Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)


There’s been a lot of negativity regarding George Lucas’s prequel trilogy.  I think a lot of that is due to high expectations.  I liked all three movies, not as much as the original trilogy, but they held their own.  A lot of the talk of Episode One was the quality of the story.  I don’t get it though.  If you remember, when you first start a story you have to establish characters and give a hint of where we’re going while still giving some exciting scenes. That is EXACTLY what happens here. You are introduced to the six main characters (Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Palpatine, C-3PO and R2-D2) of the entire sextology. In this film Lucas sets up a long story arc of a child being reluctantly accepted as a savior of an ancient religion, and being mentored by an impromptu Jedi Knight. There is the explanation of why the child cannot be mentored by someone who is capable of it. There is a hint of the re-emergence and animosity of the Jedi’s nemesis religion, the Sith. The ball begins rolling, the story starts to develop, and the characters are introduced. The first film serves it’s purpose in a very entertaining way.

The acting in every Star Wars movie is not Academy Award material, but that’s due to the writing.  However, in this film Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn does a great job.  His portrayal of the doomed Jedi Master is the best performance of the prequels, and is second only to Alec Guiness as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode Four.  Natalie Portman is given the tough task of, basically, portraying two characters.  She embodies both the stern Queen of Naboo, Amidala, and her alter ego, Padme.  She does an adequate job on both accounts.  If having a teenage actress play dual roles seems tough, what do you make of a 10 year old asked to play the young main character of a six movie arc?  Jake Lloyd was unfairly criticized when you consider the task at hand.  He was asked to play Anakin Skywalker, whom in the minds of thousands of geeks was an impossible task.  Again, he does an adequate job.  The rest of the cast did an O.K. job as well.  Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid and Samuel L. Jackson do the best they can with the material they’re given.

This movie sucks you in, and prepares you for the impending onslaught upon the galactic republic in the following movies.  It’s a perfect set-up.  By the way, Darth Maul was awesome!

Author: Spacemonkey

If there’s a joke to be had, a phrase to be said, or a time to be spent, I’m your Man. I’m a sucker for good conversation. P.E.A.C.E.