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Opened in Theaters: Friday, February 10th, 2012

Directed by George Lucas
Genre: SciFi/Fantasy
Running Time: 2:11

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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace in 3D
The first installment of the Star Wars saga, converted to 3D. Stranded on the desert planet Tatooine after rescuing young Queen Amidala from the impending invasion of Naboo, Jedi apprentice...  View more >

sci-fi action/violence

Starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman...  View more >

Reviews Summary

Rating # %  
See Now!  47 65 See Now! Percent
Good  12 17 Good Percent
Wait for Rental  8 11 Wait Percent
Stay Away!  5 7 Stay Away! Percent
72 Total Reviews

Please Note: Reader Reviews are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions regarding this movie, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
See it now and see it again. It was well worth the wait. Be sure to see it on the Ultra-Screen at Westown.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Well, I'm sure everyone is going to see this movie anyways regardless of the reviews. The movie overall is incredible and definitely follows the excellence of the Star Wars trilogy. The special effects are amazing and the eye candy alone is probably worth repeat viewings. The Ben Hur chariot race and the light saber duels are breath-taking and hold you to the edge of your seat. Darth Maul was incredible and you wish he had more screen time. The movie is extremely faced paced and the two hour movie flies right by.

For those who say the plot is weak or characters are not as well developed, they are right to some degree. Yet, the magic of Star Wars has never come from it's acting abilities. It's a popcorn movie and one of the best at its genre. The movie is more childish than the first three and Jar Jar, although funny at times, becomes annoying. If Darth Maul killed him, the audience would have cheered. The point of this episode is to set everything up for the remaining saga. Character exploration, especially Obi-won, Anikan, and Amidala will be done in the next two episodes.

Overall this movie is great fun and definitely worth waiting in line. **** 1/2 out of *****

[--- Good ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Ignore the critics, it's a good movie. It's not the best, but it's still good. I still think Jedi is the best of the star wars saga, but this one is up there. The begining moves pretty fast, so pay attention. Furthermore, i know a lot of people got really annoyed with jar jar, but i didn't find him all that bad. All in all, it's a good movie, but it's not worth quiting your job to go to.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
It was great. I don't know why it has gotten mixed reviews since it's as good as episode 4. The special effects were great and the story was also well done.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I give the Phantom Menance as many Stars that is allowed! I just can't believe that there were people that did not like this movie. Phantom Menance details how it all began. With all the great fighting sceens, shoot outs, sword fighting and car chases in other movies, I have never seen anything better than the Light Saber fight in Phantom Menace. You critics that gave this movie a bad rating, You were way out of line. George Lucas is the master, you people are just jealous!

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Star wars is an average movie on the surface, however when wrapped in the entire star wars universe you have a truely great film.

The Downside:

1. Jar-Jar Binks. The single most annoy character ever to be featured in a movie of this magnitude. If you are like me, you will find yourself praying for his death every moment he is on the screen. There are even a few momments when you think you may get your wish, but alas you are cursed with him to the end.

2. The kid is not a good actor. 'nuf said, he's just a kid.

3. There is a great deal of information thrown at you in a short period of time and if you haven't read the books or played the games it is easy to get lost.

The UpSide:

1. Darth Maul is the single most amazingly cool character ever to grace the screen. To see Darth Maul fight with his dual light saber is worth 2 hours of Jar-Jar Binks.

2. The effects will leave your jaw on the floor. Eye popping graphics abound.

3. This is another story set in the star wars universe, how could it ever fail? even with Jar-Jar this is still Star Wars and therefore it is a must see.


See this movie now. This is not one that you can rent unless you happen to have a 75 foot TV with a THX sound system.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
This film truely is Star Wars, regardless of what the snooty critics think of it. Many people have seen or heard more than enough reviews already, so I'll only touch on a few points that I believe need "clarification."

1) Jake Lloyd does a very good job as Anakin. He played the part the way that the character needed to be shown. People have said that his acting is stale and wooden, but I don't see it. There are a couple scenes where you are able to tell that he is "acting", but he's was only 8 years old when filming took place. He is many, many times better than Macaully Culkin ever was.

2) The plot was excellent, as long as you put it into the context of the Star Wars universe. I think many people were expecting a movie that could completely stand on it's own and have a very deep and intricate plot. You need to understand that this movie, while containing good action sequences, was intended to be "preface." It does an excellent job of laying the groundwork for the next two films, as well as tie into the original trilogy. I understand even better now why Lucas chose to start with Episode IV, a film that had more action and adventure and was a little more reckless and "spur of the moment" than Episode I. Overall, the plot was solid, doing a good job of answering a few questions, while still leaving some to be answered and raising some new ones as well.

3) The CGI (computer-animated) characters did not detract from the "realism" of the film. The character of Jar Jar Binks, the floppy-eared creature with the unusual accent, was not nearly as bad as I thought he would be. Yes, he was obnoxious in some scenes, but he's a character that kids will love. He brings a new kind of comic relief to Star Wars, which is why he has been criticized so much. I think many were used to the kind of humor provided by C-3PO, R2D2 and Chewbacca. Their main purpose was humor, but they had their serious moments as well. Jar Jar is 99% comic relief, with only two semi-serious lines in the entire picture. Jar Jar takes a little bit to get used to, but he really doesn't detract from the film that much.

Bottom line, ignore the critics and decide for yourself. It is absolutely worth seeing more than once in the theatre just to pick up on all of the "eye candy" and subtle surprises. (Watch the Senate scene closely and you'll see a group that resembles a very familiar, non-Star Wars alien!)

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
It's been 22 years that sci-fi fans and movie lovers have been wondering "What happened before Episode IV: A New Hope?" With the prequel trilogy Lucasfilm has kicked off with the release of "Episode I: The Phantom Menace," those burning questions will be answered. So, how is George Lucas' latest film creation? In two words: absolutely stunning!

Lucas has pulled out all the stops on this one. He really let his imagination run wild and the result is a film with non-stop excitement and adventure! After a short warm up, it kicks into high-gear and is a full-throttle romp until the end credits roll! The pacing is very fast, the eye-popping special effects are everywhere, hordes of bizzare creatures abound, and the Force is strong once again!

I really enjoyed Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jin, an experienced Jedi Knight, and Ewan McGregor as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, his apprentice. Neeson brought instant credibility and respect to his character. Qui-Gon is powerful and skilled yet calm and wise, and epitomizes all the good qualities a Jedi should have. It was great to see Obi-Wan in his hey-day and in top form as a Jedi. Natalie Portman's performance as Queen Amidala was very good, she was strong and unyielding as a world leader should be. Young Anakin Skywalker, played by Jake Lloyd, is a slave child who takes the first steps on the path of his destiny. Lloyd's acting ability was quite serviceable for a young boy, though at times he did get a bit annoying (althought not as bad as an older, whinier Luke in Episode IV). And Darth Maul, portrayed by Ray Park, is a wicked, sinister bad boy! Unfortunately, his dialog is very sparse and his demise is rather abrupt. Be forewarned, this film does not concern itself with character development, which may disappoint some fans of the series.

The special effects were stupendous! While I'm still not a convert to pure CGI effects in films (as opposed to matte effects), these are the the best computer graphics I have seen yet. They are very seamless, realistic and blend well with the live-action backgrounds filmed on location. It's painfully obvious that the effects in the original trilogy pale in comparison to this new film, and I can only wonder what those first three might have been like had this technology been available 20 some years ago. Lucas must have felt completely liberated by the CGI revolution during the making of this film because he skillfully uses the computer graphics to their fullest extent to bring his rich creativity to life.

John Williams' musical score is excellent and heightens the action on-screen. However, I was a bit disappointed that the score gets buried pretty deep by the sound effects too often. One thing I really enjoy about the original trilogy is that the music is very keyed to the specific scenes and sets the appropriate moods well. Unfortunately, it seems the score for this film was used for adifferent purpose, that being to simply provide some background music as filler. Ben Burtt is back as the sound designer (he also co-edited the film) and the sound effects are very good. There was plenty of laser fire and explosion booms, but nothing that taxed the theater's sound system to the point of distortion. I was also a bit disappointed that the extra center surround channel (via DolbyStereo Digital-EX) that was introduced with this film was put to only limited use, mostly for spaceship fly-bys and such.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this film, there were a few elements that I simply did not like. The Jar Jar Binks character, in my humble opinion, is the cheesiest creature Lucas has come up with yet, and will even make the most staunch Ewok hater cringe. Even thought he is integral to the story line, I really did not care for his personality or mannerisms. Related to that, the comic relief at times got very slap-stick and hammy. I like a bit of humor in an action-adventure flick, but this was too much at times. Finally, I didn't like the somewhat detailed explanation of the nature behind the Force. It stole some of the mystic wonder from what Obi-Wan Kenobi once labeled simply as "anenergy field." There are a few other things that bothered me, but I won't get into splitting hairs.

