Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Reviews
A long time ago, in a living room far, far away...
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Review
Good intention, but ill fate has engulfed George Lucas and Lucasfilm! Politics has taken a stranglehold on the greatest saga of all time, but not all hope is lost. We open with Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) arriving at the Trade Federation's blockade of Naboo. There, Viceroy Nute Gunray (Silas Carson) try killing them. However, Qui-Gon won't have any of this, and he goes to look for them, to find them, and we never find out if he would try to kill them, because they're forced (no pun intended) to the planet surface, where they meet the character who automatically makes my rating lose half-a-star: Jar-Jar Binks (Ahmed Best). Long story short, Jar-Jar and the Jedi meet up with Queen Amidala (A rotation between Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley) and various other security/handmaidens/other personnel, taking them to Tatooine, where we get a cool, albeit long, podracing sequence with Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), and we eventually get to Coruscant, where the politics bring the pacing to a near-screeching halt faster than a podracer. If you're susceptible to sleep (unlike me), this will put you there, but if you're a hardcore Star Wars fan (like me), it's bearable, especially when you look for E.T. in the senate chamber, signs of Jar-Jar being the Sith, or just care about this franchise like I do, but some visual excitement would be better. This plot is coherent, and the way George Lucas did it left much room for improvement. If Jar-Jar weren't as over-the-top (or a racist stereotype) as he was, Count Dooku wouldn't have been thrown into Episode II, and the whole Prequel trilogy would have been better. Jar-Jar aside, characters fare well: the Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan relationship actually reflects decent chemistry, and Anakin and his mother's relationship can be seen, you just have to look as hard as you would for the E.T. cameo. Anakin's childish antics are not a bad thing, it actually enhances the impact of later movies (won't spoil it for those who have somehow not connected the dots), and his actions reflect how smart he is, and how strong in the force he'll be. What I won't let go is how much CGI was used. Some of it was decent (Coruscant, lightsabers, pod racers, space battles, etc), but the rest was hard to bear (Jar-Jar's only good quality is photorealism, but the big battle scene in the third act between gungans and droids was too obviously fake even for me). If you want high-quality Star Wars, this is not the film you're looking for, but if you want to understand the full canon and get an occasional good moment in this poorly-paced film that uses CGI excessively with mixed results, this is worth sitting through every now-and-then.
A long time ago (1977), in a galaxy far far away (In England, California, etc), George Lucas directed a near-perfect movie called Star Wars, then went into directoral hiatus, letting friends direct the sequels, and then he directs the first of three prequels. I personally enjoy it, having grown up on this one, while still having seen the original trilogy. I know a lot of people feel uncomfertable with their memories getting a CGI treatment, but I think this is a good movie. Don't get me wrong, I like the original trilogy too, but this is classic. We get familiar characters like Obi-Wan at a younger age, we get newcomers like Queen Amidala, and so many others, mayby a little too much, but still, I think they work well. The plot may be moderately boring to younger kids, but the good vs evil is still there, taking a small step back. While overly CGI to some older people, the best examples of improved CGI are Yoda (In the 2011 Blu-Ray re-release) underwater sea creatures, podraces, and much more are CGI, there were still puppets used for the basis, and real locations used. Mayby I shouldn't criticize what went into the movie, but what came out. I'd like to add that John Williams providing the soundtrack is still keeping Star Wars alive. The dialogue doesn't crackle, but there are still memorable lines. If I told you them, I'd simply be writing a summary, not a review. When your really look at it, this is George Lucas getting excited over new CGI effects originally brought to use in Jurassic Park. Just, mayby a little too much for older fans. Just, see this movie, it's a good time killer.
Star Wars Episode I is a great film. All I think it lacks is excellent dialouge. You've got the amusing characters like Jar-Jar, the pretty girl PadmÃ (C), the little boy Anakin, and the bad ass Darth Maul. This 3D version has improved visuals, including (spoilers) replacing that god-awful puppet Yoda with biologically logical CGI Yoda. Let's not forget they fixed the frame. (End spoilers) For those of you who did not like Episode I at first, this might be worth your time. The plot's the smae, but it's something if you're a hardcore Star Wars fan like me.