|George Lucas Director||previously directed Star Wars|
One of the most heavily hyped movies of all time, the first episode in the popular Star Wars saga follows two Jedi Knights as they try to protect the peaceful planet of Naboo from an invasion from the greedy Trade Federation.
Sets were built only as high as the tops of the actors' heads and computer graphics filled in the rest. But Liam Neeson was so tall that he cost the set crew an extra $150,000 in construction.6 More Trivia
In Watto's junkyard in THE PHANTOM MENACE, the pod from 2001 is visible.4 More Movie References
|Liam Neeson||Qui-Gon Jinn|
|Ewan McGregor||Obi-Wan Kenobi|
|Natalie Portman||Padmé Amidala|
|Jake Lloyd||Darth Vader|
|Ray Park||Darth Maul|
|Ahmed Best||Jar Jar Binks|
|Ian McDiarmid||Emperor Palpatine|
|Samuel L. Jackson||Mace Windu|
|Terence Stamp||Finis Valorum|
|See Full Credits|
Phantom Menace is the first installment of the "prequels" in the Stars Wars saga. It starts off with us joining Qui-Gon Jinn, played by Liam Neeson, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, played by Ewan McGregor, as we are welcomed to a time when the Jedi are an established order in the galaxy. George Lucas was to both write and direct not only this first movie but the next three beginning a divisive time for Star Wars fans. The film was re-released in February 2012 in 3D; the rest of the Star Wars films would follow suit with one being re-released every year with Return of The Jedi making its way back into theaters in 3D in 2017-34 years after its original release.
When George Lucas first sat down to write the original Star Wars film, which would become A New Hope, he realized what he wrote was too long to fit into one movie. Lucas shaved down content in the script to which Lucas claims would eventually become the bulk of the three original movies and others would eventually say were only a few scenes in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. But once Lucas had made a deal for any possible sequels to A New Hope he would work on the trilogy as a whole. While working on Empire, Lucas decided to fill out of of Darth Vader's backstory by turning him into Luke's father and making him Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi Knight who turned to the dark side and became a Sith.
With some backstory in place Lucas always planned on eventually making the prequels to the original trilogy but after a messy divorce, partially due to working on Star Wars so much, Lucas decided another trilogy wasn't right for him. Despite the sacrifices Lucas made personally, the itch to make more Star Wars films and fill out the already written backstory. In 1993 Lucas began again to work on the story for the prequels focusing on Anakin's fall to the dark side and how the Empire became to be. Lucas took a 15 page write up from 1976 that he wrote and expanded it out to a full script and framework for all three movies.
The Jedi are present at a negotiation to stop a blockage created by the trade federation around Naboo. Little do they know the trade federation's Viceroy is in league with Darth Sidious and orders the Jedi to be killed and Naboo invaded. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan escape the attempt and make their way to Naboo on one of the drop ships. Once there, the Jedi get their first meeting with the local Gungans. Qui-Gon saves a Gungan known as Jar Jar Binks from a federation tank. This proves useful in helping the Jedi win an alliance with the Gungan people.
Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Jar Jar make their way to the capital to warn Queen Amidala ( Natalie Portman) about the impending attack but realize it is too late as the droids have already started to siege the capital. Luckily the Jedi are able to escape with the Queen and head to Tatooine to hide out and re-group. This is where we meet a young Anakin Skywalker ( Jake Lloyd) and Qui-Gon senses that this young boy has a great future ahead of him. Meanwhile Darth Sidious has dispatched Darth Maul to hunt down the Jedi and the Queen.
While on Tatooine young Anakin manages to win ship parts required to get to Coruscant by winning a pod race against his slave owner. Once off Tatoonie, the group makes their way to Coruscant to plead their case to the council but this turns out to be a difficult task. First an assassination attempt is made on the Queen and then the meeting with the council turns out to be a farce and the Queen suggests that the political process needs to change.
The Queen, doing all that she could at Coruscant, decides that she needs to head back to Naboo to protect her people. The Jedi Council agree to send Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to protect her but they cannot fight the war for her. Once back on Naboo, the Queen heads out to see the Gungans for their help in quelling the invasion.
