Customer Reviews

2,958 Reviews
5 star:
4 star:
3 star:
2 star:
1 star:
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review

35 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing back fun to the big screen!
First, I hate it when I read reviews that attempt to evaluate a movie to see if it has some wonderful moral or social message to send. I say HOGWASH. I choose to evalute a movie for what it is, and in the case of The Phantom Menace, it is a Science Fiction movie that precedes the original StarWars Trilogy.
First, as the movie open with the famous: "A long...
Published on March 6, 2000 by Sidewinder

189 of 241 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Suffers from lack of developed characters and plot
I saw this film on theatrical release in and was very disappointed. Of course, alot of the disappointment initially had to do with the incredible hype build-up that accompanied the new trilogy. Nothing could have lived up to the public's expectations.

That having been said, The Phantom Menace is disappointing not so much because it stinks, but because, I felt,...
Published on May 26, 2005 by M. Chambers

‹ Previous | 1 2296 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

189 of 241 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Suffers from lack of developed characters and plot, May 26, 2005
This review is from: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
I saw this film on theatrical release in and was very disappointed. Of course, alot of the disappointment initially had to do with the incredible hype build-up that accompanied the new trilogy. Nothing could have lived up to the public's expectations.

That having been said, The Phantom Menace is disappointing not so much because it stinks, but because, I felt, with some additional tweaking, it could have been much much better. Its almost as if Lucas got the plot ideas and character concepts developed to a schematic level and then sort of lost interest in them and did not develop them any further.

Specific gripes:

1. We never really bond with or understand Qui-Gon's character or his relationship with young Anakin. He states that he thinks Anakin may be the chosen one, but that is not really sufficient. We need to see an emotional bond or some kind of identification between the two, but it just isn't there.

2. Not to pick on Jake Lloyd (he's probably a great kid), but Lucas or whoever just did not get a good performance out of him. Plus, there is no hint in young Anakin at this point of character traits or flaws that might later foreshadow his fall. Yoda says he sees anger and fear in Anakin and the Jedi Council make vague predications that he may eventually be dangerous, but we as audience members just don't see it. We are supposed to infer that Anakin is somehow damaged by his life as as slave and subsequent separation from his mother, but again, we don't see any of this. His life as a slave doesn't seem to indicate any hardship; his big scene saying goodbye to his mom is not particularly moving (mainly due to wooden acting by Lloyd; Pernilla August as his mom does a good job thought). Also, if he's a slave, how does he have time/resources to build robots and pod racers? Just not very true to life.

Perhaps if we had seen Anakin and/or his mom subjected to some sort of abuse or exploitation we would have a better indication both of the fear and anger in Anakin and also a potential emotional reason for why Qui-Gon wants to rescue Anakin. When I reflected on it, I thought it would almost be better if Anakin were like the feral boy in Road Warrior II: an unkempt, unclean, and agressive character that had to be somewhat tamed and civilized by his Jedi rescuers. We don't see any character flaws, any little hints of selfishness, anger, fear or frustration. As is, young Anakin is just an average cute kid; we don't see any depth to why he wants to escape his life as a slave or run off to join the Jedi so we don't really care.

3. Source of humor: The original series had a mix of humor based upon the droids 3PO and R2D2 and also with the human characters (primarily interactions between Solo, Leia, and Luke). In TPM, the primary source of humor is generated from droids and Jar Jar Binks with little or no humorous banter or interaction between human characters. This has two effects: 1)relying on computer-generated characters for humor means the primary form of humor becomes physical slapstick, which is one of the main complaints about the Jar Jar charcter; and 2)the interactions between the human main characters, when deprived of humor, makes their relationships seem dry and mechanical, another source of the shallow characterizations.

The one humorous moment that stands out is when, after being ambushed by the Trade Feds at the beginning, Obi-Won says to Qui-Gon with a wry smile: "Well, you were right about one thing Master....the negotiations were short!" This one moment stands out because it is one of the few jokes between human characters and it works and expresses some of Obi-Won's personality. It also effectively echoes some of the banter and attitude that made Solo's character so liekable and crucial to the original films, an attitude and sensibility that is lacking in TPM. As is, we are stuck with Jar Jar's pratfalls for yuks, and it just doesn't work unless you are 5 years old.

