As imminent conflict brews between the powerful Trade Federation and the peaceful planet of Naboo, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi travel to Naboo to warn the Queen of the galactic fallout which is to follow. Eventually, Naboo is invaded forcing the Jedis to evacuate the planet with the Queen and her court. They travel to the desert planet of Tatooine where they meet a slave boy called Anakin Skywalker who is evidently one with the Force. They enlist his help in fighting the war, while the Jedis confront one of the Dark Jedis behind the invasion, Darth Maul, while his master Darth Sidious continues to lead the invasion as a "phantom" behind the scenes.
Directed by: George Lucas
. Starring: Liam Neeson
, Ewan McGregor
, Natalie Portman
, Jake Lloyd
, Ian McDiarmid
, Pernilla August
, Oliver Ford Davies
, Hugh Quarshie
, Ahmed Best
, Anthony Daniels
, Kenny Baker
, Frank Oz
, Terence Stamp
. Music by: John Williams
I'm not sure as to why The Phantom Menace has gotten so much negative feedback from people on this forum. Midichlorians? Jar Jar? Immaculate Conception of Anakin? Preposterous? While some people may find these things, as well as other minor things unacceptable in the Star Wars Universe, I beg to differ. Let me address some issues the best I can and tell TPM hatemongers why I think they ARE in fact acceptable in the Star Wars universe.
1) Jar Jar Binks - Every Episode I review has something about Jar Jar in it, so here's my two sense(pun intended). Basically, people found Jar Jar to be annoying, stupid, a terrible addition to the Star Wars saga, etc. I agree that he's annoying and stupid, but not a terrible addition. Like I just said, I agree that he's annoying and stupid. But he's supposed to be. Haven't YOU met anyone like Jar Jar before? I certainly have. The personality of Jar Jar resides in most kids that I know. Kids can ALSO be annoying, stupid, clumsy, and get into trouble a lot. They're just like Jar Jar. But do we hate kids? Nope. We punish them for their actions sometimes, but we all get over it and love them for who they are. So no wonder kids can relate to him! Out of all of my kid cousins that live locally, they all liked Jar Jar. It's because they can relate. Jar Jar was supposed to have a child-like innocence to him. If you didn't catch that, watch the movie again.
However, most people who are between the ages of 13 and 25 usually don't relate to him. I don't relate to him either. But yet, they like C-3P0. This has always puzzled me. But I think I've come to a sensible conclusion.
Let's think about this a bit. 3P0 is annoying too. What about all those stupid statistics that he gave them, making the situations they were in much less hopeful? This makes everyone unhappy and "annoyed" with him. Or what about the time he wandered away from the group, and got shot?! Chewy had to repair him and carry him around on his back for half of the movie! Such an "annoying" inconvenience! And he was always whining about something. Now why don't people get annoyed by him? It's simply because they grew up with him, and he's apart of what started it all. He's nostalgic. Most people who complain about Jar Jar are the people who saw the trilogy as a kid. Guess what? When kids see 3P0, they see a cool robot. However, later on they see a whiny, annoying inconvenience. And yet, they still like him. Why? It's because he's apart of their treasured childhood. He's something they liked as a kid, and therefore they continue to like him, even though they realize the way he is. There's nothing wrong with this, it's just that these people don't realze that just as the kids of yesterday that grew up with 3P0 still like him despite his annoying antics, the kids of today that grow up liking Jar Jar will do the same thing for him.
Lastly, Jar Jar served more of a purpose to this movie than 3P0 did to any of the movies. All 3P0 did was alert the gang of the Stormtroopers' presence(which was only because Chewy was in the process of repairing him when this blurb spirted out), and get the Ewoks to side with the good guys. Other then these two things, he did nothing but get in the way. Gee, doesn't this sound a lot like Jar Jar? Now, did Jar Jar not help the two separate societies on Naboo unite? Of course he did. Did he not become General of the Gungan army? Of course he did. So what if he's clumsy, annoying, and is always getting into trouble? These actions only help display why no one in the movie likes him, and why he was banished from Otoh Gunga(the underwater city). I mean, why would a society banish someone because they were clumsy? Because of all his stupid antics, I understood why.
So what's the big deal? Jar Jar is just like little kids. Jar Jar is annoying like 3P0. It's just that the kids of yesterday still like 3P0 today because they grew up with him. He's "nostalgic." Without R2-D2, 3P0 is nothing. However, Jar Jar was able to unite two societies without the help of a cool sidekick, and despite his clumsiness. I'd say this, as well as the fact that he's just like little kids, makes him someone we should accept and respect. Treat Jar Jar just as you would a kid, and things will take a turn for the better. Treat Jar Jar as you would 3P0 and the same will happen.