For me, the original trilogy is still king, but this new episode is a worthy addition to the Star Wars universe and is definitely worth seeing more than once on the big screen (if nothing else to catch all the little nuances and subtlties going on in the background). For those who are curious how this new installment stacks up against the original trilogy, here are my personal ratings for thefilms released to date (rated out of 100):

99 Star Wars (A New Hope)
100 The Empire Strikes Back
95 Return Of The Jedi
95 The Phantom Menace

One final note for you hard-core Jedi Knight fans: the lightsaber duel is FANTASTIC! :-) [big grin]

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
A movie with the impossible assignment of living up to everyone's individual expectations. To me, it came through fine. Not a brain-challenging movie, but a fun movie.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
This may not be the best Star Wars movie, but it's a pretty good one. The special effects are so cool. I am a little bit disapointing with this film; and some of the acting wasn't that good.

This movie ruled!


[--- Wait for Rental ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I am a Huge Star Wars fan and I was terribly disappointed. I will be extremely surprised if the other two "Prequels" get made. I read the book adaptation and enjoyed the story, the characters and the dialog. The movie did not execute the script very well. You cannot understand the dialog of the alien characters. The human actors are stiff and unemotional. They do not seem to be enjoying themselves. There is so much computer-generated material that the movie is more of a cartoon than a motion picture.

The auditorium I attended was only 20% filled. When it ended, there was not a sound. Just a bunch of people filing out, shaking their heads, unhappily.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I thought this movie was very good. The special effects were incredible. I've heard that critics say that for some reason this movie doesn't live up to the rest of the series. I disagree. This movie does have a slightly different slant to it, however. Most people who will go to see this movie have seen the first 3 already. They know about Darth Vader, Obi Wan Kenobi, and other characters but they don't really know the whole story. That's what this movie is, it is a set-up for the series and it is treated as such. This movie should be seen while it is in theaters. There's time, I have a feeling this movie is going to be around for a while and it is playing on enough screens that I didn't even have to stand in line. I just bought my ticket, my pop, and just walked in so go see this movie it'll be worth it.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)

The verdict: my wife and two children and I liked it more than we thought we would.

With all of the hype surrounding the first episode of the 'Star Wars' saga, who would expect any mere human effort to succeed completely? Yes, we had heard lots of lukewarm reviews from critics - but hey, critics are not the main target audience of George Lucas. As for us, we were enthralled more than we were skeptical.

The premise we knew before going to view: LucasFilm's finely-tuned advertising had exposed us umpteen times to the main characters and their quest. At the heart is political intrigue: the huge Trade Federation has blockaded the small planet Naboo, whose queen is Amidala (Natalie Portman). Two shady heads of the Federation have already tried to assassinate the Jedi knights sent as ambassadors - Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his master, the hulking Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). After the Jedis liberate the queen and her retinue, her highness appears before the galactic senate, complaining about the persecution of her tiny planet. What follows is a series of complications typical of the other installments. The underdog, equipped with cleverness and unfailing determination, faces off with the darker forces, equipped with superior numbers and weaponry. The hidden card is a supposed legend: the Federation lackeys report to a mysterious Sith lord named Darth Sidious. We discover that the Sith are in fact real, and that there are only two at any one time; Sidious' apprentice is named Darth Maul.

Really the plot is thin. Lucas is obliged to incorporate countless elements that had their genesis in episodes four, five and six - so many that there is little room for plot development, aside from the knights guarding the queen from being coerced into signing a treaty with the despicable trade ministers. Another necessary plot detail is the introduction of Anakin Skywalker. He's a slave boy on Tatooine, the planet where the Jedis have landed to repair their ship on the long voyage to Coruscant. The boy, played by Jake Lloyd, soon joins up with the venerable warriors. His advantage is that the Force seems incredibly strong within him. Qui-Gon (pronounced 'KWAI-GONE') recognizes this latent gift, and insists the boy become another apprentice. The plot detours into various complications, but it turns out that this boy has talents that belie his years.

On the whole, the movie has preserved a good deal of the light-heartedness and camp of the earliest treatment. True, there is not a character of Han Solo's ilk, nor of Chewbacca's; but the tone is light in the right places, and the pace does keep the interest it needs to keep. I had the impression that the plot would find better and grander settings sooner than it did. Hence my judgment that the first minutes could have moved faster, a la flicks in the 'Star Trek' series. The wandering plot builds, however, a series of wonderfully rich subtexts. We see an astonishing underwater city inhabited by the Gungans, the home of the computer-generated Jar Jar Binks. The other architectures are equally eye-catching: Amidala's Italian Renaissance palaces, for instance. It's true in this episode that the backgrounds - and thus the special effects - play an even greater role than they did in the other episodes. Perhaps this prominence is noticeable because some type of CGI appears in 95% of the shots; but perhaps it is because of some lapses in acting.

Jake Lloyd is cute, but some of his lines include the Beaver-like "Yippee!" Plus, in many scenes he looks like he's trying to act: the absence of contrivance is not yet perfected. Even worse, when Queen Amidala dons a disguise, dressing as the handmaid Padme, Natalie Portman delivers the most wooden style in the picture. She is much better as the subdued queen.

Then there is Liam Neeson as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. His bearing is always natural and stately, and he delivers his lines with the dignity and wisdom fitting his role. Qui-Gon is especially effective when chiding Obi-Wan, his apprentice who is almost a full-fledged knight. I'd argue that just as imposing a presence as Neeson is McGregor - this actor commands our attention in much the same ways as the originator of the role, Sir Alec Guiness; McGregor seems to have the solid demeanor of a host of British actors - Trevor Howard, even Claude Rains. In short, if you are reading this, Mr. Lucas, put more focus on the best actors that you probably already have in the bag for the next two films! Ewan McGregor should be the cornerstone of Episode Two. Finally, the baddest villain here is the physicality of Darth Maul, played by Ray Park. His evil stare is unmatched by the threatening visages of any other baddie in 'Menace'. The light saber fight - a three-way between Maul, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan - is perhaps the best small-scale combat footage in all of 'Star Wars'! (On the topic of combat, my son complained about the paucity of space dog-fights. I personally missed Wedge, who appeared in Episodes 4, 5 and 6.)

As for Jar Jar Binks, he is a wonder of computer animation, but does speak in a quasi-Carribean accent that makes him annoyingly marble-mouthed. He's an ineffectual side-kick, along as a guide as he owes a life-debt to Qui-Gon. He provides occasional comic relief, especially in a large battle with the Federation's droids. But, uh, Mr. Lucas, say it won't be Jar Jar who is the only Chewy wannabe in the next flick!

Some assorted tidbits of amusement: we get to see the origin of CP30, the droid voiced by Anthony Daniels. Typically, in his first acquaintance with R2D2, CP30 acts flustered over his nudity (his gold "coverings" are not yet installed). "Artoo" collects his laurels of heroism by saving the queen's ship, and later by acting as the rear-riding sentry in a craft filched by the precocious Anakin. A bigger bit of fun is the pod race, which has been compared to the chariot races in 'Ben Hur' (in keeping with the Biblical symbolism that pervades the narrative); this race is exciting and fast. The vehicles themselves are plain cool, uncontrollably dangerous - two jet-like engines with a cockpit suspended somehow behind them, a stream of neon electricity coursing about. Though it is gripping and displays Anakin's prowess as a pilot and thinker, the race does not play an important role in the plot - unlike the speeders in the forest of 'Return of the Jedi'.

