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Star Wars : Episode I The Phantom Menace

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Star Wars : Episode I The Phantom Menace is a 1999 film written and directed by George Lucas , produced by Rick McCallum and starring Liam Neeson , Ewan McGregor , Natalie Portman , Jake Lloyd , and Ian McDiarmid . It is the first chapter of the Star Wars prequel trilogy , the fourth theatrical Star Wars release overall, and chronologically the first film in the Star Wars saga .

The Phantom Menace was released in theaters on May 19 , 1999, becoming the first Star Wars film since Star Wars : Episode VI Return of the Jedi , which was released sixteen years earlier. The release was accompanied by extensive media coverage and great fan anticipation. Despite mixed reviews from critics and fans, the film grossed $924.3 million worldwide, making it the second-highest-grossing Star Wars film when unadjusted for inflation. It was re-released on Blu-ray in September 2011 , and was re-released in theaters in 3D on February 10 , 2012 .

The film was the catalyst for fifteen years of Star Wars storytelling that would primarily take place around the time of the prequel storyline. The success of the film allowed for the next two chapters of the prequel trilogy, as well as the Star Wars: The Clone Wars film and television series .

  • 1 Opening crawl
  • 2 Plot summary
  • 3 Development
  • 4.1.1 Soundtrack
  • 4.1.2 Novelization
  • 4.2 Home video
  • 4.3 3D re-release
  • 5 Reception
  • 6 Deleted scenes
  • 7.1 Minature Construction and Photography Unit
  • 7.2 Special Effects Pyrotechnics Crew
  • 7.3 Second Unit
  • 7.4 Tunisia Shoot
  • 7.5 Italy Shoot
  • 8 Appearances
  • 10 Notes and references
  • 11 External links

Opening crawl [ ]

Plot summary [ ].

(audio)

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan prepare to fight their way out of the Trade Federation flagship.

Thirty-two years before the events of Star Wars : Episode IV A New Hope (thirteen years before the formation of the Galactic Empire), there is a trade dispute between the Trade Federation and the outlying systems of the Galactic Republic , which has led to a blockade of the Mid-Rim planet of Naboo . Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum , leader of the Galactic Senate , has secretly dispatched two Jedi , Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan , Obi-Wan Kenobi , to serve as "the ambassadors" to the Federation flagship , in order to meet with Viceroy Nute Gunray and resolve the dispute. Unknown to them, the Trade Federation is in league with the mysterious Darth Sidious , Dark Lord of the Sith , who secretly orders Gunray to invade Naboo and kill the two Jedi upon their arrival. When Gunray asked if that would be legal, Sidious says that he would ensure that it was.

The Viceroy locks the Jedi in the meeting room and attempts to kill them with poison gas while having their ship, the Radiant VII , destroyed in the hangar, but they escape. After battling through squads of battle droids, Jinn and Kenobi make their way to the command deck where Gunray is located, shielding himself behind blast doors . The Jedi are forced to flee upon the arrival of two Destroyer Droids and stow away aboard two separate Federation landing craft leaving for the surface of Naboo to begin the invasion.

Back in the command deck, Queen Amidala contacts Gunray to express her disapproval of their blockade, with Gunray explaining that they wouldn't have done it without the approval of the Senate. When she asks about the ambassadors sent by the Chancellor, Gunray claims that they have received no such ambassadors, leaving Amidala startled and suspicious. Gunray ends communications with her and informs his aide that they should disable all communications on the planet.

Meanwhile, Amidala is conversing with Senator Sheev Palpatine regarding the recent attempt at negotiations and how Gunray claimed that they did not receive any ambassadors. Surprised, Palpatine states that he had assurances from the Chancellor that his ambassadors did arrive. However, Palpatine is unable to finish his sentence as his hologram flickers out. Naboo Governor Sio Bibble suspects that an interruption of communications is a sign that an invasion from the Trade Federation is imminent.

TPM Cast

The Jedi liberate the queen and her guards from the battle-droid invasion.

On the planet's surface, Qui-Gon saves native outcast Jar Jar Binks from being crushed by a Trade Federation MTT . Kenobi appears, pursued by STAPs , which are destroyed by Qui-Gon. Jar Jar Binks shows the two Jedi the way to an underwater Gungan settlement, Otoh Gunga . Meanwhile, the Trade Federation occupies Theed , the capital city of Naboo, and captures Queen Amidala along with the rest of the government. In Otoh Gunga, the Jedi meet the Gungan leader, Boss Nass , and ask him to help the people of Naboo, but Nass refuses due to hate of the people of Naboo and sends them off in a bongo submarine . They are attacked by an opee sea killer and a colo claw fish but both fish are eaten by a sando aqua monster . The Jedi, with Binks in tow, arrive in Theed and rescue Queen Amidala. They depart for Coruscant , the Galactic Republic's capital planet, to ask for help from the Senate. As they attempt to run the blockade, the queen's starship is damaged by Federation battleships , but an astromech droid named R2-D2 manages to repair it and they narrowly escape.

Due to the damage to the ship's hyperdrive sustained in the attack, the Jedi decide to land on the nearby planet Tatooine for repairs. While searching for a new hyperdrive generator, they befriend young Anakin Skywalker , a slave boy, whose master is Watto , a Toydarian junk dealer. Watto has the required parts in stock, but Qui-Gon is unable to purchase them, as Republic credits are worthless on Tatooine.

Anakin Pod

Anakin races ahead of Sebulba during the Boonta Eve Podrace.

Anakin is gifted with piloting and mechanical abilities, and has built an almost-complete droid named C-3PO . Qui-Gon senses a strong presence of the Force in Anakin, and feels that he may be the Chosen One —the one who will fulfill a prophecy by bringing balance to the Force. By entering Anakin into a podrace , Qui-Gon orchestrates a gamble with Watto's chance cube in which " fate " decided that the boy (alone, since Qui-Gon was unable to include the youth's mother in the bargain) will be released from slavery while also acquiring the parts needed for their ship. The night before the race, Qui-Gon does a blood test on Anakin and discovers that the boy's midi-chlorian reading is off the chart.

Anakin wins the race (defeating his rival, Sebulba ) and joins the team as they prepare to leave for Coruscant, where Qui-Gon plans to seek permission from the Jedi High Council to train Anakin to be a Jedi. Meanwhile, Darth Sidious sends his apprentice, Darth Maul , to kill the two Jedi and capture the queen. Maul appears just as the group is leaving the planet, and duels with Qui-Gon. The fight is cut short when Qui-Gon escapes his black-robed assailant by jumping on board the Naboo Royal Starship as it takes off.

Amidalabeforesenate

Amidala and Palpatine plead before the Senate to intervene with Naboo's crisis.

On Coruscant, Qui-Gon informs the Jedi Council of the mysterious attacker he encountered on Tatooine, coming to the conclusion that his attacker is a Sith , the latter being a religious order who were followers of the dark side of the Force and thought to have been extinct for over a millennium, much to the shock of the Jedi Council. Qui-Gon also informs the Council about Anakin, hoping that he can be trained as a Jedi. After testing the boy and deliberating with one another, the Council refuses, deeming him too old for training according to the Jedi Code . They are also concerned that they sense much fear in the boy, and that he has a clouded future.

Meanwhile, Senator Palpatine meets with Queen Amidala to warn of corruption in the Senate and advises that she may have to call for a Vote of No Confidence in Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum. When their petition to the Senate is refused, Amidala sees no alternative but to do just that. Palpatine is among the candidates to become the new Supreme Chancellor. The queen later announces to Palpatine that she will return to their home planet to repel the invasion of her people by herself. She is frustrated by the Senate's deliberation and lack of action, and feels that even if Palpatine is elected Chancellor, it will be too late. The Jedi Council sends the two Jedi to accompany the queen back to Naboo, hoping to shed light on any Sith involvement.

Nass on Sacred Place

Boss Nass at the Gungan Sacred Place

Amidala, back on Naboo, attempts to locate the Gungans at Otoh Gunga, but Jar-Jar, after searching the city, informs them that it has been abandoned. He then leads them to the Gungan Sacred Place , where he is certain the Gungans will be . The Gungans are initially distrustful, until the "handmaiden" Padmé reveals herself as the true queen and humbly begs for their help. She negotiates with Boss Nass to form an alliance and unite their peoples in battle against the Trade Federation. Captain Panaka and several other security forces were also dispatched to rescue anyone imprisoned in the Trade Federation's prison camps, although they were only able to successfully extract a handful.

Next, Amidala informs Qui-Gon and Nass of her battle strategy: with the Grand Gungan Army acting as a distraction to the bulk of the main Trade Federation forces, the Naboo resistance led by herself, Captain Panaka and the Jedi will infiltrate Theed via a secret entrance located inside one of the waterfalls. Nute Gunray, hearing reports of the Grand Army's assembly, informs Darth Sidious; Sidious orders Gunray to wipe out both the Gungans and the Naboo as the Trade Federation prepares for battle.

