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6.0

Mixed or average reviews- based on 968 Ratings

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User Reviews

  1. Dec 15, 2015
    4
    Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, though having impressive art design, a fantastic score by John Williams, and an entertaining sequence or two, is a subpar first instalment in the prequel trilogy that is tainted by poor CG (despite some practical effects), a tonally confused and incoherent script, bad dialogue and performances, poor pacing, and lazy, half-hearted direction. ThisStar Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, though having impressive art design, a fantastic score by John Williams, and an entertaining sequence or two, is a subpar first instalment in the prequel trilogy that is tainted by poor CG (despite some practical effects), a tonally confused and incoherent script, bad dialogue and performances, poor pacing, and lazy, half-hearted direction. This film might please some members of the audience, but die-hard fans will be left devastated at the missed opportunity that was this film. Expand
  2. Sam
    Jun 16, 2005
    6
    A huge dissapointment. Lame acting, they kill 2 of the 3 cool characters (Qui-Gon and Darth Maul) and i wish Anakin wasn't Anakin so they could kill the little dorky bastard. However, it's got great action scenes though, and the pod-race was one of the most thrilling star wars scenes ever, but they could've used more of them. I hope Lucas remakes this one and number 2, A huge dissapointment. Lame acting, they kill 2 of the 3 cool characters (Qui-Gon and Darth Maul) and i wish Anakin wasn't Anakin so they could kill the little dorky bastard. However, it's got great action scenes though, and the pod-race was one of the most thrilling star wars scenes ever, but they could've used more of them. I hope Lucas remakes this one and number 2, which rumor has he will, but all he really needed to do was redo the dialouge and acting, that's it. Do it George, do it. Expand
  3. Kip
    Jun 14, 2009
    6
    By far the weakest of the Star Wars episodes. It only gets a 6 because it is Star Wars. Jar Jar Binks is perhaps the most annoying character ever created. Remove him and cut 80% of that damn pod race and I'd give it 7.5, maybe even an 8.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. Dec 12, 2015
    4
    Ugh... this movie basically is all about the visuals. There's absolutely NO story whatsoever. It has too many CGI characters, and no REAL characters. Some of the acting is wooden, Darth Maul is only in it for like, ten seconds and there's a really, really, REALLY long and boring race. Absolutely terrible.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. YoonC.
    Sep 21, 2003
    6
    Horrible as sci-fi epic. Passable as self-mocking slapstick comedy. JarJar Binks is annoying but funny. Has some cool sabers duel scenes. Beautiful Portman outshines any expensive CGI effect. The kid is like Dennis the Phantom Menace.
  11. 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.
  12. Apr 28, 2013
    6
    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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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 inMetachlorines, 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
  15. 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
  16. 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 leftThe 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
  17. 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 restIm 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
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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 onThis 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
  22. 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 couldCast 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
  23. Sep 1, 2015
    6
    One of the best visual films ever made, it pushed the limits with CGI when practical effects were still an urban thing. The pacing, music, adventure and action all comes together as an awesome summer-time ride of a blockbuster that has resurfaced a world of new books, video games and toys in celebrating this epic work. The Phantom Menace dips however in being a video game's story in theOne of the best visual films ever made, it pushed the limits with CGI when practical effects were still an urban thing. The pacing, music, adventure and action all comes together as an awesome summer-time ride of a blockbuster that has resurfaced a world of new books, video games and toys in celebrating this epic work. The Phantom Menace dips however in being a video game's story in the midst of the highest standard of production quality you can get, they forget about telling a good story with interesting characters. It's a bit overblown. Expand
  24. bill
    Jul 15, 2009
    5
    The problem with this one (for me at least) was that jar jar binks charactor. From start to finish he was so annoying I could not enjoy any of the scenes he was in, its to bad mr. Lucas didn't have the sense to kill him off. However, the pod race scene was well done and this star wars has possibly the best lightsaber fight in the history of star wars.
  25. BennettM.
    Jul 31, 2003
    4
    I cannot BELIVE this got a better Metascore than the wonderful "Attack of the Clones". Horrible acting and JarJar make this at best a decent kiddie movie.
  26. J
    May 12, 2005
    5
    The originals were great but this movie did not come close to them. This movie was somewhat enjoyable with the lightsabre battles and the starfighter fights, but it all looked MORE technologically advanced then 4, 5, 6. But there is the consideration that graphics have come a long way since then. (-1) Then there are main characters coming up everywhere. We are introduced to so many The originals were great but this movie did not come close to them. This movie was somewhat enjoyable with the lightsabre battles and the starfighter fights, but it all looked MORE technologically advanced then 4, 5, 6. But there is the consideration that graphics have come a long way since then. (-1) Then there are main characters coming up everywhere. We are introduced to so many characters we will never see after the movie. (-2) I agree that Darth Maul, Darth Sidious and the Trade federation did not seem as scary as the Galactic Empire and their death star. Darth Maul showed his real evil side during the last lightsaber battle between him, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. (-1) Lets not forget that Darth SIdious looks 10 times older then and has a different voice then Chancellor Palpatine. We all know that both of them are the same person. (-1) Expand
  27. JB
    Aug 12, 2006
    4
    Great special effects and music. Terrible acting, story, dialogue, characterizations and costumes. Anakin should never have been an enslaved toddler. There is no group cohesion, which is what made the exploits of the original trilogy's cast so entertaining. Despite what may be said of the original acting in the first trilogy, I've always felt that it shined over poorly written Great special effects and music. Terrible acting, story, dialogue, characterizations and costumes. Anakin should never have been an enslaved toddler. There is no group cohesion, which is what made the exploits of the original trilogy's cast so entertaining. Despite what may be said of the original acting in the first trilogy, I've always felt that it shined over poorly written lines ... not the case here. A poor work. Expand
  28. PonR.
    Mar 15, 2005
    5
    Just because this movie takes place in another galaxy doesn't mean the acting is allowed to suck. Sorry but the day actors aren't required to act anymore is the day they've all been replaced by special effects and CGI. This film could have worked as something great if not for two elements: Anakin and Jar Jar Binks. How Jake Lloyd got past auditions and onto the silver Just because this movie takes place in another galaxy doesn't mean the acting is allowed to suck. Sorry but the day actors aren't required to act anymore is the day they've all been replaced by special effects and CGI. This film could have worked as something great if not for two elements: Anakin and Jar Jar Binks. How Jake Lloyd got past auditions and onto the silver screen is beyond me. The kid has no talent. And yes, there are kids with acting skills. Haley Joel Osment, Dakota Fanning, and Rory Culkin are all capable child actors. Rory Culkin could've pulled off the "impoverished, disturbed, sad kid" act perfectly. Jake Lloyd comes off as that obnoxious brat you find yourself sitting in front of in buses. The spoiled kind that talks too loud and won't stop kicking the back of your seat when you're trying to sleep. As for Binks, what can I say about him that hasn't already been said? How did a muppet freak get into a Star Wars film as one of the main characters? Expand
  29. josiahb.
    Jun 17, 2005
    5
    I dont think it is the best movie,but i like it very much.
  30. 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, andThis 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
  31. 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.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
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. May 21, 2012
    4
    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),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
  36. 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 unSoy 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
  37. 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, comicI'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
  38. 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.
  39. 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
    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.
    Expand
  40. 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"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
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. Feb 16, 2015
    5
    Phantom Menace could have been so much better. What ruined it was the needless long pod race, the Gungans, and the laughable kid actor who played Anakin. It's one of those films I'd love to see remade because it truly could have been a masterpiece.
  44. 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.
  45. Nov 7, 2015
    5
    An candy shop of visuals and lightsaber fights which is too easily consumed leaving a sick feeling of dry characters and the most tedious dialogue known to man. Jar Jar Binks you worthless excuse for comic relief. But, the visuals of battle are always nice to see and the pod race was surprisingly intense...and you can appreciate how cheesy it is for that extra burst that doesn't make thisAn candy shop of visuals and lightsaber fights which is too easily consumed leaving a sick feeling of dry characters and the most tedious dialogue known to man. Jar Jar Binks you worthless excuse for comic relief. But, the visuals of battle are always nice to see and the pod race was surprisingly intense...and you can appreciate how cheesy it is for that extra burst that doesn't make this movie complete garbage along with some added nostalgia. Expand
  46. Dec 14, 2015
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The first part of the prequel is really not that great. The characters are unique and amazing, the story (for this part) is decent and the action is good but nothing special. The best scene in the movie remains the rally. Expand
  47. Dec 22, 2015
    4
    Having not experienced Star Wars as a kid, I thought that I should watch all of them starting with "The Phantom Menace". Unfortunately, this did not kick things off to a good start. Right off the bat you get a lame and pathetic story about tax federations, weak characters and even worse performances. The visuals are completely overblown and suck you out of the movie. I don't think I needHaving not experienced Star Wars as a kid, I thought that I should watch all of them starting with "The Phantom Menace". Unfortunately, this did not kick things off to a good start. Right off the bat you get a lame and pathetic story about tax federations, weak characters and even worse performances. The visuals are completely overblown and suck you out of the movie. I don't think I need to say anymore about Jar Jar Binks. While I didn't find him to be the biggest abomination in cinema, he does leave a bad taste in the mouth of viewers. But it's a not a flat out terrible movie. There are some great light saber fights (even if they are too well choreographed), and there are even some (not many) but some moments of promise. However it doesn't fulfill the way that it should be use of George Lucas' direction. The problems this movie has are because George Lucas doesn't know how to write characters let alone get real performances out of his actors. You can tell he's more about style than substance. Overall, while not a terrible movie, it's boring storyline and dull characters make "The Phantom Menace" one to simply skip. I'm going to give it a C-! Expand
  48. Jan 20, 2015
    5
    Rewatched it recently on BD. Its an average mostly boring and annoying sf movie. The effects and fighting scenes are fantastic but the story and acting are horrible.
  49. Nov 23, 2014
    4
    Phantom Menace isn't as bad as some people make it out to be and it has some really good ideas. Unfortunetely, it fails to live up to it liscense

