Star Wars : The Phantom Menace

Liam Neeson .... Qui-Gon Jinn
Ewan McGregor .... Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman .... Queen Amidala
Jake Lloyd (I) .... Anakin Skywalker
Pernilla August .... Shmi Skywalker
Frank Oz .... Yoda (voice)
Ian McDiarmid .... Senator Palpatine
Oliver Ford Davies .... Sio Bibble
Hugh Quarshie .... Captain Panaka
Ahmed Best .... Jar Jar Binks
Samuel L. Jackson .... Mace Windu
Ray Park .... Darth Maul
Written and Directed by
George Lucas

  I usually have some kind of introduction to all my reviews but all of them sound contrived when I do it for the most anticipated movie of all time. So we will get right into it.

    The saga continues from its roots. The movie is the background of young Anakin Skywalker, father of Luke and soon to become Darth Vader. The movie starts off with the trademark Star Wars opening sequence, with the ageless flying yellow words. In the first scene goes into showing The Trade Federation who enforcing a boycott that they placed on a small planet called Naboo for no apparent reason accept that they can. The Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi have come to discuss an end to this trade sanction with the Trade Federation run by the Nimodians. Once they get there it is decided that there will be no talks and they decide to illegally invade Naboo and force them to sign a treaty which gives them control of the planet.

    The Jedi Knights find out what's going on. They escape from the ship of the Nimodians so they can warn Queen Amadala (Natalie Portman) of the Naboo of the impending doom. Once they get to the surface they encounter part of the robot army of the Nimodians. The whole army is made of robots. They get to the planet's surface and meet a weird looking creature named Jar Jar Binks. He becomes the Jedis' guide of this foreign planet. They get to the Naboo and save the 14 year old Queen Amadala so they can take her to speak to the senate. The senate is the governing body of the Republic (a U.N. in space in which planets can represent themselves). The senate based on the planet Coruscant which is also where the Jedi Counsel is based.

    The ship of the Queen runs into problems and needs to be repaired. The closest planet is a little place called Tatooine (later home of Luke Skywalker) of thieves run by the Huts. The leader of the huts is Jabba. Tatooine is the home of young Anakin Skywalker. Qui-Gon Jinn believes young Anakin is destined to be the one who will bring balance to the force. Later on, Qui-Gon Jinn brings him in front of the Jedi Council in Coruscant. They believe he has the potential but is too old. Qui-Gon Jinn is insistent that he is the chosen one and wants to train him even thought the Council forbids it. Queen Amidala has also appealed to the Senate about the invasion but nothing will be done. This causes the distress for the rest of the movie.

    Now plotwise, the movie is not very strong. The plot is the same as the original. Basically with different names and much better effects. The acting of Neeson, McGregor, and Portman saved the plot for me. Jake Lloyd was cute as Anakin but seemed too stupid to be the one to balance the force. He was simple and his dark side was not portrayed at all. Maybe that's how it was suppose to be. The fully computer animated character Jar Jar Binks was annoying at first but kind of grew on me. By the end I was imitating his very different way of speaking. This way of speaking included a sort of Jamaican accent with horrible grammar and saying mes or mesa instead of me before every sentence. It was nice to see Yoda again. The latest Star Wars villain, Darth Maul, was very cool in his action sequences but has a very limited screen time.

    My favorite action sequence was probably the war scene on the planet Naboo. There is also a great race scene involving this little racing ships called pod racers. It is kind of with a NASCAR race with the announcers and a huge crowd. I also loved the extended part that the lightsabers played in this movie. The Jedis use them excessively and made me very happy. Especially when Darth Maul whips out his double edged lightsaber. So Awesome!

    I came out of this movie with a huge smile on my face. It is hard to describe how awesome this movie is. The special effects were stupendous, the greatest ever done. They are done throughout the movie. Lucas has created tons and tons more races of aliens and new planets. He has portrayed the perfect image of the Star Wars past. It was so awesome that it really made the last 3 look like the past. This movie is a piece of art in its visions. What is very apparent in this movie is its influences from the Bible. Neeson's character is like John The Baptist. Anakin is the chosen one or Jesus. The Force seems more like a religion. It is like a spirit that surrounds us on all sides.

    I do have a few complaints. One thing is the way Lucas made the voice of each that of a different nationality. There were very major religious overtones. It seemed like Lucas thought that his Star Wars should be a sequel to the New Testament that kind of bothered me. The plot lacked the originality that the original trilogy had.   The last thing that I nticed is that everything that happens seems to be an accident or just a coincidence. I can’t go into much of this without ruining the movie but it was quite annoying. Lucas was probably trying to make a point by this but I just didn't get it.

    The Phantom Menace is a basis for the next two films. The movie was great but I would have liked to see better acting out of the humans and a better plot. My review sounds mixed but the excellenceof this movie far outweighed the plot and characther woes. Although plot does matter, in this movie it was enough to get by. Lucas is a little rusty ( about 17 years off the job) but his vision is clear and beautifully expressed. This movie can not be rated as a whole but as plot and action/coolness. 4 stars for its special effects and for its coolness, 2.5 Stars for acting and plot. So overall that’s 3.25 stars.

Running Time: 131 minutes
Rated: PG for SCI-fi action/violence.
Reviewed by Joe" Buscemifan" Soria


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