The Phantom Menace:
A Government Documentary. Oh, Star Wars too I Guess.
It’s 1999 and the whole world holds its breath as the first prequel to the legendary Star Wars films is released. Directed by George Lucas, staring Liam Neeson, Jake Lloyd and Ewan McGregor the fans were expecting an amazing film. Unfortunately, Mr. Lucas seemed to get confused with some other idea he had because instead of a Star Wars worthy film we got a lesson in how to make treaties.
The film begins in the Trade Federation’s fleet. Our two Jedi, Obi-wan Kenobi and Qui-gon Jinn, find that the Federation plans to invade the planet. This is where the problems begin.
Although it takes us through a variety of different places and planets a pattern emerges throughout this movie. Basically, it’s slow. First, the fight scenes are weak, with Jedi destroying useless droids or escaping harmless monsters. Then, the negotiations are long and strenuous. This pattern repeats itself three times! The story does have a few gems like the pod race on Tatooine, which was action packed and tense. A final fight scene between the two Jedi and the mysterious Sith, Darth maul is also great. The amazing choreography, inspiring music and a great unexpected twist make this scene admirable. Sadly with the rest of the movie’s plot being very forgetful these great scenes are undermined.
But the problems don’t stop there. The characters also bring up many reasons to think, George Lucas… why? To start, Qui-gon Gin is pointless. Obi-wan could have easily replaced his whole role in the story, which would have made the story not only flow, but also connect with other Star Wars films much better. The only thing we can thank Qui-gon for is the final fight scene. Then there’s Jar Jar Binks. I’ll say it again, Jar Jar is also pointless. He bumbles around looking like a fool, and single handedly ruins an otherwise good fight scene between Naboo and the droid army. And let’s not forget the Phantom Menace himself. A mysterious character, who is the only reason there’s any tension in the film, gets no involvement. He only got three lines throughout the whole movie!
Overall, the Phantom Menace is a disappointment to any Star Wars fan because of the slow paced, tension-lacking and brain-punishing plot; the pointless and so frustrating characters; and finally the lack of almost any scenes that make you hold your breath. I can’t recommend anyone watch this film except those looking to watch the other prequels, or if you want to take a nap. Just watch the two good scenes on YouTube instead.