The Skywalker Saga: The Phantom Menace

Recently I decided to take a look back and marathon the Star Wars movie franchise, all thanks to Weird Al’s parody song ‘The Saga Begins’.

So first on my list was The Phantom Menace, the first prequel movie to the original trilogy. I was a little apprehensive about it, from what I remember the movie wasn’t that great. However, I sucked it up, grabbed a KitKat and watched this two-hour movie.

My first thoughts were that I clearly didn’t remember this movie as well as I had thought I did, as a majority of the first half takes places before ever getting to the main character, Anakin. Every time I’d check how long I was into the movie; it would always surprise me to see it was massively off from halfway.

How can so much be happening within the first 30 minutes?

Another important detail about this movie, or rather trilogy, I forgot was of course: Jar Jar Binks.

Now I’ve never been an avid hater of the guy, but within this movie his presence just grated me the wrong way, every line spoken, every action performed; I despised him. And I fear it’s not going to get any better later down the line.

To combat Jar Jar, I did enjoy Liam Neeson’s role as Qui-Gon Jinn. He held such compassion but could still be stern and serious, which I rather enjoyed as I feel, especially with the prequel media, that most jedi are either one or the other.

It’s sad to know we don’t really get anymore of him in the movies, I know there are some one-off appearances in the Clone Wars show, but as far as movies go, we get nothing.

Obi Wan would definitely show himself to be a standout character in the later movies, but for this he’s sort of tucked away until the plot needs him.

I don’t really get a sense of his relationship with Qui-Gon being so important.

Instead of having this close bond it feels like they just happen to know each other for more than a month. So, when Qui-Gon bites the bullet, it doesn’t give me this big emotional feeling, especially when we’ve only had two hours with the guy.

Padmé is another character I feel very strange about, though she is always in the movie, it still feels like she hasn’t been there for more than 40 minutes. The plot twist of her being the Queen doesn’t really come off as mind-blowing, and I’d love to say it’s because I knew it would happen, but the thing is, I didn’t.

I’ve only seen the film once and it was a very long time ago, the main thing I remember from it are the characters and the pod race. So, to quickly guess that actress Natalie Portman was the queen wasn’t very hard.

Another character I found greatly annoying like Jar Jar was Anakin Skywalker, the main character for this trilogy. I get that he’s powerful with the force, but two Jedi relying on a child they just met? I don’t know about that one.

The actor didn’t really convey his lines that well, and the excuse of “oh, he’s a child” doesn’t really cut it when there have been child actors for years who’ve performed better than he did. Lines held no emotion, there were no facial expressions, I didn’t believe this kid could build a robot from scratch or win a pod race.

Moving from the characters, an additional issue I had with this movie was the backgrounds and sets. Now to me, Star Wars has always been associated with big elaborate sets that have such minute details. But this felt like I was watching a battle on the Windows desktop screen.

Are you kidding me? A huge empty field? A fight in the woods would have been more fun than this.

I’m not going to discredit the CGI simply because it was early tech and with the amount of motion and aliens they had in just one scene was mind-blowing for that time.

I’m once again begging that Lucas Films brings back the battledroids, they’re my favourite thing to come out of the prequel franchise and I wish to see them again. Just like some of the clones in Star Wars Rebels, I want to see some battleroids out and about, living life.

It still baffles me in every Star Wars media that no one has ever put together that the Emperor and the Chancellor are the same person. It’s pretty obvious even to a child that they’re the same, it just makes the characters look stupid.

And I know it’s meant to add tension to the story and he’s the main antagonist, but really? You’re telling me the only person to suspect that they’re the same was Windu?

Not Yoda? Not Obi-wan? Not Qui-Gon? Literally anybody else?

And we can’t not mention Darth Maul, a definite fan favourite of the series, though I do think he gets better treatment in the Clone Wars show than in this movie.

Overall, the Phantom Menace wasn’t as bad as I remember it being. It still isn’t my favourite movie to grace the franchise, but it does have some good moments like the Darth Maul fight. I do love the character interactions between Obi Wan and Qui-Gon, but there just wasn’t enough to make me think they’ve spent most of their lives together.

The Phantom Menace gets 3 out of 5 Midi-chlorians from me.

The Phantom Menace is available on Disney +.

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