Saturday, April 30, 2016

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Movie Name: Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace
Year of Release: 1999
Director: George Lucas
Stars: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Pernilla August, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Terence Stamp, Brian Blessed, Ahmed Best, Hugh Quarshie, Oliver Ford Davies
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis & Review:
Director George Lucas got back on the official directorial chair in 1999 to direct another trilogy associated with his iconic and highly profitable "Star Wars" franchise. The new trilogy followed the ascension of Darth Vader and gave more insight into how the Rebel wars started. "The Phantom Menace" introduces us to Jedi Masters Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, both of whom are trying to intercede diplomatically and avoid a potential blockade that is happening on Planet Naboo. This blockade is pitting young Queen Amidala versus Nute Gunray, who is in reality a puppet for the Trade Federation and a particularly evil Sith Lord. Following an attack on the planet, the Queen is taken hostage, only to be saved by the Jedi Masters. Their escape is however thwarted and they have to take rescue in a nearby planet, Tatooine, in hopes of finding parts they need to repair their ship. While there they meet the young Anakin Skywalker, who has great mechanical and driving skills, both of which come very handy for this fugitive group.
"Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace" premiered in 1999 to a barrage of expectation and of audience. The film resumed a universe that had not been touched on the big screen since Richard Marquand's "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" premiered in 1983. The film benefited from the advances in visual effects, namely performance capture and digital compositing. However, in what has become a trademark for the following sequels, George Lucas was unable to build a narrative that is engaging and entertaining. This film in particular falls prey of a concept that anchors itself too much on one of a video-game, with most characters having little to no motivation, and most of their interactions feeling trite and awkward. This film successfully manages to make Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor, both stupendous actors, look and feel out of place. It's a film that exhibits such technical wizardry and a universe that is unique and ripe for exploration, however the actors engagement is always less than compelling, and the supporting characters are ostensibly poorly developed. The cinematography from David Tattersall is fantastic as is the score from John Williams. A mediocre come back to an iconic series.