For all your cult film, tv, cartoon, comic and video game needs

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The first of the Star Wars prequels The Phantom Menace was one of the most anticipated films of 1999. Maybe this is why, at the time, so many Star Wars fans felt so let down by the film. Trust me it’s probably not as bad as most of you remember.

That’s not to say the film does not have its problems. Those of us looking for the 1950’s style boys own adventure feel of the first trilogy found it largely replaced by a political drama involving trade agreements. This might have worked better if the dialogue hadn’t been so weak and poorly directed.


The weak dialogue hampers many of the performances. Even those who had proved themselves to be great actors, both before and since, struggle not to seem wooden and uncomfortable. Only Ian McDiarmid (Senator Palpatine) and Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn), despite his ‘Bigger Fish’ joke, seem to be able to rise above the material. The weak dialogue, along with the comedy ‘Battle Droids’, takes quite a bit of the menace and tension from many scenes.


There is also, of course, the start of the romance between the fourteen year old Queen Amidala and nine year old Anakin Skywalker. This could be seen as just a crush of a nine year old on a fourteen year old that just finds him sweet. Unfortunately it is directed more as a blossoming romance which, at times, is a little creepy to watch.

Before we move onto the positive aspects of the film there is one more gripe we must touch on. Jar Jar Binks was seen as many as a miscalculation by Lucas and even a little bit racist. As mentioned in a memorable scene is Spaced he was loved by kids but, hated by older fans of the original trilogy. Unfunny to the point of being annoying he was seen, much like R2-D2 and C3PO in the original trilogy, as a character whose eyes we could see the three films through. Such was the backlash against Jar Jar that Lucas paired down his role in both the follow up films.


As I said before, and despite what I’ve written above, The Phantom Menace is probably not as bad as you remember. Without the hype the positives start to shine through. Plus any film featuring the voice of Brian Blessed can’t be all bad.

There are some genuinely thrilling action sequences. The pod race looked fantastic on the big screen and has loses none of its thrill with repeat viewing. There is also the confrontation between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Darth Maul. Both these sequences, as well as many other action scenes within the film, are well acted, choreographed, shot and directed.

Darth Maul is a fantastic bad guy, although not as menacing a Darth Vader. His part is well written and when he is in the film he is well used. Darth Maul featured heavily in the films promotion. I just wish he had more screen time.

It is also a Star Wars film which, just by proxy, adds a certain level of awesome. There are many of elements we loved from the original trilogy that are still present. There is Jedi, Sith, lightsabers, space ships, imaginative aliens, scary bad guys, a strong female lead, I could easily go on. It’s also gone on to gross nearly one and a half billion worldwide.

So as flawed as it first seems The Phantom Menace is actually not too bad a film. I don’t know of any Star Wars fans who hated it so much they have not watched it since the release. By the way I intentionally didn’t mention Midi-chorians, that never happened!

Related Posts
Zu – Warriors of the Magic Mountain (1981)

Yuen Biao plays a champion fencer who disposes of his rivals with startling ability. Biao is also a student, writing an essay on the Ming Dynasty, which is received favorably by his tutor, Read more

Zontar, the Thing from Venus (1966)

At a dinner party with their wives, NASA scientist Dr. Keith Ritchie (Tony Huston) reveals to his colleague Dr. Curt Taylor (John Agar) that he has secretly been in communication Read more

Zone Troopers (1985)

In Italy during World War II, an American military patrol discovers a spaceship that has crash-landed in the woods, along with its alien crew. A nearby Nazi unit also Read more

Zombiegeddon (2003)

Directed by Chris Watson and distributed by Troma Entertainment, Zombiegeddon begins as Satan creates a human-like race called zombies. When the zombies begin taking over the world, dirty cops Jeff Read more

Zombie Tidal Wave (2019)

Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, Zombie Tidal Wave aims to pick up where the Sharknado franchise left off. More serious in tone, the film plays more like the original Sharknado Read more

Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (1999)

Based on Marilyn Sadler and Roger Bollen's book of the same name, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century was directed by Kenneth Johnson and set in the year 2049. It Read more

Zeiram (1991)

Directed by Keita Amemiya, Zeiram follows two intergalatic bounty hunters named Iria (Yûko Moriyama) and Bob (Masakazu Handa) who accept a job to apprehend Zeiram (Mizuho Yoshida) on a planet Read more

Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City (2010)

Arriving in 2010, Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City was the sequel for 2004's Zebraman, and starred Show Aikawa once again as Shinichi Ichikawa/Zebraman. As the film opens it Read more

Zebraman (2004)

Directed by Takashi Miike, Zebraman follows Shinichi Ichikawa (Shô Aikawa), a man whose life is unravelling before his eyes. At work he is a failing school teacher and at home he Read more

Zardoz (1974)

Zardoz, often referred to as "the one where James Bond is in his pants," is set in a future post-apocalypse Earth in the year 2293. By this point in history Read more

ZaAt (1971)

Directed by Don Barton, Zaat follows Dr. Kurt Leopold (Marshall Grauer) as he struggles with his former colleagues' "ZaAt" formula. Well you see this formula transforms humans into weird hybrid Read more

Z.P.G. (1972)

Directed by Michael Campus, Z.P.G. (Zero Population Growth) is inspired by the novel The Population Bomb by Paul R. Ehrlich. It deals with a planet Earth in the future that Read more

Young Warriors (1983)

A young woman, Beverly (Lynda Day George), is gang raped and murdered in a California college town, sparking her brother Kevin (James Van Patten) to take up arms by night with Read more

Yakuza Apocalypse (2015)

Internationally renowned director Takashi Miike (ICHI THE KILLER, AUDITION, 13 ASSASSINS, HARA-KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI 3D,ACE ATTORNEY, FOR LOVE’S SAKE, LESSON OF THE EVIL) is back with the action fantasy Read more

Xtro (1982)

Directed by Harry Bromley Davenport, Xtro follows what happens to a man named Sam Phillips (Philip Sayer) who is abducted by a strong alien light whilst playing with his son Tony (Simon Read more

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

Since Fox’s bastardisation of The X-Men started to be put right with First Class and Days of Future Past I had high hopes that Apocalypse and in some ways Fox Read more

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Wonder Woman 1984 (aka WW84) sees director Patty Jenkins return to the franchise that saved the DCEU. It is hard to believe this is the ninth film in the DCEU, Read more

Witchboard (1986)

Witchboard is a 1986 horror film directed by Kevin Tenney. The movie follows the story of a young woman named Linda (Tawny Kitaen), who becomes involved with a spirit board, Read more

Wishing Stairs (2003)

Wishing Stairs is the third installment of the Whispering Corridors film series set in girls high schools, but, as with all films in the series, it is unrelated to the others. Read more

Windows (1979)

A creepy obsession film that may have influenced Single White Female. Is it a great film... not really but it is worth watching for the way the Police act throughout Read more

%d bloggers like this: