Star Wars - Episode I, The Phantom Menace [VHS]
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"I have a bad feeling about this," says the young Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Ewan McGregor) in Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace as he steps off a spaceship and into the most anticipated cinematic event... well, ever. He might as well be speaking for the legions of fans of the original episodes in the Star Wars saga who can't help but secretly ask themselves: Sure, this is Star Wars, but is it my Star Wars? The original elevated moviegoers' expectations so high that it would have been impossible for any subsequent film to meet them. And as with all the Star Wars movies, The Phantom Menace features inexplicable plot twists, a fistful of loose threads, and some cheek-chewing dialogue. Han Solo's swagger is sorely missed, as is the pervading menace of heavy-breathing Darth Vader. There is still way too much quasi-mystical mumbo jumbo, and some of what was fresh about Star Wars 22 years earlier feels formulaic. Yet there's much to admire. The special effects are stupendous; three worlds are populated with a m¨¦lange of creatures, flora, and horizons rendered in absolute detail. The action and battle scenes are breathtaking in their complexity. And one particular sequence of the film--the adrenaline-infused pod race through the Tatooine desert--makes the chariot race in Ben-Hur look like a Sunday stroll through the park.

Among the host of new characters, there are a few familiar walk-ons. We witness the first meeting between R2-D2 and C-3PO, Jabba the Hutt looks younger and slimmer (but not young and slim), and Yoda is as crabby as ever. Natalie Portman's stately Queen Amidala sports hairdos that make Princess Leia look dowdy and wields a mean laser. We never bond with Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), and Obi-Wan's day is yet to come. Jar Jar Binks, a cross between a Muppet, a frog, and a hippie, provides many of the movie's lighter moments, while Sith Lord Darth Maul is a formidable force. Baby-faced Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) looks too young and innocent to command the powers of the Force or wield a lightsaber (much less transmute into the future Darth Vader), but his boyish exuberance wins over skeptics.

Near the end of the movie, Palpatine, the new leader of the Republic, may be speaking for fans eagerly awaiting Episode II when he pats young Anakin on the head and says, "We will watch your career with great interest." Indeed! --Tod Nelson

Customer Reviews:

  • Best Movie Ever! Muy Muy I love you!
    Okay, Ja Ja Binks here, and Ima gonna be reviewing dis here movie, Star Wars Episode 1, da Phantom Menace!

    Now first of all, mesa kinda biased with dis one, mmm hhmm! Know why? Cause itsa be starin me! Ja Ja Binks! Dis defintiley be bein da best outta all da Star Wars films. First, da Jedi be fightin the Trade Federation who looka like Chinamen, Den, dy fly to Naboo where dey meet me, Ja Ja Binks! And when dey me in trouble, mesa come along to rescude dem! Deysa about to be sentenced to prison by our maxibig leader, but mesa defend dem and we are all allowed to leave and go on adventures. Uh huh!

    Da Jedi be goin to da desert land of Tattooine, and here dey meet da young ANakin Skywalker. I thinkin it bein a good idea to brign himin alongin, sos I talk da Jedi into takin him along. While dis is going on, I help da young Anakin win a pod race so we can free all the slaves on da planet.

    Now meesa go back to Naboo and be leadin our army to war against the TRade Fedaeratiobn. And deysa havin all robats, but we having our Gungan bombad genreals, and our sheieldsenm, and our giant lizard things! Deysa can't win against all datin!

    Sos once I save da day dere, mesa become decorated war hero and beocme a maxibig senator for the da people of Naboo. Uh huh!

    dis is bein da best of all da star wars films, and if you a beein seein just one, you be makin sure you be seein dis one.

    Oh yeah, after I retire from bein senator I retire and become inportant journalist and Gungan movie reviewer on Amazon!
    [...]...more info
  • Use The English Subtitles - It Will Help Make The Movie Better
    I believe George Lucas said he was inspired by the chariot race in the 1959 epic Ben-Hur, and thought of it often when he staged the big pod race scene in this movie.

    So, when I watched the film again the other day, the third or fourth time I've seen it, I kept looking for comparisons. Well, suffice to say nothing will surpass that chariot race, which had no benefit of any special-effects while this was almost all computer-generated. Nevertheless, the pod race in here was a lot of fun to watch, had excellent surround sound, was exciting and the highlight of the film. Oddly, in this movie instead of a man you have a small boy as the good guy- driver, so to speak. Young Jake Lloyd who plays "Anakin Skywalker." He's the key character in this Star Wars saga, the boy who later becomes the father to Luke Skywalker and winds up being revealed as Darth Vader. But....this is long before that

    This movie, the first Star Wars movie after a long hiatus (16-years) disappointed a lot of fans but I thought it was entertaining overall. My main complaint was trying to understand "Jar Jar Binks," but on the DVD I can use English subtitles and thus understand all the strange things he says with his Caribbean accent. It makes the movie more enjoyable and I strongly recommend doing that.

    As usual, there is a ton of astounding visuals in here, all kinds of strange characters and excellent "effects." Yes, the action gets hokey in spots, especially near the end, but what modern-day action film doesn't?

    People who are really "into" this Star Wars saga, and take it seriously, were, as mentioned generally let down with this movie. I guess they expected a lot more after waiting so long for the next installment. I just watch it for the enjoyment of an escapist film and as someone who usually enjoys good visuals. I repeat: put on the "English subtitles." That helped a lot, believe me.

