Let’s start with the things I like about THE PHANTOM MENACE: The podracing scene and lightsaber fight choreography are cool; the music, particularly Duel of the Fates, never gets old; and there’s an impressive degree of world-building on display, from the new alien species and worlds to the technology to, yes, the ham-fisted space politics. Perhaps my most unpopular Star Wars opinion is that, in the hands of a cleverer writer, an all-politics no-action show in this universe (basically, The West Wing on Coruscant) would be great. But anyway … Here’s a few of the things I don’t like about The Phantom Menace: Despite a cast stacked with talents like Liam Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson, much of the screen time and dialogue are yielded to bad actors and worse unfunny comic relief characters; the 20-year-old CGI looks worse than the 35 (or more) year old practical effects of the original trilogy; and the script trips over itself at almost every opportunity, unnecessarily complicating the story and burying the character development. I have a lot of nostalgia for the version of this movie that I was able to see when I was 9, which contained all of the good stuff and none of the bad. But through a more critical adult lens, there’s just too much bantha poodoo here to ignore.
P.S. After rewatching the movie, I saw this Twitter thread
by cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks that proves there is a great story — which could have been told better — in the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker’s childhood.