Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Certificate: PG

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor

Release date: 1999

2 out of 5


For more than a decade we had waited and then when the prequel to the first three Star Wars movies came along, what a crushing disappointment it was. Juvenile, boring (what’s all that political and Trade Federation nonsense?) and devoid of any humour, it seems more like an advert for the wonders of CGI than a well-rounded movie. And now George Lucas has re-released it to a new generation of kids… in 3D. Surely he’s rich enough already?

Okay, that’s the bitterness over with. On the plus side, there are moments (between the boring bits) clearly aimed at a new (junior) Star Wars audience – after all, the story does centre around little boy Anakin (Jake Lloyd, who parents will find teeth-grindingly annoying). One day, he’ll become a whiny teenager (see Attack Of The Clones) and then the evil Darth Vader (see Revenge of the Sith), but for now he’s a blond mop-topped cutie eager to be trained in the ways of the Jedi by Qui-Gon Jinn (Neeson) and a young Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor, playing the role performed by Alec Guinness in Episode IV). There’s an (overly long) pod race that looks like something kids would play on a computer game, a terrific battle between our heroes and nasty Darth Maul (smaller viewers may find the result of this fight upsetting, and Maul himself, with the black and red make-up, is quite scary to behold), and some very impressive backdrops that are a feast for the eyes. But there’s an awful lot of twaddle, too.

It’s nowhere near as good as the other Star Wars films, of course, and most adults won’t like it. But more innocent, accepting children may even find something good to say about Jar Jar Binks…

Is Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...

Younger children will find Darth Maul very scary. His battle with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan is gripping but may be too much for younger viewers.

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