I remember seeing this when it was first released in 1999, having just seen the original trilogy a few years earlier. I remember all the hype about it being the first Star Wars movie in 16 years. I was very excited about seeing this, this movie created a new generation of fans, as we see the origins of Anakin as a little boy. Unfortunately, many audiences were disappointed. When I first saw it, I really enjoyed it, I was 9 at the time, and when I finally got it on VHS, I would watch it over and over again on the weekends. However, as years passed by, I began to realize this movie was not as good as it couldve been. As much as I would like to say I loved the movie, I am sorry to say that, I agree with most of the rest of the fans. It was a disappointment to the rest of the saga, its been 13 years since it was released, and it still sucks the big one. First, I am going to talk about the one element of this film that got the most hate, Jar Jar Binks. In the long run, Jar Jar is the comic relief of this movie, and it's okay to have that kind of character as part of the mix, I mean the originals had Chewbacca, and he did pretty alright. But there is a point when it starts to get pushy, and Jar Jar, while I like him as a character in general, he just doesn't fit in a Star Wars movie. Mostly, he was just a laughing stock for the kids, and if one looks at the prequels, you will see that they were more aimed towards kids audiences. In the case of the originals, while they work for kids, the films didn't go out of their way to entertain kids only. The originals were meant for audiences of all ages. Of the saga, Phantom Menace is definitely the weakest, mainly because Lucas wanted more kids to enjoy it. The podrace was pretty awesome to watch, some think it was the best part of the movie. Though it doesn't add anything to the story, hence I prefer Lucas didn't add anymore scenes to it, and that he just stuck to what he released theatrically. Some think there was too much going on in the Battle of Naboo, but I think everything was essential. Some would take out the space battle, but then where would be the 'Star' in 'Star Wars'? Look at the title people. The land battle with the Gungans however, while it was essential as the diversion of the battle, there didn't need to be so much of it. The throne room battle was most definitely essential, and enjoyable to watch. THATS the Star Wars I remember. And the fight with Darth Maul was pretty epic. Two Jedis against one Sith lord with a double bladed lightsaber. THATS awesome, and the fight was well choreographed. With all this, it still falls flat as the weakest of the series, but don't get me wrong, all sagas have to start somewhere, and I do admit I do like the movie, but it could've been so much more, and I'm glad to say that the next movie did have a some improvements, most namely, Lucas toned down Jar Jar, and a few other things improved in the sense of the audience it was aimed for. This one was just a rare mistep, no one is perfect, and everyone makes movies like this every now and then. However this movie is still essential to the rest of the saga, and a must see if you are true Star Wars fan. It's not a total loss, so go ahead and give it a watch.