Cartoonist Jim Borgman of the 'Cincinnati Enquirer' drew two teens emerging from a cinema showing 'The Phantom Menace': "The movie was good, but I liked the hype better," is what one says, which leads me to believe overexposure can hamstring the best of entertainments. But entertainment value is high with this episode, and I have to admire the PG rating. As parents of a girl nearly eleven, we would have had to compromise our usual enforcement of the ratings. Go to see 'The Phantom Menace' and do it in a theater first; it's never the same on a home screen.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
The movie: Star Wars, the Phantom Menace. I give it a "See now" rating. McGregor's performance of Obi-Wan was fantastic. He really did Sir Alec Guiness justice. Some of the CGI charachters were too "cartoony" and sometimes gave the feeling that the real actors were in a Mary Poppins scene. The casting was right on in this film. See it in a theater with good sound system. Not to be missed

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

In a remote star system on the edge of the galaxy, a massive Trade Federation fleet moves to blockade the tiny planet of Naboo because of a trade dispute. The planet's 14-year old queen, Amidala (Natalie Portman) is resisting the Federation's efforts to sign the treaty that would make their invasion legitimate. The Republic dispatches the Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) as ambassadors to negotiate the end of the blockade. Needless to say, things do not go as planned, and the two Jedi end up on the planet, running for their lives from the Federation's robotic army.

So begins Episode I of the Star Wars saga. The Phantom Menace tells the story of what happened before the original trilogy from the 70s and 80s. Because they are prequels, certain things must happen by the end of Episode III that will set up for the chase in the beginning of Episode IV, the original Star Wars.

The title character is Darth Sidious, a hooded, pale figure who appears only in holograms and bears a striking resemblance to Return of the Jedi's Emperor Palpatine. However, Palpatine makes an appearance as his younger self, and is actually played by Ian McDiarmid, who originally portrayed the Emperor.

Ray Park is good as the Satanic-looking villain Darth Maul, the apprentice of Darth Sidious. Park excels at giving evil stares to both his opponents and the camera, and his double bladed, staff-like lightsaber is undeniably cool. Darth Maul is intimidating, saying only what needs to be said, and speaking with actions rather than words.

Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor turn in good performances as the Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, respectively. McGregor has modeled his performance and mannerisms after Alec Guinness, the original Obi-Wan. The movie suffers from the absence of Han Solo and Chewbacca. However, I predict that the two will make an appearance in the third movie, performing the cargo dump that got them in trouble with Jabba the Hutt.

The computer generated Jar Jar Binks serves as a feeble replacement for Chewbacca. Because he owes a life debt to Qui-Gon, as Chewbacca owed Han Solo, he accompanies him for most of the movie. Jar Jar delivers only some of the time in the comic relief department.

The script falls flat in many places. Dialogue doesn't ring true. Characters have a habit of stating the obvious. Obi-Wan is not given enough to do. George Lucas should hire a professional writer to fix the scripts when he is done with them. The directing also is less than outstanding. Scenes are cut too fast, instead of having the camera linger or pan for a few seconds, as in The Empire Strikes Back.

Despite deficiencies in plot and script, the special effects are breathtaking eye-candy. Computer generated images are used in 95% of the shots. The new technology allows Lucas to film more elaborate combat scenes. The three way lightsaber duel is easily the most amazing in the series. And computer generated robot soldiers move fluidly and are extremely realistic. However, the movie suffers from a lack of space dogfights. In contrast to Return of the Jedi's epic battle around the Death Star, the fight against the Federation's control ship is short, and doesn't seem to put any of Naboo's pilots in real danger.

With the addition of the first three movies in the Star Wars series, the series changes focus from Luke Skywalker, and becomes the life story of Darth Vader, one of the most easily recognized movie villains ever. In short, the movie is worth seeing. It is mainly a set up for the main part of the prequel trilogy, which in the end will set up the original trilogy. The Phantom Menace stands alone well, as do the other Star Wars movies, but will undoubtedly be better when its sequels hit theaters and it becomes part of the larger saga.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Finally there's a new star wars movie. Is it perfect? No. I'm willing to admit to plenty of flaws. Is it entertaining? It's probably the most entertaining movie I've seen in a while. I love star wars. This was star wars. Go see it. Try to like it. Chances are, you will. It's not the best movie of all time, but it's definitely one of the better ones.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Good Movie, saw it twice already! Could have had LESS Ja Ja Binks, MORE DARTH MAUL. Can't wait for the next one!

[--- Good ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
It's a fun movie to watch, but as far as fundamentals go, it is inherently flawed. In retrospect, LucasArts' Jedi Knight had better developed characters (AND IT'S A COMPUTER GAME), and the cheap attempts at comic relief just prove that Star Wars in general is not very good. But if you want to see great Special effects and exhilerating action, see it. I give it the "good" rating because the superior sound systems at the theaters add another dimension to the special effects.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
"The Phantom Menace" is a great movie. Of course the special effects are dazzling and dominate the screen, but with a sci fi epic isn't that enough? Do we come to see these types of movies for great acting? Not saying the acting was bad, but some of the lines were a little uninspired. The story line was relatively solid, but of course like most movies can be picked apart. It's been awhile since a movie dazzled me with visuals....probably not since the original one. The Pod Race and the light sabre battle with Darth Maul are the best scenes in the movie. Definitely a movie to be seen twice!

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Better than
The Mummy
The Matrix
Austin Powers
Men In Black
Independence Day
Toy Story
All these movies have been my favorite at one point. But THE PHANTOM MENACE blows them away. Darth Maul was awesome. Jar Jar was cool too, and I don't like it when people diss 'em. The movie was slow towards the midway, but the end made up for it. STAR WARS: EPISODE I- THE PHANTOM MENACE is the best movie ever!! At least until Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace- ***1/2 (out of ****)

[--- Wait for Rental ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I'm also another hard core Star Wars fan, and I was also dissapointed by this movie. It seemed more like a comedy than a sci-fi... not a typical star wars material. I mean, if its your first ever star wars flick, THEN i could find the rave reviews, but, I can ALREADY know what the other two will be about, it only takes a little thought, and you will figure out what will happen, b'cuz in the origial 3 they talk about it. Takes the fun out eh?

[--- Stay Away! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
The critics are right. This movie really sucks. There's just way too much action and special effects going on in the film which prevents us from learning more about the characters. We never get to understand the intricacies of their "inner children" -- for instance, has Qui-Gon become a Jedi because his father was abusive and didn't provide him with the love he so desperately needed at the most pivotal moments in his youth? And what would compel a teenage girl to feel the need to be the queen of an entire planet? Was her mother an alcoholic bimbo who ran around with her best friend's dad? Such vital underpinnings were not addressed in this movie, and instead we are left to endure a mindless assault on our senses, with an endless array of electrifying saber duels, high-tech warfare and ground-breaking special effects.

I am of course being sarcastic, and am so pissed off at all the critics that bashed this film that I hope to see it smash every box office record in existence. With the lone exception perhaps of Roger Ebert, they wouldn't know a good film if it came up and bit them on the bum.

This is absolutely the most visually complete film ever made, and takes the art of film making to another level nearly as much as the first Star Wars did in its premier. And it is a clean, provocative, and uncompromising delight for anyone of any age. I only wish more film makers would take notice of the way in which clean content can make for a very compelling (and profitable) film.

As for specifics, I would say that the pod race was the most awe-inspiring few moments I can remember witnessing in a theater -- too much to take in, especially for such a short duration of time. And then there are the light saber battles -- incredibly matchless to-the-death action sequences. I was also pleased to see that Lucas addressed what I felt to be an oversight of the first Trilogy -- when the cute little fuzzball Ewoks pelted laser-gun toting, armored stormtroopers with pebbles and actually won the battle. In this film, the cute little creatures from the bottom of the lake are actually armed with hi-tech weaponry. It all seems much more believable to me. At any rate, this movie will go down in legend to the same extent as the first three, and in many ways is the superior film, and one of the greatest of all time.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
First of all, don't listen to any reviewer who gave this movie a bad rap. I grew up with Star Wars and consider myself to be a die-hard fan. I found this movie to be very entertaining and it lived up to my every expectation. It setup the back story very well and had plenty of plot, action and suprises. Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman gave great performances. Jar Jar was a little hard to understand but I didn't find him that annoying and my 3 year old daughter loved him (Isn't that the important thing?). I would recommend this movie to anyone. Go see it, and may the force be with you!

