Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Starring: Terence Stamp, Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Ahmed Best, Brian Blessed, Frank Oz, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, Ray Park

Directed by: George Lucas

Produced by: Lucasfilm, Ltd.

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Genre: science fiction

Xibo's grade:


Average grade:



Review by Xibo Date seen: May 23, 1999
Viewing Location: Secaucus Grade: A
Summary: It would been perfect without JarJar.
Stupidly, this film was only showing in the very few theaters in NYC not controlled by the local Loews monopoly. As a result, Star Wars: Episode I is probably going to be sold out there for weeks. And then in Secaucus, they only showed the film on three screens. What I think would have been really cool is if they had showed it on six or more screens; then there would not have been sell-outs. It's not like anyone was going to see those other stupid films anyway. Okay, as for The Phantom Menace, the special effects are top-notch. The pod race scene simply blows you away, and the droid armies are simply stunning to watch. The gungans were extremely annoying however; like the ewoks in RTJ, I wished that Lucas hadn't gone down that path. A lot of the movie seems to be directed towards small children; there was no romance, no macho Han Solo figure. Just a lot of goofy aliens for kids to laugh at. *Sigh!* The gungans appear to be leftover technology from the Jurassic Park films. Still, it was great to see a young Obi-wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn was excellent, it was a blast to see R2D2 as well. Even C3PO's appearance was quite enjoyable. I'm not sure how they justify introducing the droids in this film when Obi-wan (apparently) doesn't recognize them many decades later, on the same planet, even. Go figure. I was a little disappointed with the spaceships, as the 1990's sleek and curvy style has replaced the bulky machines of the other films. The combat scenes with the jedi knights was outstanding; these guys just totally ruled. Darth Maul was pretty good, too; but I expected more lines from him. Thankfully they didn't cheap out, the film is over two hours long and leaves you begging for more. It's a rush, and definitely worth seeing a few times. 

B+ B+ B+
Review by Jigen Date seen: May 19, 1999
Viewing Location: Bellingham - Bellis Fair, really late at night Grade: B+
Summary: Not bad, but I have much Pain in me.
So, I was one of the suckers that waited in line for tickets and then stayed up late for the midnight showing. God help me. Anyway, this was a great movie. Lucas coaxed some pretty good performances out of the main parts of the cast and is able to keep the pacing fairly brisk. Then he brings it to a crashing halt. Twice. Jar Jar shows up. Ok, he is pretty painful, but everything's going to be ok I think to myself. Then he drops the midichlorines thing on us. I refuse to believe that the "Force" is MICROSCOPIC BUGS. Anyway, those are minor geek-tastic points that only affect those that grew up on the trilogy and don't really keep this from being a great film. The pod race is great. The Naboo war is great. The lightsaber duel is the greatest of all time (unless you see "The Art of the Saber" on Just take the pain if you're into the Star Wars like me and you'll be ok. 

D+ D+ D+
Review by Finrod Date seen: May 22, 1999
Viewing Location: Atlanta Grade: D+
Summary: As a fourth movie, not bad, but
Annoying Kids Don't Make Classic Movies.

Someone should have beat that into George Lucas's head before he ever started making this movie, and perhaps it would have been salvageable then. As is, the two kids (Anakin and the queen) were only the 3rd-most-annoying thing in the movie, after Jar-Jar (#2) and the explanation of midichlorians (gah!). About the only thing this movie has going for it is that it's arguably better than Superman 4 or Batman 4 (aka Batman and Robin).  