    Pros -Music by John Williams is at best -Despite a weak script, Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman do well with their material -The pod race is exciting -Darth Maul leaves the biggest impact a supporting character has left since Boba Fett
    Phantom Menace isn't as bad as some people make it out to be and it has some really good ideas. Unfortunetely, it fails to live up to it liscense

    Pros
    -Music by John Williams is at best
    -Despite a weak script, Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman do well with their material
    -The pod race is exciting
    -Darth Maul leaves the biggest impact a supporting character has left since Boba Fett
    -The fight choreography, especially the duel between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Darth Maul near the end
    -Interesting World
    -Special effects are well done for the most part

    Cons
    -Jar Jar Binks
    -Any villains that aren't Darth Maul
    -Jar Jar Binks
    -The Tatooine section drags on forever
    -Jar Jar Binks
    -Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan is wasted
    -Jar Jar Binks
    -Anakin Skywalker is useless to the plot and shouldn't even be a child. Jake Llyod didn't do very well with the material
    -DID I MENTION JAR JAR
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  50. 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.
  51. Dec 1, 2015
    5
    So it all “begins” with The Phantom Menace. OMG THE WORSE SHTER WERSH MUVIE EVERRRRRR…

    No. The Phantom Menace is not the worst in the series, I’d watch it without an issue, it’s really “Attack of the Clones” that I’m reluctant to watch again. I don’t think the movie is all that bad, it’s just boring. I also don’t hate Jar Jar, he’s not that annoying but he’s a really useless
    So it all “begins” with The Phantom Menace. OMG THE WORSE SHTER WERSH MUVIE EVERRRRRR…

    No. The Phantom Menace is not the worst in the series, I’d watch it without an issue, it’s really “Attack of the Clones” that I’m reluctant to watch again.

    I don’t think the movie is all that bad, it’s just boring. I also don’t hate Jar Jar, he’s not that annoying but he’s a really useless character… Doesn’t help that he’s mostly CGI and none of the digital effects in this movie hope up that well…
    With some positives: I do appreciate that 20% of this movie uses practical effects, Ewan McGregor is a great Obi-Wan, and I like the light saber duels in this movie. The Phantom Menace is boring and led to a much worst second episode, but it’s far from being the worst movie ever made.

    However, I rarely ever go back to watch this movie, the last time I saw it was in theaters in 3D. My dad took me and we showed up about 15 minutes after the movie started… I assume my dad was not eager to watch this movie again…
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  52. Dec 27, 2015
    5
    When I first saw this I was impressed with the action and CGI but having Jake "Yippee" Lloyd cast as Anakin Skywalker was piss-poor. I also just don't think this film aged well. Overall not bad, but need a lot of tweeking.
  53. 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 awesomeThere 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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  54. Jan 2, 2015
    5
    I hate when people say the prequel films are terrible, they do still have some great scenes! With ep1, there were some definite let-downs, such as Jar Jar Binks and Anakins very average performance (but he is a kid i suppose), but they provided many other great things. The pod racing is a hella a lot of fun to watch, and The enviroments vary nicely in the film. Then also, they introduceI hate when people say the prequel films are terrible, they do still have some great scenes! With ep1, there were some definite let-downs, such as Jar Jar Binks and Anakins very average performance (but he is a kid i suppose), but they provided many other great things. The pod racing is a hella a lot of fun to watch, and The enviroments vary nicely in the film. Then also, they introduce possibly the most badass character in the Star Wars lore: Darth Maul. He is scary, awesome and just great to watch in this movie! And let me say, the end battle is possibly one of the best and well paced fights ever. Qui-gon and Obi against Darth Maul in those red laser barriers, that's how to rack up some brilliant tension. Many scenes in this film do save it from how bad people say it is, and i'd say watch it all the way through even if you do not like it just to see that final battle! Expand
  55. Feb 8, 2016
    4
    Though it's at least a little salvaged by amazing performances by Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, and Natalie Portman, the miscast Anakin, the intolerable Jar Jar Binks, and the kindergarten level of writing destroys anything this had going for it.
  56. May 9, 2015
    5
    "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" is occasionally cloying, utterly goofy and doesn't have much in terms of plot or characterization, but it's so fun. With that being said, I don't think it's a masterpiece, but it's not a terrible movie by any means. Definitely worth a watch, if you like sci-fi films.

    Final Score: 5.5/10.

    P.S: Dat race scene though...
  57. May 22, 2015
    5
    Median film, the story is not very engaging or interesting, the special effects are good, but the film at some points gets to be tiring, but it's a film that you can watch quietly most of the time.
  58. 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 salenLa 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
  59. Jan 22, 2016
    6
    Ok, it isn's nearly as good as the originals, but is it really that bad? Answer is "maybe". Its boring but they do make it up by putting in action packed battles. Battle droids? They arent a threat, NO ONE has ever died from a Battle Droid. Liam Neeson and Samuel L Jackson? I'll give you a few points for that, I mean come on! Liam Neeson and Samuel L Jackson! Puppet Yoda dosent look good,Ok, it isn's nearly as good as the originals, but is it really that bad? Answer is "maybe". Its boring but they do make it up by putting in action packed battles. Battle droids? They arent a threat, NO ONE has ever died from a Battle Droid. Liam Neeson and Samuel L Jackson? I'll give you a few points for that, I mean come on! Liam Neeson and Samuel L Jackson! Puppet Yoda dosent look good, but they replaced him with a CGI Yoda in the 2011 Blu Ray release. Politics? No thanks. Jar Jar Binks? Annoying, he didnt ruin the movie, I mean come on! One character ruins the movie? He dosent even have that much screen time.