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
"Oh my God" was what I thought after seeing this movie. This is the best movie ever made. Yes, it's better than "The Empire Strikes Back", which used to be my favorite Star Wars movie. This movie is NOT a kids movie. I'm not saying that kids won't like it, they will, but the plot is an adult plot, and it takes someone over the age of 16 to understand it. The politaical drama that unfolds in this movie is overwhelming. Senator Palpatine using the Trade Federation to blockade the planet of Naboo so he can gain control in the Senate and bring the Galatic Republic to its knees is pure genius.

Special Effects............A+


[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Going into the movie, after reading what the critics had said about it I thought it was going to be a disapointment. I was wrong. The movie was great, if not of 3 little things in my opinion.

The first is the character Jar-Jar Binks,the most annoying part of the movie. I don't know if it was to lighten up the serious mood of the movie or what, but it sure didn't help. Secondly was the acting of young anakin skywalker, this kid is just a bad actor and should be in rookie of the year or something. The third part wasn't so bad but was the lack of time showing the great cities and landscapes, these are done beautifully and should of been shown longer.

The best parts of the movie are the pod-race and the final battle which was so intense, it seemed to last for an hour. Darth Maul, Obi-Won Kenobi, and Qui-Gon Jin are portrayed great, and the accent on the guy who plays obi-won is excellent.

I saw this film at West Town on the Ultra Screen, which I thought was great and I strongly recommend seeing it there. I can't wait to go back and see it again, I believe it was worth the hype and the wait. It was just as good as the first trilogy, but return of the jedi is still the best.

[--- Good ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
The movie was fun, and the special effects were good, but they tried to fit too much into one movie. The pod races should have been shorter and the war was too long.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I loved the Phantom Menace.... I heard many people didn't like it, ... Straight off...I asked those people if they were big fans of the other four star wars movies... most of them said no... So My suggestion would not to see the movie if your not a star wars fan.

[--- Good ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I must say that the only reason I can recommend this movie as "good" is because it just won't be as watchable on the constrained 3x4 box that is the modern television set. Perhaps in due course I may change this recommendation as wide screen, higher-definition television makes its entrance into the <i>affordable</i> consumer market. But that time is not yet now, nor will it be for the next half dozen years at least.

The disappointment of the critics in "The Phantom Menace" is well-documented and I won't rehash some of those. Just recall the vivid characters of the first Star Wars Trilogy: Luke, Leia, and Han, and stack those up against the tepid characters of Episode 1 and you will get the drift. It's not that the actors failed in their thespian duties; Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon), Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan), and-- yes-- Jake Lloyd (young Anakin), all did the best with what they had to work.

What they had wasn't much. The opportunity for interpersonal sparks of the kind that flew between Leia and Han just ain't there, folks. And the script virtually imprisons the actors within a rigid melodramatic framework. Key issue: What in the name of the Force is Obi-Wan doing stuck on the Queen's sleek starship for the entire middle portion of the movie, without any chance to interact with his master, Qui-Gon, or precocious little Annakin, during a period when the movie could have truly engaged the emotions of its audience (entertained in other words?). So many lost opportunities for dramatic conflict of the subtle kind which could have paid off later, resonantly, at finale time.

And then there is the plodding, insipid direction by George Lucas. I don't begrudge his artistic vision; I only wish he'd guide the process as a producer and turn others loose to craft his storyline into truly great cinema. In the hands of an ingenious script-writer and a dynamic director, the same storyline could have been adhered to, but with the zest and a sense of breathlessness that characterized the first trilogy.

Finally, what saves "The Phantom Menace" in my opinion is its place in the saga that Lucas has already completed. That, and its sumptuous design and technical execution, interweaving the marvels of digital effects with grand-scale melodrama. I don't have a problem with the "visual overkill" that other critics have ascribed to this film. And I am in agreement with critics such as Roger Ebert whose apologia for this film seeks to define it as the first part of a larger play in which characters are introduced and plotlines are established. But it could have been, and should have been, greater than that for $7.50 per ticket.

I am truly curious about how things will play out in Episode 2. What's the deal with Annakin's origins and how does he get hooked up with Princess Amidala (if such is the case)? How does Senator Palpatine become the Dark Emperor of Episode Six and what dark secret does he possess about Annakin (there's something there; I can "feel" it, Luke.) It's questions like this that suggest to me there is more to appreciate in Episode 1 than there is to "diss."

So, Lucas, give your recipe to others who can do the cooking. Stand back and let them work.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
This movie rocked. There's no way I would have not liked it, because I was so excited about seeing it. But in my opinion, it lives up to the hype. I suggest you drop what you're doing and go see it right now. I mean, the Darth Maul lightsaber battle is reason enough to see it. As a matter of fact, I think I'll go see it again right now.....

[--- Stay Away! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
"Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace" is the most disappointing movie I have seen all year. Ignore the hype, ignore the lines, ignore the original (and much better) trilogy, and look at this film on its own merits. Honestly, it is not really that good.

My attention was at full with this film, and coming out I did not feel that it was worth waiting in line for. Sure, Liam Neeson rocks here and that pod race is very zippy, but "Star Wars" just doesn't make you care. It's awfully apparent that the director, George Lucas, really cares more about making money and showing off his Industrial Lights and Magic, the visual effects company that revolutionized the film industry, to full extent, while dropping any semblance of good plot, acting, or genuine excitement. This trilogy is more like the dreadful " (Not so) Special Editions" then the audacious, powerful originals released back in the late 70's, early 80's. Sorry George, I would take "The Empire Strikes Back" anyday over this.

We all know the plot, so instead of talking about that, let's break down into the major categories, shall we?

The Acting: Some of the worst, most overblown performances I have seen in quite sometime. We never really feel anyone is in character, they always seem to be in front of a camera, reading their lines. Liam Neeson, as Jedi Master Qui-Gon, is not at his best, but is the most talented actor working here. Ewan McGregor, as Jedi knight Obi Wan Kenobi, is flat and dull, never really encompassing any sort of heart. Natalie Portman, in her (gasp!) double role as both Queen Amidala and Padme, symbolizes all the bad acting in all the bad teen movies that have come out in the last ten years. Jake Lloyd gives about as much effort as Jack Johnson, the bratty Will Robinson in "Lost in Space": no effort at all. Even Ray Park, who plays the sinister Darth Maul, is dry, not once did I ever care about him. The supporting performances are also horrible, even poor Samuel L. Jackson is wasted in an awful supporting role as MaceWindu.

The Direction: Terrible. Clunky editing, too many "goes nowhere" shots, my attention kept wandering. George Lucas, (who probably won't direct the upcoming chapters) can not direct a movie properly. There are too many inconsistencies to note.

The Visual Effects: Pretty good, but there are about 2000 too many. Like standing out in the sun for too long will give you sunburn, too much CGI in a film really bogs down the experience. But still, the effects in this movie are too digital, too computer generated to be believed. When there is ever an effect on screen, the image takes on a harsh, metallic edge, and when not, the image returns to its typical, slightly fuzzy Deluxe color. "The Matrix" has far superior and more convincing effects, plus that movie has far more imagination and spirit.


"Episode 1" is just another summer movie. Lucas doesn't seem to have it in him anymore to make us care what is happening on screen. The lines will continue, the people will still cheer, but when its all over, no one will care anymore. "Star Wars" will just be remembered as an 'In the Moment' kind of movie, praised by people only because it's new. Try finding a person who is excited about "Titanic" today as much as when it came out in 1997.

Isn't it heartbreaking?

Rating: ** out of ****

Technical Review:

Picture: 4 The print is from the Deluxe labs, and is fairly satisfactory. Colors and black level are excellent, but (as I noted before) the picture seems rather out of focus on non visual effects shots, and has a kind of bright, metallic edge on all the visual effects shots. 35MM film grain is very apparent as well in most scenes. Sadly, there is no 70MM print of this film.

Sound: 5 The sound is excellent, with powerful split surround effects (even more dramatically intense in Dolby Digital EX), well recorded dialogue that is obviously ADR manufactured, and deep .1LFE bass. This is the second best soundtrack I have heard this year, the first being "Wing Commander", since it does sound much more holosonic and more defined. Still, this soundtrack is incredible.

