Star Wars Top 5: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

Now that we are getting one Star Wars movie per year, I decided to watch the 7 movies once again, especially since Rogue One happen right before Episode IV. Now, I decided not to do a classic review of those movies since it’s way too easy to start a two pages rant about the prequels and forget that there are some good things in those movies too. They are just well hidden. So, I decided to do a Top 5 of my favorite moments in each of these movies. In this first instalment, I will take a look at the first prequel movie, Episode I: The Phantom Menace which is seen by many fans as the worst, but in my opinion, it will be coming in the next part, Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The biggest problem of this movie, Lucas does not follow the first rule of screenwriting: Show don’t tell. Oh, and also the dialogue is terrible. It’s a mix of both.

1. The Famous Pod Racing Sequence

The whole sequence is brilliant, because CGI really has it’s place and it was ground breaking technology at the time. It really does feel like watching Ben Hur, but in a galaxy far, far away. It was a good idea to do it on Tatooine, since we already know the inner working of the city and the power of the Hutt, well if you have since the Original Trilogy. It adds to the mythos of the planet. It’s also a clever way to show how connect Anakin is to the force without dialogue, even if they explain it before and after the race again. I don’t agree that it was too long, since the visuals on screen are keeping us excited.

2. Qui-Gon Jinn & Obi-Wan Kenobi vs Darth Maul

This was the high point for everyone in this boring pile of crap. If the pod race was not for you, this kept you on the edge of your seat. The Vader and Luke lightsaber battle was great, because it had an emotional depth to it, but with the technology and a martial artist as the bad guy Lucas had more liberties with the choreography. And then adding the double edge lightsaber was fantastic, says the 10 years-old in me. It adds intensity and shows his skills as an apprentice. Of course, we know that Obi-Wan will make it, but the fate of Qui-Gon is uncertain which makes the fight suspenseful and exciting. I love how grounded it feels, because instead of only using CGI, it is in fact three people fighting each other. The only problem I might have is that sometimes it feels a little bit choreograph.

3. Anakin Skywalker and his Mother

There is one scene that stood out in this movie and it’s when Anakin is about to leave his mother to become a Jedi. He is just a naive child so he makes promises to his mother that he cannot keep and she knows that, but she gives him hope anyway. Of course, if the actors and the directions would have been good, this scene would have been spectacular and more emotional. This connection will become Anakin’s first step to the dark side in the next movie, so this shows how he feels leaving his mother behind as a slave. For once, I have to say that Jake Lloyd is good in this scene since we feel his fear and apprehensions.

4. Exploring New Worlds

In the Original trilogy, they didn’t have the budget or the technology to go on many planets in one film, or even on different parts of one planet. So Tatooine is only a desert and Hoth is only an ice planet. Though, with CGI, Lucas can explore his vision which makes the Star Wars universe feel bigger. Only on Naboo there is an under water city, a forest, a city and a huge fields. And we see Coruscant which is the center of the Republic and a brilliant idea, the whole planet is one big city. Lucas uses the spaceship to zoom through the city and exploring the many sights.

5. Padmé, Obi-Wan & Qui-Gon Jinn

Those are the only three good new actors in this whole movie and even then Natalie Portman could have done better with more directions. Though, the best casting is Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi since he has the same mannerism and personality as Alec Guinness in the Original trilogy. Plus, he is a real badass especially in the third movie, even if his one-liners did become annoying with time. He has great chemistry with Liam Neeson who played Qui-Gon Jinn. That character might not have been well develop and its purpose might have been only to sprout exposition to move to plot forward, but he still had that cool and badass Jedi attitude. In this movie only, I like Padmé as a character since she takes decisions for her planet and she is in the middle of the fight. Then it goes all to Hell in the next two movies.

So what did you think of Episode I: The Phantom Menace? Personally, I don’t hate it, I just find it boring and it doesn’t feel like there are any stakes for the whole galaxy in this movie. Most of the time, I don’t care about any character and I just want to see the kickass lightsaber battle. To prove a point, the most memorable thing about this movie is Jar Jar Binks and all for the wrong reasons.

GRADE: D

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