5 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace Review

The Star Wars legacy continues as we see the origin of the franchise….or of the films anyway. This film takes place before Episode IV and we get to see what the older villains were like. Without Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, could this film keep pace with the other three? It’s time to find out!

The film’s plot revolves around Qui Gon and Obi Wan as they must protect the Queen and restore order to the planet. The planet is currently being run by the Federation and things aren’t looking good for our heroes. Meanwhile, Anakin must prove that he is a skilled warrior and he enters the Pod Race. The stakes are very high and winning could he his chance for freedom. The Sith are also around and Darth Maul is sent to take the Jedi down once and for all.

Well, the film has a solid intro with the Jedi taking on a large number of droids and easily winning the battle. The droids definitely do not seem as skilled as the Storm Troopers and they go down pretty easily. There is one sad scene for the Jedi as they are forced to run away from the Droids who possess barriers. They may have the Force, but they aren’t immensely skilled in its usage, or maybe they just lack the confidence. Either way, a tactical retreat was in order!

Unfortunately, this film starts to drag on a bit during the middle. This is one of those films where they could have cut out 30-60 minutes and it may have helped the overall pacing. There just wasn’t a lot of action in the film and while the lightsaber fights were really good, you may miss the classic space fights. There is a quick one that is forced into the movie at the very end, but it’s pretty short anyway.

Obi Wan is a decent character, but he doesn’t really stand out. He has his big “Rage” moment where he quickly unleashes his full powers, but that was his only notable scene. It was a good one since he looked a lot better than Luke did in his rage moment so I do have some hopes for him in the next film. I always liked his fight scene in film IV since he mentioned how it’s not wise to strike him down…right before he’s struck down. It’s one of those scenes that forces you to smile and wave…just smile and wave.

Qui Gon is the wise character of the film and he’s always got his lightsaber at the ready. He’s a decent character as well I suppose, but he is pretty dishonest since he tries to cheat a store owner with the Jedi mind trick. Luckily he is unsuccessful although he also ends up cheating at dice. Qui Gon is a powerful fighter and he can hold his own against the Sith, but he still wasn’t a great character. Average sounds about right as with Obi Wan.

Jar Jar Binks is a pretty infamous character and this is where he makes his debut. I wouldn’t underestimate Jar Jar Binks since he definitely means business and won’t go down without a fight. Unfortunately, like the Ewoks, this leads to a lot of plot hax during the fight scenes. He takes out several drones by accident which is humiliating in itself and it doesn’t stop there as he takes on a whole tank. He’s not quite as annoying as Chewy although his voice isn’t as iconic as Chewy’s roar. Jar Jar is definitely not a likable character and he was unnecessary, but he’s still better than C-3PO and R2D2.

Yoda is back along with the Jedi Council in this film, but he still doesn’t do anything. They all fear Anakin’s power since it far surpasses theirs, but it’s not like they can do anything about it. They were not even aware that the Sith had returned which is a little sad for them. Why couldn’t they feel “A disturbance in The Force!?” Maybe they just weren’t skilled enough as the time which is to be expected in the long run. C-3PO and R2D2 are in the film and luckily they aren’t as bad as in the original trilogy thanks to their limited roles.

Anakin is only a kid in this film so its understandable that he’s not a great character just yet. He did start to fall from film V to VI, but this is before those events so he should be just fine. I expect that he’ll improve in the next film when he’s older. He’s not a bad character in this film, but he can’t really be taken seriously just yet.

Queen Padme is a decent character and she is more likable than Princess Leia. That being said, she does fall for Emperor Palpatine’s tricks and her final plan resembled Luke’s from Episode VI! It was thought out more than Luke’s, but still an overly risky plan. If only they all could use The Force!

Finally, Darth Maul is a pretty solid villain and he definitely gives the heroes a solid fight. One on one he seemed to be stronger than the Jedi thanks to his duel blade skills. He was the best character of the film and I dare say that he approaches Darth Vader in epicness. The EU gives Darth Vader the edge, but if we’re purely talking about the films, I dare say that he’s a better villain.

The fight scenes in this Star Wars film were vastly superior to the previous films. You could really feel the blows when the Lightsabers clashed and the special effects have also received a level up. I can only imagine how the Lightsaber battles would look in the current days and it would likely be about as epic as Kingdom Hearts II!

The film does fall into its share of holes which keeps it from a higher rating. In the first place, the characters weren’t terribly interesting. The original trilogy definitely had a better cast to go along with the better plot and better soundtrack. This film also dragged on for quite a while when they were on the desert planet. The invasion was fun, but not the Jar Jar Binks part of it. They should have been incinerated instantly, but instead they lasted with gimicks. Also, Anakin shouldn’t have been able to break inside the enemy ship so easily. Animals also end up eating other animals for no real reason since it doesn’t serve to advance the plot and is just unnecessary.

Overall, this was a decent start to the next Star Wars trilogy. The fight scenes were fun and we had a great villain, but the film was just too long and featured too many unlikable characters. If the film can reduce on the negatives and make things a little more fun, then the next one has a chance for success. This is a decent film to check out, but I’d sooner recommend IV since the intro is a lot more intense. The Storm Troopers are definitely hardcore!

Overall 5/10

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