Captain Roos Tarpals orders the Gungan Grand Army to activate their shield , which protects them from ranged attack. OOM-9 has his tanks fire first, but seeing them fail to penetrate the powerful shield, orders them to cease fire. Daultay Dofine gives the command to activate the battle droids. These droids march through the shield and open fire on the Grand Army, soon destroying the shield generator. As the tanks cause heavy casualties among the Gungans, defeat for the alliance seems imminent.

However, victory comes when young Anakin Skywalker accidentally takes control of an N-1 starfighter and goes on to destroy the Federation's Droid Control Ship from the inside, killing Daultay Dofine and rendering the droid army useless. Meanwhile, Amidala and her force fight their way back into the royal palace and capture Nute Gunray.

DotF TPM

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan fight Darth Maul during the Battle of Naboo.

At the same time, in a Theed hangar bay , Darth Maul engages in combat with the two Jedi, using his double-bladed lightsaber . The battle moves from the hangar, across a series of catwalks, to the Theed Generator Complex. During the fight, Obi-Wan is separated from his master by being kicked off of a catwalk. He grabs the edge of another catwalk below and jumps back up to where Qui-Gon and Maul continue to fight. By this time, Qui-Gon and Maul have become separated by a force field in the entrance to the Generator Room. Obi-Wan catches up to them, but is divided from his master by four force fields. When the force fields deactivate, Jinn and Maul continue their battle while Kenobi remains divided from the battle by one force field when they all reactivate.

After a lengthy duel, Maul suddenly stuns Qui-Gon by hitting him on the chin with his lightsaber handle, then rams his blade straight into Qui-Gon's torso, mortally wounding him. Devastated and angered, Obi-Wan redoubles his assault upon Maul and chops the Sith's lightsaber in half, but Maul eventually overpowers and nearly kills Kenobi by Force pushing him over the edge of a seemingly bottomless reactor shaft. Obi-Wan saves himself from falling when he manages to grab onto a pipe protruding from the wall of the shaft. Maul kicks the Jedi's lightsaber into the pit and prepares to finish him off. After Obi-Wan calms himself, he uses the Force to leap out of the shaft and over Maul's head while summoning his fallen master's lightsaber to his hand. He lands behind the surprised Maul and cuts him in half; Maul's upper and lower body fall into the shaft.

Obi-Wan reaches Qui-Gon moments before he dies, as Qui-Gon instructs Obi-Wan to train Anakin to become a Jedi, reiterating that Anakin is the Chosen One. Obi-Wan gives his word that he will. Qui-Gon dies, leading to Obi-Wan to grieve for his deceased master. The newly elected Chancellor Palpatine arrives to congratulate Queen Amidala on her victory, as Nute Gunray is sent to stand trial for his crimes.

Naboo celebration

The Gungans and the Naboo celebrate their victory.

Later, in a room in the queen's palace, Yoda confers upon Obi-Wan the rank of Jedi Knight. Kenobi argues with Yoda about his promise to Qui-Gon regarding Anakin's training. Yoda is convinced it is dangerous to train the boy, but tells Kenobi the Jedi Council has allowed Skywalker to become Kenobi's apprentice. Later that evening, in a temple in Theed, Qui-Gon's body is cremated , and Mace Windu and Yoda agree that the Sith are definitely to blame for the tragedy. As there are only ever two Sith at any given time (a Master and an apprentice), both Masters believe that one must still remain.

The Naboo and Gungans organize a great victory celebration on the streets of Theed, in front on the palace. Obi-Wan and Anakin are present, the younger now wearing formal Jedi attire, and in his hair is a special braid : the mark of a Jedi Padawan. The film ends with Queen Amidala presenting a gift of appreciation and friendship to Boss Nass and the Gungan people.

Development [ ]

Along the lines of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles , all three prequel films were originally intended to be written and shot as one large production, and released back to back. [4] The first draft of the script was begun November 1994 . [5]

The role of director was offered to Steven Spielberg , Ron Howard , and Robert Zemeckis. According to Howard, Lucas didn't necessarily want to direct Episode I. He further commented that all three directors turned down the position as the film was Lucas's "baby." [6] The budget of Menace was estimated $115 million. Shooting took place from June 26 to September 30 , 1997 . As with Star Wars : Episode IV A New Hope , Episode I's main exterior filming locations were in Tunisia . The podrace was filmed in a canyon near Sidi Bouhlel and Oung Jmel . A set was built near Oung Jmel to represent Mos Espa on Tatooine. The Slave Quarters Row were filmed in ksour's near Tataouine and Ksar Medenine . Small parts were filmed in Royal Caserta Palace in Italy and Whippendell Woods in the United Kingdom , but Hever Castle was later cut. Studio work was mainly done at Leavesden Studios in the United Kingdom. [7]

Unlike the latter two films in the series which were shot on digital video , most of this film was shot in 35 mm, with a few scenes shot in digital video. [5]

This episode was also the first of the saga to be referred to primarily by its number ( Episode One ) by media and fans, in contrast to the original trilogy the public already knew. [ source? ]

Release [ ]

EpIVaderShadowPoster-SWE

One of the most popular marketing posters for the film

The Phantom Menace was the first Star Wars film in 16 years. As a result, there was almost unprecedented interest amongst both fans and the wider public in the revival of the franchise. The film received enormous media-created hype, which made Lucasfilm's $20 million advertising campaign—with the distinctive artwork of Star Wars series artist Drew Struzan gracing the movie poster and other advertising—seem modest and almost unnecessary. Few film studios released films during the same week as the release of The Phantom Menace ; among the more courageous were DreamWorks and Universal Studios , with the releases of The Love Letter and Notting Hill respectively. The Love Letter was a box-office flop, whereas Notting Hill fared rather well and followed The Phantom Menace closely in second place. [8] Challenger, Grey & Christmas of Chicago, a work-issues consulting firm, estimated that 2.2 million full-time employees did not appear for work to attend the film, resulting in $293 million in lost productivity. The Wall Street Journal reported that such a large number of workers announced plans to view premiere screenings that many companies shut down on the premiere day. [9] Many fans began waiting outside cinema theaters as early as a month in advance of ticket sales. [10]

More theatre lines appeared when it was announced that cinemas were not allowed to sell tickets in advance until two weeks into the release. This was done out of fear that family theatre-goers would either be unable to receive tickets or would be forced to pay higher prices. Tickets were instead to be sold on a traditional first-come-first-serve basis. [11] However, after meetings with the National Association of Theatre Owners , Lucasfilm agreed to allow advance ticket sales on May 12 , 1999 , provided that there be a 12-ticket limit per customer. [12] As a result, however, some advance tickets were sold by " scalpers " as high as $100 apiece, which a distribution chief called "horrible," stating it was exactly what they wanted to avoid. [13] Daily Variety reported that theatre owners received strict instructions from Lucasfilm that the film could only play in the cinema's largest auditorium for the first 8–12 weeks; no honor passes were allowed for the first eight weeks, and they were obligated to send their payments to distributor 20th Century Fox within seven days. [14] Servers at the film's official website became gridlocked soon after the release of the first teaser trailer , [15] and many fans of the series paid full admission to see Meet Joe Black only to leave after the trailer had run. The same tradition followed months later when the theatrical trailer was featured in front of Wing Commander . [16] The theatrical trailer caused even more notable media hype, because it not only premiered in theaters, but screened at the ShoWest Convention in Las Vegas , and was aired on television on Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood . [17] An unusual marketing scheme was pursued across the United Kingdom , where the teaser trailer was released on December 2 , 1998 and then pulled from theaters six weeks later. [18]

Despite worries about whether the film would be finished in time, two weeks prior to its debut Lucasfilm pushed the release date up from May 21 to May 19 of 1999. At the ShoWest Convention, Lucas stated that the change was to give the fans a "head start" by allowing them to view it over the week and allowing families the chance to view on the weekends. In a nod toward his future with digital technology, Lucas stated that the film would be released on four digital projectors on June 18 , 1999. [19] Eleven charity premieres were staged across the United States on May 16 , 1999; proceeds from the Los Angeles event were given to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation with corporate packages available for $5,000–$25,000. [20] Other charity premieres included the Dallas premiere for Children's Medical Center , the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at the Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York, the Big Brother/Sister Assn. of the Philadelphia premiere, and the Children's National Medical Centre in Washington D.C. A statement said that tickets were sold at $500 apiece and that certain sections were set aside for disadvantaged children. [21]

Merchandise [ ]

Soundtrack [ ].

