'Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace' Review By John M
An Oustanding Beginning To The Better Star Wars Trilogy.
Everyone should know the plot of this film, so instead I'll talk about some of the complaints people had of the plot and my thoughts of the plot. The biggest outcry by fans and critics is the character Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best). They cry and wine that the character is added nothing to the story, was annoying and just a merchandising tool. First off yes I agree Jar Jar was annoying, could they have toned him down a bit yes, but he was no more annoying than R2-D2 and C-3PO or the Ewoks, but he is important to the plot of the films as a third string character. Finally he wasn't only added for a merchandising tool. I think people judge him way too harshly and rate the film lower because of the character. Sometimes that is the only complaint I hear from fans who hate the film and Lucas is the name Jar Jar Binks, and do you know what I tell them that they aren't true Star Wars fans then. Another complaint is the introduction of midi-chlorians. That I thought really wasn't necessary and took a little bit away from the spirituality of the force. Perhaps the biggest personal complaint I had was they killed off Darth Maul. Just like Boba Fett I loved the character and wish they could have used him in the sequels instead of Count Dooku or maybe they could have found a way to use both of them. The story on a whole was really good with Lucas show us his superb writing ability as he introduced us to classic characters from the original films in Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid who would become the future emperor) along with introducing us great new characters in Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), Darth Maul (Ray Park) and Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson). Lucas has an amazing way of writing and developing stories and characters, and he does a great but not perfect job with the Phantom Menace.
The acting job by the entire cast was excellent with Ewan McGregor stealing the show. He did a masterful job playing a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. The beautiful Natalie Portman also had a good performance as Padme, and would give even better performances in the sequels. At the time I didn't remember her being the kid in The Professional or Al Pacino's step-daughter in heat. She really had both beauty and brains which shows in all her acting performances. Ray Park was awesome as Darth Maul and so was Samuel L. Jackson. His character Mac Windo is another character I've come to love. Samuel brought his coolness and awesomeness to the role, and it was great. Just like the originals Frank Oz did an outstanding role as Yoda's voice. Of course Liam Neeson did a great job as the Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn. He displayed his emotion's beautifully from humor and banter with Obi-Wan and his believe in Anakin. Jake Lloyd did a decent but not great job as Anakin, though I wish George had found a better child actor for the role. On a side note I didn't know even till right before I did this review that Keira Knightley played Sabe (Padme's double).
The effects done by ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) were of course outstanding. Everything from the CGI characters to the droid army was done really well. The action was really good, but not great with the climatic lightsaber battle stealing the show. My brother along with some others have said that they thing the lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul was better than the one in Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. They were both outstanding, but I prefer the lightsaber battle in The Revenge of the Sith. I thought it was better and more intense, and maybe it was better because of the emotional impact. Still the lightsaber battle in The Phantom Menace was great and again Darth Maul is awesome.
The directorial job by George Lucas was good, but not great again proving his detractors wrong. Is he a masterful director no, but he does a good job with actors and story along with the effects. As you would suspect John Williams was great. His score throughout the film was brilliant culminating in the outstanding climatic score that brought to life the lightsaber battle and the battle in general perfectly.
There is no reason for the hatred The Phantom Menace or the rest of the prequels receive. It kind of reminds me of the venom pathetic fans spew about Mass Effect 3. Whining and bitching about the endings which were flawed but still good. They expect that the ending should be done the way they want them to be. Demanding that the ending be change and it worked which is a sad day for video game makers and artists in general. Just because you hate a character doesn't make the film bad. Get over yourselves. Was Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace a perfect or excellent film no, but overall it was a great film with a good story, great characters/acting, beautiful special effects, pretty good directing and excellent music. Overall a rating of 4.5 and the 3rd best Star Wars film.