B- B- B-
Review by Orion Date seen: June 25, 1999
Viewing Location: The Summit Grade: B-
Summary: Get rid of Lucas, and Star Wars will be fine.
It's no secret to anyone that Empire is widely regarded as the best Star Wars film. It was action packed, character depth, emotional stress, and really broke out of the genre while still managing to have some great blaster fights and lightsabre duels. So why did Lucas go even further down the path he bagan in Return of the Jedi? As I watched this movie unfold, I was ismply stunned by the scenes with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, but soon enough my suspension of disbelief was shattered by JarJar, Anakin, and pretty much everything else. The voice acting, the slavery, the way the force became 'magic dna' instead of something anyone could learn... fah. SPOILER ALERT

And it doesn't help that the two gems in the movie get killed in the last scene. Qui-Gon dying might further the plot, but Darth Maul? What, did he get tired or something? And what the hell is up with the Force anyway, if you are using the light side, you get your ass handed to you, but as soon as you get pissed and grasp the dark side, you kick major butt. Bleah. Kill JarJar, get rid of the offensive voices, get rid of Midichlorians or whatever the hell they were, and bring in some characters we can actually feel for. I don't want to watch the boy Jesus miraculously fix everything just so he can turn into Hitler in 30 years. 

Review by Parallel Date seen: December 1, 1999
Viewing Location: Northern Illinois Grade: C
Summary: Buy the sound track
By far the best part of this movie is the music. I bought the sound track before the movie came out based on some .mp3s that I heard, and I have never regretted that purchase. There are a couple of fine sequences in the movie, like the pod race and the lightsaber dueling, but they are overwhelmed by the morass of slow, annoying parts that you just have to sit through. The most interesting character is killed off (and that's not a spoiler because a title of one of the songs in the sound track tells you that, for crying out loud!) and some of the coincidences are just too contrived. None of these faults are due to John Williams', so I enjoy the music. That alone is worth at least a letter grade more than I'm giving this review. 

B- B- B-
Review by hughjtoad Date seen: January 21, 2000
Viewing Location: california Grade: B-
Summary: this movie did not change my life
I was expecting it to! This was irritating in several ways. Jar Jar gets all the press, but the stupid way slavery was handled, having anakin accidentally destroy the robot-controlling ship, the totally unbelievable pod racing (who pays for these things? How does anyone get good at it when they all die in every race?), and above all the lack of any originality or even trying a new plot twist on lucas' part left me cold. Sure I'll watch it when it comes on TNT in a few years, but I'll be flipping around during most of it. I also got the feeling that in the great universe in which Star Wars takes place, while we were watching a bunch of stupid kids and irritating humnoid frogs, there were some really cool things going on that I would have much preferred to see.  

Review by smeehrrr Date seen: January 21, 2000
Viewing Location: The Evil Empire Grade: C
Summary: Crapbag
Don't even get me started on this one. Even as a children's film, which it clearly was, this was only average in its most shining moments. 

C+ C+ C+
Review by Scalveg Date seen: January 21, 2000
Viewing Location: Silicon Valley Grade: C+
Summary: Good fun, good fights, iffy characters, and, sadly, Jar Jar.
I was nearly crying at how good the fight scenes were as the movie began unrolling before my eyes. The pod racing scenes sucked me in like a gigantic emotional vacuum cleaner. However, the underpinnings weren't there, and as the movie slowed down, it left my mind with more and more time to dwell on the gaping holes in the plot, not the least of which was why mostly competent people would hang around with the irritating, insipid, idiotic, insulting, often-unintelligible, and of course offensive character, Jar Jar Binks.

I read in the papers after the movie opened that someone from the Lucas organization said that Jar Jar was there for the kids. Somehow Star Wars and Empire managed to get along without characters 'for the kids'. If Jar Jar is in the other prequels, Lucas can kiss my admission goodbye. 

B+ B+ B+
Review by tmon Date seen: August 4, 2000
Viewing Location: New York City Grade: B+
Summary: Nice but a lacking story
George Lucas admitted it himself that maybe he was showing off with special effects too much and not getting into the story more. I was really craving some more personal histories, character development and maybe even a revalation or two that would make me say "ah, HA" about some of the elements in Episodes 4-6. Many people complain about the racist elements in the movie, specifically with the accents of the different species in the show. I admit I can see how certain ethnic groups would be offended. And as far as Jar Jar goes, I, too, can do without him. For Pete's sake, did anyone understand a single thing he was saying??? 

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