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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 25 October 2015
The rating here is largely driven by the extra's contained within the DVD which are extremely comprehensive, evidence of a DVD that was released during the heyday of this format. In short, you don't get DVD releases containing documentaries of this nature anymore. You have the hour long 'The Beginning' documentary which makes owning this flawed and largely much derided movie worth your while. There are also all the making of web documentaries that came out, 12 in total I believe. Of course, none of this was carried over onto the Blu Ray saga set release of a few years back thereby making this DVD somewhat essential for those wanting to know what exactly was going through Lucas head when he set out to make the prequel trilogy.

In fact, the making of this movie proves more interesting than the movie itself which although a visual feat (at the time), is now seen as somewhat over-egged and cartoonish by today's standards, largely owing to Lucas creative choices driving the series far into childish territory. Dialogue that often falls flat driven by flat performances, and inclusion of the Jar Jar Binks character that your 5 year old might chuckle at whilst 99% of the rest of Lucas audience groans. All three DVD releases for Star Wars prequels had similarly comprehensive hour long documentaries, but I remember the one included here for Phantom Menace as being very insightful and re-watchable for the Star Wars enthusiast.
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on 27 December 2015
After watching Star Wars 7, I thought I'd re watch Star Wars1, where it all began and all that.

The general feeling this was the weakest of the 7 films so far, and for the first hour or so, Id have to agree, all the pod racing stuff and general shuffling around the desert planet was a little boring, but for true hard core fans, I had no real trouble with this at all.

Star Wars 4 has lots of shuffling around the very same desert planet, it's just we're so spoilt and used to aliens and distant worlds, it hasn't the same punch for the 21st century audience as say Star Wars 4 had in the 70's.

The film really comes alive in the final third of the film, Darth Maul makes Vader and Kylo look like shy public schoolboys , what a wasted character. It would have been far more interesting to delve deeper into this character, where he came from, how he became drawn into the dark side.- He's criminally underused.

Secondly in the absence of Darth Maul being given a more central role, the film has no real central bad guy, its lop sided. We have lots of good guys, Darth Vader Junior is a good clean cut kid, and zero romance. The humour by the much maligned Jar Jar is slapstick, but there are no jokes or funny lines like Star Wars 4 to 7. And un-like 4 to 7 we have no Hans Solo type character- a lovable shady character who's not pure as the driven snow and sworn to the rebels or republic or whatever...

The final duel and space battle scenes and the Queen assault on the palace have all the magic of the old films, but its distracted by the slap stick of JarJar's battle with the droids, which is all pure CGI and reduces the thing to watching Play Station.

True hardcore fans wont hate this film, but the average viewer wont love it either
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on 28 June 2016
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Just watched the Phantom Menace on Blu-ray, and WOW!! this was just pure class, the sound and picture quality was just awesome, but this is the only positive thing I can say about this dire awful terrible film. For me this has to be the biggest disappointment in film history.

The young lad(Anakin Skywalker) was awful, a new born baby could act better than him, plus ja ja binks has to be the worst sci-fi character in the history of films, he is in it from the eleventh minute, and he just spoils the whole film, plus he is in every big fight scene at the end, which was very annoying because it looked great and should of been a classic battle.

The sad fact about this film, its more appealing to children under the age of ten. Awful film, and a disgrace to the star wars series.
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VINE VOICEon 2 December 2014
The Phantom Menace is probably one of the most divisive films ever made. Generally hated by Stars Wars/ Sci Fi fans and critics alike, although a stonking hit worldwide, Phantom had a lot to live up to and it is generally accepted that it didn’t cut the mustard.

The first nail in its coffin was that meaningless title. What on earth was Lucas thinking of? The fans, at least all the ones I knew, hated it and the first alarm bells started to ring well before the release date. When the film eventually arrived, we were presented with the horribly irritating digital character Jar Jar Binks, Ewan McGregor’s strained accent, embarrassingly bad dialogue, especially for young Anakin, over reliance on CGI sets, uninspiring direction from Lucas and a wordy leaden script. Fans were extremely vocal in their initial appraisal that Phantom was a complete and utter mess for its full 130 minutes.

