Wednesday, January 6, 2010
STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE (GEORGE LUCAS, 1999)
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is not exactly a little known film. In fact, I’m kind of disappointed in myself that I’ve chosen to review a film that has grossed nearly a billion dollars worldwide, and is probably one of the most famous films ever made. But, here is a review of George Lucas’s prequel to the greatest saga in film history, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, released in 1999.
I saw the movie for only the second time last night. But it’s been almost 11 years since I first saw the film. In fact, I was one of the first people to see it during the opening weekend back in May of ’99. I remember being an adolescent and falling in love with the Star Wars movies, mainly due to the enthusiasm that my teacher at the time, Mr. Kampel, had thrown my class’s way all throughout the year of 1998 and 1999, leading up to the release of the movie. The Phantom Menace is a unique film for me, in that I waited for and anticipated it like no other movie before in my life. Although, I am not completely disappointed by the first Star Wars prequel film. In fact, I quite enjoyed it. Even though the two times I have seen this film are 11 years apart, I remember my younger self pretty much feeling the same way I do now. It was a good movie. It was exciting, fast paced, fun, rich in story and character, and clever in creating a new plot for a new trilogy of Star Wars films.
And therein lies the problem that so many faced in 1999, and continue today, and probably will for all time to come. Most people could not get past the fact that this was a prequel trilogy, something that precedes the original trilogy, something which is going to be new and different. I know people want to see Luke Skywalker and Han Solo and Princess Leia again, and hey, so I do I! But they don’t exist in this universe. Not yet. Instead we have Qui-Gon Jinn, a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Anakin Skywalker, who in the succeeding decades would evolve into the sinister Darth Vader, as well as Queen Amidala, Luke and Leia’s mother.
The fact is, Lucas did a fine job in crafting together an interesting new story to precede the original trilogy. The Phantom Menace features some great action sequences, including the incredible podrace scene, and a climactic light-saber battle between Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn and the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, which even rivals some of the classic light-saber duels in the original films.
While Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is not as amazing, and visceral and fantastic as any of the original three Star Wars films, it is nonetheless a worthy film in the Star Wars franchise. George Lucas did a good job with this movie, and I really wish people would show it some more love, and a little less slack.