Two separate soundtracks were released for The Phantom Menace . One, a traditional soundtrack, contained seventeen tracks of selections from the score. The second, an Ultimate Collector's Edition Soundtrack, compiled the score as it was presented in the film (with several minor alterations) in sixty-eight tracks.

Major musical themes and leitmotifs were introduced in the film, including the droid march , " Duel of the Fates ," Qui-Gon's Theme , " The Adventures of Jar Jar ," Darth Maul's Motif , Anakin's Theme , Shmi's motif , " The Flag Parade ," " Escape from Naboo ," and the " Symponik Nabooalla ."

During the credits at the end of the film, young Anakin's theme is heard playing, but during the last moments of the film, this theme morphs into the first few notes of the Darth Vader theme during the Imperial March , and, as the last logos of THX are scrolling by, three rasping breaths from Vader's respirator can be heard, referencing Anakin's eventual change into Darth Vader.

Novelization [ ]

A novelization of the movie was written by Terry Brooks . It includes three entire chapters of material created by Brooks and unique to the novel. The first two chapters of the book concern Anakin's next-to-last podrace and its aftermath, while a later chapter describes an encounter between Anakin and a wounded Tusken Raider in the desert.

Brooks met with Lucas before writing the book and received his approval and guidance, including information about developments to come in Episodes II and III. This can be seen in such passages as the Tusken Raider scene, which ironically foreshadows the death of Anakin's mother in Episode II, and the passage leading up to Anakin's fight with the Rodian child Greedo , indicating that Anakin's anger derives from his anguish at Padmé's impending departure (foreshadowing the plot of Episode III).

The novelization is especially well known for a passage describing the history of the Sith, including Darth Bane . According to Terry Brooks' memoir, Sometimes the Magic Works , Lucas spent an hour on the telephone with him discussing the history of the Jedi and the Sith. Therefore, the information on this subject provided in Brooks' novelization might derive from Lucas himself. The novelization is also the first mention of the Stark Hyperspace War .

Brooks devotes an entire chapter of Sometimes the Magic Works to the writing of the Episode I novelization, which he claims to have been an extremely happy and fulfilling experience.

Home video [ ]

Ep1DVD

The Phantom Menace on DVD

The film was first released on VHS on April 4, 2000. There was a normal fullscreen release, and a widescreen collector's box set . The widescreen VHS contains an exclusive documentary titled "Filmmaking Has Turned A Corner." In addition the collector's set contains an excerpted version of The Art of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and a set of film cells from a scene in the film.

Star Wars : Episode I The Phantom Menace was the first Star Wars film to be officially released on DVD . This two-disc DVD was released on October 16, 2001.

The DVD features a commentary track by Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, editor Ben Burtt , animation director Rob Coleman , and visual effects supervisors John Knoll , Dennis Muren , and Scott Squires . It includes seven deleted scenes completed specifically for the DVD, and The Beginning: Making Episode I , an hour-long documentary film drawn from more than 600 hours of footage, including an insider's look at Lucasfilm and ILM during the production. The viewer can access a multi-angle storyboard-to-animatic-to-film segment featuring the submarine and podrace lap 1 sequences. The DVD includes two documentary sources, five featurettes exploring the storyline, design, costumes, visual effects, and fight sequences in the film, and an award-winning twelve-part web documentary series chronicling the production. The Duel of the Fates music video featuring John Williams was included on the DVD as well. The final special features included are a never-before-seen production photo gallery with a special caption feature, theatrical posters and print campaigns from around the world, a theatrical teaser and launch trailers, seven TV spots, Star Wars: Starfighter - The Making of a Game featurette from LucasArts , and a DVD-ROM weblink to exclusive Star Wars content.

The DVD became the fastest-selling DVD ever in the US, after 2.2 million copies were sold in its first week after release. [22] However, some reviewers criticized the DVD for the excessive use of edge enhancement that degraded the DVD's picture quality. [23]

At the DVD press conference for Revenge of the Sith , prequel trilogy animation director Rob Coleman confirmed that the animation department at Lucasfilm had replaced the Yoda puppet from the original version of the film with a digital Yoda. This was done to better match up the look of the Yoda from The Phantom Menace with that of the other two films of the prequel trilogy, as well as with the Yoda from the original trilogy. This change has been, for the most part, welcomed by fans, in contrast to the original puppet Yoda as seen in The Phantom Menace .

A preview of these changes can be viewed on the Revenge of the Sith DVD that was released on November 1, 2005. The clip is included as part of "The Chosen One" featurette. However, when Coleman announced the change, he didn't specify when the revised version of The Phantom Menace would be released. [24]

The Phantom Menace was re-released along with Episodes II–VI on Blu-ray in September 2011 . [25] For this release, the film went through a restoration process which restored the picture to its full frame (offering around 8% more picture than its DVD release). The Blu-ray release was also marked by the replacement of the puppet for the CGI model of Yoda used in Star Wars : Episode III Revenge of the Sith , as well as a few corrections of visual effects and technical errors.

On April 7 , 2015 , the Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox, and Lucasfilm jointly announced the digital releases of the six released Star Wars films. As Lucasfilm had retained digital distribution rights to Episodes I thru III and V thru VI, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released The Phantom Menace for digital download on April 10 , 2015. [26]

Despite the Walt Disney Company's 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd. and the release rights to all future Star Wars films, Fox was to retain original distribution rights to Star Wars : Episode IV A New Hope , which they co-produced and co-financed, in perpetuity in all media worldwide. Fox was also to retain theatrical, nontheatrical, and home video rights worldwide for the franchise's five subsequent films, which Lucasfilm produced and financed independently, through May 2020 , at which time ownership was to transfer to Disney. This complex relationship between Fox and Disney, particularly in regards to Fox's perpetual rights to Episode IV, was to create an obstacle for any future boxed set comprising all nine films. [27] On December 14 , 2017 , The Walt Disney Company announced that it was acquiring most of Fox's parent company, 21st Century Fox , including the film studio and all distribution rights to A New Hope . [28] On March 20 , 2019 , the deal was officially completed. [29] On April 12 , 2019, a Blu-ray box set containing the nine main instalments of the Star Wars saga remastered in 4K was reportedly announced to be in development for a 2020 release. [30]

3D re-release [ ]

Episode I 3D poster

Official poster for The Phantom Menace 3D release

On September 28 , 2010 , StarWars.com and Lucasfilm announced that the entire Star Wars saga would be converted to stereoscopic 3D and re-released in theaters and IMAX 3D, beginning with Episode I . John Knoll and Industrial Light & Magic are supervising the conversion. [31] The stereo conversion process has been in the works for several years, however, with George Lucas showing tests of the Episode II speeder chase scene and a reel from Episode IV in 3D during 2005's ShoWest in Las Vegas, and the speeder chase scene was demoed again by Texas Instruments as an emerging technology at SIGGRAPH 2007 in San Diego.

Episode I's 3D release date, as announced by Lucasfilm on March 3 , 2011 , was February 10 , 2012 . [32]

On January 28 , 2013 , Lucasfilm announced that the 3D releases of Star Wars : Episode II Attack of the Clones and Star Wars : Episode III Revenge of the Sith were postponed. [33]

Reception [ ]

Critical and fan reaction ranged from high praise to outright derision. The much-hyped special effects, while generally viewed as groundbreaking in their sheer scope, were perhaps less impressive than anticipated simply because of high expectations. This attitude was confirmed with the rival film, The Matrix , winning the visual effects Academy Award for that year over The Phantom Menace . It was the first time a Star Wars film lost in that Oscar competition category. Many critics heavily criticized the acting of Natalie Portman and especially Jake Lloyd as the young Anakin Skywalker. Some aspects of the scripting and direction were also criticized. Extra venom was directed at the character of Jar Jar Binks , who was regarded by some fans as purely a merchandising opportunity rather than a serious character in the film. Fan reaction was mixed too, with some fans praising the film while others having a negative opinion of it.

