Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace – Disneycember

It’s one of the most hated prequels of all time! Is it worth all the hate? Well, yeah mostly. Doug takes a look at The Phantom Menace.

About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.

103 comments

  1. I’d have to say the acting and writing is probably worse in “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith”. Some of it goes to Hayden Christensen, but really no one could make the dialog he was given seem good. That Padme found him anything but frightingly creepy is beyond comprehension. It has to be one of the most unconvincing romances in movie history.

    Jake Lloyd may have been miscast, but you can’t blame a 10 year old for that and we know there’s a history of serious dialog problems in the sequels.

    I think the real problem with Jar Jar is he’s just there for “comedy” and really serves no legitimate plot purpose.

  2. I liked it.

    I know it was bad, there were a lot of problems with it, all of which you pointed out. But you could still have fun WITH how stupid it is. Something that you have argued for lots of other stupidly fun movies.

    There is more to people who like this movie than simply being naive Doug. I feel like you’re really talking down to a lot of people Doug, and you’re someone who doesn’t like to insult peoples’ intelligence. Just cause someone can find enjoyment from something that most others wouldn’t doesn’t mean that they’re not getting what other people get. They just have a lot more tolerance and can fixate more on the things that were worth enjoying, as few as they are.

    I really thought you of all people would have gotten that. But like you said, sometimes your heroes aren’t your heroes.

  3. Well unless you’re a Classical artist you will suck because Classical art could never suck except in well maybe storytelling which for over three thousand years or more since the epic of Gilgamish was never sucking.

  4. Bottom Line: Classical Art, Music, Drama, Literature, and Culture in general rooted in White European creative minds never sucked and was for the most part perfect, well okay maybe not perfect, but it never sucked because I know it’s brilliant history since the time of Greek poet/historian Homer 2700 or 2800 years ago period. In fact in the 18th and 19th centuries and even 20th centuries there was a lot more state censorship to possible subversive activity real or imagined so that’s why even the shabbiest cliched Operas and Ballets and Plays and Novels never sucked because criticism was stifled and virtually non-existent towards great art and mostly kings, czars, emperors, dictators, and even presidents and prime ministers who criticzed artists, musicians, writers, poets, composers, filmmakers, everybody, yes the world was less Liberally Democratic than today.

    • I’m pretty sure old sucky art died because people stopped passing it around. People saw no value in it, and decided it was not worth preserving, since the notion of preserving relics from the past is a recent one. Though some lesser works do remain in memory… The only reason we remember Shakespeare’s weaker plays is because they were penned by Shakespeare, who wrote more influential and quality things usually.

      Besides, a lot of works we now regard as classics received a lot of backlash in their time. For being too new and strangle and whatnot. So no, people were capable of hating stuff back then. It’s kinda what people do.

  5. By the way only movies and Broadway operettas make mistakes.

  6. Nobody criticzed much of anything in Society of Mother Russia except maybe these days, it’s true we Russians hardly criticize or review movies or other great arts past, present, or future, this is where I’m coming from, Czars to the former Communist Party.

  7. I think Jake Lloyd gets treated really unfairly. For one thing, I’ve seen much worse from child actors. For another, the acting was stilted across the board, even from the really good actors. When that happens it’s usually the director’s fault, not the actors’.

  8. flamethrower-guitar

    I actually really like The Phantom Menace. Now I am a bit biased because it is the first Star Wars movie I saw, and as a kid I was just so blown away by the idea of Jedi and the podraces and the battles that I was caught up in it. As I’ve grown older I’ve started to see more and more the problems with this film, and there are some pretty big problems. But I just can’t bring myself to dislike it. I enjoy the story and I think the action is really cool. I don’t put it on the level of the original trilogy but I think there are some very good things about it. I think that the negative is way too exaggerated by most people.

    I knew you wouldn’t like it, but thank you for at least providing a unique viewpoint on it and THANK YOU for not bashing George Lucas. Should he have directed this movie? Probably not, but good gosh does it drive me insane when people bash him or call him an idiot. He invented Star Wars, and he obviously has an amazing creative talent. The problem comes when one person has complete control of a movie, which 90% of the time goes horribly wrong. Movies are a group project, they aren’t meant to be controlled by one person. But either way there is no reason to attack George Lucas personally or call him names like a lot of people do. So thank you for not going there.

    If you haven’t already, I would definitely suggest checking out the Clone Wars tv show. The movie and first season are a bit rough, but once it gets good, it REALLY gets good. It also fixes just about every problem with the prequels, including making Anakin an actual likable character, making his transition to Vader more believable, and explaining the majority of things that were confusing or not explained well in the movies.
    In addition, it’s an interesting look at George Lucas’s personal vision, except a bit more controlled since he collaborates with other people (mainly Dave Filoni, who was a director on Avatar: The Last Airbender). It really does make up for most of the problems the prequels had.