    In conclution:
    Its not a bad movie, its worth seeing, even though NOTHING happens in this movie. NOTHING. Think about it: What happens here, that impacts the storyline whatsoever? Sith return? Anakin meets Obi-Wan? Thats about it.
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  60. Jan 1, 2016
    6
    Jar Jar is not necessary to the story,I didn't mind the politics in the film, and it revamped how we look at Jedi. Quigon and Obi-Wan were pretty cool.
    Pod racing gave us an idea of what Anakin's youth was like. - Being an exceptional force-sensitive child, it gives us a glimpse of what his hard skills are, as far-fetched as it is seeing a child pilot a fighter jet and successfully
    Jar Jar is not necessary to the story,I didn't mind the politics in the film, and it revamped how we look at Jedi. Quigon and Obi-Wan were pretty cool.
    Pod racing gave us an idea of what Anakin's youth was like. - Being an exceptional force-sensitive child, it gives us a glimpse of what his hard skills are, as far-fetched as it is seeing a child pilot a fighter jet and successfully destroying a space station, at least there is some understandable precedent. (acting skills are not great, but it didn't kill the movie like JarJar did.)

    Darth Maul is a fantastic and mysterious villain
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  61. Oct 7, 2015
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Star Wars TPM is directed by George Lucas (American Graffiti) and stars Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting) Liam Neeson (Taken) Natalie Portman (Black Swan) Ian McDiarmid (Restoration) and Ray Parks (Xmen)
    I remember watching this as a kid and liking it but then time went by and I started to enjoy it less and less and then I didn't like it. The pod race scene is alright I guess. Okay now I realized why Ray Parks' (Darth Maul) voice was dubbed but why was Natalie Portman dubbed I mean was it necessary, no! The very end lightsaber fight kicks ass though, the duel of fates in the back makes it perfect. The acting isn't that great I mean you see some actors are trying to work around Lucas' writing but it just doesn't work, Liam Neeson accepted his role without reading one word of the script. I'm not eve going to anything about Jake Lloyd's performance or jar jar because everything that can be said has been said. It's a shame Maul was killed, he could of made a great prequel villain, now yes I'm aware they brought him back in clone wars. There was actually a pretty good fight somewhere in the middle of the film where Qui Gon gets attacked by Maul. One thing that's always bugged me is when Anakin and Obi Wan meet, it's nothing that kills the movie but it should of been done better. All in all this movie is a very mixed bag for me. This movie can be very boring at times but it still has a few moments that make some parts good.
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  62. Feb 1, 2016
    6
    Episódio I é de longe o pior e mais desnecessário filme de toda a franquia Star Wars. E quando eu falo desnecessário, eu quero dizer que: se você pular esse filme, não vai fazer a mínima diferença no entendimento da história. A única coisa realmente importante que acontece nesse filme é a introdução do Anakin/Darth Vader e da melhor dupla de robôs que existe na história do cinema, porqueEpisódio I é de longe o pior e mais desnecessário filme de toda a franquia Star Wars. E quando eu falo desnecessário, eu quero dizer que: se você pular esse filme, não vai fazer a mínima diferença no entendimento da história. A única coisa realmente importante que acontece nesse filme é a introdução do Anakin/Darth Vader e da melhor dupla de robôs que existe na história do cinema, porque de resto, o filme é uma verdadeira desgraça. E não podemos esquecer de mencionar o personagem mais chato que eu já vi em toda a minha vida: Jar Jar Binks. C-3PO e R2-D2, esse 6 são dedicados a vocês. Expand
  63. Jan 26, 2015
    6
    [Portuguese] O filme é um pouco chato, só o final é interessante, porém este filme introduziu o começo de toda história de Star Wars, então é um filme importante.
  64. Jan 23, 2016
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Although the movie does have its cool moments, particularly the lightsaber duel of Darth Maul VS Qui-Gon Jinn & Obi-Wan Kenobi, the majority of the film is filled with boring details and conversations. Also, Jar Jar Bins and the Gungans are unnecessary stereotypes to be in this movie. Expand
  65. Mar 11, 2015
    5
    It's not a bad movie, just heavily flawed. Its acting and dialogue can be cringe-worthy, but its high points still make it an enjoyable cinematic experience. It is overall a visually-dazzling film with a stunningly complex plot and heart-pounding action sequences.
  66. Dec 27, 2015
    4
    (I had to review this movie sooner or later, so here it is)

    George Lucas returns in the director's chair for 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace', the highly anticipated space opera prequel that will tell us the story of how the famous Darth Vader became...Darth Vader. The movie stars Liam Neeson as Qui Gon Jinn, a legendary Jedi warrior with his accomplice Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor)
    (I had to review this movie sooner or later, so here it is)

    George Lucas returns in the director's chair for 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace', the highly anticipated space opera prequel that will tell us the story of how the famous Darth Vader became...Darth Vader.

    The movie stars Liam Neeson as Qui Gon Jinn, a legendary Jedi warrior with his accomplice Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) who travel to find a young boy they believe will bring balance to the force and will one day, become a legendary Jedi fighter.

    The movie starts with promise, still giving us the iconic crawl text sequence with the iconic theme composed by the great John Williams. Some of the action sequences here do look impressive, as you would expect from a movie made in the late 1990s. We also meet the female protagonist in the movie named Padme (Natalie Portman) who gets on really well with the young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) and they seem to have this strange romantic infatuation with one-another. I use the word "strange" simply because Anakin appears to be an eight-year-old boy, and Padme appears as a teenage girl...somewhere along the lines of 13, 14-years-old.

    Director, George Lucas, who hasn't directed a well-known feature since "A New Hope" in 1977 clearly has shown how his skills as a filmmaker has somewhat fallen for the nearly 22 years he has taken between directing features. The story is an interesting story as we (mostly "Star Wars" fans) learn how one of the most iconic villains in motion picture history becomes the person we know them to be. Unfortunately, it's the execution of the movie and how the story is being told that comes off as a disappointment, which led many fans to react with outrage and hate towards this movie.

    But we need to discuss the elephant in the room, or maybe the Gungan in the room, that is the ever so hated Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best). This character has gained some notorious hate because of his voice and antics on screen. Lucas clearly wanted to make a comic relief character similar to that of the Genie in 'Aladdin' (1992), where the jokes and obnoxious behavior would result in laughter, instead, the jokes result in frustration from the audience as we want to know, when will Jar Jar Binks shut up?

    There are many moments where we see Binks constantly falling over, screaming, becoming the victim of slapstick, physical comedy and even just getting himself in danger so we could see him do something funny. Unfortunately, he is neither funny nor helpful, the movie wouldn't be any different without him, although, it would be slightly easier to watch.

    Another trouble this movie faces is the dialogue, it is very expository where characters such as the legendary Qui Gon Jinn use very long words relating to "Star Wars" things and speaking like he is reciting poetry, or verses from the Bible. There is never a moment where we see the characters speak realistically, or even times where they are not trying to drill in your heads what the movie's plot is. The story execution is so thinly written, Lucas depends on dialogue to help the audience catch up.