However, despite some of the negative criticisms leveled at the film, many others gave praise to The Phantom Menace . William Arnold, of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer , commented that the massive of hype of the film may have caused much of the negative reaction to the film, saying "it built expectations that can't possibly be matched and scuttled element of storytelling surprise." He also felt "it's well made and entertaining" and believed it was much better than similar box-office fare released around that time period, such as The Mummy and The Matrix . [35] David Cornelius of efilmcritic.com remarked that the better moments of the film "don't merely balance out the weaker ones- they topple them." [36] Roger Ebert gave the film three and half out of four stars, calling it "an astonishing achievement in imaginative filmmaking," and stating that "Lucas tells a good story." Ebert comments that it was perfectly fine for the characters to be a bit less compelling, seeing that they were just being introduced, and stating to "give me transparent underwater cities and vast hollow senatorial spheres any day." [37] Mark Dinning labels The Phantom Menace "A great work from a great director, and a blockbuster of quite the most swashbuckling kind." Many fans and critics also agree that the lightsaber duel between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul—showcasing astounding choreography and Ray Park 's martial arts skills—is a high point, and one of the best lightsaber duels in the Star Wars saga. [38]

The film was nominated for three Academy Awards —Best Visual Effects, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects; however, it lost to The Matrix in all three categories. The film won Best Motion Picture at the People's Choice Awards. It was also nominated for the Saturn Awards on the categories of Best Science Fiction Film, Best Director (George Lucas), Best Actor (Liam Neeson), Best Supporting Actor (Ewan McGregor), Best Young Actor (Jake Lloyd), Best Young Actress (Natalie Portman), Best Supporting Actress (Pernilla August), Best Screenplay (George Lucas), Best Music (John Williams), Best Special Effects and Best Makeup. It won on the categories of Best Costume Design (Trisha Biggar) and Best Special Effects. [39]

Deleted scenes [ ]

  • The Waterfall Sequence —As Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Jar Jar arrive in the waterways of Theed, in the bongo, they surface just in front of a huge waterfall and have to vacate the vehicle in a hurry.
  • Dawn Before the Podrace —Anakin gets up early to prepare the pod for the race and has a brief chat with Padmé.
  • Complete Podrace Grid Sequence —This scene shows more of the participating racers and creatures in the crowd, later added on DVD.
  • Extended Podrace Lap Two —This lap shows some more of Sebulba's "creative interpretation of the rules" and further proof of just how special Anakin is, later added on DVD.
  • Anakin's Scuffle With Greedo —This was due to follow the podrace, to show Anakin's potential for aggression, but George Lucas cut it because he wanted Anakin to be shown as a genuinely good character who turns evil later in adulthood.
  • Farewell to Jira —This occurs as Qui-Gon and Anakin are leaving Mos Espa and Anakin stops briefly to say goodbye to Jira. One of Darth Maul's probe droids follows them for some time until Qui-Gon finally notices and destroys it before passing by the Dusty Duck .
  • The Air Taxi Sequence —The taxi ride shows us about ten more seconds of Coruscant, later added on DVD.

The Waterfall Sequence

Credits [ ]

Appearances [ ].

Canon characters

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Droid models

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Canon events

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Organizations and titles

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Sentient species

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Miscellanea

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Sources [ ]

Notes and references [ ], external links [ ].

Wikiquote logo

  • Star Wars : Episode I The Phantom Menace on Box Office Mojo (archived from the original on June 30 , 2020 )
  • Star Wars : Episode I The Phantom Menace on Rotten Tomatoes (archived from the original on August 10 , 2020 )

Aurebesh

  • slovenščina
  • 1 Darth Sidious
  • 2 Anakin Skywalker
  • 3 Darth Plagueis

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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

1999, Sci-fi/Adventure, 2h 13m

What to know

Critics Consensus

Burdened by exposition and populated with stock characters, The Phantom Menace gets the Star Wars prequels off to a bumpy -- albeit visually dazzling -- start. Read critic reviews

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Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is a young apprentice Jedi knight under the tutelage of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) ; Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), who will later father Luke Skywalker and become known as Darth Vader, is just a 9-year-old boy. When the Trade Federation cuts off all routes to the planet Naboo, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are assigned to settle the matter.

Rating: PG (Sci-Fi Violence|Sci-Fi Action)

Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure, Action, Fantasy

Original Language: English

Director: George Lucas

Producer: Rick McCallum

Writer: George Lucas

Release Date (Theaters): May 19, 1999  wide

Rerelease Date (Theaters): Dec 3, 1999

Release Date (Streaming): Apr 10, 2015

Box Office (Gross USA): $474.5M

Runtime: 2h 13m

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Production Co: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Sound Mix: Dolby SR, Dolby Stereo, Surround, SDDS, DTS, Dolby EX, Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio: Digital Projection, Scope (2.35:1)

View the collection: Star Wars Saga

Cast & Crew

Liam Neeson

Qui-Gon Jinn

Ewan McGregor

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Natalie Portman

Queen Amidala, Padmé Naberrie

Anakin Skywalker

Pernilla August

Shmi Skywalker

Master Yoda Voice

Ian McDiarmid

Senator Palpatine, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine

Oliver Ford Davies

Hugh Quarshie

Captain Panaka

Jar Jar Binks, Senator Voice

Samuel L. Jackson

Peter Serafinowicz

Darth Maul Voice

Ralph Brown

Terence Stamp

Chancellor Finis Valorum

Brian Blessed

Boss Nass Voice

Sofia Coppola

Kenny Baker

Silas Carson

Nute Gunray, Radiant VII Pilot, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Lott Dod

Dhruv Chanchani

George Lucas

Executive Producer

Rick McCallum

John Williams

Original Music

David Tattersall

Cinematographer

Film Editing

Paul Martin Smith

Robin Gurland

Gavin Bocquet

Production Design

Phil Harvey

Art Director

Peter Russell

Peter Walpole

Set Decoration

Trisha Biggar

Costume Design

Mark Coulier

Special Makeup Effects

Paul Engelen

Key Makeup Artist

Hair Stylist

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Critic Reviews for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Audience reviews for star wars: episode i - the phantom menace.

Watching this thing years later, I can finally say, this is not a good movie. I liked it well enough as a kid as a charming little adventure, but as an adult it's kind of a hard watch. I don't know that I was ever bored by anything, but it's wildly inconsistent and just not well put together. The writing is bad, the directing is awkward, and the CGI is about on par with a PlayStation 1 cutscene, if not worse. On top of that, it's really just not necessary. What do we learn from this movie for the overall Star Wars mythos? Basically how Sidious rose to the status of chancellor. Even that is more of a background thing for all the other weird crap happening, and probably could just have been put in the opening scroll of the next film. So it's a bad film, and at times it's pretty cringey. But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't at times an entertaining film. Not always for the right reasons, but it's got some fun stuff. I still like the podracing scene, and that final fight is as good as it was back in the day with some stellar choreography. It's got it's moments, I'll defend it a little bit, but overall it's pretty cringey and pointless.

star wars the phantom menace episode i

This is a terrible, terrible movie. I'm amazed that A) Lucas made a film like this, knowing how beloved the franchise was, and B) that the franchise remained so beloved after this had come out... It introduced Maul though, who is my favourite Star Wars character. So points on that one.

Darth Maul, double bladed lightsaber, what could go wrong with this film?! Oh yeah, comic relief Jar Jar Binks and a Tatooine pod race that went about 7-10 minutes too long. It is unfortunate that they wasted arguably the 2nd best villain of the entire franchise in the first abysmal film. About 3 minutes into Jar Jar Binks' screen time you know that the script has a long way to go to dig itself out of that hole.

A technical achievement in visual effects, makeup, art direction and score that is muddled by a lackluster script and poor acting. The fight scenes, while impressive and tons of fun, lack depth and emotion, and the characters feel like the SparkNotes version of much better characters.

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If it were the first " Star Wars " movie, "The Phantom Menace" would be hailed as a visionary breakthrough. But this is the fourth movie of the famous series, and we think we know the territory; many of the early reviews have been blase, paying lip service to the visuals and wondering why the characters aren't better developed. How quickly do we grow accustomed to wonders. I am reminded of the Isaac Asimov story "Nightfall," about the planet where the stars were visible only once in a thousand years. So awesome was the sight that it drove men mad. We who can see the stars every night glance up casually at the cosmos and then quickly down again, searching for a Dairy Queen.

"Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace," to cite its full title, is an astonishing achievement in imaginative filmmaking. If some of the characters are less than compelling, perhaps that's inevitable: This is the first story in the chronology and has to set up characters who (we already know) will become more interesting with the passage of time. Here we first see Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Yoda and R2-D2 and C-3PO. Anakin is only a fresh-faced kid in Episode I; in IV, V and VI, he has become Darth Vader.

At the risk of offending devotees of the Force, I will say that the stories of the "Star Wars" movies have always been space operas, and that the importance of the movies comes from their energy, their sense of fun, their colorful inventions and their state-of-the-art special effects. I do not attend with the hope of gaining insights into human behavior. Unlike many movies, these are made to be looked at more than listened to, and George Lucas and his collaborators have filled "The Phantom Menace" with wonderful visuals.

There are new places here--new kinds of places. Consider the underwater cities, floating in their transparent membranes. The Senate chamber, a vast sphere with senators arrayed along the inside walls, and speakers floating on pods in the center. And other places: the cityscape with the waterfall that has a dizzying descent through space. And the other cities: one city Venetian, with canals, another looking like a hothouse version of imperial Rome, and a third that seems to have grown out of desert sands.

