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AI-Themed Blogging: STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE - Photo credit: blog.naver, edition by Amber255 via bitLanders

George Lucas is, of course, a legend and an icon for many moviegoers. Created by him images for a long time entrenched in the memory of the audience, and forever in the history of cinema.

The original trilogy of Star Wars ended in 1983, revealing the genealogy of characters and defeating the greatest enemies. However, with the last shot, the final and irrevocable point in this intergalactic history was not set - the cosmic odyssey remained open. Sixteen years later, in 1999, the first part of the prehistoric trilogy STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE appeared on the big screens. 

Phantom may not be the best entry in the series, but it's the most technically accomplished, and it makes you as hungry for the next film as you've been for this one.

Credit: metacritic

This part, like the first one in 1977 - Star Wars. Episode I - A New Hope - from the beginning to the end was exclusively the fruit of Lucas' creativity and fantasy.

Considering the popularity of the original trilogy and the large army of fans that grew up with it, it was expected that the prehistory of Star Wars would be no less successful than the first three films

The film release was accompanied by an extensive advertising campaign in the media, and great hopes were pinned on it. Despite the mixed reviews from critics and fans alike, the film earned $ 924.3 million worldwide, becoming the most profitable film in the Star Wars saga without taking inflation into account.


STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE trailer - Video credit: youtube 

 The Plot

Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), along with his assistant, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), is being sent to negotiate with the Federation of Commerce on the revocation of the blockade on the Naboo planet. Yet, the Jedi are met with no hospitality - Nute Gunray (Silas Carson), advised by a Lord Darth's (Ray Park) Sidney Trade Federation, sent the entire army of Droids to kill them.

Jedi succeeds in fighting the attack, but it is clear that no talks are possible, so they leave for Naboo. On this planet, Jedi rescued Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best), a local resident. In return, he takes the Jedi to the underwater Gungan City. 

However, the efforts of the Jedi to persuade Gungan's ruler to join the common struggle for Naboo remain fruitless, and the Trade Federation is invading the planet and abducting Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman). Jedi succeeds in releasing her, and also they fly to the capital of the Galactic Republic, Coruscant, to seek support from the Senate.

But after the Trade Federation's attack, their spacecraft is no longer working, and R2D2 can't repair it, so they must land on the desert planet Tatooine. After going out here to look at the parts needed for a spacecraft, Jedi gets to know the awesome nine-year-old boy Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), who is not once surprising Qui-Gon Jinn by his abilities.


Star Wars Franchise - Photo credit: twitter

The Content

THE PHANTOM MENACE has become a target of disappointed expectations. So far, no other film had so big expectations as the first episode of Star Wars. There were no longer favorite main characters and light swords, swirling in the hands of other Jedi (and not only). The critics were also not very favorable to this part.

However, despite the many drawbacks, it was still recognized that Episode I, though perhaps not such as it was expected, is a high level of entertainment.

In the award ceremony, this film did not reach its predecessors - it was nominated for three Oscars (best sound editing, best sound effects, best visual effects). But, according to the earned income, THE PHANTOM MENACE can be considered financially successful - according to the profit earned at that time, only Titanic earned more. 

Basically, looking as objectively as possible and completely dissociating from the original trilogy (imagine that you did not see or hear about the classic trilogy, or decided to look at all the episodes one after the other starting from the first episode), THE PHANTOM MENACE is a fairly high-level entertainment film that does not make you to feel boring. 

But, in this film, everything was a little different. The problem, in this case, is that we already have with whom to compare THE PHANTOM MENACE, and since in this film there could not be many things from the original trilogy - and that is exactly why the world went crazy about this franchise - many viewers were disappointed.


Star Wars franchise - Photo credit: caballerosderen.blogspot.

On the other hand, this film was criticized for much - and one can agree that the criticism is justified. The directing, acting, some characters, and other things got criticized. What's more, the effects of computer graphics are now so evident that even the question of how they could be nominated for them arises. 

The plot of the film is rather confusing, but it is not very trying to explain all those intergalactic political messes. On the other hand, there is no feeling that the film was originally oriented to a slightly younger audience than the original trilogy. Because one of the most important characters is a little boy? However, even the IV-VI episodes are essentially a cosmic tale, suitable for viewers of any age, so why was the audience's consciousness questioned and film created by mass taste, difficult to answer. 

What is most missing in Episode I is the strong foundation of the Star Wars mythology and philosophy set in Episodes IV and V. Perhaps in this place, we can argue that what was only spoken (not shown) in the IV episode, here it was already shown, but I was still lacking that mystical energy, the Force.

In addition, the film was criticized for racist hints. Some critics believe that certain alien qualities are based on stereotypes about the inhabitants of one or the other region of the Earth - and unfortunately, the characters are not given the best qualities of them.


Star Wars Saga - Photo credit: twitter

I think George Lucas wanted to give the saga a bigger scale, there are politics, and intrigues, and new planets, and the Republic is still breathing deeply, although it is all rotten from the inside. But the story, the very story for which I fell in love with the original saga failed.

Dialogues - they are some lengthy, such as, dialogue about angels; well, seriously, what it was, the film takes 2 hours and manages to spend its time on such things, instead of better revealing the same Padme or Kenobi.

The action takes place in times of war presentation. Therefore, the action is enough for us: light swords, restless droids, battles.

The never-ending fight between traditional good and evil and their transformation into each other takes on a truly cosmic scale. It is worth noting that interpersonal relationships play a special role in the film, first, the teacher-student relationship, which ultimately turns out to be, of course, not as important as love. In the meantime, the Jedi teacher and Jedi student find themselves a new foster child. And although its future is still uncertain, it becomes part of the army of good, and already plays a significant role in saving the republic.


Fantasy film THE PHANTOM MENACE - Photo credit: jtoycen.blogspot

The Characters

Did the stars fall when Anakin was born? Once upon a time in a distant, pre-distant galaxy, a little Anakin is a slave boy, endowed with unique abilities. His heart led him, and he lost everything. Anakin always dreamed of escaping from the forgotten planet of Tatooine, the dusty kingdom of injustice. He got lucky. The boy was accidentally noticed by two Jedi: Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. 

None of them did know what the path of this blond boy will be. Only the wise master Yoda feels how darkness is gathering. In the meantime, Anakin is staring thoughtfully at the stars dreaming that he is a Jedi, will come back, and liberate the slaves.

Queen Amidala : You're a slave?

Anakin : I'm a person and my name is Anakin.

Credit: imdb

He still does not know that there are dreams that do not come true. His dream is to become a real Jedi, wise and strong so that there would be justice. Even on Tatooine. And he steps on the path prepared for him. 

Anakin did not stay aloof from all that is happening in the Republic. Unusually talented and intelligent, he helped the Jedi and the Queen. The best pilot, the man who obeys the Force. Everything would be great if Anakin did not face the phenomenon of death. He for the first time truly lost a loved one - his teacher. And Anakin became afraid, afraid of losing those he cherished.

Anakin Skywalker - the Chosen One, according to the ancient prophecy of the Jedi. Anakin managed to find out what fear, bitterness, and pain are. To teach the Jedi religion is dangerous. Look into the radiant eyes of this boy - you will see audacity, courage, and intelligence.


THE PHANTOM MENACE movie review - Photo credit: topsimages

Even though THE PHANTOM MENACE (whose interpretation of the title has several interpretations) is the first prehistoric film, it was possible to prepare in advance for new acquaintances. Thus, for the first time in this section, spectators see the Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn, Queen Amidala, Darth Maul, Mace Windu, Watto, Jar Jar Binks. Because of this character, the look of which was created with the help of computer graphics, the filmmakers got much criticism - many such critics believe that Jar Jar Binks is a purely commercial character designed to attract the attention of younger audiences and to please their taste. 

For the fans of the original trilogy, Jar Jar became the most unattractive character. This can be understood - unlucky, forever, getting into troubles, Jar Jar should be funny, but often not laughing, but annoying personage. And most of all, that instead of earning a logical reward, he somehow manages to get out of without consequences.

However, to not so stern and hypercritical critics, Jar Jar did not get too much criticism - on the contrary, there are many who like this character. By the way, the arrows of criticism fell on the poor head of Jar Jar, but a solder Darth Moul and Watto similar to a big blue insect were welcomed warmly. 

The abundance of characters is another criticized flaw. Although Lucas remains loyal to himself, and as in the fourth episode, here, too, he sends several to death without sentiment.


STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE review - Photo credit: wall.alphacoders

In addition to the above-mentioned newcomers (and, as usual, several new, still unseen planetary people and life-forms), a number of familiar characters are coming backObi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Master Yoda, our funny robots R2D2 and C-3PO, Senator Palpatine, Jabba Hat. Only, of course, most of them are much younger in this movie - the first episode action takes 32 years before the events shown in IV.

Obi-Wan tries to be like his teacher, but he has his own way, his own wisdom, his own strength.