4. The shallowness of Darth Maul: Similar to other problems with character depth, we don't know enough about Maul. He says early in the film that at last he will have revenge on the Jedi. Revenge for what? We never know beyond vague notions that the Sith and Jedi are ancient enemies. That is not enough. We either need to be shown more back story on this or have some reason for Maul's motivation. His fight scenes with the Jedi at the end are dynamite and clearly the actor is very skilled in martial arts and projects a menacing attitude with only minimal dialog or screen time, but we never really know anything about him other than "he is a bad guy" and that is not enough.

5. Plot goofiness. As others have pointed out, all the midi-chlorian business is a red herring of mumbo-jumbo that takes the mystical mystery out of the Force and reduces it to a medical condition. The Jedi are supposed to be wise, powerful seers, but them seem oblivious to the presence and intentions of the bad guys over and over again. Having young Anakin build C3PO is silly and seems like a forced "circle closer". Further, having Anakin start out on Tatooine doesn't seem right and seems like another circle closer that is forced. Wouldn't he remember all this years later as Darth Vader in Episode 4? Wouldn't there be some result of this coincidence? As noted above, having a slave that doesn't seem to be deprived or suffering and has the time/resources to build robots and pod racers as a hobby seems goofy too.

Again, it seemed to me like Lucas got the plot and characters to a certain point and then quit on them. With only a little extra effort or different emphasis on certain elements, the movie could have been much improved and the audience would have had more insight into the characters and identified with them more. As is, the lack of character development combined with wooden acting makes it hard for the audience to care. The special effects set pieces are spectacular, and the computer generated elements are pioneering and well executed, but without a reason to care about or like the characters, its hard to get too excited.

Again, not a horrid movie, but frustrating because with just a few changes or extra effort, it could have been so much better.

POSTSCRIPT (2011)to my original year 2005 review:

This movie does not get better with time or repeated viewings. Further, the contention of some fans who like this movie and claim it should be viewed in the context of the other films (now complete) is not only a misguided apologist stance, but outright doesn't hold water. Why? Because if you compare TPM to any of the 5 other SW films, it is clearly the idiot bastard son of the bunch, wheezing and drooling in the corner.

In review, I give credence to a theory that a lot of other reviewers have given: in essence, Lucas was boiling everything down in this film to aim at the 5-year-old to 8-year-old demographic (probably to sell toys and mechandise, the real unexpected treasure that the original trilogy coughed up back in the 70's and 80's) and, as a result, bored everyone else to tears and/or made older fans hopping mad. However, huge stretches of this movie are so slow-moving that I bet a lot of the the target audience squirmed around in their seats anyway.

The second theory that other viewers have posed that seems to ring true with me as well is that Lucas is in a position now where he's THE MAN and, as a result, has no one around him that is willing to bring up constructive criticism to him or challenge weaknesses in the plot, script, or characters. Back in the day, while the original SW was certainly his vision, that film had to rely on a far more collaborative process to get made and address the many challenges its making entailed. With TPM, Lucas had total personal control and it seems like no one around Lucas had the guts to say: "George, we need a good kid actor to play a central character like Anakin, not some cutesy wooden mop-topped kid from TV commericals" or "Damn, George, that Jar Jar is irritating as hell!" or "George, did you realize all the aliens seem to be stand-ins for offensive real-life planet Earth racial / cultural stereotypes?" or "All the scenes with Kabuki-Natalie are boring boring boring" or "This movie is all-CGI and no plot and no character depth!" or "This movie is full of jumbled-up crap that makes no sense!". Further, modern movie technology further consolidated control with Lucas in that the 1970's technology required many people's input to solve technical problems and was far less malleable; modern CGI allows Lucas to personally review, tweak, and endlessly revise every aspect of the film just the way he wants it.

