Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

From Awful Movies Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Star Wars The Phantom Menace-0.png
"My, my, this here Anakin guy. May be Vader some day later, now he's just a small fry. And he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye, sayin' 'Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi! Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi!'" — "Weird Al" Yankovic, "The Saga Begins"
Genre: Science-fiction
Directed By: George Lucas
Produced By: Rick McCallum
Written By: George Lucas
Starring: Liam Neeson
Ewan McGregor
Natalie Portman
Jake Lloyd
Ian McDiarmid
Anthony Daniels
Kenny Baker
Pernilla August
Frank Oz
Cinematography: David Tattersall
Distributed By: 20th Century-Fox
Release Date: May 16, 1999 (Los Angeles)
May 19, 1999 (United States)
Runtime: 133 minutes
Country: United States
Budget: $115 million
Box Office: $1.027 billion
Franchise: Star Wars
Prequel: Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (by release)
Sequel: Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

"Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was the most disappointing thing since my son. I mean, how much more could you possibly mess up the entire backstory to Star Wars? And while my son eventually hanged himself in the bathroom of the gas station, the unfortunate reality of the Star Wars prequels is that they'll be around. Forever. They will never go away. It can never be undone."

Mr. Plinkett

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is a 1999 sci-fi action film directed by George Lucas and distributed by 20th Century Fox. The film stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Pernilla August, and Frank Oz. It is the first installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and was released on May 19, 1999.

Plot

The Trade Federation, led by Viceroy Nute Gunray, has issued a blockade against the planet of Naboo in a trade dispute. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his young Padawan apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi are sent to protect Queen Amidala and settle the conflict. Meanwhile, a nine-year-old boy named Anakin Skywalker and his mother Shmi are slaves on the desert planet of Tatooine.

