Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L Jackson
Directed By: George Lucas

Lets see if I can binge watch all six Star Wars films before I see The Force Awakens. I think this is only my second viewing of The Phantom Menace ever, and I barely remembered the film. It was like watching a film I had never seen, with only a few glimpses of “deja vu”. Jar Jar isn’t the only annoying thing in this movie, and he honestly gets a bad rap. There’s some pretty awful acting throughout the film. Anakin’s mother, not a good actress. The CGI in place of practical effects now looks dated. And then there’s Jake Lloyd…

Of course, those are probably all things that Star Wars fans have been lamenting for years. I’m just saying, I didn’t feel like this film was ruined simply by Jar Jar Binks. On the plus side, Darth Maul is crazy cool. Liam Neeson pretty much single handedly tries to save this film. It looks and feels like a Star Wars film, but really without the heart and soul of A New Hope. Neeson’s performance, and a few cool cameos by original characters (Yoda, R2D2, C-3PO) can’t save this prequel from being a let down.

Hopefully, since JJ Abrams embraced the use of practical effects, his film will actually stand the test of time. Watching The Phantom Menace, not even 20 years after its debut, feels almost like watching video game cut scenes. I’m sure these were ground breaking special effects in 1999, but today they look like a dismal XBOX title.

If you’re getting started on Star Wars, I’d recommend watching them in the order they came out. Phantom Menace might cause you to not bother finishing the series.

FINAL GRADE: C

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