Photography: 4 This movie is shot in Panavision, as always. Not an excellent composition,some bad framing, but still packs a punch in 2.35:1. If only there was a 70MM version of this movie out there.

Length: 133 minutes. Rated PG for some violence. 20th Century Fox.

By Jason Whyte - reviewed on May 30th, 1999.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
This movie was very enjoyable and held my interest thru the entire 2 hours and 15 minutes. The special effects are literally non stop in this movie. The effects were not, as I've heard some describe, revolutionary. There was just more effects in this than in any movie I've seen. The story line is good. The story develops many of the characters that we have come to know in the episode 4. There are two faults I found in this movie. One, the female acting is some of the worst I've seen -- ever! The male actors did a decent job but the female acting was so blatantly bad, its a good thing they didn't dominate this movie. Two, there were some parts that were just too unbelievable.

In all, its a great movie. I saw it on the Ultra Screen at Westown. If you haven't been there, you'll be amazed. You should see this movie at that location. I plan to see it again.

**** out of *****.

[--- Good ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Star Wars - The Phantom Menace (1999) dir. George Lucas
Review Date: 29 MAY 1999
Review Site: multiplex, THX
Rating: 6/10

As a prequel, suitable. As its own movie, found wanting.

This movie tries desperately to introduce every character found in the first trilogy (Episodes 4-6), at the expense of story and plot. Many of the major characters are here - Obi-Wan, Anakin (Darth Vader), R2D2, C3PO, Jabba the Hutt, etc. However, the course of events they follow is strangely uncompelling.

Take, for example, the major plot point of the Trade Federation blockading the planet Naboo. My only question is, why? What trade or strategic importance does Naboo possess? Then, let's look at Anakin, as close to a god as you'll ever see. "Immaculately" conceived, tremendous reflexes, ESP, mechanical genius - he does everything short of walking on water and shooting lightning bolts from his hands. His proving grounds: the pod race - visually interesting as a combination of the chariot race from "Ben-Hur" and the 1965 Indianapolis 500 (Jim Clark, in a small Lotus, beating the big names and their Offenhausers), but not terribly interesting (we all know who's going to win). And indeed, the pod race is much like the rest of this movie - visually exciting, but suffering in plot excitement.

Several reviewers have taken this movie to task for the ersatz-Carribean accent of Jar Jar Binks. Though the accent is difficult to understand, it's really the *character* of Jar Jar that becomes irritating - all comic relief and slapstick, with little serious dialogue to balance. Those who wish to find fault with an accent would be better served to skewer the Trade Federation representatives - their dress suggests imperial Japan, and their dialogue and business activities caricature modern-day Japan.

Admittedly, the visuals are exciting, and would require several viewings to appreciate completely. But in the end, a derivative script keeps it from improving upon - or, in some aspects, equalling - its' predecessors.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) is the "star" of The Phantom Menace, but it's Anakin's story. We know his destiny, and that's foremost in the back of our minds every time we see this adorable little boy, far more innocent looking than he is. How could such evil lurk within?

The key is Jake Lloyd's performance, a performance that some have unfairly called "stiff." The uncertainty that permeates Anakin's dialogue reveals an inner conflict between the child he is and the dark side that will eventually take over. I got chills just hearing Anakin utter lines like "So you're a JEDI knight," with the contemplation of just what that means.

We as an audience know the answer to Anakin's question "what will become of me," but several other characters have an idea of this answer as well: The three that come to mind are Obi-Wan, Yoda, and even Anakin himself. Rather than faulting Jake Lloyd, I came to the conclusion during my second viewing that this "stiff" performance is the key to making Anakin's character work. He can't shed a tear when he has to leave his mother or at another key moment in the picture, hinting at the emotionless villain in his future. He's cocky and confident, yet we know he can accomplish the things he brags about. He develops a bond with Qui-Gon, but is he subliminally aware of what is to come? I think so: Anakin is subconsciously manipulating those around him, and the seed has been planted that will result in his destiny. It's a big responsibility for a 10-year old, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for little "Ani" who will be forced to grow up long before he should. It's an accomplishment that Lucas does such a good job making us care for and root for a character that we rooted against in the original trilogy.

I found myself thinking that I shouldn’t want the being who becomes Darth Vader to succeed. But we have to root for him since he makes things right in the end. After all, it's Darth Vader who kills the Emperor in Return of the Jedi. Hmm...what would happen if Anakin had stayed on Tatooine, or crashed and died in the pod race? What then? Would other Jedi have just taken the places eventually held by Luke and Leia? Just as any path we take in our lives impacts generations to come, so do the events in this wonderful, complex universe of Star Wars.

Lucas does a good job of covering the characters that needed to be given the most screen time; There are two more movies for the others. We already can predict some of the events which must be covered, but the key to the next two movies is not the destination but the ride. It's a gamble for Lucas to have played things slow, opting for politics, a surprising but intriguing religious angle, and dialogue instead of slam bang action.

But there's plenty of action too, starting with an exciting underwater sequence and continuing with a feast for the ears, THE POD RACE on Tatooine! God bless THX! This outstanding piece of work combines the spirit of A New Hope with the technology of 1999. Watching Anakin pilot the pod, is there anyone who didn't think of Luke in A New Hope zooming in and out of nooks and corners? Like father, like son.

Then there's the conclusion. Not wanting to spoil anything, I'll simply comment on the action by saying it surpassed anything I anticipated. Even if you know what happens, you'll marvel at how well it's pulled off. As a visual spectacular, The Phantom Menace ranks right at the top of anything ever acheived by computers before. The cities (in particular Coruscant, the Republic's capital), battle droids, and scenery are absolutely breathtaking and I could (and will) watch the movie over and over again just to appreciate the work that went into the little things that add up to a big thing. But what did you expect? This is Star Wars. Creators like George Lucas, J.R.R. Tolkien and Steven Spielberg have the unique gift of creating a world and pulling you in, creating a standard that many others can only dream of attaining.

This was not an easy movie to make. Lucas must satisfy his enormous following, yet also make the film accessible to those unfamiliar with the trilogy (yes, such persons do exist). The first time I saw the first scene of the teaser trailer I knew I was watching Star Wars. It felt like Star Wars. Imagine having to walk that fine line, striking the perfect balance between being true to A New Hope and wanting to show off the new toys that Lucas has at his disposal, the technology of computer animation. That must have been extremely frustrating. Imagine the movie Lucas wanted to make in 1977 but did not have the money or methods at his fingertips that now exist.

Another problem well handled is the threat of contradiction. Note how Obi-Wan never meets C3PO in The Phantom Menace. He can't meet him until Episode 4. I applaud the attention to detail that makes The Phantom Menace worthy of the Star Wars mantle. You have to lay a foundation to build a house, and in that context, the overall picture, it is a necessary piece of the puzzle.

The humor and lighter tone are necessary to set forward what must be a decidedly darker Episodes # 2-3. The Phantom Menace is a very, very good movie in and of itself, but it feels incomplete. Because it is. It's 1/6 of a story. So look at this film as the part of the big picture it is. Once Episodes # 2 and 3 are complete, all will make perfect sense. And The Phantom Menace will be just as worthy an entry in the Star Wars legacy as any other chapter is. 2002 won't get here soon enough. May the force be with you...
[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
As a huge fan of Star Wars, I watched the opening scroll with some trepidation. After all, everyone, myself included, is sure to wish for more - more action, more romance, more whatever! As the first in a series, there is much that it cannot do without skipping elements or ignoring the future. But what it does is pose many questions I think some viewers are missing.

I loved this movie. I enjoyed it more the second time. I understood Jar Jar more each time as well. For the adults who complain about Jar Jar - get over it! This is a kid's movie, too! I was fascinated watching him - the tech aspects are incredible to me as a 45 year old in a way they can't be to a younger person.

Watch for plot lines developing that leave you asking more questions - pretty good for a movie we all know the end to! There are things out there like the Clone Wars, formation of the Empire, destruction of the Jedi - things we know are coming. They don't happen here, so where do they come? The acting is very good. I look forward to Obi-Wan with a larger role.

Don't believe the critics - and see it twice to see what you missed!