In a nutshell, there is a reason that the Irvin Kerschner (R.I.P.)- directed "Empire" is widely viewed as the best of the 6 films. How Lucas could see dailies of some of the performances he got out of his actors in TPM and not realize things stank or, at the very least, weren't working is beyond me, unless he was constantly surrounded by lackeys and toadies saying "That's great, Mr. Lucas! Not explaining anything about Darth Maul makes him sooooo mysterious! Having Jar Jar be a moron who speaks like Stepin Fetchit is really cool! He needs more screen time! You're a genius!". In retrospect, I wish that Lucas had handed over all the remaining films from "Return" all the way thru the newer Pre-Quel trilogy to others with Lucas only having an overall story arc / consulting role.

I know that Lucas is irritated by fans who act as if he "owes them" to handle all these movies a certain way (its HIS vision, as I'm sure he'd point out), and maybe it is unfair to whine about how Lucas could have / should have directed the story a different way. But the fact is that TPM is not a very good movie, and regardless of quibbles about overall direction of the story line, Lucas did owe it to fans to at least not make a stinker-roo that not only insults fans above the age of 8, but really tarnishes the legacy from the first trilogy. Lucas seems to think these movies are only for kids now, and has, at least in the case of TPM, clearly targeted them accordingly.

However, while I guess one could argue that adults should only go to see films like "My Dinner with Andre" or the oevre of Ingmar Bergman and leave anything less mature and intellectual to the kiddies, the fact is millions and millions of adults went to and enjoyed the first trilogy (and other action-adventure-fantasy films) and it is not unrealistic to expect millions of adults would have some interest in the Pre-Quel trilogy as well. Further, it is not unreasonable to expect those adults would have some expectation that the Pre-Quel trilogy would not only have something worthwhile for grown ups, but would also build and expand upon, in a worthy way, the original trilogy that was so well-liked. Lucas, frankly, dropped the ball on this one; contentions that it should be enough simply because it sprang out of Lucas' mind and vision are not sufficient.

One could even argue that Lucas now has more contempt than anything else for his adult audience and for the fanboys who gripe about things like "How could he make Greedo shoot first?" (the big Special Edition tweak that many felt was a poke in the eye.) Lucas seems to go thru great lengths to tweak things that don't need it and then ignores or is oblivious to things that are huge, infected carbuncles staring him right in the face, like crappy dialog, unrealistic plot devices, bad casting, and wooden acting. Its almost as if with TPM he's saying "Grow up, already! Trix are for kids! Don't forget to buy your kid a Happy Meal with an authorized LucasFilm toy on the way home!"

In short, Lucas seems to be taking his own films far less seriously than his fan base (and probably movie goers in general) does, and it clearly irritates the crap out of him (and/or he doesn't understand it). However, it also irritates the crap out of his fans and the audiences who loved the movies of the original Trilogy and expected more of the TPM. At worst, as some other harsh reviews have pointed out, TPM seems like just another cynical Hollywood-as-usual souless big money cash-in; was it so wrong for fans to expect something more than that? Until TPM, everyone felt that the Star Wars series was somehow different from the myriad of sci-fi / fantasy effects-laden movies (many of them awful; others: naked cash grabs) that its success inspired and spurred from 1977 onwards. The Star Wars series seemed to have a spirit of its own. The reason, whether Lucas understands it or not, for the vitirol spewed about TPM is many fans felt this "special-ness" was betrayed or sold short (either out of laziness, sloppiness, ineptitude, or worse, greed).

In short, TPM is a stinker. I surmise that even though he seemed to discount it in the press, Lucas took some of the fan reaction to TPM to heart as he stepped his game up somewhat with (the marginally better) AOTC and certainly with the much better (and darker, natch) ROTS. (Granted, no one is going to think ROTS was directed by Kubrick, but you get my point). Too bad TPM seems, still, like a serious and uncertain mis-step, almost like a rough draft concept that should have been abandoned and re-done from scratch. "Super Special Edition" anyone?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

