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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace - Film Review

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Published September 29th 2013
Just a warning for anyone reading this article: it follows the typical view that most hold for the first of three Star Wars prequels: it's terrible.

With Disney two years away from releasing the seventh installment in the series, with limited input from George Lucas and the original cast members set to return it looks as though the franchise can redeem itself from the three embarrassing films that predated it.

On paper The Phantom Menace looks to be quite an exciting, dazzling introduction to the Star Wars world, explaining some of the key concepts and storylines that would ultimately pay off in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. With a stunning cast headed by Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor, a double-bladed kick-ass bad guy to perhaps even rival Darth Vader and Star Wars stalwart characters such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, C3PO and R2D2 it seems too good an opportunity to miss.

Unfortunately it didn't pan out that way.

The problem with this movie is that it is convoluted and there are concepts that are not explained. For example, a blockade on trade? Why and what were the Trade Federation even trading in? Why do Jedi's breathe underwater with the need of special apparatus but if they are in a room of poisonous gas all they need to do is hold their breath? As a nine year old when this film hit cinemas I thought it was the best thing since sliced Jedi. However that says it all, does it not? It's aimed at children and for shallow people who want action scenes such as sci-fi sword fights and spaceship battles. Not for anyone who wants to see some meaty, awe-inspiring space opera, which is what the film unfortunately looks like on paper, but in actuality is void of any substance.

Do not get me started on that Jamaican cartoon amphibian rabbit. Jar-Jar Binks has received a lot of criticism as a character and rightly so. It was an unnecessary character providing children with a colourful clumsy outer space Goofy they could laugh at when things get too political or technical.

The original trilogy ranks among the best films ever made. I still find it phenomenal how ahead of its time A New Hope still looks for 1977. Unfortunately The Phantom Menace won't ever be purged from our memories but unless you are looking for a good film to stick on for your 10 year old son I would give it a wide berth.
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