    • I think the backlash at George Lucas is there because he took the decision to go at it alone in the first place? But yeah, I don’t think most accusations thrown at him are this well thought out…

      Wait, a director of A:TLA worked on the Clone Wars show? Damn, as if I didn’t have enough good reasons to go see it…

  9. He probably won’t read this, but I want to thank Doug for pointing out it is okay to like this film. I never see stereotypes when I see this, I laugh at JJ’s antics, and the podrace has me on the edge of my seat every time i see it. I’m always sad when people won’t even acknowledge this movie’s existence because I love it so much.
    So…
    *Waves geek card in the air*

    Jar Jar is my favorite star wars character and this is my favorite star wars movie. Suck it world. You don’t get to tell me what to like.

  10. I once again refer to Leon Thomas’ video where he gives a small rundown of George Lucas’ career showing that he indeed is a good writer and director despite his unfortunate decisions.

    The Phantom Menace is one of these movies where it’s reputation got blown so ridiciously out of proportion that people simply accept that this the worst thing ever. Wich it honestly isn’t. There are worse movies that came before and after it. Much worse.

    Speaking from a purely realistic and objective standpoint this movie is okay. Just okay. Acting is hockey (unless you’ve watched the German dub where it’s considerably better), character relations and dynamics don’t really work out well and the story is rather bumpy. But it’s still not as bad as everyone says it is. Jar Jar Binks is often cited as being the worst thing about it but the only really bad thing is him being overused. A comic relief needs to be used carefully and at the right time otherwise people will either get annoyed or simply start ignoring them for the duration of the story. And to this day I’m actually perfectly fine with Jar Jar’s inclusion. I’d also say that the whole stereotyping pretty much went over everyones head outside the US simply because these stereotypes are mostly unknown here.

    The biggest problem, outside of the lackluster execution, is that it wants to tell a Star Trek story in a Star Wars movie. SW is an adventure series and many ST episodes are about talking, evaluating situations, finding solutions and discussing political and philosophical themes. These two concepts only mix well if you can balance them out wich Lucas didn’t manage to do. The whole political stuff should’ve been just the setup with the rest of the movie being the adventure. But the theme of these movies was the origing of Darth Vader and the Emporors rise to power so it had to be put in there. It just wasn’t balanced out well enough.

    This movie is perfectly watchable but the weakest one out of all the Star Wars movies. And if you get right down to it, the prequels overarching story is actually pretty good. It’s the execution that pulls it down.

    Royalty can be children. Historically there have been tons of them all over the world. And I’m not talking kids that took over from regents either but actual full blown, all the political power kings and queens around the age of 10. Hell, you’re not complaining about Daenerys Thargaryan who’s effectively a queen despite being like 14 in the books. There where also some civilications who have been said to elect their royalty. So the whole “electing a child queen” thing actually has thought put into it and a somewhat realistic basis.

    The Medichlorian thing does make sense in the broader concept of the setting. The Force is an energy field every living thing creates and bacteria are alive. If someone has alot of them they become Force sensitive thus meeting the requirements to become Jedi. I’d also like to think that Anakin wasn’t actually a virgin birth but that his mother fell in love with a rogue Jedi who mind whipped her after conception making her believe she got pregnant out of nowhere.

  11. Does he actually acknowledge the existence of prequel fans this time?

  12. Really Doug? Denial. So just because some people at the time enjoyed the film they were in denial? Oh, no of course it can’t be because they actually enjoyed it Doug, it has to be denial. Because apparently when you have a different opinion, you´re in denial.

    I was hoping you would be the neutral man Doug, talk about the good and bad like with your ROTJ review.

    Oh well.

  13. Never say the emperor has no clothes in relation to Star Wars. The image of Palpatine without his robes in not pleasant.

  14. Screw the haters, I liked this movie. I liked the prequels, if it weren’t for them I would never have checked the originals.

    I’m glad I didn’t watch Star Wars as a kid. I didn’t have the nostalgia goggles blinding me. I loved the step up of Obi Wan as a student who was going to be passed by his master for the Chosen One, only to end up becoming said child’s own master.

    The relationship I loved the most on Star Wars was Obin Wan and Anakin, I read all the books before episode two and I was seriously invested in them.

    You know what is a shitty movie: Dragonball Evolution, the Date Movie, the Epic Movie the last Scary Movies, now THAT is SHIT.

  15. “It’s been proven that a lot of people who seem to have a spiritual essence or a lot of energy the water in their blood is affected.”

    Doug, before I decide exactly how stupid you’re being I need more details about what you’re actually trying to say.

    What’s a ‘spiritual essence’? Has it been proven to exist? How is the water affected? This sounds like the sort of loose stool water that would come from the mouth of someone who believes in homeopathy.

