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Mediocre "Beginning"

  • Oct 4, 2004
Rating:
+2
"The Phantom Menace" isn't what everyone expected it to be. Die-hard Star Wars fans were expecting another "A New Hope." Casual fans were hoping to get more of the whiz-bang adventure that was presented to them in the initial trilogy. Folks relatively new to the Star Wars phenomenon were left wondering what the big deal was over all of these films to begin with.

What we were actually given was a typical, contemporary, over-budget sci-fi flick that had great intentions and huge shoes to fill. Perhaps George Lucas let his delusions of grandeur go to his head. Perhaps all of the Star Wars geeks placed him on such a tall pedestal that all he could do was fall. Maybe he just ran out of ideas. No matter what, I think it is safe to say that this film was doomed from the get-go. Even if it were the greatest film ever made, it will always be in the shadow of the original trilogy. The second film, "Attack Of The Clones," probably benefited from this fact since it is not the first film in the new trilogy and the standard set by "Menace" isn't that high.

There are few memorable performances from this film. Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson do well as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, but I couldn't connect with either of them in this film like I did with Alec Guinness in "A New Hope." The kid who played Anakin Skywalker was a little bit annoying to me. I'm glad to see him out of the picture. Jar-Jar Binks was raped by critics and fanboys alike, but I have to admit that his oafish comedy actually helped me trudge along through this film. As a matter of fact, the character that I disliked the most was the one that no one would stop talking about: Darth Maul. For some reason, I got the feeling that this guy was forced on us in the hopes that he would achieve Boba Fett-like legendary status. Boba Fett had few lines, but people fell in love with him. Maul has a few more lines, and I hated him. Both of them were supposed to be sinister warriors and feared opponents. Both of them had cool costumes. They each had a neat sounding voice. But in the end, Boba Fett's popularity came unexpectedly. Maul's fame came by way of commercialism.

The special effects were excellent, though they worked against the original trilogy in that the technology looked billions of light years ahead of the original films. How can you fly around in clunkers after you've had such fancy ships as Amidala's cruiser? The lightsaber battles were enjoyable, but without Vader or Luke in them, I felt somewhat cheated. The android troops seemed to be more efficient in this flick than the slow-minded stormtroopers in the original series, but the stormtroopers had something to them that cold androids with guns lack. Stormtroopers screwed up and they looked funny doing it. These androids try to drop one-liners, but they aren't funny at all. In fact, they gave the Jedi bigger problems than the stormtroopers.

In all, things just don't add up between the original trilogy and this new one. Sure, these new films are adequate, but they will never be as good as the original ones for the simple fact that they are sequels to the originals. The standard set by the original series is almost unreachable, but I'd love to see Lucas come as close to that standard as possible with the "new" third film.

I recommend this to folks who merely need a base for the original trilogy or fans who are willing to look beyond the shortcomings of the new flicks. Average movie-goers may not see what's so special about the Star Wars mythos, but if they view the original films, I'm sure they'll understand.

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review by . August 09, 2004
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review by . February 08, 2000
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The acting in this movie was very bad. My favorit charictor in the movie was Jar Jar Binks, but even his ears went through people because the acter's never even stoped to look at how to do this. A discrase to Star Wars.
About the reviewer
Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #34
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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Wiki


"I have a bad feeling about this," says the young Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Ewan McGregor) inStar Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menaceas he steps off a spaceship and into the most anticipated cinematic event... well, ever. He might as well be speaking for the legions of fans of the original episodes in theStar Warssaga who can't help but secretly ask themselves: Sure, this isStar Wars, but is itmy Star Wars? The original elevated moviegoers' expectations so high that it would have been impossible for any subsequent film to meet them. And as with all theStar Warsmovies,The Phantom Menacefeatures inexplicable plot twists, a fistful of loose threads, and some cheek-chewing dialogue. Han Solo's swagger is sorely missed, as is the pervading menace of heavy-breather Darth Vader. There is still way too much quasi-mystical mumbo jumbo, and some of what was fresh aboutStar Wars22 years earlier feels formulaic. Yet there's much to admire. The special effects are stupendous; three worlds are populated with a mélange of creatures, flora, and horizons rendered in absolute detail. The action and battle scenes are breathtaking in their complexity. And one particular sequence of the film--the adrenaline-infused pod race through the Tatooine desert--makes the chariot race inBen-Hurlook like a Sunday stroll through the park.

Among the host of new characters, there are a few familiar walk-ons. We witness the first meeting between R2-D2 and C-3PO, Jabba the Hutt...

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Details

Director: George Lucas
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Release Date: May 19, 1999
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: George Lucas
DVD Release Date: March 22, 2005
Runtime: 2hrs 11min
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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