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Mike Wilder brings you movie reviews. Each week a Selection of reviews for new releases and older films plus movie comparisons.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Review of Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) by Mike

Title: Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Original UK Release Date: 16th July 1999

Original US Release Date: 19th May 1999

UK Rating: U

US Rating: PG

Director: George Lucas

Genre: Sci-Fi

Plot: Two Jedi Knights travel to the planet Naboo to mediate a trade dispute. Whilst there, they discover a threat that will have grave consequences for the whole galaxy.

Mike's Review (There are minor spoilers in this review)

            I’m a huge Star Wars fan. By huge I mean verging on obsession. I grew up with the original trilogy and had pretty much all the available toys when I was younger (Still have them!). When a new trilogy was announced it was like all my Christmases coming at once. I avoided as much of the publicity as I could, only watching the trailer and skipping any magazine articles on the subject. I wanted to enjoy the film and have nothing influencing it. I knew who was in it but that was about it. However it was hard to avoid all the negative information that was spreading. As much as I tried I knew that this film was largely not well liked. This didn’t bother me after all it was Star Wars, how bad could it be?

I went to the cinema in anticipation and sat down. Then it started. STAR WARS came upon the screen and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. This was it. The yellow text started scrolling up the screen and I couldn’t help but smile. The smile of a true fan.

            The film starts out with two Jedi Knights arriving on the planet Naboo. Once there they are soon fighting for their lives. When they flee the planet they take with them the Naboo Queen, her guard and a native of the planet Jar Jar Binks. During the film we are introduced to a variety of characters and plenty of mystery. The end of the film is a showdown between the Jedi Knights and a mysterious alien that pushes them to their limits. The new 3D conversion is good although maybe unnecessary. It adds a new dimension to the film and on the huge cinema screen draws you in even more.

            The film looks amazing, as only a Star Wars film can. Using modern filmmaking techniques George Lucas creates a film like you have never seen before just like he did with the original films. Once again he uses a mixture of established actors including Liam Neeson, Warwick Davis, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, Terence Stamp, Brian Blessed, Samuel L. Jackson, & Ian McDiarmid and up and coming stars Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Ray Park, Dominic West & Keira Knightley. George Lucas has a talent for finding the perfect person for the role. The cast is excellent and make the best of their parts. What George Lucas isn’t known for is his script writing. Once again, just like the first Star Wars film it doesn’t make much sense at first but this is what all the haters of this film fail to see. This isn’t a single film, it is the first of three films. When viewed as a trilogy it all falls into place. There is a reason for everything. Yes, the character of Jar Jar Binks is annoying, but he eventually serves to be the downfall of the galaxy. Many people were too busy hating him and ignoring his appearance in the following films to grasp this. Also yes, Ewan McGregor appears to be terrible in this, but he was meant to be that way. He is playing a character that is still finding his way in the universe and relies on his master for guidance. View the character in the following film and you will see the maturity and wisdom of the character all through the brilliant acting skills of Ewan McGregor, the stand out performance of the film.

            Some films shouldn’t be over analysed and just enjoyed and this is one of those. This film is Star Wars like no one had ever experienced it before. The light sabre battles are incredible, the space battle spectacular and the use of CGI is second to none. I don’t know what everyone else who saw this expected but it was exactly what I wanted.

The original film is known as a master piece in film making using techniques never seen before. It is also know for bad acting, terrible script and bad direction. But so is this one. It used effects never seen before and it also has all the flaws of the original film. But it is hated! Look at the original film now as if you have never seen it before. It is bad. But it is bad in a good way and put with the next two films it all falls into place to make a great story. This is also true of the prequel films. Individually they all have flaws, together the flaws don’t matter. This is Star Wars! When you first saw them some of you were probably children. You got lost in the experience and they blew your mind. You saw the new ones as a cynical grown up with your lives full of responsibility and maturity and the experience was wasted on you. Bet your kids loved the new ones though!?

This is Star Wars and I bloody loved it!!

10 out of 10

Additional Information

Stand out performance: Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi


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