    ...more info
  • My son loves it.
    My five year old son is a huge Star Wars fan. We have watched this DVD many times and he never gets tired of it....more info
  • A Fun Movie
    Star Wars - Episode I, The Phantom Menace, takes us to the beginning of this tremendous saga. Clearly this movie is very polarizing. There seems to be a lack of any middle ground, which is a bit ludicrous, I think. This movie had numerous memorable characters and a few rather forgettable ones.

    The good:

    Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
    Natalie Portman as Padme
    Scenes with Darth Maul
    A young Yoda... well, younger anyway.
    The visual aspects of the film are generally excellent.

    The Bad:

    Jar Jar
    Some of the scenes felt a tad bloated.
    I would have liked a bit more action.

    All in all this was a very good movie that did not live up to the hype. However, there was no way this movie was going to live up to its hype. I enjoyed the film for what it is and was, a fun flick that introduced new characters to a wonderful genre of its own... Star Wars....more info
  • Exactly what they said
    The Star Wars Episode 1 dvd was in gerat shape. The cover had very slight wear and tear but also in good condition. My overall interaction with this seller was great. Great!

    Thanks!...more info
  • "Feel, Don't Think, Use Your Instincts"
    Ok, so now the three part saga has become a six part extravaganza with the '99 release of `Star Wars - The Phantom Menace'. And just when I was about to forgive George Lucas for inventing those ridiculous Ewoks in `Return of the Jedi' he goes even further into the realm of the absurd with the creation of Jar-Jar Binks (You're not a Jedi George, you've already shown us you can't trust your instincts so think before you create).

    The special effects definitely continue to improve with each new adventure and getting the Jedi more involved is a big plus. The sinister looking Sith Darth Maul is also a wonderful addition to the 'Star Wars' mythos. Though initially pleased to see the Order of the Jedi play a much larger role in the storyline, unfortunately the "words of wisdom" dispensed by the members of this Order of mystical warriors now comes across as shallow and pretentious, not profound as it had in the earlier films. Yes even with the return of a younger Yoda (since the new films chronologically pre-date the original trilogy) the lessons of the Jedi have lost their potency.

    When all is said and done the big question that still puzzles me is why does Lucas continue to populate the screen with so many cartoon looking characters that ruin the Star Wars experience for any fan above the age of twelve? Evidently he's seeking an ever younger audience.

    My Rating: -3 1/2 Stars-....more info
  • MST3K Fans Rejoice -- Rifftrax is Here!
    Of all the many Binks in the world, who is the most skull-crushingly annoying? Is it the Binks Company, the Canadian insurance brokers? Is it the U.S. manufacturers of spray guns, paint booths, and electrostatic spray equipment? Or is Jar Jar, the mouthy horse-lizard from the 4th Star Wars movie, appropriately titled Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace? If you said anything but number three, you are imprisonably insane! That's right, Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy take on the franchise-ruining Star Wars that everybody loves to hate but nobody loves to watch! Only we make you want to watch it again, and laugh instead of kill! Finally, Jar Jar gets what he deserves!
    ...more info
  • Not Much To See Here....Move Along
    The sad truth dawned on all of us watching Phantom Menace that this movie made Return of the Jedi look like Taxi Driver. With nothing but emotionless dialogue, bad acting from star Jake Lloyd and LONG gaps without any action Phantom pushes your patience. Add to that the tornado of annoyance that is Jar Jar Binks, and you have the weakest Star Wars movie in the saga. The menacing presence of Darth Maul is the only saving grace here, and the lightsaber duel is pretty impressive in it's own right. But the rest of the films flaws are just to much to suffer through. Kids will love it and it's great for introducing real young ones to the franchise, but otherwise just stick with the SW movies with Darth Vader on the cover. ...more info
  • Bad shipping
    This item still has not arrived after almost three weeks. I have emailed Amazon but have not heard back from them. ...more info
  • what was george thinking!
    totally confusing. amidala has clones and talks like a man. jar jar binks is here to make the kids watch. darth maul a pathetic jedi attempt. anakin is a kid??? wth! i want to see him with a lightsaber not racing cars....more info
  • Good Movie
    It took a bit longer to get it than I expected, but it's a great movie....more info
  • Star Wars Episode I, The Phantom Menace
    Though it is not the first Star Wars film in many peoples minds, it is in mine. Here's my review for Star Wars Episode I, The Phantom Menace.

    The Phantom Menace does not try to be anything it isn't, the film is overshadowed by the creepy, elusive, and demonically tattooed Darth Maul, that will scare the crap out of kids who have come to see something along the lines of Harry Potter. The ending battle is not overblown, and it also ends up being fairly fun to watch.

    Besides some weak acting the only prominent error in the film resides in one name.

    Jar Jar Binks

    This stupid and irritating characters next to destroys every scene he's in, with his crontroversial manner of doing things (which some seem to believe is a Jamaican steretype, which might very well be true), his stupid way of talking and his clownish appearance he succeeds in irritating the audience to death.

    Besides this major flaw, this is a fun movie that I recommend, and a good start to a very good sci-fi epic....more info
  • It's not my favorite, but still very enjoyable.
    It's not my favorite, but still very enjoyable.