However although I agree with most of the above, Phantom is no mess. Imperfect and disappointing it may be but there is much to enjoy. Many have doggedly concentrated on the negative and will not even acknowledge the positives plainly on show.

Phantom is firmly set in a recognisable Star Wars universe and looks very handsome; the production design and overall look are in keeping with what was expected, the music by John Williams is right up there with his best, Duel of the fates being rousing and exiting in the same measure. The POD race, scorned by many, is a marvel of sound design in itself. The special effects are very handsome and convincing if not exactly mind-blowing. The acting by Neeson, McGregor, and Portman are generally very good if hampered by stiff dialogue on occasion. And who cannot like that fabulous double ended Light Sabre.

So to sum up Phantom Menace is not very good, but it’s not very bad either. The overall film is definitely a disappointment after a 16 year wait, but is not the total disaster many insist it is. If I had to give it a mark out of 10 I’d give it 6.5.

If you’re a big fan of the original trilogy, and a film purist, then you probably have your view on Phantom already carved on a stone tablet for easy reference somewhere. However if you are not a purist and accept that Star Wars is not a listed building or a protected ancient monument, you can enjoy it for what it is; a Star Wars movie made 16 years after the last one. The world has changed and so has the franchise. Even if its not for the better.

Knocking the prequels is a bit of a national sport for diehard fans and I’m positive they absolutely love doing it, because I know quite a few. Shoring up and projecting, to others, your original trilogy credentials are more important to some, than accepting and enjoying the less successful prequels. Many also seem to think that accepting the prequels as Star Wars movies in some way reflects badly on the originals and is also in some odd way disrespectful. Nothing of course could be further from the truth. The real truth is all 6 are fully fledged Star Wars films, some more successful than others.
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on 9 August 2002
I have to say that Episode I was slightly disappointing...but only slightly. The special effects are amazing, the battle outside Naboo being one of the best, and the lightsaber fight between Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul is, put simply, AMAZING.
Most people I've spoken to find Jar Jar extremely irritating. I can never understand why: he adds a comic aspect that, given the slightly bad plot, is very welcome. He does get a bit annoying at times, but he's still very funny to watch.
Only one major gripe: THEY CUT SOME OF THE BEST BITS OUT!
When you watch some of the deleted scenes, and read the novel, you'll see what I mean.
The music, as usual, is unfaultable. "Duel of The Fates" has to be one of the best pieces of music in the film.
As for the plot...well, it fades in places that it shouldn't. For example, in the fights involving the Naboo and the Battle Droids...well, they don't really seem that worried about being shot at, especially not Padme Amidala, which is slightly worrying.
Nevertheless, Episode I is a worthy beginning for the Star Wars saga, and well worth viewing.
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With the new release - 'The Force Awakens' set to break box-office records...thought it about time i actually watched
the series in the order intended.
'Star-Wars' is almost certainly the most revered Sci-Fi Movie-Series of all time.
Though i've owned all the Blu-ray versions since there release i have not re-watched the original series in this format
despite owning it, though i have watched the three prequels in the HD format.
Always meant to watch the six in it's correct order guess i've been a little wary of doing so because the prequels having
been filmed somewhat later benefit from superior special-effects, however, the release of the Seventh has given me the
inspiration to take the journey in the correct here we go -
Jedi Knight 'Qui-Gon Jinn' (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' (Ewan McGregor) save Senator 'Padme'
(Natalie Portman) from the advancing Federation forces stealing a ship to escape, after encountering hostile fire during
their escape from Naboo the ship has suffered damage and is in need of repair.
They stop off at Tatooine where they must negotiate with a trader to acquire the parts they need to continue however
they have no money and the credit offered by 'Qui-Gon Jinn' is of no value.
A young slave 'Anakin Skywalker' (Jake Lloyd) an extremely talented youngster who is not yet aware of his destiny offers
to exploit his masters greed and weakness for gambling by taking part in a race to help get the parts needed for 'Qui-Gon'
and his passengers to continue on their way.
The Jedi Knight see's great potential in the the young 'Anakin' and makes his freedom a part of the deal.....
Now with the youngster along they continue their journey to seek help for Naboo from the republic, 'Senator Padme's''
plea for help is rejected, in the face of this she determines that she must return to her people to face impossible odds,
with 'Qui-Gon' 'Obi-Wan' and 'Skywalker' by her side she will ave to form an unlikely alliance to fight the Federation and
their army of Droids.
With many great battle and fight sequences along the way coupled with many colourful and unusual characters many
of whom become an integral part of what is yet to come, this is an imaginative movie series that like myself many will
want to re-explore ahead of the Blu-ray / DVD release of the Seventh-Film hopefully not too deep into next year (2016)
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on 7 July 2008
This absolute mare of a film with be 10 years old next year. And guess what? Time hasn't been kind to this boring, insulting film, and complete and total disappointment.

