Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace ★½

Star Wars: Episode I–The Phantom Menace is a 1999 American space epic written and directed by George Lucas and stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Anthony Daniels, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid and Ahmed Best. Set 32 years before the original trilogy, during the era of the Galactic Republic, the plot follows Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi as they try to protect Queen Padmé Amidala of Naboo in hopes of securing a peaceful end to an interplanetary trade dispute.

Having watched episode 13 of The Mandalorian yesterday, which was utterly phenomenal, I was in the mood to rewatch Star Wars and rather unfortunately, The Phantom Menace has to be the first.

Despite it's major flaws, there is some good to be found within this film. Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor (Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi) both give two great performances and both add two interesting characters, with the latter being one of my favourites despite both being barely developed, to the universe. Likewise, the sound design is utterly fantastic, the score is phenomenal and having Maul as the villain allows for one of the best one time villains in cinematic history!

However, this is where the major flaws come in and make The Phantom Menace a huge disappointment. When compared to the original trilogy and just how fantastic the first trailer for it was, the final product doesn't live up to any of the hype it had back in 1999. The storyline is one of, if not, the worst storylines Star Wars has given us. It hardly develops any of the main aspects of the Star Wars lore and tells a story that ultimately never needed to be told. Despite the repetitiveness and subpar feeling that exists in just about every aspect of the film, there's still some fun (however small) to be had with the lightsaber duels and characters.

In The Phantom Menace, George Lucas took full control and sadly it's undeniably all the worse for it. The inclusion of young Anakin, Jar-Jar and the awful pod race scenes severely dampen the final product and despite the addition of the fantastic Duel of the Fates scene and Kenobi, Jinn and Maul all being enjoyable, amounts to a film that at points is completely insufferable and sadly, one of the worst films in the Star Wars franchise. A truly amazing, disappointing film experience.
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