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Darth Maul

Anakin and Padme

Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Theatrical release May 1999, Lucasfilm, 2 hours 16 minutes.

Written and directed by George Lucas

Starring Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn, Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala / Padme, Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker, Ian McDiarmid as Senator Palpatine, Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker, Oliver Ford Davies as Sio Bibble, Hugh Quarshie as Captain Panaka, Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO (voice), Kenny Baker as R2-D2, Frank Oz as Yoda (voice), Terence Stamp as Chancellor Valorum, Brian Blessed as Boss Nass (voice), and Ray Park as Darth Maul.

The Federation has a blockade preventing trade with Naboo. Jedi knight, Qui-Gon Jinn, and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, go to Naboo to negotiate a settlement, but they are betrayed. They rescue Queen Padme Amidala and head for Tatooine. There they meet a very young Anakin Skywalker.

This movie starts out with a bang and never lets up. There are droids, battles, light sabers, and everything else one would expect of a Star Wars movie.

There is a budding romance between Padme and Anakin that almost works. I couldn't get the Al Yankovic song The Saga Begins, sung to the tune of Don McLean's American Pie.

Ahh, do you see him hitting on the queen
Though he's just nine and she's fourteen
Yeah, he's probably gonna marry her someday

There is a lot of action in this movie. Some if it goes on a bit too long. The pod race didn't really need a third lap. The droid battle, as fun as it is, could be shortened a bit. And the light saber battle between Qui-Gon Ginn and Darth Maul goes on way too long for my tastes.

The Phantom Menace sets up the characters and societies for the rest of the Star Wars movies. It even introduces a few characters like Jabba the Hutt, Senator Palpatine, C3PO, R2-D2, and Yoda.

The first three Star Wars films lead into A New Hope, the first film written and produced. However, if you haven't watched any Star Wars films, it might be better to start with A New Hope. The next two films, episode II and III, Attack of the Cones and Revenge of the Sith, get very dark. They make more sense after you have watched episodes IV, V, and VI.

Reviewed by Romana Drew July 26, 2022

Anakin, Padme, and Obi-Wan

Droids, Clones, and the Good Guys

Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones.

Theatrical release May 2002, Lucasfilm, 2 hours 22 minutes.

Directed by George Lucas. Story by George Lucas. Screenplay by Jonathan Hales.

Starring: Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Natalie Portman as Padme, Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, Kenny Baker as R2-D2, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO / Dannl Faytonni, Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks , Daniel Logan as Boba Fett, Christopher Lee as Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus, Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu, Frank Oz as Yoda (voice), Ian McDiarmid as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker,and Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett.

Padme is now Senator Amadala, and Anakin is a Jedi knight but still under the tutelage of Obi-Wan Kenobi. When an assassination attempt almost kills Padme, Anakin is sent to guard her while Obi-Wan goes to find out who was behind the attempt.

Obi-Wan discovers that a now-deceased Jedi ordered the creation of a clone army several years ago. The clones are coming of age and ready to fight.

Count Draco has turned to the dark side and has an army of droids ready to take on the clones.

The movie begins with a speeder chase through a city of tall buildings with lots of aerial traffic. It is a clever and exciting beginning to the movie, but it is nothing compared to the battles at the end. However, there isn't enough in between.

Besides the politics, power struggles, and battle scenes, there should be a love story between Padme and Anakin. Unfortunately, or maybe, fortunately, little time is spent on those characters.

In episode one, the Phantom Menace, Padme, and Anakin are obviously enamored of each other. Although too young to have a real romance, it is apparent that one will happen someday. But in this movie, they just don't work. Neither actor can make the audience believe that they are seriously attracted to the other. Padme does a slightly better job than Anakin. But that magic spark just isn't there. So much so that the wedding at the end was somewhat confusing the first time around.

The final battle with Draco, Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda works rather well. It isn't overly long. Although, if Yoda can fly around and fight like that, why does he hobble along using a cane most of the time?

But the big battle that leads up to that confrontation, clones vs. droids, is another issue. It reminds me of songs that end before they finish. You know the ones that repeat the chorus and first verse five times before taking another three choruses to fade out.

The battle is beatifically choreographed. The special effects are complex and believable. Padme shows herself to be much more than a pretty face. Her costume and actions are reminiscent of Leia in the latter moves.

But it takes way too long. I tend to fall asleep in battle and chase scenes. The music swells, the dialogue stops, and no matter how clever the battle, if it lasts too long, I can't keep my eyes open. This battle lasted way too long.

Although the outcome of a battle furthers the plot, the battle itself doesn't drive the plot. Battles don't contain much in the way of character development either. They sometimes feel like filler used to make the movie longer.

Also, if Anakin misses his mother so much, why didn't he visit her now and then? Getting angry at her death is reasonable, but since he knew she was a slave, why didn't he try to free her? I understand that this is part of what drives him to the dark side, but it's a bit too contrived.

If you like endless battle scenes, this movie is for you. But if you are looking for sensitive character development, this won't do it.

Reviewed by Romana Drew August 6, 2022.