George Lucas should have been brave enough to hand the reigns over to the likes of Frank Darabont and David Fincher to direct what should have been a dark, depressing journey all the way to the dark side of the Force. It should have been thrilling, amazing, and awe-inspiring. Instead it was trill, mediocre, and bloody awful.
He's directed one good film - back in 1977 - what idiot thought he could deliver a trilogy of real quality in this day and age? Well, with the chief yes-man Rick Mcallum on board to ensure this dated, patronising, twee vision actually made it to the screen, I guess we were in deepest. darkest committee hell. Remember - a room of professional, mature, articulate, creative adults, would have met on numerous occasions and discussed the introduction of Jar Jar Binks as being a good idea for the film. They would have discussed design sketches, discussed accents, and then, weirdly, amazingly, decided on something that they ALL agreed would benefit the film.

The story (if you could call it that) was devoid of any kind of excitement and plot development, and the casting of Anakin Skywalker brought to light two of world's worst wooden actors. Again, what were they thinking? And why make him the focus - the original three films had a real characters with many different threads to the story. Little brat turns to teenage brat then goes bad - what should have been an epic, sad, terrible journey to the dark side of the human psyche was handled with all the panache of a 6th form film student.

Then there's all the obvious insulting plot holes that make you think that the film was directed by someone who was brought in at the last minute having only watched the original trilogy the day before.

I'd have more respect for George Lucas if, in some weird, almighty precedent, he held his hands up and disowned the films - he could blame Mcallum, retrieve the films and give them to some directors with talent.

And the argument that the new films were aimed at a new generation of young people as the original trilogy was doesn't quite wash. I can watch any of the original trilogy as a thirty-something, whereas the new ones were insulting to even teenagers.
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on 22 May 2014
I saw the first Star Wars movie at the pictures in 1978, twice; I read the book (not great), collected the magazines and the bubblegum cards, made loads of models, and did passable imitations of both robots. Since then I've seen all the films - at the pictures again, cos a Star Wars movie is always a special occasion - and in a recent internet quiz I scored embarrassingly high marks.

None of this makes me a proper Star Wars fan, because, in spite of all the above, I really rather like this movie.

It's very solid Star Wars product - three acts of hair-raising daring-do on exotic planets, with a straightforward story of the need to stand one's ground and fight one's corner, with goodies and baddies clearly defined, even if the crux of the matter is a touch abstruse. Taxation of trade routes? Just tell me how that works? No, OK, you needn't...

And the bad guys are quite properly repulsive and cowardly, and it's obvious why the viceroy needs a droid army - it's cos if someone punched him on the nose he'd run off crying - that'll also be why he doesn't have a nose. He's quite clearly terribly scared of Darth Sidious - and he's only a hologram. (Those costumes and the voices do make them seem rather Oriental; I do wonder if that is such a good idea, it could be mis-interpreted by people apt to grab the wrong end of a stick) I am prepared to believe that Battle Droids are dangerous to ordinary people and that it's only when hit by Jedi that they fall to bits in a pile of coat hangers and cutlery - mind you, those Droidekas are the business - I'll take two.

Some people bitch about the acting in this. There is nothing wrong with any of the performances, incuding that being given by a ten year old. Obviously Liam Neeson is head and shoulders over the rest, and maybe that is also what he uses on his hair, and makes him look so like John the Baptist - which is basically Qui-Gon's role in this. Brian Blessed is big and shouty, and Ian McDiarmid is as smooth as oiled silk. Queen Amidala travels halfway across the galaxy, and all she does when she gets there is make a speech in the visually splendid Senate, and go home in disgust. If only she'd stayed home, Darth Vader would never have happened.

