Movie Review – Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace

First of all if you don’t know what this is, then please read this post first.

So, we start our Star Wars marathon with the first episode, The Phantom Menace.

Image result for the phantom menace

The Phantom Menance, while doing a decent job of setting up what the story of the prequels is gonna be about, it does feel like it relies on you having seen the original trilogy before watching this one. I felt that hurt the film a bit because what if you decided to watch the films in chronological order like I did with this rewatch. You’d be confused about this world and everything happening. Let me further explain with my pros and cons list.

[If there is even the slightest possibility that you haven’t seen these films yet then be warned there will be spoilers below]

Pros

  • One of my biggest pros for this movie is Padme. I absolutely adore Padme and the journey her character goes on. Padme in this film was so enjoyable to watch. To me, she’s the most interesting character in not only this movie, but in the prequels.
  • The visuals for the underwater Gungan city were quite beautiful. I actually paused my DVD just so that I could properly take in the scene. While the movie does have it’s moments of rough looking CGI/visuals, the Gungan city is one of the best in this movie.
  • I think the casting of Keira Knightley as Sabe was great. It has always amazed me how much Keira and Natalie Portman look alike. This movie just makes it more obvious considering how unless you are paying close attention you don’t notice that some scenes with Queen Amidala aren’t being played by Natalie, but by Keira.
  • Also on the topic of of Queen Amidala, her wardrobe and crazy headpieces were so great to me. I just think the complexity of each style of outfit and headpiece was stunning. I’m sure it probably wasn’t fun for Natalie or Keira to wear, but visually it was beautiful.
  • Continuing with the look of characters, I have to talk about Darth Maul. The look and the way the actor portrays him is quite intimidating. The makeup was absolutely amazing in making his character look so creepy. A plus was that it just wasn’t the makeup to make the character, but the actor. He brings Darth Maul to life and makes him all the more scarier.

Cons

  • One of the biggest cons is like I stated above the film relies on you having previously seen Episodes 4-6. They just kind of drop you into the plot. The setup didn’t feel good enough for me and even the scroll of text didn’t really give me enough to care about Naboo or the Jedi Knights heading there.
  • The next thing is I felt it would have been interesting to explore the dynamic of Padme and her handmaidens, specifically Sabe. How does that dynamic work exactly? Was Sabe trained to be a Queen as well like I assume Padme was? Is there some way that the two can communicate so that Sabe knows what choices to make that Padme would agree with whenever she’s pretending to be her? And if Sabe makes a decision when she’s “Queen” does Padme just have to go along with that decision when she returns to being Queen? This storyline felt so underdeveloped and something I genuinely wanted to know more about.
  • Another aspect of when Padme is pretending to be a handmaiden that intrigued me that wasn’t explored is I wonder how Padme feels when she’s around others and they don’t listen to her or treat her like the handmaiden they think she is. For example the scene before the podrace where she’s question Qui-Gon about putting all their faith into Anakin to win, Qui-Gon basically dismisses her worries and tells her that the Queen trusts him. Which Padme replies with, “You assume too much.” Scenes like that made me wonder how she truly feels in moments like that.
  • Okay, the whole storyline of Anakin’s parentage is just ridiculous to me. So, his mother was essentially the “Virgin Mary”? The midi-chlorians created him and put him in his mother’s womb? The ridiculousness of this plot just made me roll my eyes every time it was brought up. I honestly don’t care that this is Sci-Fi, that’s just too ridiculous for me to suspend my disbelief that much. Also is that supposed to be the reasoning behind why Anakin has more midi-chlorians than Yoda?
  • This film relies on too much CGI and the CGI they do have in the movie isn’t the greatest looking and is quite obvious. I would normally give this stuff a pass based on how old the movie is and the CGI technology was back then, but it’s hard to ignore when it seems every scene is just full of bad CGI.
  • While the podracing scene was fun, it was way too long. They could have cut that scene down significantly. It didn’t serve the plot at all to have that scene be so long. Also, I find it so hard to believe that no one noticed Sebulba messing with Anakin’s racer.
  • One of the only things that bugs me about Padme in this movie is how they make it so easy for Palpatine to manipulate her. Throughout the movie they make her seem to be this very capable Queen, who is quite intelligent, but the minute Palpatine suggests she make the Senate do a vote of no confidence with the current Senator, it just frustrated me. I understand Padme wants her people to be safe, but it just made her look quite naive and easy to manipulate.
  • While the look and acting of Darth Maul did everything to make him this intimidating villain, what was the actual point of him? That’s probably one of my biggest frustrations for this movie. They had a great looking villain and they gave him few scenes, then put him in this big battle with the two Jedi’s, he kills Qui-Gon, and then gets killed by Obi Wan. I mean, that is just wasting all the potential of this character and makes the point of him being in the movie be reduced to him just being there to kill Qui-Gon.
  • What is the actual point of Jar Jar Binks? He is useless as hell and serves no point to the story at all. He screws up all the time and every time I thought he was actually going to be useful, he screwed up again. He’s not funny and just gets in the way. They only time he was somewhat useful was when he helped Qui-Gon and Obi Wan get out of the Gungan’s underwater city. That was it.

Side Note:

  • It’s so weird to me that Anakin is the one to build C-3PO and why the hell did they leave C-3PO behind when they left Tatooine?
  • I don’t get how anyone could trust Palpatine. Everything about the man screams villain.
  • Why was there so many flips in the final battle between Qui-Gon, Darth Maul, and Obi Wan? Also, how the hell can any of them jump as high as they do?
  • Of course, Anakin destroyed the control ship.
  • Noticed that it’s not really a first part of a trilogy until the main character (in the prequels it’s Obi Wan, original triology it’s Luke, and new trilogy it’s Rey) sees their master (Qui-Gon, Obi Wan, and Han) killed right in front of them. Not saying it’s a bad thing, but the predictability is quite obvious.

In Conclusion

This movie is not perfect, but there are parts of this film that are enjoyable. As you read above, I did have a lot of problems with the movie, but when thinking about the movie as a whole and my viewing experience I can honestly say that I did have fun watching The Phantom Menace. It will frustrate you with the bad CGI, the weird plot points, and sometimes the bad acting, but somehow it’s still fun to watch.

I’m going to give Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3outof5Stars.

 

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