Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace ★★★★

I’ve got to love an action movie that is this assured of itself around every corner, especially when it is something as boundary pushing and as much consistent fun as the Star Wars prequels. This instantly jumps out as the most well shot entry in the franchise to me, feeling like Lucas actually takes risks with the camera and tries to use cinematography as a core tool in unspoken storytelling. Lucas also isn’t afraid to use vulgar cinematic techniques that were mostly unheard of for die hard fans of the original trilogy, which partially explains the poor consensus response of this trilogy, but the pod racing scene is an example of Lucas’ insane use of cinematography that i can not get over. The racing is shot in a very speed racer (2008) kind of way, meaning that it remains playful, yet high stakes. Conventional angles are used sparingly, replaced by outright ridiculous ones that will stick out, while still retaining the effect of putting a viewer in awe, and there is also heavy repetition of certain shots following the race to further immerse the audience in this scene, tracking the race with a sort of dizzying tension. The world building in other scenes are top notch as well, with effective set pieces and compelling special effects which portray new lands with a sense of wonder and respect. This movie, at the end of the day, is Lucas proving that this is his franchise, and he can do whatever the hell he wants with it, and as expected, knowing the technical prowess that Lucas possesses, it ends up being one of the most interesting depictions of a sci-fi world ever put to the screen. Pure kino.

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