2) Midi-chlorians - What's the big deal? They take away from the mysticism of the force? I think not. They only emphasize the mysticism. They are sentient beings that reside within us. WITHIN our cells. Now this may sound scientific, and it may very well be. But guess what? The Force CREATES the midis. Life cannot exist without them, and they cannot exist without life. They are not the force. They don't create the force. We are only symbionts with them, lifeforms living together for mutual advantage. They only tell us the will of the force. So what if they work together with the force? The force is still the same mystical entity that we've all come to know and love. It's just that now we know where life comes from - at least this is what the Jedi believe at this moment in time. They have yet to explain why the midi-chlorians aren't mentioned in the original trilogy. Perhaps because trying to explain their faith with science made it no longer a faith. Maybe trying to define their religion with science is what aided in bringing about their ultimate demise. There faith could've in fact be weakened because of their scientific reasoning. Who knows? The next two episodes have yet to elaborate on this, and so we don't fully know the story behind the midi-chlorians. And this is why people shouldn't criticize this concept.
3) The immaculate conception - Ok, a lot of people were bothered by this. While I will agree that this is somewhat of a poor explanation of why Anakin is so powerful with the force, I don't think that it's a bad idea. We saw that when Anakin destroyed the Neimoidian ship, it looked like an accident. When in fact, this was the will of the force that he blew it up. The force used him(I'll get back to this later). So it could be that because he's the chosen one, things work out to his advantage because he obviously has to bring balance to the force eventually(by doing away with Emperor Palpatine in ROTJ). So up until that time, he has to stay alive. And since the force is seeking balance, it's going to keep its chosen one alive. This means that most everything will work to his advantage. So it could be that he'll realize this, developing a big ego trip that aids in his turn to the dark side. This won't be the only reason he turns, but it could definitely have something to do with it.
Also, people think that because the force used him, rather than him using the force, made it less dramatic. I agree that it's less dramatic. But it's also an important element of how Luke goes the other way and he uses the force. It's something that his dad(Anakin) didn't have enough experience in. His dad just assumed that the force would work to his advantage, therefore not concentrating enough on using the force. Luke redeems what his father should have redeemed. This only helps explain even better why Anakin turns to the dark side. Plus, Anakin wouldn't know where the Neimoidians main reactor was to begin with.
So I don't think him being immaculately conceived is a bad idea. Many people in today's society, as well as societies long before us, believed that Jesus was immaculately conceived. So if people can accept His conception as reality, why can't people accept Anakin's conception in a make-believe universe?
4) The will of the force - Ok, people are asking, "What the heck is up with this will of the force thing?" Let me tell you. Here's what I think. I think that the will of the force is ultimately good. It's seeking balance, right? Balance is good. Therefore the will of the force is good.
But then, there's the dark side. So if there are two sides to the force, how can it have one will? It's because it's like the yin and the yang. It's an entity that's seeking balance, therefore it has one will. So why does the force allow the dark side to take over? Both sides are very powerful, but it's still seeking balance. It's for the same reason why God allows bad things to happen to good people. We don't quite know the answer, but Christians trust that it's God's will that it happened so that eventually things work out for the better in His eyes. One cannot fully comprehend something that's beyond our comprehension, like God for instance. So the same goes for the force. Don't try to fully comprehend something like this. That's ludicrous.
So basically, I think that in the time of TPM, the force IS balanced. The good side and the dark side are both equally doing the same thing - coexisting. But then, the sith emerge, Palpatine becomes emperor and creates his evil empire, and the Jedi are pretty much eliminated. But then, by the end of ROTJ, Vader brings an end to the Emperor, turns back to the good side, and the empire is destroyed, bringing balance back to the force.
5) How you become a Jedi - So we see from The Phantom Menace that the way you become a Jedi is if you have a high midi-chlorian count. People complain and complain about this, and yet it's totally plausible that this is really the only efficient way to have very young kids train to become Jedi.
Let's play a little make-believe game. Imagine a kid of let's say 5 years old going up to hisher mom and asking, "Mommy, can I go off to the Jedi temple on Coruscant and train to become a Jedi?" Do you really think that a parent would just let their kid leave the house at the age of 5 to train to become a Jedi Knight? Do you really think that a 5 year old kid is going to be able to make an intellegent decision about the rest of hisher life? I don't think so. But because of the midi-chlorians, Jedi can identify the kids as jedi-potentials, and the kids' parents wouldn't question it. They'll accept it as destiny.
I know I know, George Lucas didn't have to write the story this way. But we already know that even Luke was too old at his age in the trilogy to train as a Jedi. So if HE was too old, then before TPM cam out, we can conclude that you still had to be pretty young to train. So if you had to be younger than Luke was(Luke wasn't old at all), then we can feel safe to conclude that one even as young as around 16 or 17 can't make such an important decision about hisher life intellegently. So the midi-chlorians make sense.
