A not-so long, long time ago in a galaxy actually pretty close, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace hit the big screen. May 19, 1999 to be exact. Now, 13 years later, the movie returns to the big screen, only this time in three dimensions. The movie has taken a lot of hits. There are a plethora of articles and hit-pieces on the movie. The criticisms typically come from those who have never entered a pod-race or engaged in a duel with a double- bladed lightsaber.
I, however, enjoyed Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Why you may ask. No I have not gone crazy.
The opening theme. When the John Williams’ penned fan-fair hits, you know you are in for a treat. The music is as much a character in the film as any one else. The sounds throughout the movie harken back to the original trilogy and are exciting. And, admit it, regardless of the movie, when you see the 20th Century Fox logo, you expect the Star Wars theme.
The pod race was thrilling. The scenes in the pod race were done extremely well. The race is a lot a fun and that is what a Star Wars movie is supposed to be – fun. The race is suspenseful as Tusken Raiders try and take out the pod racers as they try to take out each other.
Shaft. That is right, Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu. Jackson exudes badness. He was the toughest Jedi around. If only he would have started asking people what Marcellus Wallace looked like.
Darth Maul is awesome. Darth Maul is the coolest Sith lord this side of Darth Vader. Unfortunately, we never got to learn much about him. His scenes are short, except for one that I will get to in a minute. He is killed before his greatness reaches its peak. If only he could have could have survived to Episode 2 and fought Mace Windu for toughest SOB in the far away galaxy.
Liam Neeson. Has Liam Neeson been in a bad movie? Maybe, but he has not been bad in any movie. He brings Hannibal Smith like leadership to our crew as they journey from Naboo to Tatooine to Coruscant. He trained Obi-Wan Kenobi, one of the greatest Jedi of all time. However, he probably should have reconsidered his plans for Anakin before they came together.
Finally, the best thing about Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is the light saber battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Darth Maul. This battle is arguably the best lightsaber duel of all Star Wars movies. (The only other duel that comes close is Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back and that was due more to the emotionality of the battle.) The action of the duel is fast-paced and well choreographed. I remember when I saw this in the theater back in 1999. The action of this scene was too much for one attendee and they had to be helped from the theater. If it wasn’t for the red force-fields to give us a breather, we all might have gotten excessively energized.
So, was Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace the best Star Wars film? No, but I don’t think it was as bad as many believe. I think part of the handicap this film had was in trying to live up to the unreal expectations of fanboys.
Will I go see Episode 1 in 3D? Yes and the other 5 movies as well and I will take my kids. After all, these movies are family flicks.
Conservatives enjoy The Phantom Menace. Good wins the battle in this movie and wins the war overall at the end of Return of the Jedi.