Set against awesome backdrops, the characters in "The Phantom Menace" inhabit a plot that is little more complex than the stories I grew up on in science-fiction magazines. The whole series sometimes feel like a cover from Thrilling Wonder Stories, come to life. The dialogue is pretty flat and straightforward, although seasoned with a little quasi-classical formality, as if the characters had read but not retained " Julius Caesar ." I wish the "Star Wars" characters spoke with more elegance and wit (as Gore Vidal's Greeks and Romans do), but dialogue isn't the point, anyway: These movies are about new things to look at.

The plot details (of embargoes and blockades) tend to diminish the size of the movie's universe--to shrink it to the scale of a 19th century trade dispute. The stars themselves are little more than pinpoints on a black curtain, and "Star Wars" has not drawn inspiration from the color photographs being captured by the Hubble Telescope. The series is essentially human mythology, set in space, but not occupying it. If Stanley Kubrick gave us man humbled by the universe, Lucas gives us the universe domesticated by man. His aliens are really just humans in odd skins. For "The Phantom Menace," he introduces Jar Jar Binks, a fully realized computer-animated alien character whose physical movements seem based on afterthoughts. And Jabba the Hutt (who presides over the Podrace) has always seemed positively Dickensian to me.

Yet within the rules he has established, Lucas tells a good story. The key development in " Phantom " is the first meeting between the Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn ( Liam Neeson ) and the young Anakin Skywalker ( Jake Lloyd )--who is, the Jedi immediately senses, fated for great things. Qui-Gon meets Anakin in a store where he's seeking replacement parts for his crippled ship. Qui-Gon soon finds himself backing the young slave in a high-speed Podrace--betting his ship itself against the cost of the replacement parts. The race is one of the film's high points, as the entrants zoom between high cliff walls in a refinement of a similar race through metal canyons on a spaceship in "Star Wars." Why is Qui-Gon so confident that Anakin can win? Because he senses an unusual concentration of the Force--and perhaps because, like John the Baptist, he instinctively recognizes the one whose way he is destined to prepare. The film's shakiness on the psychological level is evident, however, in the scene where young Anakin is told he must leave his mother ( Pernilla August ) and follow this tall Jedi stranger. Their mutual resignation to the parting seems awfully restrained. I expected a tearful scene of parting between mother and child, but the best we get is when Anakin asks if his mother can come along, and she replies, "Son, my place is here." As a slave? The discovery and testing of Anakin supplies the film's most important action, but in a sense all the action is equally important, because it provides platforms for special-effects sequences. Sometimes our common sense undermines a sequence (for instance, when Jar Jar's people and the good guys fight a 'droid army, it becomes obvious that the droids are such bad fighters, they should be returned for a refund). But mostly I was happy to drink in the sights on the screen, in the same spirit that I might enjoy "Metropolis," "Forbidden Planet," " 2001: A Space Odyssey ," " Dark City " or " The Matrix ." The difference is that Lucas' visuals are more fanciful and his film's energy level is more cheerful; he doesn't share the prevailing view that the future is a dark and lonely place.

What he does have, in abundance, is exhilaration. There is a sense of discovery in scene after scene of "The Phantom Menace," as he tries out new effects and ideas, and seamlessly integrates real characters and digital ones, real landscapes and imaginary places. We are standing at the threshold of a new age of epic cinema, I think, in which digital techniques mean that budgets will no longer limit the scope of scenes; filmmakers will be able to show us just about anything they can imagine.

As surely as Anakin Skywalker points the way into the future of "Star Wars," so does "The Phantom Menace" raise the curtain on this new freedom for filmmakers. And it's a lot of fun. The film has correctly been given the PG rating; it's suitable for younger viewers and doesn't depend on violence for its effects. As for the bad rap about the characters--hey, I've seen space operas that put their emphasis on human personalities and relationships. They're called " Star Trek " movies. Give me transparent underwater cities and vast hollow senatorial spheres any day.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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Film Credits

Star Wars -- Episode I: The Phantom Menace movie poster

Star Wars -- Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

133 minutes

Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi

Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala

Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker

Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks

Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker

Frank Oz as Yoda

Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu

Ray Park as Darth Maul

Terence Stamp as Chancellor Valorum

Written and Directed by

  • George Lucas

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Summary Stranded on the desert planet Tatooine after rescuing young Queen Amidala from the impending invasion of Naboo, Jedi apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn discover nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker, a young slave unusually strong in the Force. Anakin wins a thrilling Podrace and with it his freedom as he leaves his home ... Read More

Directed By : George Lucas

Written By : George Lucas

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Ewan McGregor

Obi-wan kenobi.

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Liam Neeson

Qui-gon jinn.

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Natalie Portman

Queen amidala, padmé.

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Anakin Skywalker

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Ian McDiarmid

Senator palpatine.

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Pernilla August

Shmi skywalker.

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Oliver Ford Davies

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Hugh Quarshie

Captain panaka, jar jar binks.

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Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Where to watch

Star wars: episode i – the phantom menace.

1999 Directed by George Lucas

Every generation has a legend. Every journey has a first step. Every saga has a beginning.

Anakin Skywalker, a young slave strong with the Force, is discovered on Tatooine. Meanwhile, the evil Sith have returned, enacting their plot for revenge against the Jedi.

Liam Neeson Ewan McGregor Natalie Portman Jake Lloyd Ian McDiarmid Pernilla August Oliver Ford Davies Hugh Quarshie Ahmed Best Anthony Daniels Kenny Baker Frank Oz Terence Stamp Brian Blessed Andy Secombe Ray Park Lewis Macleod Warwick Davis Steve Speirs Silas Carson Jerome St. John Blake Alan Ruscoe Ralph Brown Celia Imrie Benedict Taylor Clarence Smith Samuel L. Jackson Dominic West Karol Cristina da Silva Show All… Liz Wilson Candice Orwell Sofia Coppola Keira Knightley Bronagh Gallagher John Fensom Greg Proops Scott Capurro Margaret Towner Dhruv Chanchani Oliver Walpole Megan Udall Hassani Shapi Gin Clarke Khan Bonfils Michelle Taylor Michaela Cottrell Dipika O'Neill Joti Phil Eason Mark Coulier Lindsay Duncan Peter Serafinowicz James Taylor Chris Sanders Toby Longworth Marc Silk Danny Wagner Amanda Lucas Katie Lucas Richard Armitage Sacha Alexander Simon Allen Paul Bannon Don Bies Trisha Biggar Michonne Bourriague Douglas Bunn Ben Burtt Doug Chiang Rob Coleman Roman Coppola Sean Cronin Zsuzsanna Cseh Matt Daniel-Baker Russell Darling Philip Delancy Sebastian Dewing Andrew Doucette C. Michael Easton Andrew Elias Catherine Ernster Salo Gardner Andrew Gersh Patrice Girod Ned Gorman Joss Gower Raymond Griffiths Nathan Hamill Tim Harrington Sally Hawkins Jack Hayes Nifa Hindes Nishan Hindes Frank Huseyin Alexi Kaye Campbell David Knight John Knoll Kamay Lau Andrew Lawden John M. Levin Dan Madsen Iain McCaig Rick McCallum João Costa Menezes Taylor Murphy Lorne Peterson Andrew Raven Steve Sansweet Mike Savva Chris Scarabosio Jeff Shay Christian Simpson Paul Martin Smith Scott Squires Tom Sylla Bill Tlusty Matthew Wood Jeff Olson Michael Dondero Larry Ward

Director Director

George Lucas

Assistant Directors Asst. Directors

Bernard Bellew Paul Higgins Christopher Newman George Walker David Turchi Dario Cioni Moez Kamoun

Additional Directing Add. Directing

Roger Christian Rob Coleman

Producer Producer

Rick McCallum

Executive Producer Exec. Producer

Writer writer, casting casting.

Robin Gurland

Editors Editors

Ben Burtt Paul Martin Smith

Cinematography Cinematography

David Tattersall

Camera Operators Camera Operators

Trevor Coop Graham Hall Keith Sewell

Lighting Lighting

Eddie Knight

Additional Photography Add. Photography

Giles Nuttgens

Production Design Production Design

Gavin Bocquet

Art Direction Art Direction

Peter Russell Fred Hole John King Phil Harvey Rod McLean

Set Decoration Set Decoration

Peter Walpole

Special Effects Special Effects

Graham Riddell Stephen Hutchinson

Visual Effects Visual Effects

Dennis Muren Ned Gorman Ginger Theisen John Knoll Heather Smith Jeff Olson Judith Weaver Scott Squires Daryl Tucker

Stunts Stunts

Nick Gillard Rob Inch Ray De-Haan Andreas Petrides Joss Gower Morgan Johnson Dominic Preece Taylor Murphy

Composer Composer

John Williams

Sound Sound

Ben Burtt Gary Rydstrom Tom Johnson Dennie Thorpe Jana Vance Tony Eckert Teresa Eckton Matthew Wood Shawn Murphy Tom Bellfort John Midgley Chris Scarabosio Marian Wilde Bruce Lacey Frank 'Pepe' Merel

Costume Design Costume Design

Trisha Biggar

Makeup Makeup

Meg Speirs Morag Ross Melissa Lackersteen

Hairstyling Hairstyling

Sue Love Sarah Love Jan Archibald Darlene Forrester

Lucasfilm Ltd.