    The CGI here is the real deal, it is a very lush looking movie, in fact, that is pretty much the reason why it got made. Throughout the 1990s, with films like 'Terminator 2: Judgement Day' (1991) and 'Jurassic Park' (1993) have broke new ground with their almost realistic looking CGI as technology improves, even four years before "The Phantom Menace", an animated film called 'Toy Story' (1995) was released becoming the first ever CG-animated feature film.

    We get many scenes where characters are in certain set-pieces standing before other CGI characters in a CGI hall-like room and we get many establishing shots and wide shots to showcase what a great looking movie this is. It is gorgeous and well-made, but that isn't enough to hide a bad script.

    All in all, "The Phantom Menace" is only worth watching for the final fight between Obi Wan Kenobi, Qui Gon Jinn and the main antagonist, Darth Maul...this fight scene may look more like dancing due to the unnecessary flips and twirling of the lightsabers like they are batons...but it is pure eye-candy.
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  67. Mar 4, 2016
    4
    It's finally here! The follow-up to Return of the Jedi! It's here, ready to blow everything else out of the water....... Just kidding, this movie is a massive flop. The acting is bad, there is far too much CGI, and Jar Jar Binks is the most annoying character in any movie of all time. The one redeeming quality is the awesome lightsabre battles, but they don't last that long. *sigh* Don'tIt's finally here! The follow-up to Return of the Jedi! It's here, ready to blow everything else out of the water....... Just kidding, this movie is a massive flop. The acting is bad, there is far too much CGI, and Jar Jar Binks is the most annoying character in any movie of all time. The one redeeming quality is the awesome lightsabre battles, but they don't last that long. *sigh* Don't bother forcing yourself through this mess. Expand
  68. Apr 19, 2015
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Things get off to a cold start with the much parodied credit crawl. Where Episode IV goes for the in media res jugular – “It is a time of civil war!” - problems in Episode I are not quite so pressing. Events are “alarming” perhaps, there’s certainly plenty of “turmoil” and we all know “taxation” is a thorny issue but the context is clear: like Anakin, this conflict still has some growing up to do. The menace is still phantom.

    An inexcusably lazy establishing shot - the Jedi shuttle cruises past the camera - and lethargic opening sequence hardly help pick up the pace. In A New Hope’s famous opening salvo the bad guys fire first and ask questions later, in The Phantom Menace the Jedi are ushered into a meeting room while the semi-bad guys go into video conference with Darth Sidious about whether an invasion of Naboo is legal or not.

    Critics complained that Lucas had got yet worse at writing for humans in the twenty-two years since Star Wars, in fact it is simply that, beyond Alec Guinness talking about the force, the plot of A New Hope requires no exposition - The Phantom Menace on the other hand is all explanation, much of it, like the midichlorians, unwanted and unnecessary. (To be fair, Lucas waited a generation before spoiling his enigmatic myth with background material, the Wachowski’s jumped that particular shark in film two.)

    nd yet there is still much pleasure to be had watching our full-blown Jedi guides in action. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan quickly discover that things are mercifully worse than the credit crawl predicted, a robot invasion force is being unpacked, Naboo is under actual threat. Sadly, we never actually see any of the massacres that are apparently taking place, instead we land somewhere that looks suspiciously like the woods near Leavesden and meet one of the galaxy’s more annoying comedy sidekicks (although not as annoying as fans frantically searching for a scapegoat would have you believe). After all, this film has at its hero a small boy – it cannot visit the dark 12A places.

    Tatooine turns out to be a total bust. They leave Obi-Wan behind, Amidala pretends to be Padme for no good reason, Anakin whines a lot, there’s some mumbo jumbo about a mystical birth and at absolutely no point does Han Solo turn up. Bastard. This is a section so flabby that even the electrifying pod race goes on for one lap too long.

    But hell, we meet Vader Jnr. and he says goodbye to his mother, which is the only essential action of the movie, so it’s almost worth the trip.

    Despite the unspeakable Yoda puppet, more endless politicking and some iffy CGI, the arrival on Coruscant and the subsequent battle of Naboo provide most of the lasting excuses for forgiving The Phantom Menace. At last there are new worlds to explore, new creatures to encounter and new wrinkles to the Star Wars myth. On Coruscant we are free to marvel at the work of Doug Chiang’s design department - every bit the equal of the original trilogy. And during the saga’s very best lightsaber battle John Williams adds another classic theme (Duel Of The Fates) to his masterpiece. The final act is a mess of conflicting ideas and we are forced to root for a tweenage space pilot but you certainly can’t fault it for pace.

    Perhaps best of all, we have the death of Qui-Gon. Liam Neeson has manfully carried the action on his shoulders throughout (the subsequent prequels desperately miss him) and his final words – “Obi-Wan, promise... Promise me you will train the boy” - provide the movie with its only real weight.

    Lucas probably imagined that Anakin’s goodbye would be the real heartbreaker but he couldn’t write it and Jake Lloyd couldn’t act it. The irony is, we don’t need it. Given where he is destined to end up, Anakin doesn’t need to be innocence personified when we meet him. Indeed, we are told that the kid is too old to be trained and that the Jedi council fear him, facts that are utterly lost on an audience who see only a bowl-headed brat.

    One of the most disappointing film of all time it remains, but with the galaxy of hype now far, far away Menace seems much less of a public menace than it did in the summer of 1999.
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  69. Apr 24, 2015
    4
    Things get off to a cold start with the much parodied credit crawl. Where Episode IV goes for the in media res jugular – “It is a time of civil war!” - problems in Episode I are not quite so pressing. Events are “alarming” perhaps, there’s certainly plenty of “turmoil” and we all know “taxation” is a thorny issue but the context is clear: like Anakin, this conflict still has some growingThings get off to a cold start with the much parodied credit crawl. Where Episode IV goes for the in media res jugular – “It is a time of civil war!” - problems in Episode I are not quite so pressing. Events are “alarming” perhaps, there’s certainly plenty of “turmoil” and we all know “taxation” is a thorny issue but the context is clear: like Anakin, this conflict still has some growing up to do. The menace is still phantom.

    An inexcusably lazy establishing shot - the Jedi shuttle cruises past the camera - and lethargic opening sequence hardly help pick up the pace. In A New Hope’s famous opening salvo the bad guys fire first and ask questions later, in The Phantom Menace the Jedi are ushered into a meeting room while the semi-bad guys go into video conference with Darth Sidious about whether an invasion of Naboo is legal or not.

    This arse-numbing inactivity recurs throughout The Phantom Menace: because the battles lines are not yet drawn and sides are still being taken there is always much explaining to be done, characters are forever having update meetings or being introduced to one another. The plot machinery lumbers through the gears, hampered further by the strange declarative dialogue and by an apparent disinterest in making these scenes visually interesting.

    Critics complained that Lucas had got yet worse at writing for humans in the twenty-two years since Star Wars, in fact it is simply that, beyond Alec Guinness talking about the force, the plot of A New Hope requires no exposition - The Phantom Menace on the other hand is all explanation, much of it, like the midichlorians, unwanted and unnecessary. (To be fair, Lucas waited a generation before spoiling his enigmatic myth with background material, the Wachowski’s jumped that particular shark in film two.)