35 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing back fun to the big screen!, March 6, 2000
First, I hate it when I read reviews that attempt to evaluate a movie to see if it has some wonderful moral or social message to send. I say HOGWASH. I choose to evalute a movie for what it is, and in the case of The Phantom Menace, it is a Science Fiction movie that precedes the original StarWars Trilogy.
First, as the movie open with the famous: "A long time ago in a galaxy far far away....", then the thundering Star Wars score I instantly reverted back to a 13 boy {I am now 36} with chills moving up my spine as I emerge myself into this wonderful Science Fiction movie.
Some of the things that I bring back from the move is how good I felt when I left the theater. I particularly like the way certain things were assumed that you already knew like the Jedi-Knights. They never had to explain who they were because we already knew. I really enjoyed the continuity from that aspect.
I thought that the charaters interacted with each other very well which helped to move the story along smoothly. I found the FX outstanding. It really kept me on the edge of my seat with the pod race and the light-saber battles. The villians were extremely well done and I was particularly please to see the original emperor from revenge of the Jedi return to the Phantom Menace.
In a nutshell Was it a great Sci-Fi Movie?...Yes! Did I feel good after it was over?....Yes.. Would I go see it again?...yep (3 times in fact) Should you buy the tape?....yes (but only because Lucas is being a weenie about releasing it to DVD}
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting to the root of a bigger story, March 28, 2000
This review is from: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
First off some simple facts. Number one: Star Wars is a science fantasy, not a science fiction. The difference? Science Fiction is the projection of possible future worlds and technologies. (Some one give me a buzz when a super world power creates a death star as a deterrent to war as the atom bomb was in the beginning, or when some one has full mastery of the force.) Number two: Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace is not a fully stand alone movie, rather it is a chapter in much bigger story. A story which, until now, was told with no real history or origins. The Phantom Menace is the first of three chapters that will explore the rise of Anakin Skywalker (played by Jake Lloyd) to greatness as a jedi to his eventual downfall and metamorphosis to legendary villian, Darth Vader. This movie is only the first of three, but it has already begun to establish certain key elements of the original trilogy. Such as Senator Palpatine's (Emperor Palpatine) manipulation of galactic politics concerning the invasion of Theed, and the emotional issues surrounding the young Anakin as he seeks to become a jedi. Idealy, the story is simple in execution and follows the same saturday matinee formula that made the original movies a success(i.e. a winning formula), boasting outstanding visual effects, that when put in it's proper place along side the original three, it becomes all the more understandable and all the more enjoyable. A great addition. Now all we need is Episodes two and three.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