    I enjoyed 'Star Wars' (a.k.a. Star Wars IV: A new hope) when it came out and I was 7 yrs old and I still love all the Star Wars Movies today. My son has loved all the Star Wars movies as well...more info
  • This Is The Worst of the 6 ... But Still Star Wars Is Still Fantastic
    Why have I waited Till August of 2008 to rate the 3 Prequils? Because I am sick and tired of Everyone who THINKS they are a Star Wars Critic or Fan,Bashing Star Wars and George Lucas. Now to the Review.. Ok I admit Episode I was the Weakest of the 6 Films, but for a reason. If you are Looking at each film Individually then you are cheating yourself. George set out to do what he always wanted to do, tell the story of.... Not Darth Vader, But Anakin Skywalker. To do that you have to go to the Beginning. His Youth. AS a Slave Boy, What molded him? What led the Jedi to him? If all you are Looking for is an Action Thriller Movie you are in the Wrong Place. Yes Jar Jar was Silly, Yes In Fact Dumb. But Take Him for what he is "an Idiot" Used Almost Exclusively for Episode I. However The Plot lines and the Story are what were important in the Prequels. Obviously Special Effects are going to rule any Star Wars Movie. as they do in all 6. Darth Maul Everyone Says was so Cool they should have kept him around. All I hear is He was "too cool to Kill Off" and I say " He Really was Cool, But he Served his Purpose. His Character needed to Be killed off ....For the STORY" and as George always says "Story First" Next. Liam Neason as Qui-Gon GIn was Essential and The Overall Story was Pivotal AS a Beginning To (NOt Darth Vader) but Anakin's Origin's . WE See his Incredible ability to Love.(Which Will lead To his Ability to Hate). WE see His Intuition with the Force, the POdrace and the Space battle were all controlled by the force(and Darth Sidious) Nothing will happen to his prize. The Movies make Sense the more you read into them.
    Why were they not as successful as the Original Trilogy? People Come up with a Million and one Excuses. The real reason is The Original Trilogy - Nobody EVER saw anything like that before. A Million Movies came out since, each one outdoing the next, people got Spoiled. Now Star Wars When the Bar was set so high- Nothing could have met the expectations people had. So when 3 Great movies came out each one better then the last, people who were already Spoiled weren't getting the Undeliverable Movie they wanted. They were let down."What it isn't better then Perfect?" That is the Reason....more info
  • the child, Anakin Skywalker
    This is a decent movie. it could have been better on a lot of levels but it is definitely a good movie to check out. If you're looking for A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, or Return of the Jedi, this ain't it.

    It's a different movie. Not as action packed as those but definitely worth a look. I actually prefer this to Attack of the Clones, mostly because of Hayden Christensen, Jar Jar Binks is an annoyance but you'll learn to live with it. If he didn't talk as much it'd be a very good movie.

    Alas, I still recommend this movie. The DVD is great. A commentary from George and others and a few features on the second disc make it all the worthwhile. The deleted scenes are a must watch. Definitely for the fans. If you aren't a fan, you won't appreciate it as much....more info
    THANKS....more info
  • A must see
    I love this movie because its a way to make sure you can connect all the dots about the movie. I love how all the Star Wars movies come together and still make sense from the first movies made....more info
  • What was the point of this, George?
    I remember when this film came out, I kept putting off seeing it. And putting it off, and off. Then it came out on video, and I finally rented it. I think I was putting it off because I instinctively knew it was going to be awful, and I was right. It is one of the dullest, most atrociously acted films I've ever seen. The acting was stody and boring, and considering the acting talent involved (Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Samuel L. Jackson), you'd think Lucas could have done something spectacular with them. Alas, no. Lucas has said numerous times that he detests directing (this was the first film he's directed in over 20 years since the original Star Wars film), and his contempt for directing shows. It feels like a sonambulistic exercise, intent on putting us to sleep, and it has an overall lackadasical feel that really irks the viewer. Many who saw this were extremely disappointed because they loved the originals so much (the original 3 are far superior than this tripe). They more than likely felt a sense of obligation and loyalty to see this film and the progressively worse prequels. They grew up with the original Star Wars films, and they went away disappointed and angry at the fact the prequels were inferior in every way to the originals...

    Lucas's dialogue is wretched, his pacing is totally off, and he seems to be killing time here. There's no real enthusiasm here, in front of the camera or in back of it. Perhaps the actors picked up on the fact that Lucas didn't give a damn about his own film, so why should they? I sometimes think Lucas purposely made bad prequels so he wouldn't have to film the final 3 chapters. And why did he decide to make the prequels? If he made the 3 films that were supposed to take place after Return of the Jedi, he would have had no real creative restraints. Who knows why George Lucas does what he does? I haven't a clue, other than I really disliked this film. ...more info
  • Star Wars Loses it's Credibility
    I remember seeing this film in theatres the day it came out. I am a huge Star Wars fan, not some weirdo who dresses up in SW costumes, but someone who truly holds a special place in their heart for the original three films. After seeing this movie back when it was released, I remember being utterly dissapointed by it. I also couldn't think of another film that was single-handly ruined by one single character like this movie is. Yes, Jar Jar Binks has to be the worst character, not only in the Star Wars universe, but in any film ever! Trust me, he's that bad. He ruins the movie completely. And he's not even a minor character, he has more screen time than Obi-Wan and Darth Maul! Give me a break Lucas. This is really a kids movie, very childish in so many ways.

    I just bought the DVD's of the all three prequels the other day. They were on sale. I watched Phantom Menace last night and my thoughts are still the same. Everytime a scene would become interesting it was quickly ruined by horrible dialogue or acting, or Jar Jar would walk in. Perhaps the most intense scene of the movie, the Darth Maul/Jedi fight, if absolutely ruined by cutting the scene back to Jar Jar stumbling around.

