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Review Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999): Vastly underrated!

genre: action, adventure, science fiction

The Phantom Menace was and still is one of the Star Wars films I can watch with a lot of enjoyment and pleasure. Was it maybe too ambitious for it's own good? Yes. Was it flawed? Yes. But does that automatically make this a bad film? No.

Any film that I can watch multiple times with the same kind of investment and excitement is a good one. The Phantom Menace certainly has a lot of redeeming elements that make it memorable and classic. Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn is awesome. He doesn't hesitate to break rules and defy the Jedi Council to do what is right. For him all lives matter and he doesn't feel superior to others. And yet he is someone a lot of people would want to follow willingly because of his natural leadership. No matter how tough it gets he keeps calm and composed. One of the most kick ass lightsaber battles in Star Wars Universe. Darth Maul versus Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn. Not only is it a good example of what can be done with good choreography but it also demonstrates how you can make it more dramatic with the right context and excellent soundtrack. Another good element is the pod race. It holds up quite well and is just as exciting as it was the first time I watched it. Anakin Skywalker wasn't joking when he was saying he was a good pilot. Any other person would have died twenty times over. Speaking of Anakin. Jake Lloyd is doing a fine job as young Anakin. And that is coming from me who can't stand most child actors. Could his acting been better? Of course but let's be real here. He isn't supposed to play Shakespeare. There seem to be a lot of people who weren't happy with the decision of George Lucas to have Anakin portrayed as kid. I on the other hand think it's quite essential. Because Ani at this point is innocent and good. He only gets judged harshly because of what he might do in the future. You can't hold him responsible for that. Besides the future is always in motion so the reluctance of the Jedi Council is unwarranted if you ask me. Yes I am aware what the real future is and that the predictions did come true. But do you realize that had the Jedi Council let Qui-Gon train Anakin he might not have turned out the way he did?

What about the story? I must admit that even today the whole trade dispute is a little confusing. But I appreciate what Lucas was trying to do. He is giving an example of how it was possible for Darth Sidious to use this dispute to his advantage and gain power. It is very reminiscent of how many political leaders in the world have been able to get at the top. How does Jar Jar Binks tie into all of this? Surprisingly his role is quite significant. If it weren't for him then Queen Amidala probably would have never reached out to the Gungans and would have lost the war. Do I think he is annoying? Well, I do think that George Lucas went a little overboard with the goofy antics. But to be honest Binks does make me laugh. More than that he made me cringe.

Overall I do think that The Phantom Menace is vastly underrated. At least George Lucas tried to give us new things and expand the Star Wars Universe. More importantly we are shown an Anakin Skywalker who is pure, selfless and heroic. The very opposite of what he will become in the future.

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