Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Critics Consensus

Burdened by exposition and populated with stock characters, The Phantom Menace gets the Star Wars prequels off to a bumpy -- albeit visually dazzling -- start.

54%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 222
User image

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Videos

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Photos

Movie Info

In 1977, George Lucas released Star Wars, the ultimate sci-fi popcorn flick-turned-pop-culture myth machine. It quickly became the biggest money-making film of all time and changed the shape of the film industry. After two successful sequels (1980's The Empire Strikes Back and 1983's Return of the Jedi) that extended the story of the first film, Lucas took some time off to produce movies for others, with mixed success. In 1999, Lucas returned to the Star Wars saga with a new approach -- instead of picking up where Return of the Jedi left off, Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace would be the first of a trilogy of stories to trace what happened in the intergalactic saga before the first film began. Here, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is a young apprentice Jedi knight under the tutelage of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson); Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), who will later father Luke Skywalker and become known as Darth Vader, is just a nine-year-old boy. When the Trade Federation cuts off all routes to the planet Naboo, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are assigned to settle the matter, but when they arrive on Naboo they are brought to Amidala (Natalie Portman), the Naboo queen, by a friendly but opportunistic Gungan named Jar Jar. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan plan to escort Amidala to a meeting of Republic leaders in Coruscant, but trouble with their spacecraft strands them on the planet Tatooine, where Qui-Gon meets Anakin, the slave of a scrap dealer. Qui-Gon is soon convinced that the boy could be the leader the Jedis have been searching for, and he begins bargaining for his freedom and teaching the boy the lessons of the Force. The supporting cast includes Pernilla August as Anakin's mother, Terence Stamp as Chancellor Valorum, and Samuel L. Jackson as Jedi master Mace Windu. Jackson told a reporter before The Phantom Menace's release that the best part about doing the film was that he got to say "May the Force be with you" onscreen. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Watch it now

Cast

Liam Neeson
as Qui-Gon Jinn
Ewan McGregor
as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman
as Queen Amidala/Padme
Jake Lloyd
as Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid
as Sen.Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Ray Park
as Darth Maul
Pernilla August
as Shmi Skywalker
Terence Stamp
as Chancellor Finis Valorum
Brian Blessed
as Boss Nass
Steven Spiers
as Capt. Tarpals
Ahmed Best
as Jar Jar Binks
Hugh Quarshie
as Captain Panaka
Ralph Owen
as Ric Olie
Adrian Dunbar
as Bail Organa
Warwick Davis
as Wald/Gimy Man/Spectator
Silas Carson
as Nute Gunray/Ki-Adi-Mundi
Celia Imrie
as Bravo 5 Fighter Pilot
Liz Wilson
as Eirtae
Gin Clarke
as Adi Gallia
Jerome Blake
as Rune Haako
Benedict Taylor
as Bravo 2 Fighter Pilot
Clarence Smith
as Bravo 3 Fighter Pilot
Dominic West
as Palace Guard
Greg Proops
as Fode-Beed--Beed's Head
Scott Carpurro
as Fode-Beed--Fode's Head
Khan Bonfils
as Saesee Tinn
Mark Coulier
as Aks Moe
Ray Griffiths
as Power Droid/Sebulba
Madison Lloyd
as Princess Ellie
Geoffrey Pomeroy
as General Ceel
Alan Ruscoe
as Plo Koon/Bib Fortuna/Sil Unch
Christian J. Simpson
as Royal Naboo Pilot
Hassani Shapi
as Eeth Koth
View All

News & Interviews for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Critic Reviews for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

All Critics (222) | Top Critics (63)

  • The movie is fun, for the most part, and several scenes are as good or better than anything Lucas created in the original films. The human characters, however, are not nearly as interesting as those in the earlier episodes.

    Dec 14, 2015 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Do kids really want to follow a plot about intergalactic trade embargoes?

    Nov 16, 2015 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • What I can't comprehend is why the political details had to be so tedious and abstract. Will the kids of our nation and the world truly be titillated by trade wars and the spectacle of a do-nothing Senate?

    Nov 16, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Look, I wanted to love The Phantom Menace, too. I was an adolescent boy and would enjoy being one again for a couple of hours. But the movie has a way of deflating all but the most delusional of hopes.

    Nov 16, 2015 | Full Review…

    David Edelstein

    Slate
    Top Critic
  • Mr. Lucas is not without a certain technocratic sagacity, but I don't think he's communicating even with the young as astutely as he once did.

    Nov 16, 2015 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

    Observer
    Top Critic
  • Character and personality take a back seat on this ride.

    Nov 16, 2015 | Full Review…

    Jay Carr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Quotes

News & Features