Bad Qualities

  1. It introduced the character of Jar Jar Binks, who became very unpopular among viewers for his grating and infantile attempts at comic relief, which is further aggravated by the majority of his screentime being shared with the aloof Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan (and, more sporadically, the remaining stilted cast of humans), further indicating his inclusion to be a desperate attempt to hold the attention of a younger audience. In fact, Jar Jar was so hated that there is a recurring in-joke in the Star Wars fandom about Jar Jar being a Sith Lord and the true main antagonist of the prequels.
  2. Several characters were criticized for coming across as racist caricatures, with Jar Jar coming across as a racist caricature of Afro-Caribbeans, as he is portrayed as having long, droopy ears reminiscent of dreadlocks and speaks with what many perceived as a Caribbean patois reminiscent of Jamaican Creole, whilst being portrayed as a clown-like character. Ahmed Best, actor of Jar Jar Binks, had to point out that the former case was unintentional.
    • The Neimoidians were also criticized for coming across as racist caricatures of Asians, as they are portrayed as being corrupt and greedy whilst speaking with East Asian accents.
      • Nute Gunray's accent is actually Thai.[1]
    • Watto has also been interpreted by many as a Jewish stereotype, as he has a large trunk-like nose, beady eyes, speaks in a gravelly voice, and is portrayed as greedy and covetous, thus attracting some controversy.
      • According to actor Andy Secombe, the character was intended to be based on an Italian salesman.[2]
  3. Stiff acting throughout, with the animated characters being more expressive than the real actors.
    • Jake Lloyd can be given a pass for his actual performance due to being a child, but Lucas' decision to rest a movie on the ability of a ten-year-old to be a credible future Darth Vader was not a very good idea and completely ruined what A New Hope had depicted Anakin to be.
  4. Weak special effects, with the Yoda puppet (particularly against the CGI backdrop of Coruscant) in pre-2011 releases being a notable example. The film also uses a lot of computer-generated visual effects, many of which are now dated, compared to in modern-day films, including the sequel trilogy films.
    • The visuals themselves are also excessively cluttered much of the time, and thus it is hard to keep focus on the main characters or their actions.
  5. The entire plot of the film is incredibly confusing and contrived:
    • It is repeatedly stated that there is a prophecy of "one who will bring balance to the Force", but nobody in the film even clues the audience in on what this actually means. It is meant to foreshadow the fall of the Emperor in the original trilogy, but this prophecy is never mentioned by Obi-Wan, Vader or the Emperor in the original trilogy itself.
    • It is also not stated what problem the Trade Federation blockading Naboo is supposed to be causing, since at no point does anyone mention the planet needing anything it does not already have.
    • The pacifist queen of a peaceful planet without a standing army for some reason keeps... several loaded guns in the armrest of her throne.
    • It is very unclear as to who the protagonist or antagonist is in this film.
    • In addition, several of the key characters in this film have little-to-no introduction: for example, it is never clear outside of external source material as to who or what Darth Maul is.
    • Qui-Gon Jinn constantly abuses Force abilities to get his own way and has a completely contradictory moral code. For example, he is perfectly happy to try to mind trick Watto into accepting useless money, but not to simply steal the spaceship part he needs.
    • For no apparent reason, the massive blockade around Naboo suddenly becomes one ship at the end of the film.
    • The ending has four sequences with different tones running side-by-side (the thrilling battle at the palace, the dramatic battle in the power room, the comical scenes of the Gungans fighting the droids, and the not-serious-enough battle in space), and thus it feels choppy and confusing.
    • Anakin is revealed to have built C-3PO, which makes very little sense in context, since his mother would have no use for a protocol droid and it is not clear as to why he would make a robot that looks exactly like a mass-produced model.
    • Qui-Gon Jinn is also established to be the master of Obi-Wan Kenobi, which contradicts The Empire Strikes Back, in which it is mentioned that Yoda is Obi-Wan's master. One might bring up the younglings in the following two films, but in The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda is framed as Obi-Wan's actual master.
  6. The film lazily recycles several other plot points and tropes from A New Hope, to the point where it feels more like a remake or a soft reboot than a prequel:
    • A main character with the surname "Skywalker" living in a harsh desert planet and getting involved in a war.
    • A Sith killing the wise mentor of a Force-sensitive protagonist.
    • A space station being the subject of a space battle, and being destroyed by the good guys.
  7. Laughable and clunky dialogue, particularly Anakin's declaration that spinning is a good trick.
  8. Much of what Palpatine does in the film undermines his actual goals for no obvious reason, which the refusal of the film to grant him further necessary screentime accentuates.
  9. Much of the film is taken up by tedious, overly-long expository scenes involving space politics relating to, as revealingly worded by the opening crawl, the "taxation of trade routes in outlying systems."
  10. Many scenes, such as the pod-racing scene, seem to have been designed mostly around creating opportunities for merchandising or making video games, with the pod-racing sequence standing out in particular. While the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi were obviously designed to sell toys; in The Phantom Menace, almost the entire film seems to exist for this purpose.
  11. Brian Blessed is miscast as Boss Nass, a character with an absurd speech quirk that requires him to laboriously sound out his lines, robbing them of the boisterous tone Blessed is known for.
  12. Mediocre costume designs for some of the characters, with several of Queen Amidala's outfits looking ridiculous.
  13. While the plot element of Amidala swapping places with her handmaiden Sabé is executed quite well, thanks to Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley doing too good a job of copying each other's mannerisms, it ends up serving no real purpose to the plot. Amidala could have just told Qui-Gon up-front that she was disguising herself as a commoner in order to accompany him to Mos Espa, and it would not have changed anything.
  14. The droid army is so utterly ineffectual that there is no sense they are actually a threat.
  15. While the fight between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Darth Maul is visually spectacular, there are some issues with the fight choreography.
    • Speaking of the choreography, the lightsaber combat in this film is very floaty and feels like the characters are having a dance-off rather than actually trying to kill each other.
  16. The fight between those three is also rather pointless since the goals of the characters do not in any way relate to anything else that is going on.
  17. The deus ex machina ending has Anakin more or less accidentally blow up the droid control ship (after two Jedi brought him to a war zone for no apparent reason), which instantly disables the entire droid army which had just defeated the Gungans.
  18. The movie also undermines the concept of the Jedi's powers because of the "midi-chlorians", which meant that anyone who wields a huge number of these microscopic organisms are Force-sensitive.
  19. The final scene feels tacked-on and unnecessary. It involves a big ceremony with Queen Amidala presenting Boss Nass with a plasma ball as a symbol of peace between their people, even though said people were never actually at war with one another (the Gungans were just vaguely distrustful of the Naboo, who, in turn, never seemed to have paid the Gungans much attention). The only reason this scene appears to be in the movie is because A New Hope similarly ended with a ceremony.

Good Qualities

  1. Ian McDiarmid, Liam Neeson, and Ewan McGregor give great performances.
  2. Epic battle scenes, particularly Darth Maul's two-on-one fight with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.
  3. While it did not really achieve anything as far as the plot was concerned, the pod-racing sequence was well-shot, exciting, and the video games it was clearly designed to sell were, for once, actually fairly good.
  4. John Williams, as always, delivers an excellent score, especially "Duel of the Fates".
  5. The cinematography is still fantastic, just like the Original Trilogy.
  6. Neat visuals, with some very detailed backgrounds and interesting designs for weapons and vehicles, though the aforementioned visuals are dated in comparison to modern films.
  7. Some interesting characters in Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), Darth Maul and particularly Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid), who is the highlight of all three prequels. Darth Maul, rather like Boba Fett before him, proved interesting enough to fans, despite a near-total lack of characterization, that he returned in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated TV series, Rebels (in which he finally meets his death at the hands of the elder Obi-Wan), and Solo.
  8. Darth Vader's origin story is not a bad premise for a trilogy, though it was poorly executed.
  9. Some of the characters are likable like Qui-Gon Jinn.
  10. The very final part of the ending credits scene has a big foreshadow reveal with "The Imperial March" theme slowly plays, including Darth Vader's breathing, which shockingly hints that Anakin Skywalker's future as Darth Vader, which increases through the prequel trilogy.
  11. Duel of the Fates is a pretty good theme for a battle scene, and they even used that for Revenge of the Sith.
  12. The callback of his podracing when Anakin manage to destroy the main station.
  13. "NOW THIS IS PODRACING!"

