Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

Overly Reductive Plot Summary

Two Jedi warriors meet Anakin Skywalker. This takes over two hours to accomplish.

Significant For...

Being the film with the broadest anticipation/disappointment gap in the history of the moving image, possibly in the history of art itself.

Insignificant For...

Being a very busy movie with no clear protagonist, antagonist, objective or plot.

The Entire Film In 3 Images


Elements Of The Film (Ranked On A Midi-chlorean Scale of 1 to 5)

  1. The avalanche of excrement that landed on Jake Lloyd's life in the wake of this film makes a compelling case for it to never have been made in the first place. He was ten when it was made. He didn't ruin Star Wars.
  2. Wacky-Smacky Jar-Jar Binks makes a compelling case for not watching this film.
  3. Naked C3PO is one of the most terrifying images in cinema. His gaunt form and perpetual shakes resemble a 90-year-old with 3rd-degree burns all over his body.
  4. Ewan McGregor poured himself into the role of Obi-Wan. While the majority of the primary characters (and all secondary and background characters) seem to have no idea what is going on or indeed where their eye-line is going to be once all the CGI is added, McGregor is somehow always on point.
  5. The sound design is world class. Highlights of this include the pod race and the ambiance on Coruscant, the planet-sized city.

Final Verdict

As writer, director, producer and financier, George Lucas kicked off the biggest indie film trilogy in the history of the medium with The Phantom Menace and never looked back. Of the 7 films in the series that have been produced so far, this is by far the strangest. Plot contradictions abound, characters lack motivation... Simply put, nothing makes a lick of sense. This is particularly odd as George Lucas is famous for translating Joseph Campbell's ideas of a monomyth to cinema. With Episode IV, Lucas set the template for decades of action film. Episode 1 begs the question: Was it all just a lucky guess?

But, good golly! That is some incredible sound design.