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Star Wars: The Phantom Menace movie review

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

On Festivale we have reviews, features, and a featured Star Wars picture each week during June and July.
Scroll down to read Loriane's fan review or click for more Star Wars

Jake Loyd as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars the Phantom Menace; click here to see a larger version; th_starwars30.jpg - 9547 Bytes
Jake Loyd as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars the Phantom Menace (click on the image for a larger version)
Ray Park as Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace; starwars21.jpg - 6988 Bytes
Ray Park as Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace;

I've waited 16 long years for this. And although it was a painfully long wait, when I saw Episode 1 last night for the first time, I knew for sure it had all been worthwhile.

Having read the reviews and noted apathy (or stunned amazement?) on the various websites, I went perhaps expecting to be a little disappointed. But apart from the poor sound quality which was the fault of The Village Cranbourne and not Skywalker Sound, not for one moment was I disappointed in any way.

The scenery was spectacular, particularly of gorgeous Naboo and Coruscant, the cast was perfectly chosen (well, when have any of the cast of Star Wars, or for that matter just about any science fiction film won an Oscar?), the costumes were just breathtaking, and John Williams' music was the best composed for any SW movie so far. The plot established itself right from the beginning, and the whole story unfolded so rapidly that it made my head spin. There was drama, there was comedy, there was edge-of-your-seat action; what more could you want? Even a hint at a romance to unfold. And not one sexual innuendo or swear word! How wonderfully refreshing.

Admittedly, having bought and played the CD soundtrack to death over the past two weeks, glimpsed the novels (without wanting to spoil the movie), learned the names of all the characters and a brief outline of the plot from magazines and websites, and worn the t-shirt, I was well prepared and knew exactly what to expect.

This movie immediately went down as one of my favourite films ever, and makes me proud to have been the first to call my new Birman kittens Anakin and Amidala!

Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala in Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace; starwars20.jpg - 11163 Bytes
Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala in Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace;
Just before I left my home on the night I went to see the movie, I was most annoyed to hear a review on TV. Some self-opinionated American decried the movie as "without plot ... cardboard acting against blatantly obvious digital effects". When asked how he considered it compared to the previous Trilogy, he replied dismissively "Oh, I never did get to see those movies". I could not believe my ears! Hey, guy, where have you been for the last 20 years that you've never made it the least priority in your life to spend six short hours watching some of the greatest classic movies of our century and your lifetime? What right do you then claim to have to comment on the prequel to these movies? What did you expect to get from it, if you didn't know any of the background? It's the satisfying joy of knowing just how these characters and the story line unfold over the following decades that makes this particular film so enjoyable to the real fans.

For goodness sake, readers, if you want intellectual stimulation, filled to the brim with life's conundrums, and experiences to set your thoughts deeply reeling for weeks, don't go to see a Star Wars movie. That's NOT what it's about! Nor has George Lucas ever claimed it would be.

'Star Wars' was and always will be pure escapism, childhood-like enjoyment, and the thrill of space travel, never-before-seen fictional landscapes, and the experiences of characters you come to know and love and with whom you can identify. Episode 1 is absolutely true to that great tradition and has never claimed to be anything else. So you pseudo-intellectuals, keep your opinions to yourselves and leave us die-hard fans and their kids alone! We all know who the real 'nerds' are.

I LOVED this movie. Unashamedly, unreservedly, and quite to my surprise, I thrilled to every moment of it, and stood up spontaneously to cheer and clap when it was all over, as did the rest of the excited audience. I'm going to see it again tonight and tomorrow night. It was so full of "goodies" that I want to be sure I didn't miss anything. Long may George Lucas reign!

All I can say now is, ROLL ON EPISODE 2.
Loraine Smith

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See also: Ali's review.
Star Wars Memories by Ali Kayn
Star Wars: The End of an Era, feature by Loraine Smith
Star Wars picture of the week
Credits and official site details, are listed under Ali's review. More Photos

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