    I’m fine with midichlorians in a story, btw…

  16. I really what to know what Doug has to say about that cartoon network Star Wars: Clone Wars 2003 TV series. I know it is not Disney but i really liked that series.

  17. Gonna have to side with Mr. Plinkett, here. The sword fights in the prequels may have come off as dazzling AT THE TIME, but even that isn’t something I can say aged well, especially when matched up against the fight scenes from the original trilogy. To have them have slower and more down-to-earth fighting styles later in the future makes no sense, since Yoda and Palpatine both proved (and rather needlessly, to boot) that no matter how old you get, your ability to wield the Force doesn’t slow down over time, and neither does your body, even though it seems like it should. But moreover, the prequel sword fights were absolutely SOULLESS. I mean yeah, it was reasonable to assume that Lucas would want his Jedi to have more refined sword-handling, as well as embellish on some of the occasional acrobatics Luke showed in the original trilogy, but this was just a sad series of examples where too much was just too damn much. The majority of fight scenes were waged against largely impotent battle droids (and by Lucas’s own admission, he knew they were comically ineffective during the time of filming, and wanted it that way) and when the Jedi were faced against actual human opponents, their fights STILL looked more fake than anything ECW could throw at us because what they brought to the screen was their staged fight choreography, and no real drama. You’re mistaken here Doug, because just because the fights were more polished and refined, doesn’t mean they were made BETTERER for it. The lightsaber fights were devoid of tension, and so were the star ship fights. I could leave the theater to pick up some groceries, gas up my car, file my taxes, and still have a more interesting 45 minutes before going back to my seat in the theater.

    As for the original trilogy, if you want to talk about weird, stilted, unnatural acting, you mentioned in this very video that the first Star Wars was the only movie where Lucas was actually directing, and that was the only movie where that was an actual problem. After that, the story took off and each actor had a terrific grasp on their roles. It is kinda painful to imagine an artist’s vision being held back by the abject lack of talent on the part of the artist, but the writing’s on the wall, at this point. The worst thing to ever happen to Star Wars was a fat, talentless hack named George Lucas. And no, I don’t think he ruined my childhood, his boring-ass prequelogy is plenty easy to ignore the existence of. I’m just glad he has no real creative control over what happens in this new movie, and I hope that the action scenes try to find a nice middle ground between the old order and the new…..prequels, I guess.

    Oh, and they’re also filming their landscapes ON LOCATION rather than just bogging everything down with CG. The actors actually have something to work with from their environments, now.

  18. What? You skipped the Ewok movies??

  19. What a coincidence. Unfortunately, this is the only Star Wars movie that I actually own and yet it’s the one I dislike the most. :”D I’m still seeing it today though. I didn’t know that Lucas only directed one Star Wars movie. O.O You learn something new everyday. I give this movie one star out of five stars. Queen Amidala’s outfits are great at least. Also, I don’t have a problem with CGI like every other person seems to have so that’s not so bad for me and at least the last lightsaber battle was good. And that’s all that’s good. LOL.

  20. Really Doug? you had to choose to do that thing that too many other internet reviewers do where you pretend like the stance you’re representing is somehow objective or more right? People can and do just disagree with you,we’re not “refusing to admit” anything and it’s only “defending” when people make accusations. I noticed when you were actually honest in this review there was a lot to praise. It was a good thing you pointed out how the lightsaber battling was great, I’m glad you’re not one of the people who argues the silly idea that better choreographed battles that show more ability and effort are somehow bad.

    A lot of haters miss the detail how having a lot of midichlorians is just one factor that means someone might have the makings of a jedi, and that they aren’t the force itself, they are just something that can help you be one with it. No one ever seems to be able to explain how something that everyone in the galaxy has helping use the force goes against the lore and philosophy of the Jedi more than it being an inherited trait does.

    There aren’t any “offensive stereotypes”. You have to dig really deep to find any earth-stereotype-similarities in the Nemodian looking like a propoganda Jew and the Trade Federation MAYBE being like China, but that’s it and even if we really wanted to be silly and insist that those were meant to be earth-stereotypes then they’re meaningless, they aren’t saying anything about any real people.
    As for the poo jokes, there were only two of them, one of which was in the background, and together they lasted a total of fifteen seconds at most. Poop jokes are not a major reason why those of us who like it like it.

  21. You had to choose to do that thing that too many other internet reviewers do where you pretend like the stance you’re representing is somehow objective or more right, huh? People can and do just disagree with you,we’re not “refusing to admit” anything and it’s only “defending” when people make accusations. I noticed when you were actually honest in this review there was a lot to praise. It was a good thing you pointed out how the lightsaber battling was great, I’m glad you’re not one of the people who argues the silly idea that better choreographed battles that show more ability and effort are somehow bad.