Releases by Date

16 may 1999, 19 may 1999, 24 jun 1999, 26 jun 1999, 01 jul 1999, 10 jul 1999, 16 jul 1999, 05 aug 1999, 19 aug 1999, 20 aug 1999, 16 sep 1999, 17 sep 1999, 24 sep 1999, 01 oct 1999, 13 oct 1999, 15 oct 1999, 16 may 2002, 08 dec 2002, 08 feb 2012, 09 feb 2012, 10 feb 2012, 16 mar 2012, 04 apr 2000, 16 oct 2001, 08 nov 2001, 01 sep 2011, releases by country.

  • Theatrical PG
  • Theatrical L
  • Theatrical C
  • Theatrical 11
  • Theatrical K-12
  • Theatrical TP
  • Theatrical U version 3D
  • Theatrical 6
  • Theatrical Κ-12
  • Theatrical Κ-12 3D έκδοση
  • Theatrical 3D
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  • Physical DVD発売
  • Theatrical 3D版
  • Theatrical A

Netherlands

  • Theatrical 12
  • Theatrical 12 Yorin
  • Theatrical 12 Re-release
  • Physical 12 Blu-ray
  • Theatrical M/12

South Korea

  • Theatrical ALL
  • Physical ALL DVD 발매
  • Theatrical ALL 3D판
  • Theatrical APTA
  • Theatrical 普遍級 3D version
  • Theatrical U
  • Premiere PG Los Angeles, California
  • Physical PG VHS release
  • Physical PG DVD release
  • Theatrical PG 3-D version

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Popular reviews

James (Schaffrillas)

Review by James (Schaffrillas) ★★ 2

Every time I rewatch this movie, Jar Jar gets more and more unironically funny

IHE

Review by IHE ½ 166

Even worse than I remember. It has aged so badly to the point where every scene is either completely laughable or makes no sense. Might actually be worse than Attack of The Clones, although it’s still like choosing if dog piss or cat piss is nicer. At the end of the day they’re both piss.

Darth Maul sucks the hardest, I can’t believe anyone defends that character in this movie. Even the fight scene at the end that everyone circlejerks is totally lacklustre because there is no tension or stakes as the characters are so poorly set up. 

Jar Jar is even worse than you remember, his dialogue is completely incomprehensible so I had no idea what he was saying. He…

samantha

Review by samantha ★★½ 16

i still can't tell natalie portman and keira knightley apart

russman

Review by russman ★★ 6

Ani are you ok? So, Ani are you ok? Are you ok Ani?

SilentDawn

Review by SilentDawn ★★★★½ 83

*previously a 53 , now an 84 *

I think I've reached the tipping point of my love for this thing, but then again, each rewatch is practically exponential in how it affects me as a Star Wars fan and a cinephile. Each frame of world building - cascading waterfalls, forests festering with fog, dusty Tatooine landscapes - is rich and lively in its conceptual work, with costuming, CG effects, and sound design providing a textual beginning to the saga. Lucas paints this picture as delicate and grandiose; a far cry from the uncertainty of Attack of the Clones and the devastating tragedy of Revenge of the Sith . All the puzzle pieces - galactic politics, bureaucratic interplay, Jedi as spies and samurai,…

Adam Kempenaar

Review by Adam Kempenaar ★★ 12

Meesa feeling generous.

adambolt

Review by adambolt ★ 2

meesa wanna fucken die

liam f

Review by liam f ★★ 4

why is there a moist fart in a Star Wars movie

kyle

Review by kyle ★ 3

almost unwatchable, if not for ewan mcgregor the cgi has aged terribly, unlike ewan mcgregor horrible racist stereotypes, just not scottish ewan mcgregor everyone seems bored, including ewan mcgregor i still want to f*ck, you guessed it, ewan mcgregor

amaya

Review by amaya ★★ 11

why are they surprised some of them turn to the dark side.. if i had to wear plain brown robes and an ugly ass rattail haircut for the entirety of my training i would have deep anger issues too

Jay

Review by Jay ★ 11

i guess you are my little pod-champ

DirkH

Review by DirkH ★ 82

I will try and explain why I dislike this film so much. It is a bit of a geeky rant, so bear with me.

A Universe of Boredom The original trilogy gave us a window to one of the most interesting universes ever created. It is a fantasy, filled with amazing aliens and wonderful characters. The Phantom Menace was the film that could expand on this universe. We could have gotten more fantastical worlds, more foundation to the mythos. What we instead got was Tatooine......again. It could have traveled the entire universe but it instead gave us a planet we already know. This is but a tiny example of the unbelievable unimaginative feel this film has. This is most present…

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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace turns 25. Did you known these 10 facts about the sci-fi prequel?

Posted: January 5, 2024 | Last updated: January 5, 2024

The Force is certainly strong with this movie! ‘Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace’ turns 25 this year and George Lucas' prequel still divides fan opinion to this day. What do you know about the film that is the beginning of the Anakin Skywalker story?

May The Force be with you...

Liam Neeson in ‘The Phantom Menace’

Qui-Gon Jin didn’t exist

From planning the movie to its cinematic release, ‘The Phantom Menace’ was six years in the making. Lucas began to piece together a story for the movie, and what he wanted to achieve across his prequel trilogy, that being the tale of how Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker became the dreaded Darth Vader, in 1993, and began to write a script the following year.  The 'Star Wars' creator then commissioned concept art from Doug Chiang, with his work ranging from new aliens, spaceships and planets, many of which would be directly translated into the final movie.  It was only in 1997 that principal photography on ‘The Phantom Menace’ began, meaning there had been four years of pre-production, one of the longest in Hollywood.

It had a very long pre-production

Lucas initially wanted someone else to help bring his vision to life. The 79-year-old filmmaker initially offered the job to his good friend Steven Spielberg, with whom he had worked with on the ‘Indiana Jones’ movies, though he turned it down.  George also asked ‘Back to the Future’ director Robert Zemeckis and Willow’s Ron Howard to helm the picture, though they too insisted that he was the only man for the job.

George Lucas didn’t want to direct

From the very beginning of the saga, George Lucas took inspiration from real world conflicts and religions to create the basis of ‘Star Wars’, with a particular focus on American politics. That was no different for the fourth movie which depicted the beginning of the fall of a democracy into a totalitarian dictatorship. In fact, Senator Palpatine - played by Ian McDiarmid, who would later become the tyrannical Emperor - was based on former US President Richard Nixon. In the ‘Star Wars Archives Episodes I-III: 1999-2005’, George wrote: “He was a politician. Richard M. Nixon was his name. He subverted the senate and finally took over and became an imperial guy and he was really evil. But he pretended to be a really nice guy."

Chancellor Palpatine is based on Richard Nixon

At the time of shooting, 14-minute video masterpiece ‘Thriller’ was the most expensive promo ever made.  The video went over budget and eventually cost $900,000 to make.

Michael Jackson wanted to play Jar Jar Binks

Terance Stamp signed on to play Chancellor Valorum in the movie, but only agreed to do so because he wanted to work with Natalie Portman, who played Queen Amidala. Reflecting on the film, the actor - who was 60 at the time - said: “I must admit, I had a terrible crush on Natalie Portman."

Terance Stamp only wanted to work with Natalie Portman

As one of the most terrifying Sith Lords in the galaxy, Darth Maul took the fandom by storm when he debuted in ‘The Phantom Menace’, and its clear to see why. Everything about his design screams ‘evil’, but unfortunately, his voice didn’t match his ominous appearance.  Ray Park, who played the character, had a high, rural English accent that George Lucas decided wasn’t intimidating enough, so the director instead dubbed him with the voice of comedian Peter Serafinowicz.

Darth Maul dubbed

Every big blockbuster today has ‘The Phantom Menace’ to thank for revolutionising technology in Hollywood. George Lucas had the foresight to push the boundaries of what was possible in filmmaking in order to put what he could see in his mind’s eye onto the screen, and so researched and implemented as much CGI (computer-generated images) into his picture as possible. Reflecting on the technology, he said: “With CGI at my disposal, I knew I could do whatever I wanted.” Amazingly, around 1,950 shots in the movie have computer-generated effects, and contained the first wholly computer-generated live action characters and environments in cinematic history, such as Jar Jar Binks, Boss Nass and Watto.