    And yet there is still much pleasure to be had watching our full-blown Jedi guides in action. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan quickly discover that things are mercifully worse than the credit crawl predicted, a robot invasion force is being unpacked, Naboo is under actual threat. Sadly, we never actually see any of the massacres that are apparently taking place, instead we land somewhere that looks suspiciously like the woods near Leavesden and meet one of the galaxy’s more annoying comedy sidekicks (although not as annoying as fans frantically searching for a scapegoat would have you believe). After all, this film has at its hero a small boy – it cannot visit the dark 12A places.

    Tatooine turns out to be a total bust. They leave Obi-Wan behind, Amidala pretends to be Padme for no good reason, Anakin whines a lot, there’s some mumbo jumbo about a mystical birth and at absolutely no point does Han Solo turn up. Bastard. This is a section so flabby that even the electrifying pod race goes on for one lap too long.

    But hell, we meet Vader Jnr. and he says goodbye to his mother, which is the only essential action of the movie, so it’s almost worth the trip.

    Lucas probably imagined that Anakin’s goodbye would be the real heartbreaker but he couldn’t write it and Jake Lloyd couldn’t act it. The irony is, we don’t need it. Given where he is destined to end up, Anakin doesn’t need to be innocence personified when we meet him. Indeed, we are told that the kid is too old to be trained and that the Jedi council fear him, facts that are utterly lost on an audience who see only a bowl-headed brat.

    Perhaps best of all, we have the death of Qui-Gon. Liam Neeson has manfully carried the action on his shoulders throughout (the subsequent prequels desperately miss him) and his final words – “Obi-Wan, promise... Promise me you will train the boy” - provide the movie with its only real weight.

    And yet if only Lucas could have stopped thinking like a fearful father and acted more like the fearless myth-maker of old, there’s a quick fix that would change everything. Imagine for a moment a street urchin orphaned by the Clone Wars, a scoundrel scamming to survive, already using the force without even realising it. Imagine a cocky fifteen-year old robbing Qui-Gonn, competing with Obi-Wan and flirting with Padme. Imagine, for a second, an Anakin invested with the spirit of a young Han Solo…

    The most disappointing film of all time it remains, but with the galaxy of hype now far, far away Menace seems much less of a public menace than it did in the summer of 1999. Alongside the obvious action highs, the ability to consume the saga in a single sitting has created a veritable feast for those fans still keen to mine for irony, with Palpatine’s Shakespearean scheming particularly delectable here.
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  70. Apr 28, 2015
    6
    The worst addition to the series, this movie suffers throughout from its failure to evolve from the original trilogy. The acting, editing and special effects are only marginally improved from the original franchise, but this stands more as a testament to the original movies than a failure of this one. Where this movie really falls down is the weak attempt to form a connection between theThe worst addition to the series, this movie suffers throughout from its failure to evolve from the original trilogy. The acting, editing and special effects are only marginally improved from the original franchise, but this stands more as a testament to the original movies than a failure of this one. Where this movie really falls down is the weak attempt to form a connection between the characters and the audience, and the stilted direction of the actors on the set. The curse of the child actor really hurts this movie as well, along with the cringey additions of characters like JarJar Binks and Nute Gunray. The movie saves itself some semblance of credibility through a few stellar action sequences, notably the pod racing on Tatooine and the dual between QuiGon Jinn, Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul. The plot is also superior to any of the original trilogy, and sets up a solid story arch. Again however it suffers from excessive exposition, leaving no mystery to intrigue those watching. Expand
  71. Jun 13, 2015
    5
    The phantom menace is said to be the most disappointing film of all time which is true poor character development, bad dialogue and jar jar binks made that happen a true fall from grace
  72. May 3, 2015
    4
    George Lucas dissappointed most of his audiences! this movie was boring and just stupid! I am ashamed to like star wars with this movie being technically the starting point
  73. Jan 4, 2016
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. In what should have been a deliberate and riveting prequel to arguably one of the best trilogies, The Phantom Menace shows its age – in the CGI animation and the time since the last installment. The dots simply do not connect, and I'm not sure that Episode I would have any success if it were not for the beginnings of Darth Vader himself.

    Darth Vader is obviously a vital character in the franchise, so the portrayal of Anakin Skywalker here is understandable, but feels forced. Because he is strong with the Force. Ha! With the introduction of many new characters, the same level of closeness were not attained with the likes of Jar Jar Binks and Qui Jon. Star Wars has always been innovative with its stories and locations, but at the same time it dwells too much on fighting with clones and the plot device of destroying the Death Star (on accident?)

    As a Star Wars fan, I apprecaite seeing young Anakin Skywalker, but I am disappointed. I love seeing the similarities between father and son, Luke, yet Luke's journey can't help but cast a shadow over his father's. The Phantom Menace's enemy is not nearly as well developed as the original trilogy, and the film struggles with reconciling Anakin's journey through the ages. Obi-Wan pulls it out though. As the connective tissue between generations, it is good to see the Jedi teachings passed along, even without the blessing of Yoda. But why the CGI? The special effects may have been the most disappointing to me – I love the nostalgia.
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  74. Jul 21, 2015
    6
    As for the first episode of prequels it had potential. Don't get me wrong the movie is bad, but you can see that Lucas wanted to make it good. Despite all the flaws it had the Star Wars feel in it. The problem was that Lucas is not a good director or writer. If he would just write the story and remained a producer it could be much better.
  75. May 9, 2016
    6
    "Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Meneace " was a movie like this say, disappointing, precisely because of the very little action, and by no taste that left me, and that also left me if emotions, but it was good after completely.
  76. Aug 10, 2015
    5
    There is so much yet so little happening in this movie. There is a complicated story about the trade federation and politics, but it is so weird that it goes nowhere. It lacks the feel that made the first star wars so great. That and JAR JAR BINKS! Need I say more? Fans will enjoy this, but everyone else should just skip this one.
  77. Aug 21, 2015
    5
    In the 1980s the Star Wars franchise became one of the most beloved film sagas of all time with a striking line of toys, comics, books, costumes, games. Star Wars was huge. it told the story of a man who becomes a villain. After 15 years Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was announced and the hype was enormous. We were finally going to see the story we wanted to see. We were finallyIn the 1980s the Star Wars franchise became one of the most beloved film sagas of all time with a striking line of toys, comics, books, costumes, games. Star Wars was huge. it told the story of a man who becomes a villain. After 15 years Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was announced and the hype was enormous. We were finally going to see the story we wanted to see. We were finally going to see the origin of Darth Vader one of the most iconic movie characters of all time. Instead we were treated to something extremely different from what we expected. And I honestly have to say this...What was George Lucas thinking when he wrote this? Now before I express anymore i understand that this movie was made for children, and as a child I liked this film. But as an adult, I cannot believe that they screwed up a franchise as much as they did. In a list of Top 10 movies that derailed their own franchise The Phantom Menace would take the top spot. I really do not know why George decided to do this to his own franchise and make something that we all loved and make it into a bizarre childrens movie that barely keeps any of the love of the original Star Wars. Not alot of things that are positive about this film. For instance who is the main character? Shouldn't it be Anakin? But its not! That there is a major problem with this film. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a weak addition to the Star Wars franchise and can probably be skipped in its entirety. Expand
  78. Mar 24, 2016
    5
    With unimpressive acting, a poor script and an over-reliance on cgi, The Phantom Menace is a less-than-satisfying start to the infamous prequel trilogy. The pacing was painfully slow, and even Liam Neeson seems bored. Then of course, there's the character of Jar Jar Binks, one of the most annoying characters in the history of cinema. Seriously, who thought HE was a good idea? Darth MaulWith unimpressive acting, a poor script and an over-reliance on cgi, The Phantom Menace is a less-than-satisfying start to the infamous prequel trilogy. The pacing was painfully slow, and even Liam Neeson seems bored. Then of course, there's the character of Jar Jar Binks, one of the most annoying characters in the history of cinema. Seriously, who thought HE was a good idea? Darth Maul was a cool villain, but he's barely even in it! The character development is practically non-existent, and much of the film is just a bunch of Jedi sitting around talking about taxation. The special effects were great, but the filmmakers seem to value them over story and characters. And just so you know, I am a HUGE Star Wars nerd. That's why this movie feels like a punch to the gut. FINAL VERDICT: This is a disappointing addition to a great franchise, and lacks the depth of previous instalments. 4.5/10. Expand
  79. Dec 11, 2015
    4
    Things get off to a cold start with the much parodied credit crawl. Where Episode IV goes for the in media res jugular – “It is a time of civil war!” - problems in Episode I are not quite so pressing. Events are “alarming” perhaps, there’s certainly plenty of “turmoil” and we all know “taxation” is a thorny issue but the context is clear: like Anakin, this conflict still has some growingThings get off to a cold start with the much parodied credit crawl. Where Episode IV goes for the in media res jugular – “It is a time of civil war!” - problems in Episode I are not quite so pressing. Events are “alarming” perhaps, there’s certainly plenty of “turmoil” and we all know “taxation” is a thorny issue but the context is clear: like Anakin, this conflict still has some growing up to do. The menace is still phantom.