    A lot of haters miss the detail how having a lot of midichlorians is just one factor that means someone might have the makings of a jedi, and that they aren’t the force itself, they are just something that can help you be one with it. No one ever seems to be able to explain how something that everyone in the galaxy has helping use the force goes against the lore and philosophy of the Jedi more than it being an inherited trait does.

    There aren’t any “offensive stereotypes”. You have to dig really deep to find any earth-stereotype-similarities in the Nemodian looking like a propoganda Jew and the Trade Federation MAYBE being like China, but that’s it and even if we really wanted to be silly and insist that those were meant to be earth-stereotypes then they’re meaningless, they aren’t saying anything about any real people.
    As for the poo jokes, there were only two of them, one of which was in the background, and together they lasted a total of fifteen seconds at most. Poop jokes are not a major reason why those of us who like it like it.

  22. I don’t understand why people hate the prequels at all. They are far superior to the originals. The original trilogy appealed to kids? What kids? When I was a kid, I found the trilogy to be god awful boring. Even now, as an adult, I find them to be very underwhelming.

    Most of the things fans complain about in regards to the prequels were problems in the original movies. Bad acting? Check. Poorly written dialog? Check. Annoying alien sidekick? Take off your nostalgia glasses and look at Chewbacca. At least Jar Jar advanced the plot by bringing two political enemies together to fight a common threat. Chewbacca just makes growling noises that is supposed to be an intelligible language, like a Pokemon before Pokemon even existed. He was a prop with no dialog and no importance.

    The prequels had better action, better effects, more interesting stories. Heck even Anakin and Padme’s romance was done better than Han Solo’s and Leia’s. And when Episode I came out, I was still a kid, and I found it very entertaining, despite all the political stuff. I honestly hope that VII is more like the prequels than the original trilogy.

  23. Yeah, this movie was a big stinking turd and nobody could really argue otherwise, it’s ONLY saving grace was with Darth Maul, the character has almost no speaking lines but you can tell what he was feeling and also the grand fight with him towards the end of the film was a large step away from the CG bullshit that doesn’t hold up the further we move away from it but and a move more into the technical side of acting, it’s pretty much the only part of the movie you can legitimately say was bad ass, especially with the fact that it was the first time you saw a light saber that wasn’t just a single beam outside of reading about one in the books. Most of that scene was purely technical and honestly Maul has got to be one of the best Sith Lords to have ever been seen, in fact he left such an impression over the rest of the film that he was brought back multiple times to fill a void that many fans loved and wanted. Outside of Darth Maul though there is little to say about the movie other than bad acting, too much CG and hasn’t aged well, bad story writing, bad plot, but you know what! At least it isn’t Captain America: The Winter Soldier bad, of course they could get rid of a quarter of my complaints with that movie had they just named it “Shield and the Hydra conspiracy” which is a much more apt title for the movie as lets be honest, Winter Soldier literally was in 5 scenes and ONLY one of them was long enough to not call it either a cameo or a really boring and predictable teaser, and Captain America is only on screen for maybe 40% of the time while Nick Fury is on the screen 60% of the time and Black Widow is on the screen 70-80% of the time. Hell the Tertiary character Hawk was on the screen 38% of the time, that’s almost more than Captain America and most definitely longer than The Winter Soldier was on the screen for and lets be honest is you have a character whose name is in the title you have to make sure they get more screen time than the rest, that’s basic story telling 101 and the movie failed in that miserably, I know I’m not the only one with these complaints as I’ve heard them from hundreds of others and honestly with the fact that you still can’t buy even a used copy of the original movie for less than you can buy a new copy of Winter Soldier for I’m guessing that it’s only a select few that actually liked the movie, the same kind of people that enjoy Michael Bay Films. Yes Doug, Winter Soldier would have turned out no different had Michael Bay directed it with full creative freedoms, except we might have had a few more shots of the U.S. Flag and maybe one or two more explosions.

  24. Yeah, this is the first star wars film I saw so I am a little biased in its favour. However, I won’t deny that it’s not a very good film. Heck, it’s it’s a pretty bad film, but I also can’t say I honestly dislike it. The expanded universe has explained the politics to an acceptable degree and the film still has enough good bits, especially in concert with the classic EU, that I can look at the god and ignore the bad; the lightsaber combat was awesome, the soundtrack was stellar and Qui-gon is really damn cool. Heck i don’t even have a problem with the cg as it looks fine to my eyes. For now. the cg did go a bit too far later on. I think it also helps that I’ve looked into a lot of the details in this and the next 2 films, so I view it less as a horrific failure, but more as a series of good ideas badly executed.

    So, yeah. Star Wars episode 1; easily enjoyable if pretty dumb and great for getting younger viewers into Star Wars.

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