 And of course, I must mention funny robots: R2-D2and C-3PO. For the first time, battle droids with some degree of artificial intelligence enter the action too. Robots' separate line is filled with meaning. they are ready to help always and in everything, but they can easily be forgotten on another planet, or in the arena of battle. But they still return to the main characters, intersect with them.


AI-Themed Blogging: STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE - Photo credit: filmfetish

The Technical Side

On the technical side, the film is excellently made, which is what Star Wars is famous for and has always been leading in digital technology. This time, Episode I also marked the beginning of the prequel trend, becoming a pioneer in this area. However, do not overestimate the power of green screens and computer effects; they deprive the film of certain tangibility.

The special effects are great again. It is immediately obvious that the programmers did at least some work - there was a huge budget. True, in the first three parts they were better, and originality was in the creation of natural effects and decorations. But still the technique is rolling forward, and now the viewer is demanding more and more computer graphics and characters created on the computer. There are no complaints about visual effects either.

The work of the camera is not bad - an extremely impressive race shooting scene in the desert.

Yes, and from the frightening make-up of Darth Maul, impressions last long.

Special mention deserves great musical themes that sound throughout the saga. In each episode, the music puts the necessary accents. The musical accompaniment of the notorious John Williams is surprisingly perfect. Although you need to be surprised? I think not. But since there is neither Luke Skywalker nor Darth Vader in this part, their musical themes do not sound in the background. 

The sound editing is great. THE PHANTOM MENACE was the first film, the sound of which is recorded in the format "Digital Surround EX. The cacophony of these very sounds is really indescribable. It sounds more than natural. And all because the most natural voices that were computer-processed were taken as a basis. For example, the terrible roar of an underwater monster at the beginning of the film belongs to the engineer’s little daughter. Even Natalie Portman's voice is processed on a computer to distinguish Padme's speech from her clone servant. 


Jedi vs Trade Federation Droids - THE PHANTOM MENACE - Video credit: youtube

The Actors

G. Lucas has chosen actors for this film very carefully. At first, he wanted Qui-Gon Jinn to be played by an American actor but later impressed by the talent of Irish Liam Neeson, had changed his mind. A very important choice of the actor was for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi - eventually, Lucas chose Ewan McGregor. 

When choosing who will play Obi-Wan Kenobi, the look of potential candidates has been compared with the young Alec Guinness, who embodied the older Obi-Wan in the original trilogy. The aim was to choose a likely version of the young Obi-Wan Kenobi.

For the fourteen-year-old Naboo queen, the director searched for a girl who is a strong personality capable of managing the planet, but at the same time open and fragile. Natalie Portman fascinated Lucas, met these requirements, and, according to the director, was similar to Princess Leia. This role was important to Portman because, in her opinion, a wise and determined Queen Amidala could become an example for many other young women.

Perhaps, Natalie Portman is one of those few actresses who can embody such features as will and fragility, femininity and perseverance, dedication and selflessness in one image.

Somehow even much more experienced McGregor did not delight eyes. I could distinguish maybe only L. Neeson from the actors who have received more screen time.

Those who played their heroes in previous episodes of the saga deserve a special mention: Anthony Daniels in the role of clumsy robot C- 3PO, and Kenny Baker with his hero - the charming and self-willed Astro-droid R2D2.


Fantasy film THE PHANTOM MENACE  - Photo credit: medium

On A Final Note

STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE - is basically a good entertainment movie that offers spectacular scenes, racing, and battle scenes. Not bad - but with one condition: if you start watching the Epic of Star Wars right from this I Episode and you will know nothing about the original trilogy.

THE PHANTOM MENACE is somewhat lacking the depths that formed the basis of the original trilogy and led to such great popularity. However, after all, it is necessary to know how everything started there.

George Lucas not only created new worlds, hundreds of creatures from different planets, but he also gave characters to personages, allowed them to evolve over time and change, even if these changes were not always successful for the characters.


Star Wars prehistory Trilogy - Photo credit: alphacoders

Despite the obvious problems, the film doesn't lack the virtues that make it worth watching. Even out of purely historical curiosity — after all, he had a strong influence on the world pop culture as we know it.

Look at the night sky. Not at the one that is above the city and which is lit by millions of lanterns, windows, and neon advertisements. Look at another. Dark sky. Whitish pebbles — myriads of stars — twinkle on it in even light. Distant, alluring, fascinating. Looking at them, a strange feeling creeps into the soul: as if longing for something forgotten, elusive, but vaguely familiar. And sometimes a bright spark cuts the darkness of the vault - the star fell. Someone's world collapsed.

  Yoda: Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

Credit: imdb


My rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 54/100
Metacritic: 51/100
Critics average: 59/100
IMDb: 6.5/10

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