thought that "The Phantom Menace" did not quite turn out as well as I expected. I mean, it has some cool scenes with the sabers and all that, but was quite boring and dull at times. I'm not even gonna mention some of the terrible acting.
  68. May 18, 2014
    6
    I'm not sure which makes me feel more incomplete - the disbelief that an innocent little boy is destined to suffer and become profoundly evil, or the disappointment involved in watching a movie with the skeleton of a beautiful Shakespearean tragedy without the flesh that makes a film what it is. George Lucas did most of the things wrong in this film. Jar Jar Binks is an annoying, comic piece with no role in the film except frustrating viewers to the point of desperation. Young Anakin Skywalker apparently is not only good at fixing things, flying and being with the force, he's also good at being a bad actor. Combine this with the yawn-inducing main premise of intergalactic trade federation disputes, and you brew the recipe for disappointment. Although many pan this film as being lackluster, I perceive it as simply disappointing seeing the film shine in parts and show its true intention, only to be ruined by small mistakes that don't allow the film to truly express itself. It is clear (to me) that George Lucas had a fantastic vision for the prequel trilogy - darker themes, sombre tones and intense moral philosophy issues. Unfortunately his vision hasn't translated well to the screen. Perhaps J.J. Abrams won't make the same mistake again in 2016. Expand
  69. Jan 1, 2014
    3
    Yes it does have impressive action and visual effects to spare, but Star Wars: The Phantom Menace fails to match the original trilogy's unique blend of characters, moments and scale.
  70. Dec 4, 2012
    5
    A clumsy attempt at creating the impetus for one of the greatest movie franchises of all-time. The film is very basic, but falls short of other titles in the series in every way imaginable. A shameful cash-in attempt that is still being milked through merchandise to this day.
  71. Jun 8, 2014
    4
    The problems that comes with this movie is that everything lacks grip...

    Why are all the characters so dull and boring? I really can't imagine why made everyone so robotic; is hard to describe the characters because of their lack of personality, I just can't imagine the actors in my head trying to play out the lines in the script without any kind of passion in it or maybe the directing
    was non-existing. The special effects haven't aged well, I can tell that almost everything in this movie is CG and if I look closely I am sure I can find some texture raptures (Although I am not fully sure of that myself)... The general story is so boring that I can guarantee you that you will not care at all about what it's going on, stiff acting and odd concepts for the expansion of the star wars universe.

    I can honestly say however that the soundtrack is great; with memorable tunes like "Duel of the Fates" that you won't get out of your head and the well choreographed fight scenes that are just fun to watch. The Phantom Menace has too many flaws to just be a passable flick but it's at least fun to enjoy thanks to it's few saving graces.
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  72. Apr 22, 2014
    8
    I feel like people are far too harsh on The Phantom Menace. Sure the movie had its flaws (especially Jar Jar Binks and the Gungans) but I feel like the film had many great moments as well and did a great job of setting up the prequels. Qui Gon Jinh and Darth Maul were both great characters who rank among my favourite of all current films. The Medichlorian thing was strange but it doesn't bother me that much. I also believe that Episode 1 thankfully lacked the painful dialogue (except for Gunguns) that plagued the second and third films. Ultimately a great film Expand
  73. Apr 12, 2014
    0
    Worst movie of all time. It is so bad that I went back in time and shot myself to not see it. Na i'm just kidding the word is tone. It sucks like your mom last night.
  74. Jul 5, 2013
    4
    "Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace" suffers alot from its technology, as it seems to a different level than the first films, and it feels odd in the movie's tone with the original trilogy. The movie suffers the most from its story, as it's not that fresh and deep from the original trilogy, and the story does lag off at parts. The visuals are great, but they sometimes get in the way as its too different from the original trilogy's technology on so many levels. With putting so many characters onto its pallet, the movie doesn't work as it just feels strange with the branches of characters added onto its belt. Overall, it's average, and does suffer a lot when compared and connected with its original trilogy films. Expand
  75. Aug 17, 2014
    9
    It's not like the original trilogy I admit that, but aside from the critical viewpoints every Star Wars fan like me have, I really think this prequel thing was a great idea. And it's an epic start into the Star Wars universe.

    The Phantom Menace is an spectacular, exciting and awesome movie that truly is packed with unique action, wonderful actors, great music and a fantastic story! This
    movie is a great start into the Star Wars universe, although the tempo is a bit to slow at some places, but it's still a spectacular movie that really is touching. The negative aspects with this movie is that the CGI is a bit vague at some places and when I saw the podracing, it just felt a bit to sporty and to little "Star Wars". But I actually had a great time with it. The best thing with this movie must be the first and last 30 minutes, so entertaining!

    And to all of you that hate Jar Jar Binks because he's so annoying, the movie wouldn't be the same without him.

    Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace get a 9.4/10
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  76. Apr 22, 2014
    6
    Episode I is a decent effort in the series. It's not the best, but it's not the worst. This is more of a "connecting movie" then an independent story.
  77. Sep 5, 2014
    1
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I should probably have broken my promise to myself and gotten **** after watching this tripe. 'The Phantom Menace' is easily the worst 'Star Wars' movie, and a terrible film in general. Some lowlights:

    Jar Jar. Just the most obvious of this movie's myriad artistic miscalculations, he's unfunny and stupid.

    Acting. Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor are the only two actors in this movie who actually seem to be trying to rise above the material.

    Pointless call-forwards. Actually, 'Attack of the Clones' is worst with this, but they're there and visible in 'The Phantom Menace' too.

    Characterization. Whiny little Anakin is very true to how most little kids are; I should know, as, to my eternal chagrin, I used to be one. But this movie seems to be promulgating the notion that youthful pettiness makes one evil. No, no, it doesn't. Hopefully, once you turn fifteen or sixteen, you realize 'God, what an **** I've been' and resolve to be better than that.

    Pod racing. Um...scratch that, counterproductive padding! From a narrative standpoint, it's obvious Anakin is supposed to win that race and win his freedom from...Watto (is that his name? I don't remember it being mentioned during the movie). From a logical standpoint, however, he should NOT win that race, since he's young and green as a conifer.

    Midichlorians. Yes, I gathered from the original trilogy that the Force was an invisible forcefield which Jedi could manipulate to their own ends, but which bound every organism in the GFFA. So they have something in their blood which makes them one with the Force or something? That has either unfortunate implications or it's just an outright contradiction in the plot.

    Action. As in, there's not nearly enough of it until the last fifteen minutes or so, and while it is exciting when we get it, by then it's too little too late.

    Overall, this is easily the lamest Star Wars movie, never thought-provoking or even accidentally funny, though I will give a point for Darth Maul's double lightsaber. That was literally the only memorable part of the film that was thus for a good reason.
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  78. Sep 4, 2014
    2
    This film is a travesty. The first Star Wars release for over a decade and after the epic trilogy that is A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi, you would expect this movie to be much better. In the age of advanced special effects and storytelling, it's a shame that this movie turned out how it did. A mixture of bad CGI and unrealistic story points (Such as an 8 year old winning a pod race, after he breaks down and takes about 30 seconds to start up again) just to explain how he can get out of slavery. The writing is lazy, and it comes off more as a childs fantasy film, rife with happy colours and the awful mess that is Jar Jar Binks, a character who mispronounces words and is really the jester of the movie, less funny more sad. Sad that in this age of cinema, a film series as epic as Star Wars has to stoop down and dumb down to appeal to children. Expand
  79. Jan 26, 2014
    6
    I really like this movie, and I seem to be the only one in a 500 mile radius who does. I love the lore and I love the story. The dialogue is what brings it down to a 6. It is nigh impossible to have a story without dialogue, and this movie may as well have not had any. I really like the story and I really like the lore, though.
  80. Apr 28, 2014
    1
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The Phantom Plot!
    What was the point? I was concerned about who would slap Ani's face the soonest, but as he turns into Vader anyway, I'm not sure how to care about a loud-mouthed, impudent child that is supposedly a slave. Mitochloreans (sp - I don't give a hoot enough to even check) are not a force, but are cells now: this destroys the whole point of faith and super-human justice: only those with enough correct cells are good enough Jedi. The first three movies established that faith - yeah, FAITH - prooves one's mettle. Oh well.

    CGI swamped the movie and were accompanied by cardboard performances. The notion that any of this movie as being part of reality 'long, long ago' evaporated with GPUs. The first three movies still engage me, but this one was devoid of reason and extremely irritating. Ja-Ja say no more. I'm begging you.

