This is the first review in a set of 4 reviews I’m doing this week leading up to when I see Rogue One this Thursday night.
Now when I started Phantom Menace, I expected this review to be nothing but defense against the criticisms often thrown at it. I expected that partially because I have a soft spot for the prequels. I grew up with these movies. They were my introduction into the Star Wars franchise. But unfortunately… (sigh).
What can I say about this movie that millions haven’t said already? Jake Lloyd has some of the worst dialogue and direction ever given to a child actor and it’s made even worse when you consider what has happened to him since then. Jar Jar has no reason to be in the movie other than for week comic relief. There was a massive overuse of CG effects and not enough practical ones(I’ll elaborate a little more on that in my Revenge of the Sith review. Obi-Wan was seriously under-developed. Qui-Gon is an idiot. The Jedi Council are lazy morons who don’t do anything useful. Why would you get freakin’ Samuel L. Jackson if you weren’t gonna let him do anything? They axed off Darth Maul who despite having a little bit a screen time and dialogue was the coolest character in the movie. I don’t care that he came back in the Clone Wars series. Because he got killed off in he movies, he has yet to appear in another film. Though I am looking forward to the comic series coming out in January that’s supposed to go into his backstory and I’ve heard good things about his appearances on the Rebels tv show.
I can’t go so far as to say that I hate this movie as much as others do. There are some things I enjoy about it. One thing the prequels have that the originals don’t is better fight choreography. The duel between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Maul is one of the best duels of the series. The Podrace, while a little long, does give a cool sense of speed and has impeccable sound design. And I like the designs of the new ships and droids. And, of course, you can’t go wrong with John Williams’ score. My particular favorite is the music used in he scene where Jar Jar is leading Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan underwater to the Gungan city. Also, am I the only one who doesn’t really care about the whole Midhiclorians thing? So they wanted to put a little pseudo-science. So what?
But while it has its moments, the film just isn’t very engaging. And that spawns form the fact that we just didn’t need this movie, which in the end was just used to show us the beginning of Anakin becoming a Jedi. But the prequels aren’t supposed to show us how he became a Jedi. They’re supposed to show us how he fell from being a Jedi and became Darth Vader. For better or worse, Attack of the Clones should have been the first movie. They should have tweaked the beginning(the entire movie needed tweaking but I’ll get to that next time), and then do one of two things. One, proceed with AOTC and ROTS as they do and then have Episode III be a story about Anakin/Vader hunting down the remaining Jedi or something. Or two, have Episode II take place during the Clone Wars. I mean we do technically have a movie of that but, again, I’ll get to that.
In the end, it’s not the worst film ever made, but it’s definitely the weakest of the saga and unfortunately, my nostalgic feelings toward it can’t save it. I give The Phantom Menace 2.75/5 lightsabers. Also, if they had to have Anakin design one of the droids, wouldn’t it have made more sense to have it be that he built R2. That would explain why R2 has such an attitude. He was programmed by a little kid. But that’s just an idea. Also, with each of these reviews, the live action ones anyway, I’ll share BanditIncorporated’s Mega Reviews of the films. There’s some interesting stuff in them about what was going on behind the scenes. Check it out.