The prequel that spawned an awful sequel. Yep this movie can be labeled as one of the most disappointing movies out there, but it's definitely not one of the worst. There are definitely movies out there that suck more than this. But when it's a running gag to make fun of this movie and its sequels, sometimes people need to be reminded that it did have good aspects about it. But it had its share of unbearable aspects as well. I'm going to tell you the top 5 worst aspects of this film and the top 5 best aspects.
Let's start with cons:
1. Jar-Jar Binks
As much as I hate this character, he does need to be talked about. First off, he's not funny! He is in this film ONLY to appeal to kids under the age of 8. His fart/poop/snot jokes make normal people cringe. And my gosh....HIS TALKING AND CLUMSINESS. What makes Jar-Jar even more insulting to us is that George Lucas wrote him into the story (I swear I'm not making this up) to be the next Chewbacca! -_- Nuh-uh.
2. The Story
Now on the surface, this movie sounds like a good story. Some unknown menace is working with the Trade Federation to form a blockade around Naboo, and two jedi must take matters into their own hands when the politics of the Senate prevent any real action being taken. Here's the problem. The talking. This movie is so bloated with boring conversations we don't care about. How is this possible you ask? Because we check out when we here shemale Natalie Portman talk, when Jar-Jar talks we want to kill ourselves, and when Anakin talks we want to kill the little kid on screen. But that is not the only problem with the story. We also have no clear protagonist. That means we don't have anyone that we are on the same page with. We don't have a Harry Potter, Neo, Frodo Baggins, Peter Parker, OR Luke Skywalker. You could argue that Obi-Wan is the protagonist sure. Yet he is never confused about what's going on. And we never get a piece of exposition explained to him. Unless its the politics. We are in desperate need of some PROPER explanation though. Especially when the politics come on. That is when we all look at each other and say "I'm going to the bathroom, I'll be back...Maybe." Not to mention that a majority of these aliens that are essential (sort of) are pretty racist. Plus, this story may sound good, but the way it's told is summed up like this..... 2hours and 15 minutes of B.S. is made up for in 15 minutes of cool stuff.
3. Anakin Skywalker
To this kids credit, he's only a kid actor. And they usually aren't that good. Nevertheless, this is a bad kid actor by child actor standards.
Mace Windu says that Anakin is too old to start his training. However, that begs the question of why Anakin is too old to start training? He's like 9 years old! If he was in his late teens/early twenties I would get that. But jedi training doesn't start at like birth does it?
These kids don't look like they've had much training. This looks like their first time holding a lightsaber! And they look like they are 6!
Other than his training making zero sense, Anakin is also given these awful lines of dialogue to read with his bad acting skills. This makes it equally unbearable to listen to him. Another issue? He's whiny. He's always complaining about something. Lastly, because Anakin is in this story, George Lucas decided to "add" something to the mythos of Star Wars. He adds in this prophecy about a Chosen One. This frustrates me further because it ruins the moment in Return of the Jedi when Vader throws the Emperor over the ledge. This prophecy takes away the humanity of the moment when Vader is looking back forth trying to decide if he should obey the Emperor or stop his son from getting fried. Before Episode I, we all assumed that Vader didn't like seeing his kid get shocked with Electricity. Now with this prophecy, we just see that Vader is bringing balance to the force (which is good) but it takes away from the moment now.
4. It Doesn't Feel The Same
The Phantom Menace doesn't feel like a space adventure film as the original trilogy did. This film feels like a political thriller wannabe. The older films had themes of friendship and family that even as a kid I understood. This movie? What's the theme?
That's right, this movie has no theme. At least, not a clear one. Similarly, unlike the originals, this is not a fun film. It's very serious...and monotone.
5. The Midichlorians (Is that how you spell it?)
This is the worst thing about the Phantom Menace. Remember the Force? That mysterious thing that we DID NOT need explained!!!!!!!!! It's like a teacher saying "we don't need to learn this kids, but I'm going to teach it to you anyway."
WHAT???????? You mean to tell me that the energy field that was supposed to represent God/ an infinite being is actually a bunch of symbiotes living off of the Jedi's cells?
Oh, George that's...just lazy and unnecessary.
OK so now that the unpleasantness of Episode I is over with, let's take a look at the positive aspects of The Phantom Menace.
1. Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn
I know a lot of people don't like Qui-Gon because they say he has qustionable morals. I personally don't agree with that, but you can't deny that Liam Neeson gives up an excellent performance as Qui-Gon.
2. Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan
This one is an absolute no-brainer. When we look at Obi-Wan in the Phantom Menace, we see a younger Obi-Wan from Episode IV. Anyone that disagrees...What's wrong with you?
3. The fact that we get to see jedi clean house and run their lives
Points three and four go hand in hand. The reason that this is a pro is because we never got to see jedi do jedi-ish things in the original trilogy. Sure we saw Luke whip out his lightsaber a couple of times, but when he did, we knew he meant business. In the Phantom Menace, we got to see the jedi's fighting styles as well as their way of life. We see them fight on multiple occasions like the beginning of the movie. We get a feel for what it's like to have a lightsaber. Invincible. As for the way they run their lives, we get to see the lifestyle of a jedi as well. A very strict code with a council of jedi is pretty cool when you think about it. Many people think this point is a con, but I disagree because the idea is cool: The talking is what ruined it all.
4. That kick ass lightsaber duel.
This is what made two and a half hours of boredom sort of worth it. People say it's choreographed. Well...yeah. It's a lot cooler than this.....although this fight is still bad-ass.
And, it shows that when people don't have to read George Lucas's AWFUL dialogue, his characters can be badass!
5. The Special Effects
This film has CGI that still holds up in 2014. Like the pod race. And of course, we have the city planet that I'm not going to attempt to spell. This film's special effects certainly weren't groundbreaking. The only times my jaw has dropped due too CGI were three times
Now these don't mean that Phantom Menace's visuals aren't impressive, I'm just saying it's getting harder and harder to impress audiences with so much CGI nowadays. But when a film holds up after a decade and a half, that is a pretty tough accomplishment.
In, conclusion The Phantom Menace certainly isn't the worst thing made by a human, but it was a huge disappointment to those that camped out in front of the theater to see it. MOST people would agree with me that the source of the problem was George Lucas himself because he had control over EVERY. ASPECT. OF. THIS. FILM. It just makes you think of what Star Wars would be like if Lucas had had complete control from the start. It is one of the great "What ifs" of history