In 1999, it had been sixteen years since Return Of The Jedi premiered. Fans all over the world were clamoring to see where George Lucas would be taking his characters after a nearly 20 year absence from the big screen.
Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace was the first prequel that would eventually connect the story lines started in 1977.
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is a hotheaded, eager, young Jedi who is eager to spread his wings. But his wiser, older master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) knows that his pupil is not as ready as he thinks he is. The evil Trade Federation is slowly taking over the galaxy. Traveling to Naboo with their new friend Jar Jar Binks (voiced by Ahmed Best), they try to warn Queen Amidala, who has already escaped (Natalie Portman), but her planet has already been taken over.
Eventually finding their way to Tatooine, they meet a a boy named Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd). Qui-Gon Jinn cannot put his finger 0n it, but there is something special about this boy. Now they must get to Coruscant, solve the trade dispute and return the Queen to her throne. But there is something hiding in the shadows, something far more serious and dangerous than any of them realize.
Is it me, or did George Lucas nearly screw up cinema perfection? Episodes 4, 5 and 6 are examples of what fantasy/scifi movies and their sequels should be. George Lucas became just another filmmaker who relies on 3D to keep the audience interested. Which is a shame because he is one of the most respected filmmakers alive. He has some of the best actors in Hollywood in this movie (Portman, Neeson and McGregor) and they are nearly wasted.
Any good filmmaker worth their salt knows that it is not special effects that keep the story moving forward and keeping the audiences interested. It is a good script with interesting characters and a story line that is one step ahead of the audience. Let’s not forget the stupidest character created (Jar Jar Binks) and the use of racial stereotypes that I would have hoped would not be part of Lucas’s writing.
Were the critics wrong? No.
In Fanboys (which I highly recommend), as the characters are waiting to go into the movie theater all decked out in their costumes, one of them asks (please pardon the paraphrasing).
“What if it sucks?”.
While George Lucas partially redeemed himself with episodes 2 and 3, episode 1 will is not a part of the series that I relish.
I do not recommend this movie.