Reception

The film received mixed reviews from critics and fans of the series upon its release; they praised the visuals, action sequences, themes, John Williams' musical score, and some of the performances (notably Neeson and McGregor), but criticized the screenplay, characterization, and the respective performances of Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks and Lloyd as Anakin.

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 53% based on 230 reviews, with an average rating of 5.94/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Burdened by exposition and populated with stock characters, The Phantom Menace gets the Star Wars prequels off to a bumpy – albeit visually dazzling – start." Metacritic gives a score of 51/100 indicating "mixed or average reviews", while the film has a 6.5/10 rating on IMDb.

In the years since its initial release, and especially since the release of the even more controversial Star Wars sequel trilogy, consisting of The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker, many fans have re-evaluated the movie more positively. However, it is still considered to be one of the weaker live-action entries in the series, if not the weakest.

Awards and nominations

The film was nominated for seven Razzies and won one for "Worst Supporting Actor" for Ahmed Best, losing the rest to Wild Wild West, The World Is Not Enough and Big Daddy.

Despite the Razzie nominations, the film was also nominated for three Oscars, but all lost to The Matrix.

Videos

Trivia

Jake Lloyd's police mugshot following his arrest in June 17, 2015
  • Several then-unknown actors, such as Keira Knightley, Dominic West and Richard Armitage, appear in the film.
  • Ahmed Best, actor of character Jar Jar Binks, would later claim he contemplated suicide after how heavily he was criticized by the media, while Jake Lloyd retired from acting in 2001 due to being bullied in school; contrary to recent media claims, neither of these had anything to do with "the fans."
  • On June 17, 2015, Lloyd was arrested for reckless driving and driving without a license in Colleton County, South Carolina. In April 2016, he was moved to a psychiatric ward after he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
  • E.T. from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial briefly appears in the film.[3]
  • The concept of midi-chlorians was, surprisingly, planned all the way back in 1977.

External links

References

Comments


avatar

Botbuster

14 months ago
Score 6
At least we have Prequel Memes thanks to this move.
avatar

S012891

13 months ago
Score 0
I get that Jar Jar is the most hated character in the entire series but does anyone else thinks that he’s a funny and enjoyable character?
avatar

Athaggard160

7 months ago
Score 0
I do.
avatar

SporeShroom2007

7 months ago
Score 1
I'm neutral on him.
avatar

RobloxMinecraft

3 months ago
Score 1
Jar Jar is a really underrated character.
avatar

ChroniclesXII

13 months ago
Score 1
While I like this movie IMO, I didn't care for Jar Jar, and I HATED how Jake Lloyd became the person he became in reality all because of one movie.
avatar

ChroniclesXII

13 months ago
Score 0
This definitely makes me like the seventh chronological episode more than the first chronological episode IMO. I still see flaws in both of them though.
avatar

PerryPikaplush

13 months ago
Score 0
I Heard that Joueur Du Grenier thinks this Movie was the Best out of the Star Wars Movies
avatar

SporeShroom2007

11 months ago
Score 0
The first 2 prequels aren't bad movies, they just had a bad reputation.
avatar

Spindash101

10 months ago
Score 2
To be honest, I fell sorry for Lloyd.
avatar

Xian Pu

7 months ago
Score 1
I recently rewatched this, and I really wish that I could say it's some misunderstood classic that just couldn't live up to expectations it was never going to meet... but yeah, it's still the worst Star Wars movie, IMO.
avatar

Declan Kearns

7 months ago
Score 2
I've always enjoyed The Phantom Menace as my second favourite Star Wars prequel and to hell with the Star Wars fanbase and Watchmojo.com who considered this one of the worst sequels ever.
avatar

Ghostskye6666

6 months ago
Score 0
Yeah the story was a mess but it was still a good film
avatar

Hiatt Grey

5 months ago
Score 4
I enjoyed The Phantom Menace.
avatar

Lesther110

5 months ago
Score 1
This movie (while i like it) is a perfect example on the consequences of what happens if you don´t handle criticism. Not helping the fact that two actors mentally suffered from the negative reception. It´s not even the critic´s nor the fan´s fault it´s George lucas refusing to listen to FOX´s warnings about the movie.
avatar

Robertoiglesias271

5 months ago
Score 2
Even though I don't like this film, I feel extremely bad for Ahmed Best and Jake Lloyd.
avatar

AbareKillerFan 2002

5 months ago
Score 5
I don't think it was that bad, I think The Last Jedi was worse
avatar

Stephenfisher2001

2 months ago
Score 0
It is worse, along with The Rise of Skywalker for me.
avatar

GAMRKNIGHT352

one month ago
Score 0
Rise of Skywalker is one of the worst movies ever made
avatar

Blubabluba9990

3 months ago
Score 1
The only Star Wars movie that I don't like.
avatar

MinecraftDogCats

one month ago
Score 0
I like it
avatar

RockyBalboaFan

19 days ago
Score 0
I love this film!
avatar

NoahWithNoName

15 days ago
Score 0
To be fair, I never really liked this film. Nor attack of the clones, but revenge of the sith is a BIG step-up from those two films. I you like this, I respect your opinion.

You are not allowed to post comments.