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000

I don't know why other people are complaining about Jar-Jar Brinks so much, sure he was a little annoying but I can probably name a handful or so of Star Wars actors who were just as annoying if not more so. The people who think the movie was bad just because of one character are not seeing the big picture. I thought the movie was one of the best I've ever seen in my entire life. The special effects were out of this world. The sound effects and acting were superbly done, there was one or two scenes where I did think the acting could of been a little better, but what are you expecting out of actors who are barely out to their teens (no offence meant). I would DEFINITELY recommend this movie to anyone. If I were able to handout the award for the best movie ever, Star Wars:The Phantom Menace would definitely get my vote.

[--- Good ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I loved it. Especially with stadium seating. The best part was the pod race.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
This is a must see movie. Ignore what the critics say because they don't knowwhat a good movie. I give it 4 stars.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
See it at the Westown UltraScreen - 75ft wide in Brookfield. Midwest's largest indoor screen. It plays in THX - super super loud. I will never go to another movie theater except the UltraScreen. You actually catch your eyes panning from one side of the screen to the other.

Can't wait until Episode II.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I think that people are taking this movie too seriously and are overlooking the good things this movie did. I liked the way they showed parts of the Star Wars universe and I learned a lot about the story. I thought that all of the actors were really good and even though Anakin was sometimes a little corny, so was Luke, so I don't hold it against him. I did miss a character such as Han Solo and I really didn't like Jar Jar, but I thought that Queen Amidala was good in the movie and so was Obi-Wan. I just wish Darth Maul would have spoken more words. The bad thing is that now we have to wait 2 years for the next episode.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
This movie was pretty good. YOu could really only see it on the big screen. The only thing that bothered me was that they didn't mention Liam Neeson's character's name through the whole movie. He played a Jedi Knight. If they DID say it, I didn't hear it. My friends and I had to wait until the end of the movie when the credits came on to find out that his name was Qui-gon Jinn. I did like the movie, but it was kinda like that one other Star Wars movie, I think it was the second one. Don't remember the name. It really doesn't matter when you see it. YOu don't have to go RIGHT NOW. I think that you should see it on the big screen though and before you see all the next two Star Wars movies coming out sometime. YOu can't just see the classic STar Wars trilogy without seeing this one. Thanks!

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
this was the greatest movie I ever saw. I want to see it many more times.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I don't care what anyone says, this movie was fantastic, and George Lucas is a genius! This comes from someone who didn't know the diference between Star Wars and Star Trek two years ago, and probably couldn't care less. Now, thanks to my friend I am a hard core Star Wars fan. To me, the movie seem just as good if not better than any of the original movies in the Trilogy. True, it goes a little fast if you haven't read at least one or two of the books, but it is still worth seeing.

Here is my rating scale (out of ten)

A New Hope - 9

Empire Strikes Back - 6

Return of the Jedi - 8

Phantom Menace - 9 and 1/2

Overall I think this movie deserves two thumbs way, way up!

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
This is the story of a REALLY pretty girl named Queen Amidala who, like most women, suffers from an extreme case of the James Dean syndrome, ie, she goes for the BAD BOY! Throughout the movie, two sword guys, a fishy-giraffe guy, and a token black guy risk their ever-loving necks to protect Amidala and reinstate her political power. However, when it comes time to doll out the gratitude, do any of these brave men get any affection from the really really good-looking Queen? Of course they don't.

This movie contains many impressive special effects and should be seen by everyone, especially since it is VERY important that it beat Titanic's record. So, see it, like, 20 times, especially since it has Queen Amidala in it.

[--- Wait for Rental ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Episode 1 was a good over all movie, but it was no where near what it was hyped up to be. Jarjar, was by far the most annoying sidekick I have ever seen on film.

My recommendation to the non-Star War freaks: Wait for the Rental.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I have seen this movie 4 times and it keeps getting better. The first time I saw it I thought it was good but not great. The story seemed to be a little flat...but then I saw it again. On my return visits I picked up many of the subtilties in this move. This movie has a very intricate story and you need to see it multiple times to pick up everything. In fact I still want to see it a few more times.

This movie also has some hidden things in it that may not be noticed by the casual viewer. If you pay close attention you will see "ET"'s, wookies, willow, Rick McCallum, a female bounty hunter from the comics, and more. The die hard fan will also notice how the musical score is used to forshadow or make connections between characters. This movie is a true work of art.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
this movie had it all except love. This lack made it seem a little dry in my mouth, but don't worry, it's very good. In this one, even though you think you already know everything because the story was told in the episode 4,5,6, well, you will learn even more, and what is fun is to try and make the links between what is told there and in the later ones, because you may know what will happen in the end, but you dont know how it does happen. it's cool to learn more about the force and about the characters. what is important is that the theme i think. it's all about the balance between feelings and reason. and a jedi is a person, the more the balance is good, the better jedi you will be. Not many people saw that as i dont even know if george lucas thought of that at first, but i am sure the allusion is there. If you say this movie is for kids, then you haven't seen what was for adults, and that makes you a kid. any comments should be sent to

[--- Wait for Rental ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I'm sorry, but I was dissapointed with this movie. Sure, no movie could meet the expectations that have been put upon the phantom menace but I really didn't think it met any of mine. Maybe if I hadn't seen the originals I may have liked it more. But to me this one focused more on the effects than the characters and the plot. Sure in the Special effects and sound department Mr Lucas is a genius. But, though they will encapture you for the first half an hour after that the frill wares off and you're left with characters that are about as deep as a childrens paddling pool and a plot that most of the time gets lost inside the whirl of special effects.

If you are a fan of the first three movies then you will probably see it no matter what some insignifcant person like me says. But if you only are planning to see the movie because its something to do, then I would buy a ticket to see The Matrix or The new Austin powers movie instead, both of which will entertain you a lot more than "The phantom Menace".

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Jesus, I look at all of the critical reaction to this film and I think, "Oh my God. Did they walk into the theater expecting 'Gone With The Wind'?" All of the critics were expecting a masterpiece, a classic in its own time, a sure-fire winner for the Best Picture Oscar, and the crybaby critics didn't get what they wanted, so they decide to write crappy reviews of the movie.

That is the one problem with this movie: People go into the theater expecting the greatest movie ever made, and, of course, they're bound to be disappointed. But, like many others, I expected an "okay" movie when I sat down in the theater, but once I got up to leave, I had a big grin on my face. This movie more than lived up to the expectations and it was well worth the 16 year long wait.

With that said, is it the best movie ever made? Perhaps not. Will it win any Oscars, besides the technical ones? Not a chance. But, is it a breathtaking, ultimately satisfying, one of a kind movie? Most certainly YES! Just one more question: Is it the best "Star Wars" movie ever made? It depends. How big of a Star Wars fan are you? If you're one of the few die hard fanantics that has hundreds of Star Wars toys, a room full of everything that is Star Wars, then, probably not. But, if you're like me, a normal person, who loved the original trilogy, and doesn't have EVERY Star Wars item that has ever come out, then you will probably find that "The Phantom Menace" is a much more enjoyable experience than the previous 3 movies. I know I did. I think that this movie puts the other movies to shame. Not only in terms of special effects and action sequences, but also in terms of acting, dialogue, and sheer brilliance.

I am writing this review in favor of those who haven't seen the movie yet. I won't go too far in explaining the plot, for the risk of spoiling the surprises. But, the basic premise of this movie involves the taxation of trade routes to outlaying star systems by the Galatic Republic, which the Trade Federation isn't too happy with. In protest, they blockade the small planet of Naboo, allowing no trade of any kind. With hopes of ending the dispute quietly, the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic dispatches 2 Jedi Knights to negotiate with the Federation.

There is a lot more to the story than this, I assure you. But I will not ruin it for you. There are plenty of surprises in this movie. You may not recognize all of them the first time you view the movie, but trust me, they are there. And some of them are a little shocking. This is one of those movies where you just have to see it at least 3 times to absorb everything the movie has to offer. It's just that big.

For those who are reading this review, you're probably getting a little bored from the length, and I am surprised that you read this far. Rest assured, I am almost finished.

One of the things that people find distracting about this movie is the amount of screen time that the evil Sith Lord, Darth Maul, has. Is his time short? Yes. But is that a problem? Not at all. Just remember one thing: When he is on screen, his presence is felt. He may not be Darth Vader, but he is a truly menacing villian that absolutely will not stop until his adversaries are dead. Darth Maul is one of the best movie villians that has ever braced the screen in a long time.