    An inexcusably lazy establishing shot - the Jedi shuttle cruises past the camera - and lethargic opening sequence hardly help pick up the pace. In A New Hope’s famous opening salvo the bad guys fire first and ask questions later, in The Phantom Menace the Jedi are ushered into a meeting room while the semi-bad guys go into video conference with Darth Sidious about whether an invasion of Naboo is legal or not.

    This arse-numbing inactivity recurs throughout The Phantom Menace: because the battles lines are not yet drawn and sides are still being taken there is always much explaining to be done, characters are forever having update meetings or being introduced to one another. The plot machinery lumbers through the gears, hampered further by the strange declarative dialogue and by an apparent disinterest in making these scenes visually interesting.

    Critics complained that Lucas had got yet worse at writing for humans in the twenty-two years since Star Wars, in fact it is simply that, beyond Alec Guinness talking about the force, the plot of A New Hope requires no exposition - The Phantom Menace on the other hand is all explanation, much of it, like the midichlorians, unwanted and unnecessary. (To be fair, Lucas waited a generation before spoiling his enigmatic myth with background material, the Wachowski’s jumped that particular shark in film two.)

    And yet there is still much pleasure to be had watching our full-blown Jedi guides in action. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan quickly discover that things are mercifully worse than the credit crawl predicted, a robot invasion force is being unpacked, Naboo is under actual threat. Sadly, we never actually see any of the massacres that are apparently taking place, instead we land somewhere that looks suspiciously like the woods near Leavesden and meet one of the galaxy’s more annoying comedy sidekicks (although not as annoying as fans frantically searching for a scapegoat would have you believe). After all, this film has at its hero a small boy – it cannot visit the dark 12A places.

    Lucas probably imagined that Anakin’s goodbye would be the real heartbreaker but he couldn’t write it and Jake Lloyd couldn’t act it. The irony is, we don’t need it. Given where he is destined to end up, Anakin doesn’t need to be innocence personified when we meet him. Indeed, we are told that the kid is too old to be trained and that the Jedi council fear him, facts that are utterly lost on an audience who see only a bowl-headed brat.

    Despite the unspeakable Yoda puppet, more endless politicking and some iffy CGI, the arrival on Coruscant and the subsequent battle of Naboo provide most of the lasting excuses for forgiving The Phantom Menace. At last there are new worlds to explore, new creatures to encounter and new wrinkles to the Star Wars myth. On Coruscant we are free to marvel at the work of Doug Chiang’s design department - every bit the equal of the original trilogy. And during the saga’s very best lightsaber battle John Williams adds another classic theme (Duel Of The Fates) to his masterpiece. The final act is a mess of conflicting ideas and we are forced to root for a tweenage space pilot but you certainly can’t fault it for pace.

    The most disappointing film of all time it remains, but with the galaxy of hype now far, far away Menace seems much less of a public menace than it did in the summer of 1999. Alongside the obvious action highs, the ability to consume the saga in a single.
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  80. Dec 30, 2015
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a total disappointment. It's an annoying movie, seriously. The characters, at least most of them, are totally uninteresting and underdeveloped. I thought that one of the antagonists had no personality at all (the one with a black and red skin) and was just there to look cool with his double lightsaber, fighting against the Jedi. He was so underdeveloped and forgettable. The main character, Anakin, is a little bit annoying because, you know, he's a kid. But, you know what seemed odd? This kid blows up a SPACESHIP in the end of the movie!!! What the hell was the director thinking? Also, Jar Jar gets on my nerves. I'm not a fan of his design. I'm also not a fan of the battle of Jar Jars vs droids, it's just not that good because it is rather anti climatic. None of the characters have impressed me in this movie and they can be so cringe-worthy at times. But, the story however, is not bad, it's just the execution is terrible. The same can't be said about some of the battles in this film, that are mostly appealing IMO. So, basically, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace has a decent premise, but the execution of the story is poor. Expand
  81. Apr 6, 2016
    5
    Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, though having impressive art design, a fantastic score by John Williams, and an entertaining sequence or two, is a subpar first instalment in the prequel trilogy that is tainted by poor CG (despite some practical effects), a tonally confused and incoherent script, bad dialogue and performances, poor pacing, and lazy, half-hearted direction. ThisStar Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, though having impressive art design, a fantastic score by John Williams, and an entertaining sequence or two, is a subpar first instalment in the prequel trilogy that is tainted by poor CG (despite some practical effects), a tonally confused and incoherent script, bad dialogue and performances, poor pacing, and lazy, half-hearted direction. This film might please some members of the audience, but die-hard fans will be left devastated at the missed opportunity that was this film. Expand
  82. Dec 29, 2015
    4
    Darth Maul would've been the Darth Vader of the prequels, Jar Jar Binks was never needed at all, and the rest of the story could need a whole remake done here.
  83. Jan 5, 2016
    4
    The actors are wallpaper, the jokes are juvenile, there's no romance, and the dialogue lands with the thud of a computer-instruction manual. But it's useless to criticize the visual astonishment that is Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace. With this epic and the trilogy that preceded it, George Lucas has built a pop-culture monument that packs all of history – war, religion, myth,The actors are wallpaper, the jokes are juvenile, there's no romance, and the dialogue lands with the thud of a computer-instruction manual. But it's useless to criticize the visual astonishment that is Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace. With this epic and the trilogy that preceded it, George Lucas has built a pop-culture monument that packs all of history – war, religion, myth, art, science and those old reliables, good and evil – into a mystical grab bag that plays like a kiddie cartoon. There's a less fancy explanation for why Phantom Menace will inspire fetishistic worship: It's loaded with cool stuff. And reasonable facsimiles thereof are on sale at your local Force emporium.

    Episode I is set thirty years earlier than the original saga, Episode IV: A New Hope, but some things never change. A royal babe is in trouble. Not Princess Leia; this time it's Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman). The Trade Federation sends battleships to her planet, Naboo, to persuade her to sign a dodgy treaty. To her rescue come two Jedi knights: old pro Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). You'll recall that Alec Guinness played Obi-Wan the first time, and McGregor does a deft job of matching up with him vocally. ^Vhen Federation types send in droids for the kill, the Jedis link up with Anakin Sky walker (Jake Lloyd), a nine-year-old slave who will grow up to marry the queen, father the twins Luke and Leia, and turn from the Jedi cause to the dark side as Darth Vader. Got that?

