Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

The Phantom Menace

(1999)

Directed by George Lucas

Starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Ahmed Best

Rating: ******
              3/6

Every Saga has a beginning,
So the posters advertised,
But this particular beginning
Was only loosely described.

It was the first Star Wars movie
In nearly twenty years,
Discounting TV movies
About Ewoks and their fears.

The theatres were forming lines
Well in advance.
For those who wanted another film,
Now would be their chance.

Liam’s passive demeanor is Taken.

George Lucas, the Creator,
Would be directing this himself,
His first since 1977,
When it had impacted his health.

This new saga would focus on
A child who would become greater,
Once he’d grown up a bit
And turned into Darth Vader.

His teacher Obi-Wan Kenobi
Would be in every story,
Teaching and watching over him
While forming his own story.

Thus, the Prequel Trilogy,
As the saga came to be known,
Started in 1999
In a galaxy far from home,

The film opens up with some crawling text
About taxes, of all things, and trade.
Two Jedis are sent to settle a dispute
On a planet a long way away.

Obi Wan Kenobi meets the comedy relief.

We’re introduced to Qui Gon Gin,
A Jedi with a younger pupil.
The youngster is named Obi Wan Kenobi,
And together, their power is quadrupled.

The two Jedis who were sent out
Are a man named Qui Gon Gin
And his padawan named Obi Wan,
Who is with him through thick and thin.

They’re both investigating
Some mysterious happenings
Perpetrated by a man
Shrouded in secrecy.

Qui Gon Gin is Liam Neeson,
And Kenobi is Ewan MacGregor.
They have good chemistry onscreen
And act very well together.

They get to fight some battle droids,
Which hold up to this day,
And try to piece together a puzzle
That they can’t solve right away.

When they leave the planet,
They get to escort a queen
Aboard her royal shuttle
To the planet Tattooine.

She’s the Queen of a divided
Planet called Naboo.
It’s half-filled with people,
And it’s filled with Gungans, too.

Gungans are amphibious,
Warrior-like beings
That have dwellings underwater
So that they can’t be seen.

The humans there call themselves
The People of Naboo.
The good Queen Amidala
Seeks peace for all her crew.

The main Gungan in the story
Is a man named Jar Jar Binks.
He’s the comedy relief,
And one of this film’s weakest links.

To recap, we have Qui Gon Gin
And Obi Wan Kenobi
Accompanied by a Queen
And a sidekick filled with baloney.

They later meet a senator
Who wants to rule all,
And a child/pilot/engineer
Who was absent from the opening crawl.

These people are the main players
In this somewhat complex story.
What happens to them matters,
Like Fred Flintstone in his quarry.

The story is actually pretty good,
As a foundation new and bold,
But it could have used a little work,
For it’s not very well told.

George Lucas wrote the story,
And produced it, too, with flair,
And also very cozily
Sat in the Director’s Chair.

This was the first film he directed
In twenty-two long years.
His skills were rather rusty,
And long underused, I fear.

What could have been magnificent,
Had an uneven pace.
Some scenes seemed to drag and drag,
Enough to crease your face,

Whilst others seemed to flash on by,
And leave you wondering what happened,
A habit common in the Prequels,
From the beginning to the back end.

There’s a lot of juvenile humour
That greatly insults the viewer.
There’s really no excuse for that, for
It made this film’s fans fewer.

In all, it wasn’t a particularly
Well-made film at all,
And yet the work and talent that went into it
Was by no means small.

Anakin Skywalker, before he was cool.

One sees fits and starts of excellence
Scattered all throughout,
And yet we wonder afterwards
What it was all about.

The first of these three Prequels
Was the most boring and annoying.
After much anticipation,
It was also quite disappointing.

I hated it when it first came out,
And resolved not to see it again,
But upon a few repeated viewings,
It has not been that bad again.

So what’s a fair grade for this film?
Well, as a movie it’s okay at best.
As a Star Wars movie, however,
It’s a galaxy away from the best.

I’m giving it a three out of six.
It should have been a lot better.
You really don’t need to see it twice.
You can really just forget her.

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