    This movie was the biggest letdown. Yes, I was expecting a lot, but this is a really bad movie on its own, not connected to the other three films. The SFX were the only thing worth noting with this horror show. George Lucas should be ashamed of himself. This movie has a terrible plot, horrible acting, even worse dialogue, and almost NO character development. Don't waste your time.

    ...more info
  • A small review of the DVD image quality, not the movie
    After putting off this purchase for years, I finally walked to the store and got my copy. I was disappointed.

    The image was transfered from film, which makes no sense to me. It has the typical dust, scratches, overexposure and over-sharpening problems of a scan from film. I guess back in 2001 when everyone had small TVs no one noticed, but I have a 70" screen and, compared to the Episode III DVD, the image quality in this one sucks.

    I know Episode I was the last Star Wars flick shot with film instead of digital cameras, but, come on, it was edited in computers! It makes no sense to further degrade the image by transferring it from digital to film and then back to digital... unless you are planning to re-release it as a "Digitally remastered" version for the 10th anniversary (Which I hope they do, along with the HD DVD and Blu-ray versions)...more info
  • What Went Wrong -- Some Good Ideas In Search of a Movie
    Here it is -- the most maligned and controversial movie of its time; the one to receive the most ridiculously overblown hype before its release, as well as the most severe backlash afterwards; the film supposedly responsible for millions of dashed hopes, "raped childhoods", and perhaps even a suicide or two, according to all the internet gossip.

    Personally, I never thought much of either the prerelease hype or the hysterical fanboy backlash -- whatever its faults, this movie is not worth getting so upset over. There was simply no way ANY film could have lived up to the overblown expectations heaped upon this one. And those people whose lives were "ruined" or "raped" by this movie probably already had serious personal issues to begin with...

    Having said all that, the film does have its fair share of problems. I did like it when I first saw it in the theater, and I was eagerly awaiting the next chapter when I walked out. Looking back, I probably liked it more for what it COULD have been, rather than for what was actually up on the screen. The Star Wars universe is always a fun place to visit, and I think -- contrary to all the conspiracy theories -- that George Lucas meant well, and really did what he thought was best for the series at that point. There were some good IDEAS here that had potential, but Lucas unfortunately had trouble forging them into a compelling MOVIE.

    Perhaps the biggest problems stemmed from the different circumstances under which this movie was made, versus the original films. When the first Star Wars came out, Lucas had no idea whether any sequels would even be made; the film had to stand on its own merits. By contrast, Ep.I was made with the full knowledge that there would be two more films to follow; this could have unintentionally led Lucas to take more time developing his story and characters than he should have. He evidently became more concerned with foreshadowing and setting up future stories than showing a compelling one in THIS film. This resulted in a film that, unlike the originals, didn't stand too well on its own, and that depended too much on being a small part of the larger SW series for its appeal; indeed, a common complaint was that Ep.I was little more than a feature-length trailer for the rest of the prequel trilogy.

    Another problem seems to be the inverse of what plagues most movie trilogies -- many series starting out strong only to lose focus as they go on, as if their creators know how to begin their stories but not how to end them. With the SW prequel trilogy, Lucas seems to have the opposite problem; he knew how he wanted it to END (Anakin becomes Darth Vader), but not how exactly to BEGIN it. Thus this series became more focused as it progressed, but began as an unfocused mess, to this film's detriment.

    Add to this the script, which had the feel of a first draft that needed much more work before filming began. While all the other SW films dealt with large conflicts spanning the galaxy, much of Ep.I focused on small, localized events that felt more like an abstract, throwaway plot merely to introduce the characters. While I understand showing much of the developing conflicts growing out of seemingly mundane events that become larger and larger while spiralling out of control, Ep.I tended to dwell on trivial matters while rushing through others that should have been expanded upon. There was too much talking and TELLING the audience about what happened, rather than SHOWING them. Take, for instance, the invasion of Naboo; we are TOLD the Naboo people were "suffering and dying", the death toll was "catastrophic", etc., but never SHOWN this -- no raging battles, no burning buildings or civilian casualties, etc. Ditto for Anakin's life as a slave -- Lucas should have SHOWN us the brutality of slavery, with perhaps some deaths as a result, to make us FEEL Anakin's desire to leave for a better life.

    Unfortunately, it seems Lucas tried to compensate with juvenile kiddie humor. I understand that the film was supposed to convey the feel of the Republic in more "innocent" times, before the rise of the evil Empire; however, much of the humor here seems to have been mere filler, to pad and stretch out the already thin plot. Too often, Lucas went for "campy" or "silly", to the point where it practically defined the movie itself. The most obvious was Jar Jar; while his character did serve an important purpose in the film, Lucas didn't bother to make him sympathetic in the least -- there was no reason to believe the Jedi would want anything to do with him, or take him across the galaxy when he hardly "pulled his own weight", and continuously caused problems. This "campy" trend extended to other characters as well -- the rival racers in the podrace, for example, came across like cartoonish puppets, instead of menacing alien opponents like they should have. And the battle droids of the Trade Federation (the overt antagonists of the film) seemed not only weak but simply too silly-looking to make effective villains. (The droidekas fared better in this regard; maybe a droid army composed of bipedal versions of these machines would have made a more convincing threat.)

    Nonetheless, Ep.I DID have some good points, with flashes of that old "Star Wars magic", as it were. There were some good set pieces, like the stately palaces on Naboo and the mythic grandeur of Coruscant, especially the Jedi Temple and Galactic Senate chambers. Early on, the approach to the underwater city of the Gungans managed to evoke a sense of wonder similar to the Emerald City in "The Wizard of Oz"; the attacks of the giant underwater monsters were impressive, also.

    As for the heroes, Liam Neeson's Qui-Gon Jinn was one of the film's saving graces. I found him to be the most likeable character in the movie, and I truly felt for him at the end. Ewan McGregor did a decent job as Obi-Wan, though he had little to do. Pernilla August was also convincing in her small role as Anakin's mother. As for the much-maligned Jake Lloyd, I could take him or leave him, though he did have a couple of good moments. The scenes where Anakin parted with his mother on Tatooine, and where he was sitting alone in the spaceship with Padme, talking about how cold and lonely he was, were rather well done, capturing the mood of young Anakin as he was thrust into his strange new life.

    As the villains, Darth Maul and Darth Sidious were an effectively menacing duo that drove most of the events of the movie through their actions. The final battle between Maul and the Jedi Knights was a definite highlight. Another for me was Darth Sidious, who provided a link to the old SW mythos as a grim foreshadowing of things to come. Whenever the sinister figure of Sidious appeared on screen to deliver his orders for his evil plans via holographic transmission to the intimidated Trade Federation leaders, the sense of tension was palpable.

    After all is said and done, while I can't bring myself to truly dislike any SW film, and can appreciate the good points of this movie and what Lucas was trying to do here, it still could have been so much more. It's not a terrible film, as some say -- just a muddled, mediocre one that feels like a lost opportunity. With a more carefully constructed plot that stood better on its own, and which engaged the audience and made them care more about the outcome, it could have been far better. As it is, Ep.I will probably be remembered as the "red-headed stepchild" of the Star Wars saga, being only for series completists who will fast forward to the good parts. Fortunately, although this film started the prequel trilogy off on a sour note for many people, Lucas was able to learn from most of his mistakes, and the next two installments would be HUGE improvements over this one.
    ...more info
  • Prepare for a Loaded Review...
    Upon its release in 1999, "Star Wars: Episode 1- The Phantom Menace" was the first new addition to George Lucas'legendary cinematic franchise in sixteen years.The first in what was to become a series of three prequels relating the backstory to the original Star Wars trilogy, 'Phantom Menace' has as interesting and unique a history in the annals of film criticism as its creator, George Lucas, has had in that successful filmmaking. Nine years on, the Amazon reviews will happily attest to the fact that the film is still being attacked right and left by bitter fans whose "expectations" were bigger than their faculties for common sense, and who apparently have nothing better to do than flog a dead horse with a bent whip.
    The basic storyline of the Phantom Menace revolves around a blockade and boycott of the Planet Naboo by the Trade Federation. When Naboo is invaded, two Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn and apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, rescue the elected ruler of the planet, Queen Amidala, and take her to the capital planet of Courescant to seek legeslative intervention from the the senate of the then-thriving Galactic Republic. Along the way they come across a young boy called Anakin Skywalker, who Qui-Gon insists on taking back with him to be tested for Jedi training. In the distant background is a subplot involving characters Darth Sideous and Darth Maul, which reveals that it was in fact they--"Sith Lords" who want revenge on the Jedi for the near-extinction of their kind--who orchestrated the invasion of Naboo for their own nefarious ends.
    The only upshot of all this that viewer directly witnesses is that Anakin enters training as a Jedi under Obi-Wan Kenobi following Qui-Gon's death, Darth Maul is killed in the succssful battle for Naboo's freedom and, perhaps most interestingly, Naboo's senator, Palpatine, becomes the new supreme chanellor over the Galactic Republic.
    It is hard to know where to start in critiquing this film, especially so many years after the fact of its release. A starting point is to firmly establish that Episode 1 is an introductory segment in the Star Wars series; it is necessarily designed to introduce characters and set the balls rolling for the REAL story to commence in the following chapters. It is therefore unfair and an improper perspective to judge it purely as a stand-alone film. However, as George Lucas himself notes in the audio commentary featured on the DVD edition of the film, it does have to be a quality piece on its own merits as well. Whether it is or is not is obviously the subject of the heated debating that can be found on these pages. I can only add my voice to the choir; there are so many choristers that it will inevitably harmonize beautifully with some, while it will clash so horribly with others as to make bystanders reach for the nearest pair of earplugs.
    To begin with, the blockade of Naboo by the Trade Federation is a solid plot device on which to build the rest of the film--it leads to some genuinely entertaining circumstances and manages to generate quite a bit of excitment on its own. Equally fascinating, intricate, and well-executed is the background story of the Sith Lords' ulterior motivation. To break this down a bit for those who lack the mental power to fathom it for themselves: at the beginning of the film, when the TF head honchos first realize that the "ambassadors" are Jedi Knights, the decide to "contact Lord Sideous". Shortly thereafter, "Lord Sideous" appears projected as a holograph and it is revealed even as the story continues that it was Sideous' "scheme" to blockade Naboo--but the viewer is not told why HE would want to do this. Later on Darth Maul is sent out after the escaped Jedi and queen; for the first time in the Star Wars saga the word "Sith" is used: this is an order of some variety Sideous and Maul apparently belong to. To quote Nute Gunray "Now there are two of them!" In a subsequent brief scene, it is reveiled that Sideous and Maul are really out for revenge against the Jedi. Scenes with the Jedi Coucil would reveal that the Sith are agents of the Dark Side of the Force and are believed to have been extinct for a thousand years; to wit, "I do not believe the sith could have [returned without our knowledge]". The obvious inference here is that the Jedi are in some way responible for the extinction of the sith.
    As entertaining and well-executed as the actions sequences are (and they are excellent, particularly the lightsaber duels, the opening fight with the battle droids, and the ground battle with the Gungans), the bits and pieces revealed of the Sith agenda are that fascinating and intriguing to watch unfold. So where does all this leave the film? With excellent action and adventure elements (further propelled by the obviously brilliant special effects) and a solid story, enhanced for its part by suspensful and subtly enticing revelations as to the real agenda of the Sith.
    The acting ranges from competent to outstanding and the characters are varient and often interesting. Obi-Wan is well-played by talented Ewan McGregor, whose performances only get better in the subsequent chapters, and his is cleary a "cool", chipper and cheaky character at this time in his life. He is also a master swordsman. Wise, fatherly and fascinating , Qui-Gon is evidently a more serious and restrained counterpart to Obi-Wan's youthful energy. Liam Neeson plays his character well and with a mystical slant, as well as delivering his lines with great flow and believability. Natalie Portman's Queen Amidala is a strong and beautiful character, with exquiste wardrobe and an often-compelling performance from Portman as the character becomes outspoken and outright aggressive in the defense of her planet. One of the great moments in the film is her delivery of the admittedly wordy line "I will not condone a course of action that will lead us to war"--then and there you really get a strong feeling for her character. Next to Qui-Gon and Amidala, the most interesting "new" character is the brooding, nearly silent Darth Maul. The supurb athlete Ray Park portrays the character for most of his scenes, while Peter Serafinowics provides the character's chilling and highly memorable voice. In addition, Silas Carson and James E. Taylor are suitably slimy and suarve in their roles as the Trade Federation leaders, and Ian McDiarmid is excellent as ever in his role ("Revenge of the Sith" being the predominantly stage-oriented actor's cinematic masterwork).
    The strongest components of the supporting cast are Anthony Daniels in small role as C-3PO, and Brian Blessed, who puts in a grin-becoming performance as Boss Nass, the larger-than-life Gungan leader. The rest play their roles up to and sometimes beyond the call of duty--even if Ralph Brown looks nearly clueless as the queen's pilot looks nearly clueless while reading the consels that report the deactivation of the shield generator!
    Rather obviously, this leaves with Jake Lloyd as Anakin and Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks. Lloyd, while no Olivier--or Ian McDiarmid for that matter--and VERY unpolished was certainly sincere in his efforts to "get it right", and really did perform very well in such a major role for someone his age. (For doubters-- watch the feauturette "3,000 Anakins" on disc 2 of the DVD under "Web Documentaries"; clearly Lloyd was a good choice as compared to the utter and total zombies that could have been. He was very natural in the audition shown on the DVD and very natural in the film.)
    Ahmed Best performs very well in the guise of his character--people just hate the character so much that they can't see how convincing his performance is. In fact, that he IS so convincing is the primary reason people dislike the character! Personally, I have to confess that I first saw 'Phantom Menace' when I was 6 in '99 and I thought Jar Jar was HILARIOUS; time has really done surprisingly little to sway that opinion. I don't particularly like the flatulence jokes anymore--but his physical clumsines and in particular his antics during the final ground battle are pretty funny if, like me, you are into physical humor ala Rowan Atkinson's "Mr. Bean" character (and yes, I fully expect ridicule and ostracism for this statment but I'll stand by my opinions to the last.) At worst, even though the pitch of his voice can be irritating, Jar Jar shouldn't be THAT difficult to handle for most mentally stable and relatively unbiased viewers. At best you will be genuinely entertained by his misadventures, even if you are scared to admit it! It all depends on your taste in humor, really.
    In the final tally, yes 'Phantom Menace' has its flaws (and really-- name a single movie that doesn't!)and yes, it is ultimately an entertaining, enjoyable film. The writing and direction are at least competent (and Lucas boasts some outstanding atmosphere and editing choices at times), while the acting is generally on the good side. The action, adventure, story-telling, characters--all are excellent and 100% in the grand Star Wars tradition of having fun while telling a great story.
    "Star Wars: Episode 1- The Phantom Menace" is a highly recommended film if you like action/adventure movies and have not already seen (though I have to wonder if that's possible...), and if you have, well, you know how you feel! Personally, I think it's terrifically entertaining and solid evidence that George Lucas can still do what he did in '77--even if the storyline, tone, and characters necessarily different.
    ...more info
    Showing my age here: when STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE finally appeared in 1979, I was among the first in line; I stood in the snow waiting breathlessly for the second show. When the audience for the premiere emptied out, everyone had blank, bewildered faces. Not good. After watching it I understood why. STTMP put the best characters on the sidelines and rehashed "Where No Man Has Gone Before."

    Fans develop attachments to characters and themes.

    Even the late great Joseph Campbell revered the original STAR WARS trilogy. The original will always remain a classic, and Empire, the immediate sequel, nearly topped it. But by the time we got to Jedi we had cutesy Ewoks running around and a rehash of blow-up-death-star.

    Drunk on profits, Lucas was already dumbing down the franchise.

    Little did we know just how dumb it would get until PHANTOM MENACE.

    We've all seen and suffered through it anyway, so I'm preaching to choirs. But it's still staggering to witness just how childish, simplistic and foolish PHANTOM is - this from a man who could literally film anything he wanted - and he did.

    Nobody wanted to say NO to George Lucas.

    Jar-Jar Binks: easily the most reviled "character" in film history; that took a lot of work to accomplish.

    Darth Vader - a cultural icon - is reduced to a silly child. "Annie! Annie!"

    ANNIE??? That's a girl's name, and a rather famous one.

    There are so many jaw-droppingly stupid scenes, from the underwater "fish" people prancing around to the idiotic "finale" with Annie running amok as a wannabe pilot.

    After suffering through this I have more respect for Mel Brooks' SPACEBALLS. It's about the same - except Lucas was serious.

    ...more info
  • Love Star Wars
    I got this item in great condition for a great price. I love the star wars movies and you can get them here for a great price. ...more info
  • Its NOT as bad as some would have you believe
    Is it really 9 years since The Phantom Menace brought Star Wars back to the Cinema after a 16 year hiatus? Back in the summer of 1999, the world was a very differant place to today. Bill Clinton was still American President. The Twin Towers were still standing and few people had heard of Al Qeada. As we counted down to a new Millennium the world appeared to be on the cusp of a new golden age of econmic prosperity and relative peace. Admist this background came Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The hype and expectation for this movie was probably greater than anything before or since in movie history. What film could ever hope to live up to this hype and expectation? No film ever could. The initial response from fanboys and critics across the world was cries of anguish and pain. Claims of childhoods being raped drowned out the more sensible reflections that actually this movie whilst not particularly great, was as bad as many claimed it was. Now, almost a decade on from the initial release, perhaps the time is right for a more considered view of this film?

    The Phantom Menace is the very definition of a "mixed" film. It has both good and bad points, and whether you end up liking this film will depend on;

    1. Do the bad points outweigh the good points for you?
    2. Do the good points outweigh the bad points for you?

    Thus you will find the answer of whether or not this movie works for you, somewhere in the balance of the two.

    Some of the bad points; George Lucas's direction is stiff. Lucas hadn't directed a film since 1977 and it shows.
    Jar Jar Binks is annoying and tedious and frequently gets in the way, however, as with so many complaints about this film, Binks is NOT as bad as some would have you believe, and you CAN enjoy this film despite the presense of JJB. Children will love Jar Jar, so if you show this film to your 8 year old child, please don't let your loathing of Mr Bink's ruin your child's love for this character.
    Other bad points are that the pod race goes on too long (it went on too long in the theatrical release, and for some reason its been extended further for the DVD)
    Ewan Mcgregor unfortunatly gets very little to do.
    Natalie Portman shines as Queen Amidala, but as Padme she often leaves a lot to be desired. Jake Lloyds Anakin is given some annoyingly silly lines to read out (as with Binks, Lloyd is NOT as bad as outraged fanboys would have you believe)
    The Gungans are probably the worse species in SW history (except for the Ewoks of course ;) ) and the final battle between the Gungans and the Battle Droids is unengaging.
    Perhaps my main complaint about Menace is that the two characters that get the most screen time, Jar Jar Binks and Qui-Gon Jinn, are the two characters that don't really feature in the next two films. Thus, this is, I think, the central problem with Menace. Its mainly filler. Lucas needed "more" in this film.

    Some of the good points; Liam Neeson is the glue that holds this film together. Anybody that says the acting was better in the OT, should look at Neesons performance. Its at least as good as anything in the OT.
    The political sub-plot is interesting and engaging and seeing how Palpatine begins his rise to power is compelling. Ian Mcdiarmid is outstanding in the small number of scenes he is given.
    The Mother/Son relationship between Anakin and his Mother is well done and you do feel a sense of Anakins pain at being parted from his mother and having to leave her as a slave. The twist of Anakin's origins (that he was born without a father) adds a mystical and mythical element. Deeply religious people may be offended, but "virgin births" feature in many mythical stories.
    Seeing the workings of the Jedi Council and how the Jedi relate to the Senate is interesting.
    Darth Maul is cool and The Duel Of The Fates is probably the most exciting lightsaber battle of the Saga. The piece of music that accompany's the duel is truely outstanding (otherwise John Williams' score on TPM isn't very memorable - Like Lucas, at times you get the sense he is warming himself up with this picture
    The general time and effort and attention to detail is wonderful. For Amidala's gowns alone costume designer Trisha Biggar should have won an Oscar. ILM's special effects are amazing. The film looks outstanding and sounds wonderful. As a piece of art, The Phantom Menace is an awesome blend of creativity and artisitic inspiration. Too bad the final product ended up so mixed.

