Revisiting ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’

Star Wars is my favorite film franchise of all-time. I watched them on repeat growing up and I love the new Disney produced Star Wars content. Before the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, comes out on December 20, I have decided to rewatch every Star Wars movie, including Solo and Rogue One, and review them. So I watched The Phantom Menace first as it’s the first movie in the long timeline, and let’s just say I had a blast watching it, but not at all for the right reasons.

The film is about two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, being sent as ambassadors of the Supreme Chancellor for a trade dispute surrounding the Trade Federation and the planet of Naboo. After the Trade Federation decides to invade the planet of Naboo, the Jedi and Queen Amidala flee the planet but are stranded on Tatooine, where they meet a mysterious young boy.

The movie stars Ewan McGregor as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Liam Neeson as Obi-Wan’s master, Qui-Gon Jinn. These two do fine in the roles they are given. Neeson does a great job playing the wise but stubborn mentor and McGregor does a great job portraying a young and eager apprentice. It also stars Jake Lloyd as young Anakin Skywalker. He got a lot of criticism for his performance and it is easy to understand why. He came across very whiny and annoying, which shouldn’t be the case considering he will one day become Darth Vader, and it does not help to make him an unlikable character.

Ok, let’s no longer beat around the bush, this movie is a gigantic mess. The writing is cringy, the cinematography is lacking and bloated with CGI, one character makes the movie a complete joke, and the story is all over the place.

First, the writing is cringe-inducing. The dialogue does not flow and it seems like the characters are either reading off a teleprompter or they are talking to a screen. The writing does not feel organic at all. Also, the end of the second act, where they all are at Coruscant, is dreadfully boring. They are just sitting and talking and discussing politics, which no one wants to see in a Star Wars movie. There could have been way more entertaining and engaging ways for the political scenes to take place. In the other trilogies, at least the characters are at least doing something while discussing politics.

The cinematography is even worse. There is a scene where Kenobi and Jinn are escaping with Jar-Jar Binks in a ship. A huge fish is chasing them, but Jinn and Kenobi don’t seem to have the slightest of urgency or emotion as they are flying away. It looks like they are just flying a ship on a green screen. There are many scenes in the movie that look fake and one could clearly tell a green screen is being used. Also, the CGI creatures look fake. In the original trilogy, the Ewoks looked real because they were. They were kids in costumes. This movie could have used more practical effects to at least make the movie look somewhat good.  

Now, about Jar-Jar Binks. He is one of the most infamous and most hated movie characters ever created. The reason this is the case is that he is nothing but a joke. He was supposed to be the comic relief character, but instead, his scenes mainly consist of cringe-worthy slapstick comedy scenes and the most annoying voice ever imagined. There is a theory that Binks could have been the evil mastermind behind everything, but George Lucas scrapped it due to backlash. While this may or may not be true, it could have been a great idea. But having a comic relief character be that cringe-inducing really drags down the rest of the movie.

In the grand scheme of the Star Wars saga, this movie can be taken out and the overall story doesn’t change. Also, it is a boring premise. It’s a movie built around a political scheme, which pales in comparison to the fun, action-adventure movies that the original trilogy was. This movie feels like a real-life political “thriller”, instead of a space action-adventure movie. Also, the ending is way too complicated. Instead of four different battles, just have two main ones so it can be more impactful. As great as the Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon vs Darth Maul fight was, it didn’t feel as significant as it was one of four battles.

Overall, this is a bad movie, on top of it being a bad Star Wars movie. If you want to get together with friends and roast this movie like I did, it’s a fun time. But this is not a good movie and it’s not worth watching unless you’re going to roast it with friends.

Rating: 2.5/10

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