59 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STAR WARS ON DVD. WELL WORTH THE WAIT., October 10, 2001
This review is from: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
It was said that Star Wars wouldnt make its way to DVD for years to come. However the demand grew so intence, Lucas decided to feed our hunger, if only for a little while. I got this DVD early from a friend who works at i was very excited to be amoung the first to own this film on DVD.
Everyone has seen Episode 1 so I dont need to go on about the movie itself, but the special features instead.
Disc one has commentary with George Lucas and Crew, but no cast memebers. That itself is the only dissapointing thing on this DVD. It would have been nice to hear Liam Neeson, and Ewan McGregor talk about the experience. Also George Lucas pauses for long periods of time, before speaking again, I started losing interest into what he was saying, and more interested in watching the film again.
Disc two has all the good stuff, outside of the movie. You can view the deleted scenes seperately, or they are intergrated back into the movie, if you can catch them. The film itself has many extended scenes at Corousant, and The Pod Race at Tatooine. Each deleted scene comes with an interview with Lucas explainging why it was cut and so on.
The rest is all normal features. There are 5 documentaries and a bunch of other toys to play with. Its really a great DVD, with hours of fun. Also each time you put it in, the menu screen changes to a different scene. Its really nice looking.
It sounds great, picture looks great. Feels like your back in the theatre again..all you need is movie popcorn.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh how easy to be unfair, June 5, 2003
"jman2306" (St. Paul, MN USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
Granted, this installment of the illustrious Star Wars series may not boast the completely unexpected, jaw-dropping impact which the original trilogy had on its now diehard fans, but the fact remains: Star Wars: Episode I has been badly mistreated in the ranks of its one-time supporters.
The plot is not undeveloped, the casting is not mischosen, and its place among the Star Wars saga is not unsure. On the contrary, this film is a very fitting continuance of the story fans fell in love with so long ago; it has the plot dripping with mystery, suspense, and intrigue, the characters complementing the story with their unique additional personalities, and the very Star Wars-like conclusion, which begs for the story to be completed in the final two films.
This movie is not at all badly written. The plot flows smoothly from one scene to the next, and even dons unique characteristics. The Jedi phenomenon is explained in much more detail (what some critics claim is "mumbo-jumbo"), and the audience is given more glimpses into their amazing abilities (i.e. Qui Gon and Obi-Wan speeding through the hallway, making daring leaps from ledge to ledge, etc.). The lightsaber battle(s) with Darth Maul brag incredible imagination on the part of the choreographers, and are absolutely dazzling to watch.
Overall, this film is brilliantly written and made, bewildering movie-goers with gut-wrenching suspense, a deeply woven plot, many unexpected twists and turns, and incredible special effects; with very special mention to the newly written music scores by none other than the genius John Williams. And while it boasts all of the characteristics that make for an awesome spectacle of a movie and addition to the Star Wars saga, loyal Star Wars fans are turning their backs on it and not appreciating it for the aesthetic genius it is.
Don't think it lives up to the first three Star Wars films? Don't compare it to them. It is profoundly different, because it is meant to be. It tells the story within the story, and was meant to be much different than any Star Wars "fans" would expect. It's a different time, different place, you must remember. That means different people, different places, different tales. Be fair people.
This is an excellent film and lives up to every expectation as a Star Wars movie as a whole. I rest my case.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale for all ages, March 17, 2000
derek (washington st. usa) - See all my reviews
I loved this movie. It is a movie that the whole family can enjoy together, a myth for our times you might say. Unlike most movies out today where they're either specifically directed at small children, teens(who seem to have nothing but partying on thier minds), or adults, the Phantom Menace has appeal for all moviegoers. Although there is violence in the movie, there is no "gore"(blood or body parts shooting all over the screen) so even small children can enjoy the story. It enabled me to enjoy an epic tale of good versus evil with my children(they loved it)one that was a huge part of my life when I was young. The whole order of the Jedi and the way they view the universe is definately a positive influence for a child, unlike the meaningless fighting in "pokemon" or similar popular icons. What it boils down to is the fact that it is an excellent all around movie building on characters that we all know and want to know more about, and giving us a little taste of who and why the "Jedi" are. On a final note jar-jar is not that bad, if you look back through the other 3 films you'll see that r2 & 3po are a sort of comic relief.......the case is the same for jar-jar.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