I think it's very neat that the name Obi Wan Kenobi doesn't get mentioned until about halfway through the film.

In the old days before the Empire, there were more silly-looking creatures in the universe - that's the only explanation I can think of as I put up with some of the daft-looking things in, for example, the pod race, or the daft-looking thing commentating it, and I wonder, open-mouthed at any culture whereby a man could rise to the rank of Lord Chamberlain while being called Sio Bibble, and I wish, how I wish, that Jar Jar Binks was not in this.

It's like Jerry Lewis designed a Hanna Barbera version of Huggy Bear (off Starsky and Hutch) and then nobody ever punched it in the face - and I cannot understand why because, although Jar Jar is clearly supposed to be an adorable dim-witted klutz, he's actually very, very annoying. It's plain to see why the Gungans kicked him out (though they too look a bit HB) so why they ever thought to make him Bombard General is quite beyond me - though you can see why he later did so well in politics - there's a mayor in London at the moment, who doesn't look quite as clever as Jar Jar Binks.

And if it is aerodynamically impossible for bumble bees to fly, can somebody please explain to me how Watto can possibly get his fat bottom off the ground? And he also looks a bit daft. I've just had to check Wikipedia to find out the name of the ethnic group he is supposed to be an insulting parody of - apparently it is the Jewish stereotype - just credible, I suppose. I wonder how Mr Lucas can look Mr Speilberg in the face these days.

The other bit I can't swallow is little Anikan making C-3PO in his bedroom; quite apart from it being contrived (and quite badly too) the 'to help Mom' bit is cutesy and schmaltzy and there are laws against that.

Having said all that, I do like this movie - it's visually gorgeous, and the three worlds are beautifully realised, and I like Darth Maul, and I like those huge transports the Battle Droids ride in, and I like the ending with the villainous Palpatine keeping very quiet. I think this is a good movie.

But obviously, I'm not a proper Star Wars fan.
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on 8 October 2001
It's not that Phantom Menace is a bad movie, far from it, but then any franchise that waits 22 years between chapters is going to suffer. It also didn't help Episode One's cause that it was a prequel. It serves as an explanation exercise into characters and events that have already been well presented the audience with little in the way of originality and invention. Indeed, the fact that Darth Maul...the films big selling point...only amasses a handful of screen minutes and is despatched to Sith heaven all too quickly seems testament to the fact that George Lucas has money to burn.
In 1977, with a meagre budget and considerable studio restrictions, Lucas created a small sci-fi movie that captured the hearts of millions. Myself included. But now, after the original Star Wars trilogy has been immortalised in cinematic history and it's profits firmly bulging Lucas's bank account....there are no restrictions or money considerations to be adhered to.
Phantom Menace...and the entire Star Wars George Lucas's baby, but with the cash coming from his own pocket he was free to do what he wanted. This lack of restriction seems to have ruined an otherwise golden opportunity to give us what WE all wanted...More of the same!
Phantom Menace is a movie of clean, dazzling effects, a movie of composite digital flare that leaves all in it's wake gagging in envy. It's a movie of dynamic design that HAS stood the test of time whilst alsorans strive to recreate it's undeniable power and attention to detail. It's a movie filled with references to characters that we know and strikes a note within anyone who's ever been absorbed by the Star Wars phenomenon....BUT!
It's a movie of hollow, empty acting. It's a movie of idiotic religious leanings. It's a movie of missed opportunites and wasted set pieces...constantly cutting away from the light-sabre fight at the movie's climax is unforgivable. It's a movie that peaks an hour before it's end, the Pod Race is the ONLY nod towards the style and passion that we all know Lucas is capable of. It's a movie bursting at the "scenes" with Jar Jar Binks...If Mr. Lucas truly cared about US and what we want from these movies he would do away with this debacle of a character forthwith. Feedback came in torrents of negative response but he's moved not a jot. Perhaps a studio snapping at his heals would have seen Jar Jar consigned to digital hell, but as I said before...control is solely in the hands of Lucas. End of argument.
I didn't hate Phantom Menace but it IS the weakest of the four movies. A 22 year wait, a fan-based longing and a critical chomping-at-the-bit could never be overcome...not even without Binks.
A serious case of style over substance. I await the hate mail with a sense of dread.
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