At first the Gungans are passive and do not want to help the humans but the Queen convinces them by letting them know they are equals and should be regarded as below the humans. This makes the Gungans happy and they agree to help with the impending invasion. Padme, along with Jinn and Kenobi, sneak into Theed, Naboo's capital city, while the grand Gungan army would draw the bulk of the droid army out of the city. Inside the city the Jedi free a handful of Naboo's pilots before being stopped by Darth Maul. The three begin a fateful duel while Padme and her group take another route to Naboo's throne room while Anakin sits in one of the Naboo star fighters.
Qui-Gon and Kenobi battle back and forth with the mysterious Sith as the Gungans slowly become overpowered by the droid army. Anakin's starfighter takes off and the autopilot takes him up to the battleship controlling the droid army in orbit over Naboo. Jinn, Kenobi, and Maul get cut off from one another by ray shields and when they deactivate Kenobi is unable to rush in to help his master before they close again, leaving Maul and Jinn one on one. Maul is able to get the upper hand and kills Jinn turning his attention to his padawan who is ready to take Maul on. Meanwhile Padme and a small force has made their way to the throne room but are captured by Nute Gunray. Anakin makes his way to the space battle but finds himself trapped deep inside the ship and slowly being surrounded by droids.
Kenobi seems to be on death's door when Maul is able to out duel him leaves Kenobi hanging from the edge of a pit. But Maul's arrogance blinds him to Kenobi's quick force grab of his fallen master's lightsaber and Kenobi is able to kill the Sith. Padme uses her fake Queen bodyguard to force Gunray's droid guards to leaves and Padme grabs a few guns from her throne and capture the viceroy. Anakin accidentally fires two torpedos out into the droid control ship's reactor core causing an explosion that destroys the ship and disables the droid army battling it out with the Gungan armies below.
With the Trade Federation's illegal invasion defeated the Naboo and the Gungans celebrate their victory. Obi-Wan Kenobi honors his dying master's wish and takes Anakin on as his padawan. But despite the happiness, Jedi Masters Yoda and Mace Windu wonder who the Sith was and where the new Sith threat might come from next.
With the majority of the story been written Doug Chiang, design director for Phantom Menace, began his work on converting designs from paper to sets and practical objects. Nick Gillard was hired to be the film's stunt coordinator and develop a new style of fighting for a new age of Jedi, taking what was more of a samurai form in the original movies and adding all new styles. Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor began their own form of training, learning how to wield their lightsabers with precision so that their battles were fitting that of Jedi.
Once filming began the majority of it was done in England on sets with Tatooine shots done, just like in A New Hope, in Tunisia. While filming in Tunisia the practical Mos Espa set was unexpectedly hit by a sandstorm which ruined most of the set as well as some of the pods for the podracing scenes.
After nearly 16 years since any Star Wars film being released the word on the Phantom Menace was heavy before its release with a lot of expectations from hardcore fans and casual fans alike. Lines began days in advance to get tickets for the initial release and a lot of theaters suspended the policy of selling any tickets in advance to allow a fairer system for the average movie goer. The response was tepid however, overall fans were highly disappointed by the film feeling that Lucas may have sold out the franchise.
Fans complained about Jar Jar Binks, saying he was a vaguely racist character who added no plot to the story and was only added for children. Jake Lloyd was also targeted for some of his poorer acting moments throughout the film. But for the most part the target was the feeling that Star Wars lost, seemingly replaced by CGI and effects rather than story and character development. Overall the film is seem as a blunder and a success, despite the complaints from the hardcore fans, many would see the film multiple times giving the overall box office of $924 million dollars, putting it among one of the highest grossing films of all time.
Since the theatrical release the Phantom Menace has been released on DVD in both individual packages as well as apart of the whole trilogy. The Phantom Menace is to be the first of the saga that will be released in 3D. The visual effects wing of Lucasfilm, Industrial Light and Magic, will supervise the project.
The Phantom Menace was re-released into theaters in February 2012 in both 2D and 3D (though most theaters didn't bother to show the 2D version). The release was a modest hit, and brought the film past the billion dollar mark worldwide. It was far more popular in the US than around the world, but people from all different places saw it. The only new additions to the film though were a few more pieces of debris added to when Sebulba crashes to make more use of the 3D and the changes made back when the entire series was released on Blu-Ray.
Trailer: The Phantom Menace 3D
Admit it: you're totally going to go see this. Hey, at least we'll know we can go take a twenty-minute pee during most of the early Tatooine scenes.
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|Name||Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace|
|US Release||May 19, 1999|
|UK Release||July 16, 1999|
|AUS Release||June 3, 1999|
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