Movie ReviewsStar WarsBeginning of The End? Vol. 1 (Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace Review)

Keith NoakesDecember 11, 2015

With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Friday, December 18th, I thought I would take a look back at all of the previous movies from the beginning starting with the prequels and then the original trilogy. Try to ignore this, or not while watching the prequels. I’ll probably be treading through familiar territory with most people as well.

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is a young apprentice Jedi knight under the tutelage of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), who will later father Luke Skywalker and become known as Darth Vader, is just a 9-year-old boy. When the Trade Federation cuts off all routes to the planet Naboo, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are assigned to settle the matter.

This isn’t quite what started it all since this is the first of three prequel films to the earlier films in the late 70s to early 80s but it kind of did as it began to set up the story as it led to those earlier films. For those who don’t know the story (essentially those who probably weren’t alive), Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn (Neeson) and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor) find themselves caught in a crisis between the planet Naboo and the Trade Federation. Meanwhile they come across a young slave boy from Tatooine named Anakin Skywalker (Lloyd) who Qui-Gon senses that he may be the “Chosen One”. We all know where this leads but that’s a conversation for another time. So the plot for this film was rather simple and this took the forefront here as the crisis and other events were secondary to this. The film’s pacing is one of the things I didn’t like here as it started with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan right in the middle of things with them attempting their mission. I would have liked some setup to that. Also because of that, I found myself a little bored at certain moments. It seemed like the film had either a lot going on or nothing at all and I would have liked if it eased us a little better between each. I know this is a fantastical, big-budget, sci-fi film but not everything had to be CGI/fake as I found it often took away from the film. The action in this film was good but I just would have liked to have seen more of it (I know there’s going to be more). The few events which stood out for me were the pod race featuring Anakin, a big (yet short) war scene, and a lightsaber (I’m not going to explain what those are) battle between a sith known as Darth Maul (Peter Serafinowicz), Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. So there were some good things about this film but I just think it could have done a little better. What didn’t help was Lloyd’s performance as Anakin Skywalker. I don’t think it was his fault because I think they cast someone too young and I think his character wasn’t properly written. I think Lloyd just seemed out of place among everything and was just annoying to me so it was hard for me to fathom what he would later become (conversation for another time). Neeson and McGregor were okay but just their dialogue as well as others’ just came off as cheesy to me. It was still nice to see all of the “Star Wars-y” stuff and hear the awesome John Williams music but those just canèt cover up this mess. Overall, I donèt think that this is as bad as a lot of people make it out to be but I do think it could have been better.

Score: 6/10

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