A technological revolution

When the first trailer for ‘The Phantom Menace’ released in 1998, fans over the world were overcome with excitement. Within 24 hours, the two-minute clip had been downloaded over a million times on Apple iTunes, making it one of the most sought-after trailers at the time. Fans couldn’t get enough, and when the trailer began playing before screenings of ‘Meet Joe Black’, many would buy tickets to the movie just to watch the clip, and left before the movie even started.

Trailer excitement

Although it was mauled by critics and divided audiences, ‘The Phantom Menace’ is still regarded as one of the most successful movies of all time. On a budget of $115 million, the film banked $924.3 million on its first release in 1999, second only to James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’, before making a further $102.7 billion for its 3D re-run in 2012. The movie also received three Oscar nominations at the Academy Awards, though lost all of them to ‘The Matrix’.

A colossal box office success

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Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

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Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace Guide

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Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace Joins PS Plus Premium Next Week

  • January 10, 2024
  • Theo Litston

star wars the phantom menace episode i

Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace joins PS Plus Premium next week on Tuesday 16th January! Sony has confirmed it, which means it’s time to start destroying droids once again!

The action/adventure game, based on the movie of the same name, originally released on PlayStation and PC back in 1999 to coincide with the launch of George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel.

Sony revealed that Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace will join the top tier of their subscription service earlier today in a post on the PlayStation Blog .

The game closely follows the events of the film and allows players to take control of Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn, his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, Queen Amidala and Captain Panaka. Unfortunately Jar Jar Binks isn’t playable.

The game received mixed reviews upon release with critics citing dull hack n’ slash gameplay and basic puzzles as substantial issues with Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace.

Other retro games launching on the service next week include Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection, Rally Cross, Legend of Mana and Secret of Mana.

Now This Is Podracing!

Star Wars Episode 1: Jedi Power Battles - the phantom menace joins ps plus

Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace wasn’t the only tie-in game for the biggest movie of 1999 with Star Wars Episode 1: Racer releasing on PC, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Colour and Dreamcast and Star Wars Episode 1: Jedi Power Battles arriving on PlayStation and Dreamcast the following year.

The former allowed players to experience the speed and excitement of podracing. Podracing was arguably the highlight of the film and saw Anakin Skywalker racing across the deserts of Tatooine.

Jedi Power Battles on the other hand, wasn’t particularly fun or exciting but gave gamers their first opportunity to play as Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu in game. Somehow, the team at LucasArts managed to omit Mace Windu’s iconic purple lightsabre from the box art as you can see above.

I was the perfect age for Star War when Episode 1 was released in ’99 and while nothing can hold a candle to the original trilogy, and especially Empire, I have fond memories of playing Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace on the PS1 and am thrilled to see it join PlayStation Plus Premium next week.

Since the late nineties we’ve played and enjoyed plenty of Star Wars games and the future is looking bright for the franchise with several other big budget Star Wars games set to release in 2024 and beyond .

This article may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to purchase an item we may earn a commission. Thank you for your support.

Theo Litston

Theo first fell in love with gaming when he sped through Green Hill Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog back in 1991. Theo has previously provided reviews, news coverage and articles for The Games Cabin and enjoyed producing comedic Let’s Plays on his own personal YouTube channels.

A huge Kingdom Hearts and Metal Gear fan, Theo enjoys deep gameplay mechanics and complex storylines. A completionist by nature, Theo has earned over 140 platinum trophies including top digital trinkets for Stardew Valley, The Witness, Bloodborne and a plethora of GTA games.

Outside of gaming, Theo can often be found riding his motorbike, headbanging at gigs or out in the countryside exploring nature and marvelling at the ‘realistic graphics’.

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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace turns 25. Did you known these 10 facts about the sci-fi prequel?

  • Bang Showbiz
  • Jan 5, 2024
  • Copy article link

The Force is certainly strong with this movie!

‘Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace’ turns 25 this year and George Lucas' prequel still divides fan opinion to this day.

What do you know about the film that is the beginning of the Anakin Skywalker story?

May The Force be with you...

The Force is certainly strong with this movie! ‘Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace’ turns 25 this year and George Lucas' prequel still divides fan opinion to this day. What do you know about the film that is the beginning of the Anakin Skywalker story?

Qui-Gon Jin didn’t exist

During the planning phase of ‘The Phantom Menace’, Obi-Wan Kenobi was meant to be the main protagonist of the movie. George had written the story around the Jedi master finding the young slave boy Anakin Skywalker on the desert planet of Tatooine, though eventually decided Obi-Wan was not right for that role. Instead, Obi-Wan, played by Ewan McGregor, regressed into a supporting character, with George giving the mentor role to the young Jedi’s master, Qui-Gon Jin (Liam Neeson).

It had a very long pre-production

From planning the movie to its cinematic release, ‘The Phantom Menace’ was six years in the making. Lucas began to piece together a story for the movie, and what he wanted to achieve across his prequel trilogy, that being the tale of how Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker became the dreaded Darth Vader, in 1993, and began to write a script the following year. The 'Star Wars' creator then commissioned concept art from Doug Chiang, with his work ranging from new aliens, spaceships and planets, many of which would be directly translated into the final movie. It was only in 1997 that principal photography on ‘The Phantom Menace’ began, meaning there had been four years of pre-production, one of the longest in Hollywood.

George Lucas didn’t want to direct

Lucas initially wanted someone else to help bring his vision to life. The 79-year-old filmmaker initially offered the job to his good friend Steven Spielberg, with whom he had worked with on the ‘Indiana Jones’ movies, though he turned it down. George also asked ‘Back to the Future’ director Robert Zemeckis and Willow’s Ron Howard to helm the picture, though they too insisted that he was the only man for the job.

Chancellor Palpatine is based on Richard Nixon

From the very beginning of the saga, George Lucas took inspiration from real world conflicts and religions to create the basis of ‘Star Wars’, with a particular focus on American politics. That was no different for the fourth movie which depicted the beginning of the fall of a democracy into a totalitarian dictatorship. In fact, Senator Palpatine - played by Ian McDiarmid, who would later become the tyrannical Emperor - was based on former US President Richard Nixon. In the ‘Star Wars Archives Episodes I-III: 1999-2005’, George wrote: “He was a politician. Richard M. Nixon was his name. He subverted the senate and finally took over and became an imperial guy and he was really evil. But he pretended to be a really nice guy."

Michael Jackson wanted to play Jar Jar Binks

Before Ahmed Best was cast as Jar Jar Binks, Michael Jackson was keen to play the Gungan. However, the ‘Bad’ singer was denied the CGI role by George Lucas, who decided against giving the King of Pop the part. Speaking to Rolling Stone magazine, Ahmed reflected on the situation: “We were taken backstage, and we met Michael. There was Michael and Lisa Marie [Presley]. George introduced me as ‘Jar Jar,’ and I was like, ‘That’s kind of weird.’ Michael was like, ‘Oh. OK.’ I thought, ‘What is going on?' After Michael had driven off, we all go back up to a big after-party. I’m having a drink with George, and I said, ‘Why did you introduce me as Jar Jar?’ He said, ‘Well, Michael wanted to do the part, but he wanted to do it in prosthetics and makeup like 'Thriller'. George wanted to do it in CGI. My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don’t think he wanted that.”

Terance Stamp only wanted to work with Natalie Portman

Terance Stamp signed on to play Chancellor Valorum in the movie, but only agreed to do so because he wanted to work with Natalie Portman, who played Queen Amidala. Reflecting on the film, the actor - who was 60 at the time - said: “I must admit, I had a terrible crush on Natalie Portman."

Darth Maul dubbed

As one of the most terrifying Sith Lords in the galaxy, Darth Maul took the fandom by storm when he debuted in ‘The Phantom Menace’, and its clear to see why. Everything about his design screams ‘evil’, but unfortunately, his voice didn’t match his ominous appearance. Ray Park, who played the character, had a high, rural English accent that George Lucas decided wasn’t intimidating enough, so the director instead dubbed him with the voice of comedian Peter Serafinowicz.

A technological revolution

Every big blockbuster today has ‘The Phantom Menace’ to thank for revolutionising technology in Hollywood. George Lucas had the foresight to push the boundaries of what was possible in filmmaking in order to put what he could see in his mind’s eye onto the screen, and so researched and implemented as much CGI (computer-generated images) into his picture as possible. Reflecting on the technology, he said: “With CGI at my disposal, I knew I could do whatever I wanted.” Amazingly, around 1,950 shots in the movie have computer-generated effects, and contained the first wholly computer-generated live action characters and environments in cinematic history, such as Jar Jar Binks, Boss Nass and Watto.

