Watch Now

Prime Video

Buy from $19.99

On TV

Airs Sat. May. 04, 12:00 AM on TBS (202)


On Disc

Amazon

Buy from $16.00

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)

PG   |    |  Action, Adventure, Fantasy


Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999) Poster

Two Jedi escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to claim their old glory.

TIP
Add this title to your Watchlist
Save movies and shows to keep track of what you want to watch.

6.5/10
649,063

Videos


Photos

  • Kenny Baker in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Ray Park and Andreas Petrides in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Drew Carey at an event for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Jake Lloyd in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)

See all photos

More of What You Love

Find what you're looking for even quicker with the IMDb app on your smartphone or tablet.

Get the IMDb app

Reviews & Commentary

Add a Review


User Reviews


29 October 2005 | kylopod
5
| A perspective after all the hype has died down
Lucas may have problems as a director and writer, but I've always thought that those flaws are balanced by his great storytelling ability. The problem with "The Phantom Menace" is that he simply has no story to tell. The film merely adds an introductory chapter to a story that has already been told, and stretches it out into a two-hour movie. It is no accident that prequels of this kind are rare. They are very difficult to make properly. And apparently he's just not a sophisticated enough filmmaker to pull it off.

For one thing, this project is limited by the fact that anyone familiar with the first trilogy knows the story's outcome, and it therefore lacks some of the suspense associated with a gradually unfolding saga. More importantly, however, this situation leaves Lucas with very little freedom as a storyteller. It also encourages him to gloss over key events; because their outcome is a foregone conclusion, he forgets to bring them to life.

For example, we know there will eventually be a romance between Anakin and Padme. So Lucas has the two characters meet here and--surprise, surprise--they seem to like each other. Their developing friendship isn't portrayed that clearly, and their motivations for becoming close aren't explained. Because Lucas fails to make scenes like these believable, we can't help being conscious of how he's manipulating the plot in his effort to connect the two trilogies. Another good example of this problem is Anakin's portrayal as a potential Jedi. There doesn't appear to be anything about this kid remotely out of the ordinary, even though the other characters keep talking like there is. Our only reason for thinking he's special is that the plot requires it.

If the story fails to be engaging, it is because we never see the important events. Lucas makes a fatal error in not showing what's happening on Naboo, the small planet whose capture is the focus of the plot. Numerous atrocities are supposedly being committed against the planet's inhabitants, but we only know about this because the characters on screen refer to the events, usually rather woodenly.

The deadpan performances are a problem in themselves, but they only highlight our lack of involvement in the story. Think of Han Solo sweating in fear, then think of the emotional vacuums passing for characters in this film. Whenever any of the characters do express emotion, as in the scene where Anakin and his mom part, it still seems awfully restrained. Somehow, Lucas manages to keep the emotional reactions of his characters to a minimum, which gives the film an almost mechanical feel.

It's true that "A New Hope" never showed Alderaan's inhabitants, but we still could feel the tragedy of the planet's destruction through the horrified reactions of Princess Leia and Obi Wan. Moreover, there were many other involving events which we witnessed directly, such as the slaying of rebels at the beginning; the capture and torture of the princess; and the murder of Luke's foster parents. Furthermore, the major plot elements were intriguing in and of themselves. They weren't there merely to show us how they were to be linked to later events, which seems to be the case with the new film.

I suspect that Lucas was not as concerned in the first trilogy with what had to happen later in the story and was therefore able to focus his attention on the events at hand. The weakest segment was "Return of the Jedi," which had the task of bringing the story to an end. Only then did Lucas start to show signs of forcing plot points. In "The Phantom Menace," he gets so bogged down in the task of bringing his story from point A to point B that he ends up with only the bare bones of a plot, and none of it comes alive.

This is especially true of the characterization. In the old trilogy, characters like Yoda and Han reveal distinct personalities in their first few minutes on screen. This film goes for more than two hours and the characters, including the familiar ones, come off vague and nondescript. We aren't given much of a chance to experience their personalities in the way they interact. We must take Qui Gon's word for it when he describes Obi Wan as "headstrong." What's most odd is that the cartoons seem better developed than the humans. The scenes where Qui Gon negotiates with the birdlike slave-owner Watto are amusing and well-done--probably the movie's best scenes aside from the stunning action sequences--but they can't hold a candle to the constant interactions throughout the first trilogy.

One thing I cannot do is accuse the film of lacking creativity. The design of the creatures, the technologies, and the planets is impressive. Watching the film is sort of like reading a children's book that isn't very good but abounds with beautiful illustrations. There is certainly a "wow" factor in the movie's visuals, but the effect of it is short-lived.

I get irked when I hear fans talk as though the "Star Wars" movies were never about anything beyond special effects. While the inventive visuals are part of what made the originals so revolutionary, they're not what made the films so fun to watch. And in no way can they explain the trilogy's continuing popularity today. After all, many of the original effects look primitive by today's standards, and their novelty has certainly worn off. Only an enduring and compelling storyline could have allowed the first three films to become the classics they're almost universally acknowledged to be.

Metacritic Reviews


Critic Reviews



More Like This

  • Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

    Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

  • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

    Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

    Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  • Star Wars: A New Hope

    Star Wars: A New Hope

  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

    Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi

  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

  • Back to the Future Part III

    Back to the Future Part III

Did You Know?

Trivia

Star Wars Insider magazine publisher Dan Madsen is seen doing his bit, as an extra, grabbing the reins of a "Kaadu" at the celebration scene. He's short and wearing a light green outfit.


Quotes

Qui-Gon Jinn: Captain.
Republic Cruiser Captain: Yes, sir?
Qui-Gon Jinn: Tell them we wish to board at once.
Republic Cruiser Captain: With all due respect, the ambassadors for the Supreme Chancellor wish to board immediately.
Nute Gunray: Yes, of course. As you know, our blockade is perfectly legal and we'd be happy to receive the ...


Goofs

Just before Anakin's pod-racer gets stuck with Sebulba's, he is on Sebulba's right side. When they get stuck together in the next shot, Anakin is suddenly on Sebulba's left side without having changed positions.


Crazy Credits

The opening logo for 20th Century Fox is static (to match the opening of Episodes 4, 5 and 6), instead of the animated 3-D logo used in Fox films at the time. The Fox logo also fades out halfway through the fanfare, and the final flourish is played over the Lucasfilm logo. Modern Fox films keep the company logo on-screen throughout the entire fanfare.


Alternate Versions

There are two versions of the climactic finale where Darth Maul is killed by Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the original, he is seen falling down the reactor shaft, dead but in one piece. In the updated version (in general release), he is seen falling down the shaft in two pieces, cut in half at the torso. Apparently, original press screenings presented the first version, but the second version is what most people will see to make it clear that Maul is dead.


Soundtracks

The Trip to the Naboo Temple and The Audience with Boss Nass
Composed by
John Williams

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Action | Adventure | Fantasy | Sci-Fi

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Plays Our "GoT" Bracket Challenge

The greatest warriors from "Game of Thrones" face off in an epic brawl, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau picks who will end up on the Iron Throne.

Watch now

Featured on IMDb

Check out our guide to superheroes, horror movies, and more.

Around The Web

 | 

Powered by ZergNet

More To Explore

Search on Amazon.com