Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Hello Everyone, leading up to Star Wars Episode IX, I am planning on watching and reviewing as many Star Wars films as I can before December 19. Once I’ve finished, I’ll give my ranking of all 10 of the live action Star Wars movies. Today I’ll be looking at Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The Good

Action

The Action is pretty decent and exciting in this movie. Pod Racing is fun and exciting, and the battles, especially the last hour of the movie, is what we all wanted from a Star Wars movie. The Lightsaber fight between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Darth Maul is one of the best of the series and the score is perfect for the emotion that it captures.

Force Tricks

The Force is on full display throughout the movie. Qui Gon Jinn is constantly using Jedi mind tricks, and other more obscure Force abilities. I think it does a lot to add to the nature of the force.

The Mixed

Medicloreans

For some reason, the writers decided it would be a good idea to discuss how the force works, and they invented the Medicloreans. To me, it feels like they tried to over-explain something that was supposed to be mystical, something based in faith.

The Jedi Order

I liked that we got to see more of the Jedi Order, and we started learning what they were all about, but I didn’t like how political the Jedi became. In my mind, the Jedi are supposed to be keepers of peace, they shouldn’t have a political affiliation or be negotiating peace treaties, or fighting wars.

CGI

I think that CGI works really well when depicting the size of the droid and Gungan armies and space battles. When real characters are directly interacting with CGI objects, it starts to look a little funny. In almost all of the scenes where Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon fight battle-droids, it looks weird. I’m not certain, but I believe it’s because they were told to “just swing their arms around”, and the droids were added later.

Cinematography

In my opinion, there’s nothing exciting or special about any of the shots in the movie. Nothing really sticks out to me as good cinematography, but there’s also nothing really terrible either. We see what we need to see, and not much else. Even in the Pod Racing Section, the camera is constantly panning from left to right, over and over. It gets boring seeing the exact same shot time after time. They hardly even change it up by panning from right to left. When specifically looking at the cinematography, it’s clear that George Lucas is a storyteller, not a camera-man.

Jar Jar Binks

I think that it’s okay that George Lucas took a risk with Jar Jar Binks. Hes possibly the most annoying character in the entire Star Wars Saga. However, there are still parts about his character that work. Other characters don’t like him, which is better than other characters acting as if he’s completely normal.

Fan Service

Some fan-service is okay, but too much can feel forced. Specifically, C-3PO being built by Anikan. This doesn’t make sense in the Star Wars Universe, in the prequel trilogy, or even in the original trilogy. If anikanis capable of making high-end protocol droids that speak over six million languages, why is he a slave? That detail felt like unnecessary fan service. However the meeting of R2-D2 and C-3PO for the first time was incredible.

The Bad

Pacing

The main thing that stuck out to me was the terrible pacing of the film. Right from the start we’re thrown into the action of the movie, but then when the group lands on Tatooine, it basically slows to a stop. It picks up again during the pod racing, but by that point we’re over an hour into the movie.

Writing & Dialogue

There’s a lot of stuff that really just didn’t make sense to me. This movie is unable to develop the romance between Anikan and Padme, because they made Anikan a child and that would be wildly inappropriate. They also couldn’t develop the brotherhood between Anikan and Obi-Wan because they’re separated the whole time. To top it all off, the dialogue is weird and inconsistent. At one point Anikan says “I’m not a slave, I’m a person”, making you think “oh, he’s just a kid, he doesn’t understand”. Then later, he says he had a dream he was a Jedi, came back and freed all the slaves. Does he know what slave are, or not? That kind of stuff is present throughout the entire movie.

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