    Just to say, the movie ranks as a solid *** affair, but the DVD package itself takes it up to **** The central documentery; The Beginning is one of the best DVD extras you'll find on any DVD release. An absolute gem. It even captures the moment George Lucas himself realise's the movie is not panning out as well as he had hoped. Also included in the extras is a full commentery, deleated scenes, trailers, music video and web-docs (which are also of the highest quality)

    In closing, The Phantom Menace IS a deeply flawed movie. Slow, plodding and yes, in places even dull. Much of it is filler and a setting up effort. But it also has moments of pure brilliance and many parts are good or very good. Theres a fascination at seeing the Star Wars universe; BEFORE THE DARK TIMES. This is a film that is about children and for children. Theres a lightness and feeling of innocence that contrasts fantastically to the much, much darker Episode III. Given the time in which the movie was released, itself a moment that could be described as "before the darkness" you can't help but feel a pang of nostalgia when you watch The Phantom Menace. Even those that hate this film must feel that somewhere? ...more info
  • A Disgrace, Anti-Christian Film
    I personally popped the DVD out of the player and threw the whole thing in the garbage. This was due to the part where they said the Anakin Skywalker was of virgin birth by his mother Slmi Skywalker (one of many virgin births that had occurred through recent history, according to the Obiwan). I can't think of a greater slap in the face to a Christian than this, which mocks the birth of Christ Our Lord by the Holy Mother Mary.

    Another thing I despised, was that the Jedi Knights (the good guys) condomed and approved of the practiced of slavery and indentured servants (both Anakin and his mother were slaves). What kind of message does that send to children who watch this? I have since boycotted all Star War products because of this. And I love science fiction.

    I think this is a choice for those of the Christian faith: either stand with God (and boycott Star Wars products, films & books) or join Lucas (who has milked this thing for over 30 years) in his eternal fate. Your choice.

    ...more info
  • Good Company
    This movie was sold as 'used-very good condition' I recieved a movie in 'like new-excellent' condition. At a great price. Shipping was fast, it did suprise me that it was shipped FedEx but arrived by US Postal. I would and will do business with this company again. BTW, my 6 year old is a star wars nut and he has watched this movie over and over, with no issues with the dvd....more info
  • The Phantom Boredom
    For anyone who enjoyed the original trilogy of "Star Wars","Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi","The Phantom Menace" is an amazing disappointment. It has the spectacular special effects of the original (but with more CGI),but lacks the spirit and the mythos. In the original trilogy,George Lucas had a specific aim-Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey,as embodied in Luke Skywalker. The prequel trilogy was supposed to be about Anakin Skywalker's fall from grace-to his origins as Darth Vader.

    How does it begin? With a loooong crawl across the screen about the gloomy philosophy,economics. Trade wars are not incredibly thrilling. Maybe it's thrilling for an avid listener of PRI's Marketplace or reader of Investor's Business Daily,but not for the average moviegoer. There's a temptation to fall asleep before the movie begins.
    Natalie Portman is stuck with the thankless role of Padme Amidala of Naboo,Luke&Leia's mother,and she gets to wear strange,spectacular outfits that put drag queens to shame. The devil-resembling Darth Maul looks more like a kid in a cheap Halloween costume. Finally,there's Jar Jar Binks,the most insufferable Star Wars character ever.He exists to show off the CGI,and is profoundly annoying.

    There are some highlights in the movie-Liam Neeson and Ewan Macgregor are spirited as Jedi knights;their rapport is natural and Neeson exudes nobility. Sadly,Neeson's character dies at the end of this movie.The special effects-such as an underwater city-are spectacular.

    "The Phantom Menace" suffers from unconvincing acting from Jake Lloyd,the future Darth Vader,as well as the urge to explain too much,especially with the Force. The Force is no longer a mystical energy,but "midi-chlorians" in the bloodstream. Anakin gets a blood test to prove he's worthy of being a Jedi. "The Phantom Menace" is engrossing in its badness. George Lucas purposefully came up with the title "The Phantom Menace" as a tribute to '40s B-movies and serial;it lives up to its name as a B movie....more info
  • Star wars series, is a great family movie
    The entire Star wars saga is a truely timeless classic that people will be watching for generations....more info
  • Setting the historical foundation to the "Star Wars" epic
    I grew up on the original "Star Wars" Trilogy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It completely captured my imagination, and since that time I have been totally caught up with the Star Wars universe and the Jedi philosophy. Of course, I was anxious to see the prequils, which are very interesting in their own right.

    This one, "The Phantom Menace" is definately the weakest of the three prequils. The momentum of the story sometimes gets bogged down with the politics surrounding the Battle of Naboo. It gets hard to follow and it actually took me several viewings to figure it out completely.

    Jar Jar Binks was something of a annoyance, but I don't think he deserved all the bad publicity he got in the reviews. It even made sense that his bumbling and goof-ball character would later mess things up in Episode Two where (as a Congressman) he foolishly is tricked into making a motion to hand more power to the deceptive Chancellor Palpatine.

    As for the ethnic stereotypes and relationships to other movies, I think it was quite obvious that the aliens in charge of the trade federation were thinly disguised representaions of Japanese leaders from the movie "Tora, Tora, Tora". The pod racing was most definately based on the chariot race from "Ben-Hur". As for Watto (said to be a Jewish or Arab merchant) and Jar Jar Binks (Said to be a "J.J. Evans" Afro-American stereotype); I didn't pick up on that until after I read the reviews.

    The special effects, of course, were breathtaking, but the characters were far less captivating than the Original Trilogy ensemble. Little Anakin was not a likable kid, and there is nothing in his character that would indicate the inner turmoil that would someday transform this "Little Orphan Andy" into an "Adolf Hitler". Princess Padme also seemed to not have much of a personality. The actor who played Obiwan, however, did an excellent job in capturing Alec Guiness's conception of that role.

    Of all, Palpatine emerges as the most interesting character. One is fascinated by his duplicidous nature and satanic majesty.

    With all of it's flaws I still have to give "Phantom Menace" four stars, just for setting the historical foundation to the "Star Wars" epic. ...more info