Trailer excitement

When the first trailer for ‘The Phantom Menace’ released in 1998, fans over the world were overcome with excitement. Within 24 hours, the two-minute clip had been downloaded over a million times on Apple iTunes, making it one of the most sought-after trailers at the time. Fans couldn’t get enough, and when the trailer began playing before screenings of ‘Meet Joe Black’, many would buy tickets to the movie just to watch the clip, and left before the movie even started.

A colossal box office success

Although it was mauled by critics and divided audiences, ‘The Phantom Menace’ is still regarded as one of the most successful movies of all time. On a budget of $115 million, the film banked $924.3 million on its first release in 1999, second only to James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’, before making a further $102.7 billion for its 3D re-run in 2012. The movie also received three Oscar nominations at the Academy Awards, though lost all of them to ‘The Matrix’.

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The bad Star Wars game you secretly love for is coming to PS5

Meesa don’t want to remember this one, Ani

Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace poster next to gameplay of the tie-in game

A new retro Star Wars game is coming to PlayStation 5, the PSOne classic tie-in title Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace. Released in 1999 on PlayStation and PC, this marks the first time the game has been re-released in 25 years.

Coming to PlayStation via the PS Plus Premium subscription, the Phantom Menace tie-in game will be playable in its original form with the addition of save states and an improved resolution.

Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace mostly follows the story of the controversial 1999 prequel movie in a hack-and-slash format. Starting on the Separatist ship as Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’ll eventually meet Anakin Skywalker on Tatooine and battle in the streets of Naboo.

Alongside playing as the aforementioned Jedi Knights, you can also play as Queen Padme Amidala and even Captain Panaka, her bodyguard. Unfortunately, there are no Jar-Jar Binks sections, so there’s no “Meesa step in doo-doo” or sticking your tongue in an electrified pod-racer mini-game.

While the movie tie-in game does have a fair ally of variety with lengthy vehicle sections and puzzles, it’s not a very good game. In fact, back in 1999, the game launched to mixed reviews. Back in the day, GameSpot’s Jeff Gerstman (creator of Giant Bomb) gave the game a 4.2/10.

“This game manages to disappoint all audiences. Game players will be frustrated by the game's sketchy control,” he wrote. “Fans of the movie will be bummed out by the overall presentation. It all adds up to one Death Star-sized failure.”

If you’re looking for a much better game based on Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, we suggest the recent re-release of Star Wars: Episode 1 - Racer . Playable in a remastered state on Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and PC, the classic racing game adapts the best part of The Phantom Menace (well, excerpt the Darth Maul fight) into a pulse-pounding racing game.

Of course, there's also some brilliant modern Star Wars games that everyone should play, including the almost-perfect Star Wars Jedi: Survivor . Alongside that, EA's Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is now in a great place - and a cheap place - for everyone to give a go.

Nevertheless, if you want to give the classic movie tie-in game a go, it’s included with the PS Plus Premium subscription, so why not try it?

For more articles like this, take a look at our news , Gaming News , PlayStation , and Star Wars pages.

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  1. Star Wars: Episode I

    Plot The Trade Federation upsets order in the Galactic Republic by blockading the planet Naboo in secret preparation for a full-scale invasion. The Republic's leader, Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum, dispatches Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, to negotiate with Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray.

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    99+ Photos Action Adventure Fantasy Two Jedi escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to claim their original glory. Director George Lucas Writer George Lucas Stars Ewan McGregor Liam Neeson Natalie Portman See production info at IMDbPro RENT/BUY

  3. Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace

    Every saga has a beginning…Tagline Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace is a 1999 film written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Rick McCallum and starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, and Ian McDiarmid. It is the first chapter of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, the fourth theatrical Star Wars release overall, and chronologically the first film in the ...

  4. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (Episode I)

    Experience the heroic action and unforgettable adventures of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. See the first fateful steps in the journey of Anakin Skywalker.

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    0:00 / 2:13 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace - Trailer Star Wars 4.04M subscribers Subscribe Subscribed 33K Share 5.6M views 11 years ago Subscribe:...

  6. Star Wars: Episode I

    Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is a young apprentice Jedi knight under the tutelage of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) ; Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), who will later father Luke Skywalker and become...

  7. Watch Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (Episode I)

    Watch Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (Episode I) | Disney+ Jedi discover Anakin Skywalker, a boy unusually strong in the Force.

  8. Star Wars: Episode I

    Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Jump to Edit Summaries Two Jedi escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to claim their original glory.

  9. Star Wars -- Episode I: The Phantom Menace

    If it were the first "Star Wars" movie, "The Phantom Menace" would be hailed as a visionary breakthrough. But this is the fourth movie of the famous series, and we think we know the territory; many of the early reviews have been blase, paying lip service to the visuals and wondering why the characters aren't better developed. How quickly do we grow accustomed to wonders. I am reminded of the ...

  10. Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace: An Oral History

    Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace arrived on May 19, 1999, to a degree of anticipation and hype rarely seen before, or since, for a movie.There was good cause. It was the first new film in the Star Wars saga since 1983's Return of the Jedi, and the kickoff of the prequel trilogy, which promised to tell the story of how Anakin Skywalker turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader ...

  11. Star Wars: Episode I

    Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) Trailer #1: Check out the trailer starring Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, and Natalie Portman! Be the first to ...

  12. Star Wars: Episode I

    Directed by George Lucas Writing Credits George Lucas ... (written by) Cast (in credits order) verified as complete Produced by Music by John Williams ... (music by) Cinematography by David Tattersall ... director of photography Editing by Casting By Robin Gurland ... (casting by) Production Design by Gavin Bocquet Art Direction by

  13. Star Wars: Episode I

    1999. PG. 2 h 16 m. Summary Stranded on the desert planet Tatooine after rescuing young Queen Amidala from the impending invasion of Naboo, Jedi apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn discover nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker, a young slave unusually strong in the Force. Anakin wins a thrilling Podrace and with it his freedom ...

  14. Star Wars: Episode I

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  15. Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace

    Jun 7, 2022 - Hollywood accent and dialect coach, Jack Wallace, reacts to the evolution of Obi-Wan Kenobi's accent throughout the years. From the original Obi-Wan, Sir Alec Guinness, to Ewan ...

  16. "Star Wars: Episode I

    Original theatrical trailer for the 1999 film "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace." Starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd,...

  17. Star Wars: Episode I

    SHOW ALL QUESTIONS Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace is a 1999 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ahmed Best, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Pernilla August and Frank Oz.

  18. Star Wars: Episode I

    Star Wars Watch. Liam Neeson says Star Wars is losing 'the mystery and the magic' due to its many spin-offs. George Lucas tells obsessive fans to get a life. Liam Neeson scraps his retirement ...

  19. Star Wars: Episode I

    Plot The Trade Federation upsets order in the Galactic Republic by blockading the planet Naboo in secret preparation for a full-scale invasion. The Republic's leader, Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum, dispatches Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, to negotiate with Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray.

  20. Star Wars: Episode I

    The Force is certainly strong with this movie! 'Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace' turns 25 this year and George Lucas' prequel still divides fan opinion to this day.

  21. Episode I Featurette: Sound

    Much like the Force, it is the sound that surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the reality of the motion picture together. Go behind the scenes of Episode I.

  22. Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

    In STAR WARS EPISODE I: The Phantom Menace you have the opportunity to play through key scenes of the movie. You'll take control of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Queen Amidala, and Captain Panaka ...

  23. Star Wars: Episode I

    Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace is a 1999 action-adventure video game released by LucasArts and is an adaptation of film of the same title.

  24. Star Wars: Episode 1

    The action/adventure game, based on the movie of the same name, originally released on PlayStation and PC back in 1999 to coincide with the launch of George Lucas' Star Wars prequel. Sony revealed that Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace will join the top tier of their subscription service earlier today in a post on the PlayStation Blog.

  25. Star Wars: Episode I

    The 'Star Wars' creator then commissioned concept art from Doug Chiang, with his work ranging from new aliens, spaceships and planets, many of which would be directly translated into the final movie. It was only in 1997 that principal photography on 'The Phantom Menace' began, meaning there had been four years of pre-production, one of the ...

  26. UPDATE: PlayStation 1's 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace' Coming to

    Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace is a top-down, action/adventure game that primarily adapts the events of the movie into a video game. Players control a number of the same characters from the movie, including Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Padmé, and can use their lightsabers and Force abilities in combat and to solve puzzles.

  27. Star Wars: Episode 1

    Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace mostly follows the story of the controversial 1999 prequel movie in a hack-and-slash format. Starting on the Separatist ship as Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, you'll eventually meet Anakin Skywalker on Tatooine and battle in the streets of Naboo.