    Good; here's what else you should know: Phantom Menace, which cost $115 million, lacks the crude freshness that Lucas lavished on the low-budget ($10 million) original in 1977 and the fluid storytelling that director Irvin Kershner brought to The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 – still the best in the series. But Menace is light-years ahead of the uneasy mix of furry Ewoks and Freudian psychology in Richard Marquand's 1983 Return of the Jedi. As for Lucas' directing skills, his work with actors still belongs to the "Don't emote, just stand there" school. But in terms of visual sophistication, already discernible in 1973's American Graffiti, Lucas ranks with the masters. He has always been more articulate with images than with words. Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo in the original, has famously chided Lucas, "You can type this **** George, but you sure can't say it."

    McGregor is saddled with lines like, "I have a bad feeling about this." And Neeson must answer, "Be mindful of the living Force, my young Padawan." Ouch! Is it a coincidence that Phantom Menace and James Cameron's Titanic – whose box-office record ($1.8 billion worldwide) Lucas is chasing – were made by men with a poet's eyes and tin ears?

    Comic relief – and, boy, does this movie need it – arrives with scene-stealer Jar Jar Binks, a gangly, floppy-eared Gungan, voiced hilariously by Ahmed Best but otherwise a fully digital creation. Jar Jar is an alien amphibian who lives in an underwater city and speaks in a pidgin English that still gets the point across. "Mesa in bombad troubles," says Jar Jar as he nabs food off plates with his long tongue and guides the Jedis in a submarine that gets chewed by a killer fish. Digital marvels abound, along with appearances by old favorites such as Jabba the Hutt and Yoda, who leads the Jedi Council on the planet Cor-uscant, along with Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson). Lucas surpasses himself in the creature department. Jar Jar's nemesis, Boss Nass, is a wonderfully odious menace. And Watto, the slave driver, is a fat-slob fly who manages to levitate on tiny hummingbird wings.

    The human element is hard put to keep up. Neeson has a natural warmth but too few opportunities for humor. Portman, a beauty and a gifted actress at eighteen, is stuck with an underwritten character – at least Carrie Fisher was allowed to bring her verbal snap to Princess Leia. And McGregor, a live wire in Trainspotting and Velvet Goldmine, spends the film's first half trailing Qui-Gon like a lap dog. Happily, McGregor comes into his own in the final scenes, suggesting that the next two episodes, due in 2002 and 2005, will let him cut loose.

    For now, the human focus is on Anakin, and the demands of the role – a messiah and an anti-Christ – put undue pressure on Lloyd, who was eight at the time of filming. You will search Lloyd's face in vain for the Darth Vader to come or for the agony of a boy forced to leave behind his slave mother, Shmi (Pernilla August), to begin his Jedi training. Lloyd shines in the lighter scenes, especially when Anakin enters a Podrace so perilous that ordinary humans can't tolerate the speed. The race is pure exhilaration. "Whoopee!" yells Anakin. Indeed. In this virtual universe – the video game supreme – Lucas is the king.

    Still remains the most disappointing films of all time. It's rubbish.
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  84. Mar 6, 2016
    4
    Why did this happen. George Lucas made the best movie trilogy of all time, how could he screw this up. We had our expectations so high, we thought we were going to have the best movie experience after many years of waiting. But we were all so disappointed in this mess. The acting was terrible and awkward. The characters are undeveloped. The story sucks, and the cgi is way too much. AtWhy did this happen. George Lucas made the best movie trilogy of all time, how could he screw this up. We had our expectations so high, we thought we were going to have the best movie experience after many years of waiting. But we were all so disappointed in this mess. The acting was terrible and awkward. The characters are undeveloped. The story sucks, and the cgi is way too much. At least we got on hell of a lightsaber fight, so we could calm down for a few minutes. I was very disappointed in this film. Expand
  85. Jan 27, 2016
    4
    The phantom menace was one of the most anticipated movies ever, however it gets my lowest score yet. While George Lucas wanted the movie to be for kids, instead he added boring politics that hardly anyone cared about. Also as I said Lucas did add children's elements to the film which I would have been fine with but they just turn out as extremely annoying. Luckily the incredible last sceneThe phantom menace was one of the most anticipated movies ever, however it gets my lowest score yet. While George Lucas wanted the movie to be for kids, instead he added boring politics that hardly anyone cared about. Also as I said Lucas did add children's elements to the film which I would have been fine with but they just turn out as extremely annoying. Luckily the incredible last scene of this movie(lightsaber battle) is incredible and brings my rating up to mixed. My lowest rated movie yet which could of easily been negative. 4/10 Expand
  86. Mar 17, 2016
    6
    MEDIOCRE
    In my opinion it's not the worst in the series.
    It has a terrible acting, excessive use of CGI and a dumb story.
    But is better than a lot of other movies. Including the second one...
  87. Mar 11, 2016
    6
    Star Wars "The phantom menace" tires to begin the Star Wars first saga. But is more violent, more story, but, sadly, very much characters, that kills the story. Star Wars I is almost illogical, putting more technology than the first ones, just for make the nowadays audience for enjoy more the film. The very much characters that appears in the film at for make the audience more interested,Star Wars "The phantom menace" tires to begin the Star Wars first saga. But is more violent, more story, but, sadly, very much characters, that kills the story. Star Wars I is almost illogical, putting more technology than the first ones, just for make the nowadays audience for enjoy more the film. The very much characters that appears in the film at for make the audience more interested, but it was poison for the critics. Expand
  88. Mar 23, 2016
    4
    As the most widely anticipated and heavily hyped film of modern times, “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” can scarcely help being a letdown on some levels, but it’s too bad that it disappoints on so many. At heart a fanciful and fun movie for young boys, the first installment of George Lucas’ three-part prequel to the original “Star Wars” trilogy is always visually divertingAs the most widely anticipated and heavily hyped film of modern times, “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” can scarcely help being a letdown on some levels, but it’s too bad that it disappoints on so many. At heart a fanciful and fun movie for young boys, the first installment of George Lucas’ three-part prequel to the original “Star Wars” trilogy is always visually diverting thanks to the technical wizardry with which it creates so many imaginative creatures, spaceships and alien worlds. But it is neither captivating nor transporting, for it lacks any emotional pull, as well as the sense of wonder and awe that marks the best works of sci-fi/fantasy.

    Nonetheless, even if the film lacks the magic to endear it to audiences in the manner of the first series entries a generation ago, the Force will still be with the picture at the box office; pic will probably gross in the neighborhood of its $120 million budget in its first week of release beginning May 19, and double that by early June. Thereafter, much will depend upon repeat viewing, which will no doubt be frequent among kids but much less so with adults. In other words, though it’s an automatic blockbuster, it will become neither a classic nor the biggest moneymaker of all time — only one of the biggest.

    Those most looking forward to the first new “Star Wars” installment in 16 years are mostly people — now in their 30s — who were kids when episodes four through six were released. If anything, Lucas has tilted “Phantom” away from this audience and aimed it directly at a new crop of children, who are familiar with the originals via video or the recent “Special Edition” hardtop reissues. So while the new picture may not deliver everything the original fans have been fantasizing about for most of their lives, Lucas may again assert his status as the shrewdest marketeer among filmmakers, if he can capture the new generation for his fresh trilogy while still taking the old-time fans along for the ride.

