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    Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace [29]

    Movie Reviews
    Note: Written right after the 12:01 am showing on May 19th 1999.)

    Where to start? Do I discuss the negativity surrounding the movie and attempt a spirited defense? Do I try and deflected the criticism with delving probes into Lucas's vision? Do I expound on the differences in movie making techniques between the intervening 20 years that have cause the prequels to be light years a part? Or a full scale frontal assault, damn the torpedoes, go to full throttle - that'll keep those fighters off our backs review?

    I'll attempt to make this a much of a non-spoiler as possible. So bear with the couched phrases and muddied verbiage. Strangely, I can see both sides of the fence with this movie. I can see way people hated or were disappointed in it. I can also see why the same number walked away satisfied and will return again. This is not your father's Star Wars movie. Its different. Very different. If you think this movie will play like the first three (ok really 4,5, & 6) you are sadly mistaken. I sensed this going in. And it made for a great movie for me. This movie is way more expansive. More theatrical. More visually stunning. More campy humour. A little more forced in places (mainly to tie it back to the other three - I'll leave it to you to judge how forced it is.)

      - The Jedi/Sith fight scene is incredible. There is no doubt in my mind that this battle will rank high in the annals of cinema fighting. Its intense and everything I thought a true Jedi versus anti-Jedi fight would be. The pod race is wonderful. An ode to American Graffiti and a peak at what shooting wamp rats back in beggars canyon was really all about.
      - Natalie Portman is a great Queen Amidala. She pulls off mixing regal with bold and daring with a dash of caring. A worthy successor to Leia Organa/Skywalker. (Or should I say a precursor - or rather Leia is a chip off the olde block? :-)
      - The movie moves briskly - with only really one slow/sappy part. Jar Jar Binks becomes a real character as the movie moves on - you soon forget you are looking at a CG character. He provides some 'forced' comic relief - but is harmless.
      - The special effects are mind boggling. The amount of detail. The sweeping imagry of the exterior shots of areas that only live on the screen of a computer are breath taking. The 'clean up' of the first three movies was just a testing ground for what you are about to see here.
    This movie is truly a mixed bag of tricks. Lucas's touch is all over this film, every level, every scene, every special effect, every plot twist and every emotional tug at your heart. If you find that distasteful, or irritating - so be it. I found within the movie every landscape and plot theme that resonated in my head after seeing each of the first three movies. Only now instead of these images being inside my head - Lucas has put them to digital celluloid. I can see if you had a different vision - you would be confused or worse disappointed. Maybe I am lucky since I saw, liked and thoroughly enjoyed. This movie rocked for me. Met all my expectations and made me crave more.

      - I now want to know more about this Jedi Council. What/who are all these people?
      - I want to know more about the Sith Lords? How can they hide themselves the way they have done? How can such evil be contained from sight?
      - How does this Trade Federation work within the scope and breadth of the Senate Republic?
      - What will the Clone Wars be all about?
      - How can Lucas meet the challenge of filling in the gaps between Episode 1 and 4 and not disappoint. (He has a much bigger challenge than Cameron did with Titanic in regards to knowing the outcome.)
    We are seeing a grand play unfold before us. I am enjoying the ride. You should too. See it twice, really. There is that much to see and hear. This movie pays homage to first three, but is not bound by them. The sound track and imagery are still dancing in my head and I suspect will be for sometime to come. In that I rejoice and will be seeing this again, again, and again. {AB}

    P.S. Just saw it again (second time in 24-hours) and it was even better than the first time. Don't miss seeing this multiple times.

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    Added: May 19th 1999
    Reviewer: AB
    29 Point Scale Score: 29    [29]

    Related Link (IMDB): IMDB Link - Star Wars: Episode I
    Hits: 3544
    Language: english


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