In preparation for the release of Star Wars: Episode 7- The Force Awakens, I'm reviewing all of the old episodes starting with episode one. The Phantom Menace was the first movie to be released during my lifetime. I was already a fan by 1999 due to a rerelease of the first trilogy with update footage and even before that I loved the epic space saga.
Many critics have put down this episode for the presence of clumsy, goofy Jar Jar Binks, a weird explanation of the force, and some weak acting but I think the action is great. The beginning was a bit off, with stilted dialogue from Natalie Portman but Liam Neeson performance as Qui-Gon Jinn carries the film through those parts.
The settings are so gorgeous from the jungle of Naboo to the deserts of Tatooine to the cityscape of Coruscant. Once the crew accompanying the fleeing Queen Amidala get to the desert the action gets a bit more exciting. The pod race is one of the coolest and exciting scenes in the whole saga and I enjoy it during every watch.
The explanation of Senator Palpatine's schemings get complicated and dull but with foreknowledge of where it leads, it does keep me intrigued. Seeing the Jedi Council and the city of Coruscant for the first time after being a fan was a real treat.
Jake Lloyd's Anakin Skywalker was the weakest performance but that is a lot of pressure to put on a young boy at that age with the immense hype this film garnered. Ewan McGregor was a staple of the prequel films as Obi-Wan Kenobi and one of my favorite actors from this film.
The use of the force and the amazing lightsaber battle at the end make this a great film, not as great as the original trilogy but something I like to watch again every once in a while. Darth Maul is such an iconic character in science fiction and just for that this film gets a higher rating from me. George Lucas has an amazing imagination and I'm glad he has allowed his masterpiece to be brought to a new generation. Seven out of ten.