    The extended layover on Tatooine includes, at roughly the film’s halfway point, what is arguably its action/effects highlight, the pod race, which is the sci-fi equivalent of “Ben-Hur’s” chariot race. Launched from an arena carved out of rock, this consists of a bunch of daredevil pilots, who are suspended in virtual buckets connected to giant jet engines, careening their rickety crafts at low altitudes through craggy landscapes, canyons and narrow spaces, anything to create a powerful visual dynamic. Effect is as comparable to a video game as to a movie sequence, but provides the best ride of the picture, even if the outcome is never in doubt.

    As the story, in its maze-like way, zigzags through its second hour, even more characters and creatures are introduced, notably a villain, the red-eyed, red-and-black-faced Darth Maul (Ray Park), who doesn’t say much but proves to be a particularly dexterous opponent of the Jedis with his lightsaber dueling technique. After a series of confrontations and battles, a sense of tentative peace prevails at the end, and the young Anakin, despite some misgivings on the part of Jedi Master Yoda, is accepted as a Jedi apprentice. As the Republic’s Senator Palpatine with a wry sense of portentiouness says to the boy, “We will watch your career with great interest.”

    There is certainly enough incident to keep the picture and the viewer going, but the bombardment of elements, names, worlds, creatures and dilemmas may prove somewhat daunting to casual observers unsteeped in “Star Wars” lore. Beyond that, the new CGI characters are notably lacking in charm or interest other than on the design level; they bring nothing new or special to Lucas’ universe, and in a sense overpopulate it.

    This is a truly a world of extraterrestrial diversity gone berserk: There are hundreds of droid warriors, all manner of animal-like creatures, and enough spaceships, fighting machines and vehicles to supply an entire toy store. Except for the desert scenes and a few other landscapes, the world of the movie is virtually entirely artificial, and some of the more obviously fake backdrops remind one that this is just a computer-generated version of the sort of ambiance habitually created some 50 to 60 years ago by most Hollywood pictures.

    Lucas places no less importance on the sound elements, and his experts in this field, in particular sound designer Ben Burtt and Skywalker Sound director and mixer Gary Rydstrom, have delivered again. John Williams’ score reprises the very familiar themes of the first trilogy while adding some new and complimentary strains.

    But while the film hardly lacks for visual creativity, it lacks resonance, freshness and a sense of wonder. In a way, it suffers from there having been so many knock-offs and sci-fi imitators in the intervening years.

    “Phantom” is easily consumable eye candy, but it contains no nutrients for the heart or mind.
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  89. Apr 3, 2016
    4
    The lure of "Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace" cannot be explained without cross-referential flow charts establishing connections among bison stampedes, impulse buying, the power of myth and humankind's pathological willingness to pitch tents at the slightest hint of hot tickets.
    Put more simply: The joy of "Star Wars" is going to see "Star Wars." Which is why no one will – or
    The lure of "Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace" cannot be explained without cross-referential flow charts establishing connections among bison stampedes, impulse buying, the power of myth and humankind's pathological willingness to pitch tents at the slightest hint of hot tickets.
    Put more simply: The joy of "Star Wars" is going to see "Star Wars." Which is why no one will – or should – listen to the early buzz that "Phantom Menace" does not illuminate the heavens, eclipse its predecessors or affect global weather patterns as promised.

    Moviegoers need to discover for themselves that the film, starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and about 15 quadrillion computer creations, is anything but the Second Coming. I'm not saying it's "Ishtar Wars," but it is likely to disappoint more people than creator George Lucas would have liked.

    The story line – in which the treacherous Trade Federation's evil agenda becomes increasingly clear – is too complicated to outline. But the overall purpose of "Phantom" is to foreshadow the life of Darth Vader. The heavy breather, we discover, starts off as a sweet 9-year-old boy called Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), born into slavery on the planet Tatooine.

    It is the destiny of Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor) and Qui-Gon Jinn (Neeson), accompanying Queen Amidala (Portman), to discover this space-age Christopher Robin, who will eventually father Luke, Leia and a whole line of armor-plated fashion wear.

    Unfortunately, it is also destined that our three wayfarers must be accompanied by Jar Jar Binks, an animatronic, underwater-dwelling, floppy-eared Gungan who functions as official comic relief.

    Jar Jar's "funny" business consists of bumping into things and getting caught in the thruster engine of Anakin's air racer.

    Picture a computer-created mixture of Dumbo the elephant, an Egyptian Anubis and Calista Flockhart. And imagine a strangled, sputtering patois that sounds goofy and backward.

    Lucas has an extremely complex undertaking before him: to show the narrative Big Bang that started Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker and the whole scary, quippy, fuzzy, Muppety, warp-speeding intergalactic family.

    This means much expositional roadwork, as The Creator lays down track for all the themes, plot lines and characters who will appear and reappear throughout his 12-hour symphony.

    Lord Lucas has said in press notes for "The Phantom Menace" that he decided to write this movie, the first in the early trilogy, after seeing the computerized possibilities in Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park." That is precisely the problem. Lucas is so busy trying to digitally blow everyone's mind that he forgets about his characters. The sacrifice of humanity for special effects creates an unfortunate disturbance in the Force.

    "Phantom Menace" is to the original "Star Wars" trilogy what Roger Moore's Bond films were to the Connery originals: a pale imitation loaded down with cutting-edge bells and whistles. And in this industrial glare, the actors are caught like cosmic deer in the headlights.

    Jake Lloyd seems more like a directed kid than a force to reckon with. As Queen Amidala, the whiningly ineffective Portman seems to be mimicking Katharine Hepburn. And McGregor – who imitates Alec Guinness's accent to match that of the older Obi-Wan Kenobi – sounds uncomfortably forced and tentative.

    As Qui-Gon, Neeson makes a nicely understated mentor, the one who will mistakenly consider Anakin worthy of Jedi training. But "Phantom Menace" gives him little opportunity to do more than interact with computer beings, chase the plot and show off his light saber against a deadly, hooded opponent whose orange-and-black horned face is hard to take seriously.

    If there is any magic partnership between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan – at least, to rival the later link between Yoda (who makes an appearance here) and Luke in "The Empire Strikes Back" – it is in a galaxy far, far away.

    The overall look and feel of the picture is always powerful. And the sound effects serenade your ears with palpable crispness. The prime scene – the real thriller, for my money – is an exhilarating spacecraft land race, in which Anakin Skywalker plays a youthful Ben Hur to Sebulba, a tentacled, cheating Messala who tries to destroy his space pod. Now that's a cool scene.

    But after the movie's immediate effect has worn off, the shortcomings hover in the air. Obviously, this film will touch the lives and fantasies of millions of people. But I'd be surprised if a majority of "Phantom" fans – after sober reflection in a Jedi monastery, of course – place the movie at the top of the "Star Wars" pantheon. I think even Yoda would back me up on that.
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  90. May 31, 2016
    6
    The largely anticipated prequel of the epic saga, The Phantom Menace is definitely not what many fans expected. Though many could argue that the effects were decent, and that the Saber fights were well choreographed, the poorly written dialogue and heavy use of political talk made the film particularly boring. And, not to mention, Jar Jar Binks.
  91. May 30, 2016
    4
    I don't flat out hate this movie entirely, it does have some awesome stuff to it. The pod race, the saber duel, the score, the planet designs, and the designs in general. But what makes this film weak is its bland one dimensial characters and poorly acted and directed feel to this film. A far cry from the original trilogy.
  92. Jun 5, 2016
    6
    This is probably the least pleasant star wars film. The story was quite ok but the acting in it is very bad compared to the other films. I am quite disappointed.
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. It's up to snuff. It sustains the gee-whiz spirit of the series.