Star Wars Ep I: The Phantom Menace Review

It’s now one week until the world gets to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In preparation for this, I’ve already re-watched all 6 films including the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy of which Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is a part.

So leading up to my own viewing of The Force Awakens, which will be on December 19th, I’ll be doing a review for each of the Star Wars films, starting with the prequel trilogy. Now I know that there are people out there who are fans of the prequel trilogy because of the amount of information and exposition they provide, and also just as films; but I am also very aware that there are people out there who can not stand the prequel trilogy, and have lost faith in George Lucas altogether as a result of them.

So what’s my take on The Phantom Menace? Well, it’s in between this. I don’t hate the film, but I don’t particularly love it either.

The Bad

I have to start with the bad because there’s just so much of it.

Made for Toys

phantom menace race scene

Overall there’s actually no real main character in this film like with the original trilogy (where Luke is clearly at the centre of it all). However, this being an origin story, we can assume that it’s mostly about Anakin Skywalker and how he becomes Darth Vader (while the Siths are rising up again as well).

When seeing all the amazing things this kid gets up to, like that ridiculously lengthy race scene, it’s clear that this film was made so that kids would live vicariously through Anakin. Being in that race, and on this journey. This was perpetuated by the flood of toys that came out after the film, as well as theme park rides and other attractions.

This is all good, and every time a Star Wars movie comes out (the latest one included) there is a flood of new toys and attractions, which is understandable as they sell like crazy and Disney is all about that paper. But Phantom Menace seems like it suffered because of this; that agenda was just being pushed too much, and the actual quality of the film went unchecked.

Jar Jar Binks

star-wars-jar-jar-binks-inspiration
Foul Knave!

Binks is quite frankly the most hated character in all of the Star Wars universe – I challenge you to find someone more hated. This character is annoying.

A recent post on reddit suggested that he may be the bad guy behind the whole damn thing all along. I’m sure a ton of prequel trilogy haters are jumping on that train. I personally don’t hate the character, but I do find his voice and stupidity to be incredibly annoying!

The CGI

Phantom Menace CGI Overkill

Damn, I know this was done at a time when CGI was the “in thing”, but they really went way too far with it here. Almost all of the battle sequences are CGI, most of the larger sequences in major cities are CGI, so are the council meetings. The everything, all the time.

This also takes the weight out of enemy characters, making them seem like less of a menace if you know what I mean, as the Jedis just seem to cut through them like butter.

Politics

"My Lord, Gandalf the Grey is coming"
“My Lord, Gandalf the Grey is coming”

This movie is filled with it! Palpatine trying to get control, trade agreements and a bunch of other things that just made me zone out completely a number of times every time I watched this film.

The thing about the original trilogy is that while there’s this political undertone that creates the circumstances in which characters find themselves, those films are predominantly about the characters themselves; their personal journeys and relationships with one another. Phantom Menace switches this around and places the politics at the center of it all, to its detriment.

Midi-chlorians

Midi-chlorians is strong with this one

This is a bit of lore that makes many original sequel lovers hate- and I mean HATE- the prequel trilogy. And guess what? I don’t blame them!

When we were introduced to The Force in the original films, we get the idea that it’s this omnipresent force that binds everything and everyone together. And some people are more in tune with it than others. But now we learn that everyone has these micro-organisms in their bodies, and Force-sensitive people just have more of these than normal people…

The Good

It’s not all bad – I scraped the depths of my mind to find some good in the film, and here’s what I came up with.

Darth Vader

We know that feel, Darth.
We know that feel, Darth.

Vader is one of the most complex characters out there, and a big part of this trilogy is his back story and how he gets seduced by The Dark Side. It’s really interesting to see this kid grow up in front of your eyes and become this villain over time – which happens over the entire trilogy, but this genesis is awesome.

Darth Maul

Darth Maul Lightsaber

Sticking with the Darths, this character doesn’t appear often, and doesn’t say much, but the little time that he spends on screen is amazing. He is just so mysterious, he looks intense and epic (and thankfully not CGI’d) and he dies in the most spectacular fashion ever.

Another amazing thing about him is the fight between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Darth Maul. This fight looks cool in terms of effects and is also well-choreographed.

Phantom Menace FIght

Yeah so I just realised that that’s all I like about this movie is the Dark Side. If you enjoyed this review, please share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter; heck even via email!

Rating: 5,5/10

Favourite Part: Darth Maul battles against Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon in a most epic battle.

Least favourite part/s: The CGI-heavy war and Anakin’s unnecessarily long race.

Check out the trailer for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace below:

The IMDB Synopsis for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace reads as follows:

“Two Jedi Knights escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to reclaim their old glory.”

Stevo

Creator. Adventure Seeker. Geek. Thinker. Editor-in-Chief at BTG Lifestyle. Lover of film, coffee, tech, travel & photography.

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