Writer: Thomas Huong Writer Ratings:Overall: Cast:
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Star Wars fans, its time to break out the champagne and celebrate! Yes, 16 years after 'Return Of The Jedi', George Lucas is back with 'Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace', the first installment of a new trilogy. And after all the hype and fans camping out in front of theatres for weeks in the United States just to get opening day tickets, the critics actually had the audacity to slam and bash the movie! Well. I guess that sets the tone for this review. You just know that this is one critic who's not going to follow the trend and write a bad review about 'The Phantom Menace'. For your information, I was about 10 years old when I watched the original Star Wars trilogy and now I can barely remember any of it. Also, I am a Star Trek fan (go boldly where no man has gone before?) rather than a Star Wars fan. So I suppose that despite the high expectations generated by the mass media concerning "The Phantom Menace' before its release and considering that I didn't really know what to expect from the movie, this review is about as unbiased as possible.
'The Phantom Menace' was written and directed by George Lucas (who else?), produced by Rick McCallum and it stars Liam Neeson (Rob Roy, Michael Collins), Ewan McGregor (A Life Less Ordinary, Trainspotting), Natalie Portman and Jake Lloyd.
Here, I'll try not to give too much of the plot away and spoil the movie for people who haven't seen it. 'The Phantom Menace' is actually a prequel, with the story set some thirty years before 'Star Wars Episode Four: A New Hope'. So actually, what we are going to see is how the evil Empire rose to replace the Old Republic and the origins of Anakin Skywalker a.k.a Darth Vader.
'The Phantom Menace' starts with the planet Naboo under blockade by the Trade Federation. Two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jin (Liam Neeson) and a young Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) are sent to mediate the dispute. As the situation worsens, Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) of the planet Naboo is forced to flee. Their ship develops engine trouble and they stop on the planet Tatooine, where the Jedi Knights meet Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) and thus lay the threads of destiny.
Moviegoers will be treated to some really stunning special effects, such as an incredible underwater city, scarier-than-Godzilla underwater monsters, thrilling light-saber duels, strange alien worlds, a vast plethora of aliens, the list is endless. Several memorable scenes are the pod race sequence, which is incredibly exciting and will have you gripping your seat with tension, and the war formation of the Trade Federation's battle droids, which simply blows you over with their efficiency and power. Samuel L. Jackson also makes an appearance as Jedi Council member Mace Windu and Pernilla August acts as Shmi Skywalker, Anakin's mother.
A comic relief character is also thrown in, namely Jar Jar Binks, voiced by Ahmed Best. This guy is really funny, what with his clumsy antics and slippery tongue. We also get to see a young Jabba The Hutt and Yoda, the Jedi Master. The villain, Darth Maul, a Sith Lord who embraces the dark side of the Force, looks chillingly and convincingly evil and his duel with the Jedi Knights is awesome. I mean, he could teach the Jedi Knights a thing or two about light-saber fighting techniques. The origins of R2-D2 and C3-P0, those two beloved droids, are also explained. Overall, 'The Phantom Menace' boasts top-of-the-line special effects, outstanding sights and sounds, a wonderful story, exciting action sequences and a powerful and emotional score by John Williams.Cinema Online, 03 June 1999