"Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #142 Gem Mint 10.0


“Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace“ (1999)

Director: George Lucas

Writer: George Lucas

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Pernilla August, Hugh Quarshie, Ahmed Best, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Terence Stamp, Ray Park, Samuel L. Jackson, Dominic West

Rated: PG for sci-fi action/violence

Runtime: 2h 16min

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Country: United States

Language: English | Sanskrit

Available: on various VOD platforms / Disney+


"Two Jedi escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to claim their original glory."


You might like this if you like: George Lucas, Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Space, Akira Kurosawa, Samurai, Knights, Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Pernilla August, Hugh Quarshie, Ahmed Best, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Terence Stamp, Ray Park, Samuel L. Jackson, Dominic West


"Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999)


This was one of the earliest theatrical experiences I can remember seeing as a kid. It’s all a bit blurry for me, as it was 1999 and I was 6 years old, maybe 7. I just remember it being.. probably the largest I’ve seen even until today, but certainly the first BIG crowd at a theater I can remember seeing. I don’t think I’ve even seen one that came close to that one, but I do not trust my child’s memory as everything seemed bigger to you when you’re a kid.


I kind of remember some parts scaring me a little at that age, but as a kid the whole film really was a whole lot of fun!


Liam Neeson in "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999)


'Qui-Gon Jinn', aka Liam Neeson, was a favorite and still remains one of my most beloved aspects of the film. Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman hold the film together beautifully. I may have fallen more in love with Natalie’s portrayal of 'Padme' than I did Fisher’s 'Leia'. But again, I’m at the fault of my age and growing up with the prequels for my generation.


I played the games, got the toys, I was definitely into it when it came out. I’d imagine close the same way I’d have been if I was born when "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" (1977) came out. I remember having a plastic 'Qui-Gon' lightsaber, a few figures (yes I had a Jar-Jar figure don’t ask me why, I also didn’t complain), but I was really into the behind the scenes books that accompanied the films. Almost like the mini-encyclopedias on the characters or spaceships as well as the art and making of books.


Natalie Portman in "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999)

As I got older, and don’t get me wrong I still re-watch it ‘till this day, it’s grown to be my lowest of the ‘Star Wars’ films for me. Maybe tied currently with ‘Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope’ (1977). Again, my favorites are always changing but I just find all the others more fun to watch right now in life. I feel like maybe I’ve seen episodes IV and I too many times and need a little break.


That doesn’t mean I don’t love this movie, I mean, I’m including it in my ‘Gem Mint 10.0’ series right? There’s still so much to love and I only lose sight of a little when it’s compared to the others in the franchise.



"Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999)


'Darth Maul' is pretty cool, but I never latched on to him like many others did. At least from the movies alone, I didn’t feel I had enough to love him quite yet. With the books and the animated series ‘Clone Wars’, okay yeah, it makes sense if he’s your favorite character because you get so much more with that stuff. I still found a younger 'Obi-Wan' and 'Qui-Gon', and 'Padm'e, stealing the show for me. I think I was also upset he killed my favorite character.


I felt 'Anakin'’s pain of leaving his mother, I still don’t think I could’ve gone through that. Especially knowing what happens in "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (2002), but let’s not get into the whole 'Jedi' kidnapping kids thing right now. I just remember feeling his pain when I was 6. Maybe relating a bit to adoption in some way. Years later I relate to it in new ways.


"Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999)


There are some truly spectacular sequences in this film that keep this film alive for me! That opening sequence in space, the pod racing, to the final climax, even 'Naboo' is pretty glorious to watch! Especially in 1999 as a 6 year old!


Written by Sam Gall on 08/01/21


CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0


"One of George Lucas' creative high points - an excellent look at the failings of a society on the brink. The original subversive Star Wars entry." - Evan Dossey, Midwest Film Journal


"Film franchises come and go all the time in Hollywood, particularly in science-fiction circles, but the Force is still strong in this one." - Nick Davis, Nick's Flick Picks


"Lucas at his visionary best and at his maddening worst." - Steven D. Greydanus, Decent Films Guide


"Lucas has fashioned a fascinating pluriverse of outer space works filled with strange and amazing creatures and special effects." - Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice


"The visual imagery comes off the screen in leaps and bounds, and it allows Lucas the freedom to construct intricately detailed action sequences that put the audience right in the action." - James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk


"Let the movie speak to the child inside you -- the child that is still optimistic and that still believes in magic." - Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com


Official Trailer:


Behind the Scenes:



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