43 of 56 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars My Reasons..., June 12, 2000
Dax (Vancouver, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
Like so many others I waited fingernail biting for many years. Also like many old fans I was left sorely disappointed. Now I kept my expectations relatively low for the new movie-and still it was bad! (Really bad) Most of my friends desperately wanting to keep Lucas venerated had "it was alright/ had some cool effects" to say, only to later join my much stronger "I hated it" stance. I've heard plenty of negative criticism without some specifics, so here are some of the problems with Lucas' blunder as I see them:
-THE TARGET AUDIENCE: (it was kids!) Now I know the desire was to keep Star Wars available to all ages, but this failed. The original movies were mature enough in dialogue, mood, and detail to enthrall older ages, yet still accessible to younger ages (Darth is evil). This movie though, is kept accessible to its target audience while neglecting the majority of its fans.
-THE COMEDY: (cheap laughs and clowning) In keeping with making a children's movie, Lucas had to ensure that all of the comedy could be understood, therefore physical buffoonery was the only out. Would it have been too much to include some subtle banter (or any verbal comedy) like that found in the other movies? (and capable of entertaining audiences older than twelve). Really though, does anything more need be said than Jar-Jar? I don't think so.
-THE VIOLENCE: (can't have the kids see any) Now not that I advocate violence for its own sake, but in this film its a mix of clowning-robot breaking-safety. The first five minutes of A New Hope are more violent then this entire movie- Vader parading over the fallen bodies of the storm troopers and rebels (and this was '77, not the desensitized world of the millennium). Violence can be used as a tool to produce mood, enforce the gravity of a situation, or (as Lucas likes) a chance to have a clown dance around making light of a 'war' (I guess because we wouldn't want our target audience to become upset at all the violence)
-SELF-CONTAINED WORLD: (it was not) The movie has placible accents (that are also painful) and connections with the 'real world'- i.e. the steriotypical comentators during the pod race.
-THE CHARACTERS: (because I care) The characters and their interactions are boring and cardboard. The enemy is not built up at all. Sure old Mal looked pretty nifty, but what is he? The villain- he dies- oh well, whatever, nice and one sided (after all, the target audience will get it). The same emotional impact is felt when Qui-Gon dies: "oh well".
-UNBELIEVABILITY: (suspension of disbelief has limits) Anakin is in his fighter plane, avoids dying, and accidentally shoots what turns out to be integral to the station and thereby winning the battle being 'fought' on the planet. I'm sorry I just couldn't work with it.
-ANAKIN"S FOREIGN TOUNGUE: (why? why?) Petty, maybe. Integral to the story, no. Annoying? Hell ya! Whose idea was it to have Anakin speak his rhyming gibberish? Were they going for the 'hey this sounds made up' sound, or the 'are they doing this on purpose?' sound?
I apologize for not going into greater detail (because believe me, I could) but these are some of the more prominent problems to a movie that I would plan to watch again only to find all those faults that have been forgotten since seeing during its first week.
My conclusion: Lucas has become drunk with success and lost his mind.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars George Lucas scores BIG!, April 3, 2000
C. Powers (Grand Rapids, MI) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
By not putting out a DVD copy of this film, director/producer George Lucas has assured himself a bright financial future. While this VHS version mostly satisfies this fan, I know that I would have enjoyed having a the choices that are availible on DVD. George, we all know that you're planning a big release after the other two films are released, but believe me, there are plenty of us out here that would gladly purchase a meat and potatoes version of this fine movie on DVD and go for the high-octane version in 4 years, but instead have to purchase it on VHS at present.
As for the pan & scan version of this film, because this was created for the BIG screen, it was lacking in the grandure that surrounded it in theaters. While it helps to have a good sound system, it is still VHS sound quality. The story, characters, and plot are classics just by carrying the Star Wars name. This is a 5 star movie, but I felt I had to hold out the last star for the bad format choice. George: good movie, bad format.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