Well, enough talk. "Star Wars: Episode One-The Phantom Menace" is a wonderfully exciting movie from beginning to end and it more than faithfully carries the Star Wars legacy into the next century.

My grade: A+

[--- Good ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Okay, first off...I did like this movie. I would recommend that anyone who has the slightest interest in seeing The Phantom Menace (and if you haven't seen it by now, where have you BEEN?) go see it. That being said, in the context of the original Star Wars Trilogy I found myself disappointed. This is the first Star Wars movie I can remember seeing where I was completely conscious of its length, and a little anxious to get out of the theater.

As a writer, I found myself innately sensitive to the subtlties of plot--and this movie's shortcomings. Characterization was weak, particularly where Obi-Wan Kenobi is concerned. We really know relatively little about the young Obi-Wan by the end of Phantom Menace. More time is spent developing the character of Qui-Gon Jin (Obi-Wan's trainer), and that development seems a little mispent. The plot itself is rather "familiar", and tends to borrow unabashedly from previous Star Wars movies, particularly Return of the Jedi.

The special effects in this movie are dazzling, to say the least. If you're in it for the effects, you won't be disappointed. One is able to view this movie without being aware that they're seeing a special effects shot. It appears completely real and seamless. Industrial Light & Magic is about as good as it gets at creating nearly perfect effects. From that perspective, this movie is a masterpiece.

My impression of The Phantom Menace was that it was mainly a set-up for the remaining three movies in the prequel series. According to George Lucas, the next movie will be a love story between Anakin and the young Queen Amidala. That's one I'm looking forward to seeing.

[--- Stay Away! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
This Movie was pure crap. Jar Jar had me sick to my stomach by the end. Lucas tried to make a movie for all ages, instead he made a piece. Maybe little kids would like it but not me. A big thumbs down from a hard core fan of episodes 3-6.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I've heard a lot of negativity about this movie, my opinion is these movie goers have compared it to the original. That is unfair. We have to remember what this movie represents. The begining. The begining of a family saga, the catch is we already know the outcome. There is one point that I agree with the critics, Jar Jar Binks, annoying. The strongest presents in the movie by far was Darth Maul, the coolest bad guy since Darth Vader! My whole point being that you need to look at this movie for what it is meant to be. A setup for number 2. If see it with that frame of mind it will all be clear.

[--- Stay Away! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
This movie was a waist of my money it had no plot it is such a dumb movie and was so over rated!! Don't see it unless u like waisting money!

[--- Wait for Rental ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I don't know what the fuss was about. So much of this film was a rehash from the others. More laser sword fights. Fighting for a princess. Maybe this series should stop right now.

[--- Wait for Rental ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Sorry, but this Star Wars sequel just doesnt live up to all the hype. The characters are bland and theirs too much "techno-crap". The original trilogy had the perfect blend of characters,story,special affects and technology.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
For what it's worth, I have to disagree with the critics about the movie not being worth seeing. Many gripes have risen about the character development of the characters in the movie and how incomplete they were that they left you not feeling a thing for the characters. Let's take it back to 1977, shall we? Take a look at the characters from A New Hope. They were all pretty much one dimensional. Luke was a brooder, Han was a hotshot trash talker, and Leia was a stuck up girl fighting for a good cause. However, their characters grew and you got inside of who and what they are as the movies went forward. Like any saga, things cannot be given away too much, as it will take away from the experiences of the following movies. It will just become the rote action of putting the same people in different situations ala a Lethal Weapon movie. Understanding this, I thought the groundwork laid for this movie was quite wonderful and was in keeping with what was established in the movies from 1977-1983. I believe many people were expecting mana from heaven after a 16 year wait, and those are the people that were going to be the hardest to please anyway. There was also a lot of criticism towards the young actor that played Anakin Skywalker. I thought his part was well played, and he came off as a smart boy that is confident in his abilities, and his confidence turns into confusion and fear as the movie goes on. I thought the transition was well done for someone of his age. I guess people were expecting Lucas to conjure up a miniature Anthony Hopkins. However, I also believe that the Star Wars series was never a platform for 5 star acting as much as it was for a grand adventure. In that aspect, The Phantom Menace fails to disappoint

On the subject of Jar Jar Binks, sure he may have been obnoxious and a bit of a pain, but at least Lucas avoided the trap of making a flesh and blood C3-PO for comic relief. Lucas will just have to try harder with the next.

Next has to do with the action in the movie. It has a Return of the Jedi feel to it, but it almost feels like they tried to do too much, and with the exception of the spectacular Jedi battle (the best of the series so far), it feels a little diluted as compared to Return of the Jedi. On the other hand, they are a bit more on the believable side. Case in point; the noble Gungans, while a bit too CGI looking, make more believable battlers than teddy bears with spears. Darth Maul was like a wolf...and a very ferocious one at that. He didn't have much time on the screen, but when he was felt it. There may be some 'critics' that didn't care one way or another because he didn't 'act'. There's an old saying that, "Actions speak louder than words", and if that is the case, and with the time he had, Maul was one of the best actors in the film and made up for Jar Jar's presence. He did his job, and did it quite well, IMO.

The soundtrack of a movie is half the movie, IMO also. The soundtrack for the movie was excellent, setting the mood for every scene from the gladiator type arrangement done for the Podracer sequence to the dramatic battle between the Jedi and the Sith Lord Maul at the end kept me pumped as well as making me feel the mood in scenes like Anakin and his mother (without trying to give away too much).

The sum of the parts of this movie make for an experience that, while not worth 16 years of waiting, still makes this movie one of best Sci-fi adventures ever made and right up there with its companion parts. Yes, maybe Lucas went a little overboard with some of the SFX and maybe Jar Jar existed, but no one is perfect, and compared to many of the sci-fi offerings in the last 10 years, these mistakes look almost good. With that said, this is a movie, unlike Titanic, IMO, that deserves to be seen as it is a grand adventure in visuals, in music, mood, and action that has not been seen in any scf-fi movie since the last batch of Star Wars movies. I honestly believe that the detractors of the movie are taking the nature of the movie, as well as themselves, too seriously. It shows that a good sci-fi movie is more that throwing a bunch of jets in the sky to fight a flying saucer.

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[--- Good ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I really enjoyed this movie, although it left a little to be desired. I am a huge fan of SW, ESB, and RoTJ and I think this movie is a very good beginning to the trilogy.

Some things I didn't like:

1. Jar Jar Binks. I know he was put in there for the kids, but I still found him annoying. There were a few times where he was endearing (like when Qui-gon grabs his tongue at the table or when he zaps his head on the pod racer), but for the most part I was wishing his death.

The things I really liked about the movie:

1. Acting. I don't know why people are doing so much complaining about the acting! I thought it was excellent (especially in comparison to Mark Hamill in the SW and ESB - I thought he was a good Jedi in RoTJ). Obi-Wan and Qui-gon were good together. They were emotionless (for the most part) and very calm about the way they handled themselves (like ANY Jedi Knight is supposed to be!) Ewan McGreggor shows a wonderful array of emotions throughout the movie. I don't think Jake Llyod did bad at all. Knowing Palpatine's future as the Emperor, you can see a hint of power-lust when he speaks of becoming Chancellor. However, it is not TOO obvious, so it is believable that those around him in the movie would not sense his true intentions.

2. The lightsaber battles. My only complaint here is that the first confrontation between Qui-gon and Darth Maul didn't last long enough! I thought these were by far the most incredible lightsaber battles of the series, with the double-edged lightsaber, the flipping, the jumping... Incredible...

3. Darth Sidious/Palpatine connection. It's pretty obvious that Sidious is Palpatine, and I like the way that you see both sides of him. You see the "noble" statesmen from Naboo who appears to be concerned only with the well being of his native planet while sneakily acquiring power. Then you have Sidious who somehow fools this third party (the Trade Federation) into attacking Naboo thereby giving this seemingly timid senator an edge in the election of a new Chancellor. Isn't it true that all great conflicts seem to arise from the most trivial of events? I just really liked the idea that the Galactic Empire started because of a minor trade dispute.