    Final Verdict: Eiw.
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  81. Dec 24, 2013
    6
    There is Star wars, and then there's the Phantom menace. At first glance, this film has good visual effects especially for it's time good music and a lot of star wars fun. However then you begin to realise once you take away the lightsabers, the film has very little in common with the original series. That being said, I still believe this film brought an entirely new and pretty awesome universe to Star wars which it expanded, and that's what I like about this film. I love the clones, what can I say.
    On the other hand, I do have to say the delivery of this not so bad story can be better, the acting is not great, but compared to Jar Jar, everyone else looks Oscar worthy. And then you have the politics....the one good thing that about star wars was that there was no bureaucrat BS, no matter where you go now however there's politics everywhere. If they removed it then this film would be 100x better!
    George Lucas turned his sci-fi master piece into a visually appearing chick flick really, lacking in the areas of good performance but boosting up his Space battles and Lightsaber duels. I mean he couldn't have made it any less obvious that palpatine was the Emperor, Padme was the queen, and Anakin was an I just hated that kid so much, I get the idea that he was not suppose to seem like evil but he was just so annoying and wooden. I almost hated him more than Jar Jar, but its far to say I might not hate Jar Jar compared to most people.
    Above all else though, I did like how they brought up the return of the evil sith. The possibility of more than 1 dark lord and that fact the Jedi order will be the only ones to bring balance to the force once more. All in all, I admire for what George Lucas did to try and expand the Star Wars universe, I just wish he could have heard the music. It does leave me wanting more, I really want to know how this war will turn out and it leaves me wanting to see the others.
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  82. Mar 1, 2014
    6
    Entertainment Monthly; 67% 6.7The 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. This movie lacks interest and entertainment but there are a couple of cool scenes.
  83. Apr 21, 2014
    2
    While living up to the brilliance of the revolutionary original trilogy could not be expected. The first instalment of Lucas's 'Prequel Trilogy' really sets the tone for how low star wars would sink. This tale, unlike the first three, contains a story no human could understand and fails at its job to keep even the hardest of fans from shedding a tear at what star wars has become. The only reason I have rated the movie above 1/10 is simply due to John Williams once again incredible score, with 'Dual of the Fates' being a soundtrack masterpiece. Expand
  84. May 4, 2014
    8
    Though it lacks the epicness and lovable qualities of the original trilogy, The Phantom Menace still has a story to tell, as it gets through the journey against those setbacks and offers hope for improvement with the episodes that will follow it.
  85. May 3, 2014
    4
    Pathetic and down right embarressing. it barely gets a 4 just for effects, music, and some cool fights. aside from that this movie is BAD. Most people do not count it as part of the saga
  86. Jun 30, 2014
    0
    Jar Jar Binks. That's all I need to say...............................................................................................................
  87. Aug 24, 2014
    5
    La historia es... Muy simple, de echo no explican casi nada, según parece hay un ejercito separatista que quiere... No tengo idea, ¿un nuevo gobierno? por alguna razón quieren acabar con la republica un gobierno que ya estaba desde hace... Quien sabe cuanto, hay muy poca información. En fin, al inicio unos embajadores de la republica que son Jedi llegan para negociaciones y las cosas salen mal. Desde hay vemos como intentan salvar un planeta de la colonización separatista mientras encuentran a un nuevo Jedi y un personaje muy tonto que en ves de dar buen humor llega a molestar un poco, hay diálogos tontos y cosas sin sentido. Por ejemplo: según parece se puede medir el poder de la fuerza que alguien tiene por la sangre. Yo pensaba que la fuerza era una manifestación espiritual y sobrenatural que se podía manifestar en formas físicas de ves en cuando, pero no al punto de que tienes que tener células. Entonces ¿todas las especies del universo tienen las células necesarias para usar la fuerza? Y de ser así entonces ¿los humanos de la tierra en ese universo también podrían usar la fuerza? y si no es así entonces ¿solo una galaxia tiene ese poder? y si es así entonces ¿como se obtuvo eso? ¿fue algo especial o?.... Mejor lo dejo así, y algunos actores (tal ves la mayoría) tienen actuaciones malas y mediocres aparte de cosas tontas que decir. Lo que mejor tiene la película son los efectos, las escenas de acción y... Y creo que ya, no es una gran precuela pero tampoco puedo decir que sea del todo mala. Sin embargo esta muy cerca de eso, le doy un 05/10 un poco mejor que lo mediocre. Expand
  88. Jun 15, 2014
    0
    Everyone knows it,
    Anyone who pardons e1PM is simply in server denial,
    It will always be known as one of the great
    disasters in cinematic history.
    Sad but oh so true.
  89. Jun 30, 2014
    0
    George Lucas ruined star wars with this terrible film.........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
  90. Aug 2, 2014
    9
    Some may wonder why i have rated it so highly im comparison to the average user score, well its just because of my age, it was the first star wars film i watched and its always stuck in my head as the favourite, however i dont believe its better than the older ones its just this is a special memory from my childhood and i really do rate this film highly.
  91. Jul 30, 2014
    2
    "The Phantom Menace" features some good scenes, such as the pod race and the final battle sequence, but is overall a unworthy successor to one of the most prominent franchises in film history. It disappoints with its childish looks, it tires with its extravaganza and it irritates with its empty characters. Casting choices are not bad, there are advanced visual effects that stun the viewer, but in general it is hardly as interesting as the fuss about it. Expand
  92. Oct 18, 2014
    7
    Set decades before the original "Star Wars" series, in the era of the Republic, The Phantom Menace is a prequel which introduces many of the major characters.
Metascore
51

Mixed or average reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 36
  2. Negative: 6 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Calum Marsh
    Feb 5, 2012
    0
    It's difficult to discern precisely where this all went wrong, and even more difficult to speculate about possible improvements.
  2. 40
    The Empire strikes out.
  3. Reviewed by: Janet Maslin
    80
    It's up to snuff. It sustains the gee-whiz spirit of the series.