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Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

By: Shaun

I would like to start this review off by saying, no this is not even close to the best film I ever saw, it is not even the best film of this year. The perpetual hours for my waiting in agony is over, I have viewed the regal movie that begins one of the most classic franchises. The vociferousness of this film is beyond any I have ever heard, the noises and booms are so clearly heard no one can escape it’s wrath, fortissimos are played here constantly. It is the epitome of special effects and computer generated characters, the literal definition of eye candy. Probably the most fun you will have in a film this year. It makes you appreciate the use of special effects now. Since they were not nearly this good back in 1977 when the original "Star Wars" was released. The imagery is so beautiful and articulate that I saw this film twice, to pay attention to the smaller details. I was not a big fan of this franchise until I saw this movie, now I cannot wait to see episodes IV, V, and VI. Do not worry, I did not step foot into this film without knowing any of the background, I got the whole scoop, and almost every minor aspect I needed to know in order to comprehend this movie. The vibe that I got while watching this film were extraordinary, it was almost like playing a video game that had a epic story inserted to it. The films title is basically the plot of the film, "Star Wars", it is battles between different galaxies, with strategy and military action. It has imperialism, democracy, senates, and outcasts. A fictional history lesson. One viewing of this movie was not enough for me to give it a justifiable grade, I needed to see it twice to scrutinize the films benefits, plus I was feeling pretty drowsy the first time I saw it. The second time around was like I was previewing a whole new movie, I was simply astonished by the meticulous director’s view and imagination. George Lucas is not god, but the man does know how to direct, he is very aggressive when it comes to getting the perfect shot. If I knew nothing of the first three "Star Wars" then I can almost guarantee this movie would not have had the same effect on me. Plus I felt that fox films has compensated me after it released the dreadful film "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" just last week. This film was all the better because after having to extort my tickets from the cashier, my expectations were unimaginably high, and amazingly they were not let down. Sure this movie was a bit childish (I said a bit!), but first of all this film is rated PG, and is a child not supposed to act childish. Then comes in the obnoxious computer generated character Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best’s voice), at first I thought he was annoying, but you sort of get acclimated to him, but still he spews a few unnecessary comments. Another minor flaw was the interactions between the humans, and the computer generated characters, their eye contact was a bit off, but I did not let these little flaws decrease from this films achievement. The scenery, the battles, the humor, the special effects, the well acquainted characters, the sound, the graphic, design, costumes, makeup, all of these were near perfect, and we can see were three years of production went. The characters may not all be well developed, but they are very appealing. There was so much energy and hype involved that I appreciated this film for what it had to present. This movie is such a huge advent into cinemas that you must be well prepared in order to experience it. I was almost certain that everyone’s pupil in the theatre formed a satisfied little smile. This movie conclusively showed me that the sci-fi genre is a worthy one, and especially this year. With "The Thirteenth Floor" opening soon, it will mark the fourth sci-fi film to open in 1999, and from the looks of it I can almost assure it will be great. This is the culmination in the sci-fi genre, this movie may not be as good as "The Matrix", but that is saying a lot, since I hold "The Matrix" to be a movie of high prosperity. The good thing about it is that it left me dying to see the sequel to it, I feel so deeply involved now. The surreal surrounding of these foreign objects and particles were very innovational and a breakthrough, well I have praised this movie enough, so I will speculate on the plot a bit now.

The planet of Naboo is in grave danger, the trade federation is in the midst of launching an invasion on the poor and nearly defenseless planet. The evil trade federation wishes for Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) to sign a treaty ending a trade blockade against their planet. She will not do such a thing in order to avoid trade taxation, she wants to end the boycott, so all she has to rely on is negotiations. Her two negotiators are in fact two Jedi Knights, who in the first scene enter a droid battleship under the impression of being ambassadors. These two Jedi’s are Quai-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). Once their cover is blown it is light saber time, and an amazing action sequence ignites the screen. This scene is such a joyride when you think back to it, the adrenaline rushes back into your blood. The acting from Neeson and McGregor is not praiseworthy, but it is not bad, I especially enjoyed Neesons Quai-Gon, the nonchalant wise Jedi.

Well unfortunately the two pick up the animated character Jar Jar Binks, Lucas probably thought that the audience will find his voice so funny it did not matter if he said something ridiculous. So after Quai-Gon saves Jar Jar the Gungon from death, a life debt is owed to him. Thus Jar Jar becomes the two Jedi’s navigator in the path to reach the city of Naboo in order to warn the princess of the invasion. If the federation captures the princess and make her sign the treaty, then it will be an abomination on her empire. The princess must safely get to the senate and present to them this unjustifiable attack on her planet.

Meanwhile the dark side ruler has an apprentice of his own, a sith that has been trained to become an infallible warrior. This omnipotent villain I speak of is Darth Maul, the red faced man, with horns on his head, plus he carries that cool double edged life saber. Which makes me reminisce to the life saber battle, which is definitely in my opinion the best scene in the whole film. The score in that sequence was so perfect, and beautifully synchronized, not to mention masterfully conducted.

Well not to spoil anything, the star ship that the Queen flees in with the two Jedi’s and some hand maidens, does not have enough power to reach the senate, and the only reason why it is alive is because R2-D2. So the star ship is forced to land on the nearest planet, which is Tatooine. A gangster planet filled with scavengers, thugs, and weasels. Everyone’s weakness in this planet is gambling. When Quai-Gon enters a pawn shop in order to retrieve the parts necessary in order to fix his ship, he realizes he has no money to pay. This is when we fist meet Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) A.K.A Darth Vader. He is a slave to the owner of the shop. From here my lips are shut, I feel that I’ve said too much, but I will reveal that what follows is an amazing pod race that will blow your mind.

Overall this is not the best movie ever, it is just a fun and inventive ride, with so much mood and feeling. I did love it for so many aspects that I have already named. This is a movie for everyone, we get to see where everything started, the first commencement, how everyone was introduced. Not only this but the battle scenes in this movie are the best this year, it is just masterful. If it weren’t for a few childish moments this film could have surpassed all negativity and become a classic. Oh well, at least I had a rollicking good time, no wait, it was more then rollicking.

GRADE: A-