4. The computer-generated graphics. Being a computer scientist, it always used to grate at me when I'd see poor CG. I'd felt as though I needed to defend the idea of CG to my friends and family! Most of the CG in this movie was excellent (probably the greatest example is Watto). Jar-Jar had his moments where my attention was diverted to him because it was obvious he was computer animated. However, this movie proved to me that within the next couple of years, CG will be so good that most people won't really know the difference between a puppet and a computer-generated image.

All in all, if you enjoy this type of movie, you owe it to yourself to go see it. If you're not into the SciFi/Fantasy genre, you would probably still enjoy the movie, but should wait for it's release on video.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
First of all I didn't like the other 3 STAR WARS but I did love this one. Jar Jar was great if you can understand what he is saying. If you have no desire to see this you have to go and see it just for the underwater scene.

[--- Good ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
medium....good aleins.....nice to see on a big screen good sound....whats with the makeup on the bad guy?

[--- Wait for Rental ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Let's get one thing straight : Though I have always been a fan of the Star Wars Universe I was NOT expecting this to be a masterpiece that would change my life forever! As a movie fan first, "The Phantom Menace" is merely standard summer block-buster fare : an enjoyable Special FX roller-coaster ride that entertains well enough for the two hours of viewing. On that level I recommend it to anyone with a taste for quick-fix sensory overload. But as a Star Wars fan I expect more than just a disposable, run-of-the-mill action flick!! This film is a closer relation to "Independence Day" or "GodZilla" than the original Star Wars trilogy. The original trilogy not only had good special effects BUT had also a sense of wonder and emotional involvement which this film sadly lacks. So "The Phantom Menace" - just another block-buster espousing style-over-substance - a film lacking soul! Do yourself a favour and go see "The Matrix" for the best action film of '99.

[--- Good ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
if jar jar binks would have been left on the editors floor the movie would have deserved to been rated a must see

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Okay, I'll add my voice to the multitude of people saying See This Movie Now!

Yes, I'm a Star Wars fan and yes, I would advise people to see this film as soon as possible - in a theater. You just won't get the same effect on a television screen.

But . . . It was not as good as the first three. (Or would that be the second three?) It had too many unreal characters, and the multitude of battle droids, or whatever they were called, just didn't have the same "feel" as the Storm Troopers of the original series. And Darth Maul was nowhere near as scary and evil as Darth Vader.

I did like the young Anakin, though, and also liked Queen Amidala and thought the Jedi knight characters of Qui Gon Jinn and the younger Obi Wan Kenobi were well done.

If you're at all a fan of Star Wars, you really HAVE to see this, preferably more than once, in a theater.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
If you haven't seen it by now... What are you waiting for? This movie was made for the big screen. This answers many questions that were formed from the previous trilogy and brings in more questions to be answered in the next two episodes... Well done George... Looking forward to the next two episodes...

[--- See Now! ---]by VIP Member Jan 25, 2000
In 1977, George Lucas set out to tell a simple story that became a science fiction legend. In 1999, George Lucas is telling another episode of that first story, just as simple, but this time everyone was expecting a legend.

Instead, what we got was another simple story. That didn't sit well with the ardent fans who were expecting another epic. Admittedly, Lucas was probably not the most comfortable in the director's chair again, and that showed in the end result.

Overall, The Phantom Menace is a fine episode in a larger saga. One I'm sure that will grow better with age in the hearts and minds of Star Wars fans everywhere, especially once the next two films are released and the entire trilogy's story can be told.

I would definitely have liked to have seen more Jedi scenes, especially after reading the excellent Timothy Zahn books that described the abilities of the Jedi Knights. The few that were in the movie were well-done, finely crafted scenes. The confrontation between Darth Maul and Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, with the song "Duel of the Fates" providing the accompaniment was pure art, easily the best scene in the movie.

Of special note in the movie was the performance of Natalie Portman in her role of Padme, the queen's handmaiden. Portman is an actress to watch, for I predict that she will do great things with her talent. Her ability to carry a scene was exemplified during the visit to Anakin's planet. I look forward to the continuation of her involvement in the upcoming movies.

If you're expecting the greatest movie of all time, you won't get it. If you go in with the expectation of seeing a good movie in the tradition of Star Wars, you won't be disappointed. I've seen it twice, and I'd be willing to see it again.

This movie gets a See Now, since you really should see it on the big screen, in a theater with good sound. Both of my visits were to the much-publicized Dolby Digital Surround EX format (the one with the center rear channel), but I did not hear the use of that channel in either presentation. The distance between my seating position and the back of the theater was probably too great, but proper viewing distance was more important to me than the effect of the additional surround channel.

<I>This review is the property of Scott Jentsch, Copyright © 1999. This information cannot be reprinted without the permission of the author.</I>

[--- Good ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I liked this movie a lot. Anyone who says anything negative about the movie simply went in with too high of expectations. The effects are incredible. So much so, that you forget how much of it was actually done with computers. This movie was a great introduction to what should be a fantastic trilogy.

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
This was a good follow up for Star Wars. The colors were vibrant, the effects were realistic. I loved this movie. The fight scene was very well coordinated by Ray Parker. The 2 things that I didn't like much were that Jar Jar Binks had to be sooo annoying and couldn't talk normal and the aliens had cheap sounding chinese voices. Otherwise this movie was great. Lucas, can't wait until the next one!!! Keep 'em coming

[--- See Now! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Ok I seen this 10 times and I still like it, what are you critics on quack. I hated Titantic you know the most sucessfull and boring and overated piece of sh** to hit the screen. I am sick of hearing the acting wasn't good I thought it was excellent. Doesn't anyone appreciate a good movie anyone.

[--- Wait for Rental ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
Although I am glad that I did not have to stand in any lines to see this movie, I wish I had not bothered to spend the money on seeing it in a theatre either. I felt the movie was just as bad as I had heard and trust me, I was sorely disappointed. I SO BADLY wanted it to be as awesome as the first three were. After seeing The Phantom Menance, I had to watch the first three over again - just to see if maybe my memory had glorified them - but alas, The Menance just sucked in comparison. Too much of a storyline was sacrificed for cool special effects. Yes, we expect excellent effects from Speilberg, but we also expected an equally excellent story from George Lucas which we did not recieve.

I am, frankly, quite surprised at the number of good reviews I read on this site. I can't say NOT to see this movie though. You see, unlike the dreaded second "episode" of Indiana Jones, a Star Wars fan CAN'T get by skipping the beginning of our beloved story. And just like all the other people who weren't fond of this movie, I WILL pay good money to see the next episode. I will also pray that Speilberg/Lucas get their acts together by then and gear the next movie towards the people who really care - us hard-core Star Wars fans and not our children who think Jar Jar is cool/funny.

[--- Stay Away! ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
George Lucas has lost whatever he had when making the first two star wars movies. He tries to make a movie that everyone will like 2-70 and doesnt succeed at all. Not hardcore enough for a true star wars fan such as myself. More for little kids who like to watch barney like shows.

[--- Good ---]by   Jan 25, 2000
I would have to say it was a good movie. I would of gave it see now but I didn't because It got to strange. If you go see the movie you would know what I mean. There was to much of this force, lightsaber, tatoe, naboo junk. Also the story was weird and confusing. But still it's a good movie.

[--- See Now! ---]by VIP Member Aug 29, 2006
"Star Wars,Episode One:The Phantom Meance" is the first new Star Wars in 16 years, and well worth the wait. Here's your chance to see the future Darth Vadar as a child. This movie will have a lot of Star Wars fan cheering. The Star War series is the real reason why a lot of people go to the movies. This iks one fun movie.
[--- See Now! ---]by   Feb 16, 2012
I LOVE Star Wars. I am so glad that they have decided to bring these back to the big screen with an option for 3D. I did see it in 3D and it really did make many parts of the movie even better than the 2D version. It was a great movie and worth seeing again in the cinema in 3D. Yeah!
[--- See Now! ---]by   Feb 20, 2012
I have come to believe and have gained acceptance with the fact that I may be the only 30+ year old male who absolutely loves this movie. Always have, always will.

I didn't expect much from the 3D, (not a fan, under normal circumstances), but just wanted to see this movie on the big screen again. I was not disappointed at all. I was excited for two things in 3D, the opening crawl and the Pod Race. I was ecstatic with both. I sat in awe during the pod race, the 3D just takes an already spectacular scene to a whole new level.

My final thoughts: I want the the other five movies in theaters. Right Now.

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