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.

52%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 232

59%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,209,962

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Movie Info

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 9-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.

Cast & Crew

Liam Neeson
Qui-Gon Jinn
Ewan McGregor
Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman
Queen Amidala, Padmé Naberrie
Jake Lloyd
Anakin Skywalker
Pernilla August
Shmi Skywalker
Frank Oz
Master Yoda
Voice
Ian McDiarmid
Senator Palpatine, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Hugh Quarshie
Captain Panaka
Ahmed Best
Jar Jar Binks, Senator
Voice
George Lucas
Executive Producer
John Williams
Original Music
David Tattersall
Cinematographer
Ben Burtt
Film Editor
Paul Martin Smith
Film Editor
Gavin Bocquet
Production Designer
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News & Interviews for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

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

All Critics (232) | Top Critics (62) | Fresh (121) | Rotten (111)

  • 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.

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

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

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • The visual effects in The Phantom Menace are so good that you find yourself not caring very much about Qui-Gon's prophetic murmurings.

    November 16, 2015 | Full Review…
  • 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?

    November 16, 2015
  • 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.

    November 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.

    November 16, 2015 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

    Observer
    Top Critic

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

  • Jul 20, 2020
    Watching this thing years later, I can finally say, this is not a good movie. I liked it well enough as a kid as a charming little adventure, but as an adult it's kind of a hard watch. I don't know that I was ever bored by anything, but it's wildly inconsistent and just not well put together. The writing is bad, the directing is awkward, and the CGI is about on par with a PlayStation 1 cutscene, if not worse. On top of that, it's really just not necessary. What do we learn from this movie for the overall Star Wars mythos? Basically how Sidious rose to the status of chancellor. Even that is more of a background thing for all the other weird crap happening, and probably could just have been put in the opening scroll of the next film. So it's a bad film, and at times it's pretty cringey. But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't at times an entertaining film. Not always for the right reasons, but it's got some fun stuff. I still like the podracing scene, and that final fight is as good as it was back in the day with some stellar choreography. It's got it's moments, I'll defend it a little bit, but overall it's pretty cringey and pointless.
    Michael M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 29, 2019
    This is a terrible, terrible movie. I'm amazed that A) Lucas made a film like this, knowing how beloved the franchise was, and B) that the franchise remained so beloved after this had come out... It introduced Maul though, who is my favourite Star Wars character. So points on that one.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 22, 2016
    Darth Maul, double bladed lightsaber, what could go wrong with this film?! Oh yeah, comic relief Jar Jar Binks and a Tatooine pod race that went about 7-10 minutes too long. It is unfortunate that they wasted arguably the 2nd best villain of the entire franchise in the first abysmal film. About 3 minutes into Jar Jar Binks' screen time you know that the script has a long way to go to dig itself out of that hole.
    Patrick W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 26, 2016
    A technical achievement in visual effects, makeup, art direction and score that is muddled by a lackluster script and poor acting. The fight scenes, while impressive and tons of fun, lack depth and emotion, and the characters feel like the SparkNotes version of much better characters.
    Matthew M Super Reviewer

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