"But then this indicates genetic superiority like the arian race." No it doesn't. Think about it. What is genetics? It deals with DNA. The midi-chlorians are not DNA(life cannot exist without the midis, and the midis cannot exist without life), but are not the DNA itself. So yes, it's superiority, but not genetic superiority. The midis are a blessing given by the Force to certain individuals. And the people of this galaxy far, far away accept this as inevitable. Only the people who are born to become Jedi are perhaps the only ones who really see this as something they'd want to do with their lives.
It has always seemed to me that becoming a Jedi was all about destiny. If you take a look at all the movies, you can see that it was Luke's "destiny" that he was to become a Jedi. And why would Yoda say "There is another[hope for the alliance]?" It's because he already knew that Leia was a Jedi potential, or at least someone who has the potential to be strong enough with the force to be able to bring hope to the galaxy. How can one know this if midi-chlorians don't exist? It has been said that the force runs strong in the family of the Skywalkers. It can only run strong if it was the will of the force for it to make it so. And it all started with Anakin's immaculate conception by the midi-chlorians.
6) The Plot - If anyone says that the plot was boring or stupid, they are only stupid themselves. If one doesn't realize that Senator Palpatine was the main character of this movie, then TPM went completely over their heads. Darth Sidious, Darth Maul's master, is the same person as Palpatine. Senator Palpatine is really the Sith Lord we see in the Old Trilogy who we all know as "The Emperor." If you figure this out, then suddenly the plot becomes much more interesting. What is going on is that Palpatine eventually becomes the Emperor and creates an evil Empire by rising up in political power. He does so by deceit and manipulation. And what a better way of doing this then by playing both the good side and the bad like pawns in a chess game, setting each piece where he wants in order to eventually be elected Chancellor, which in turn will enable him to backstab the Jedi and the Republic however he pleases. He then will declare himself Emperor and develop the evil Empire that we see in full effect in the original trilogy.
So why is this a dumb plot? I think it's done well. All along, it's Palpatine who's manipulating everything that's going on in the movie, and no one knows it. And because of his manipulations, he becomes elected chancellor by the end of the movie. In The Phantom Menace, the bad guy wins, and no one knows it. I think that's awesome. And this is a perfect set up for what's yet to come.
Oh, and for that idiot who said the Trade Federation was the Phantom Menace, think again. Senator Palpatine a.k.a. Darth Sidious is The Phantom Menace. Just look at all that he's done in the shadows. He's the biggest menace of them all, with all his deceit and manipulation that went completely over peoples' heads. And Lucasfilm has confirmed that he's The Phantom Menace anyways. The title of this movie was named after the main character - PalpatineSidious(the future Emperor).
7) Darth Maul - People thought that it was just stupid that he was only in the movie for like 10 minutes. I don't. He's a throw away character. Sure, Lucas could've written it some other way so that Maul had more screen time. But why is the way he wrote it a bad thing? I look at Maul as I do Boba Fett - a cool, but insignificant character. The fact that he got killed was only to stress the fact that the Sith work in pairs, and that because he's killed, Sidious will automatically search for another sith apprentice. In Episode II, he'll have another one, and then heshe will be killed as well. So gee, can you guess who'll finally become Palpatine's apprentice?
Sure, Lucas could've written it so that Maul lasts through Episode II, and had more screen time in Episode I, but it's not necessary. It works just as well, if not better, the way Lucas has written it. And in the end, it stresses that SidiousPalpatine really is the main villain.
All in all, I think Lucas, and the people at Lucasfilm did a good job at making this beginning chapter of the Star Wars saga a good movie. I mean, when one opens a six chapter book, and reads the first chapter, and then reads the end, it makes the first chapter look dull. When people first saw the Old Trilogy, they were thrown into this galactic battle of a rebellion against a massive evil Empire. Everything is already established. However, with Episode I, these things haven't happened yet, therefore it makes it appear less exciting. But is any first chapter of a book more exciting than the climax(episodes IV-VI)? I don't think so. Even so, The Phantom Menace still seemed as intriguing to me as any Old Trilogy movie. It's just that it's the beginning, and so it's not just about good VS evil like the other ones, but HOW the good and evil came to be. And THAT, to me was interesting. Episode I was only meant to set us up for the next two movies, and to introduce the characters. Nothing more. And one should not expect anything more than that when watching this movie.
As for the things like the special effects, the acting, etc., it's merely subjective. In fact, the whole subject of whether or not TPM was a good Star Wars movie depends on the individual. It's just that some things such as the things I listed above, are inexcusable. The people who have a problem with the 7 things I listed above just have a serious problem with themselves.
No, I'm not a Lucas or Star Wars gusher. I merely think that in this case, Lucas did a good job with the introduction to the biggest Sci-fi saga of all time.
Review by dgeer80 from the Internet Movie Database.