108 of 144 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confusing but captivating, October 15, 2001
This review is from: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
For some reason, I received this DVD several days before the issue date, so when the weekend TV promotions for it claimed that it would set "the new standard for DVDs," I was qualified to nod my head in total agreement. In fact, nothing in my DVD collection matches the quality of this superb product. It is a great transfer in every respect, and the extras are mind boggling.
Unlike most people who will buy this DVD, my viewing of it was also my first viewing of "Star Wars I - The Phantom Menace," because I never caught it when it was in the theaters. I had read and heard all the negative reports, though, countered by some enthusiasm from diehard Star Wars fans, so my expectations weren't very high as to the story. My expectations as regards the visuals were very high, though, because of trailers that I had downloaded from the Net, and this DVD did not disappoint me.
I'm sure that seeing this movie on the big screen would be much better. It always is. But even on my 17" Sony computer monitor (set for anamorphic, full resolution) the visuals are lavish and astonishing. The pod race and the climactic battleground scene look so real ... well, they look real! Incredibly real! Even when paused and advanced a frame at a time, the pod race action looks like the real thing. In the real world, objects racing past a camera lens produce a blurred image that is more blurred the closer to the camera, less so as the distance increases. In order to be convincing, animation must do the same thing. The sorcerers at ILM have done this to perfection, combining real images and computer generated ones, matching surround sound to the action, and giving us so many simultaneous tracking movements our heads begin to spin, as though we are riding one of those wild, carreening "pods" through the jagged stone walls and screeching over the desert race course.
But enough about "special effects" (I hate that phrase). What everyone seems to carp about most is the story...and the actors, especially the young actor chosen to play Anakin Skywalker. More about the story in a minute. Let's talk about the boy first. I admit to long being mystified as to why this particular youngster (Jake Lloyd) was chosen. In the previews I had seen, he seemed dull, uninspired, almost disinterested. Viewing the actual film, I was of much the same opinion at first, but he did start to grow on me. It was only later, on viewing the multitudinous "making of" documentaries on disk 2 (see especially "3000 Anakins"!), where his auditions can be compared to those of two other boys, that I began to realize that he had actually been an excellent choice. What, then, is the reason that his on-screen performance seems at times so lackluster? After viewing this film, I firmly believe that the true culprit was sloppy and careless directing, not this inexperienced nine year old boy. In many of the peeks we get into the actual filming sessions, there seems to be an attitude of "let the kid be himself," with apparently the first take often being accepted as good enough because he's satisfyingly "unpredictable." This not only seems to have been the case in the direction (or lack of it) of young Lloyd, but in many of the scenes that did not include him. Having seen the kid's audition, I believe he was probably capable of delivering a great Anakin, but he was rarely if ever challenged, coached, or directed to do so. Result -- mediocrity that is by no means the kid's fault. He was only nine, so the fault must lie with the adults, and it plainly does. Jake's performances are by no means the only wooden ones in this movie.
Now to the story: I didn't fathom it, but this incredible flick is so entertaining in all its many other aspects, I really didn't care. In truth, I'm not a Star Wars fan. Never have been. So when that mob of oddly dressed wooden characters began babbling about Senators and treaties and Federations and other such mish-mosh, I gave up, relaxed, and just enjoyed the music and the backgrounds. A second and third viewing of SW-I will probably begin to clear things up for me -- but really, the action itself is so appealing, an actual story would seem almost an impediment to the enjoyment of this visual and sonic tour de force.
If you're a Star Wars fan and know the basic story and all the characters, then you will pick up on that aspect of things a lot quicker than I did, and will enjoy this movie again and again, I'm sure. But, from my point of view, it is a tribute to George Lucas and all the immensely talented people who gave us this treasure, that a detailed story isn't really all that necessary. For the casual viewer, just having a rough idea of what's going on is enough. The pure visceral experience of SW-I is worth four stars alone, and that's what I give "The Phantom Menace."
Technically, though, the DVD transfer is a solid 5 stars. In terms of bang for the bucks, it's off the scale!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

54 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply fun and entertaining, February 16, 2000
Mike "Mike" (Lauging at the basement-dwelling slack jawed yokels) - See all my reviews
I feel bad for sci-fi fans who are so caught up in themselves and what they percieve to be a "perfect movie" that they couldn't enjoy a fun, entertaining, and warm movie like this.
From start to finish, I was completely caught up in another world. Lucas's masterpiece has the ability to sweep you away for two hours and take you on an exciting journey like no other film has. This movie is a throwback to "old-time" entertainment that is "good vs. evil" and exciting and FAMILY ORIENTED.
I do not consider myself a huge Star Wars fan, but I absolutely loved this film. Avoid the opinions of all the Star Wars nuts who would not have been satisfied if Lucas had shot a four hour epic on LOCATION in a galaxy far away with real Jedi.
The story is great (and emotional when you realize what the future holds for some of the characters), special effects are astounding, and characters are cool. What else do you want?
NEWSFLASH: Two hours and 20 min of Darth Maul would not make a good movie (although some would have you believe so). I liked him too, but I don't think the movie sucks because I personally would have liked to see more of him! He was supposed to be a menacing background character (hence: The Phantom Menace), not a new Darth Vader. So...get a grip, loosen up, allow yourself to have fun and watch this one for what it IS: a fun and entertaining movie, not a Godsent gift of filmmaking perfection aimed directly at you...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

‹ Previous | 1 2296 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First


Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (Widescreen Edition)
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.