This will be the first of my editorials on all canon released Star Wars films and shows.
Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace released in 1999, 16 years after Return of the Jedi, is canonically the first in the Skywalker saga. Many fans were undoubtedly excited to watch this prequel before release. Unlike the original trilogy, this film was met with an unfavorable reception and became a joke in the Star Wars fandom. I myself and many fans today, however, don’t look on it as bad though.
Episode 1 begins with the planet of Naboo under a blockade from the trade federation. From there on both new and old planets are introduced. Characters like R2, Palpatine, Yoda, Mace Windu, young Obi-Wan, Jar-Jar, C3PO, and young Anakin are introduced. The audience also got to see a glimpse of how The Republic and Jedi Order operated. And then it ends with an ending akin to A New Hope.
Of course, the film has some positives. I think that the acting is fine, even if the script is less than stellar. Both new planets, Naboo and Coruscant, each have their personality. Plus we as fans finally got to see what this powerful Republic and Jedi Order we’re like. But perhaps the most positive thing I can think of is the duel of the fates. In my personal opinion, the score and choreography rank it in the top three lightsaber duels.
But in between the good aspects of the film is awkward humor and a mediocre script. Some parts of the story also make the film slow at times. Compared to the original trilogy vfx, The Phantom Menace vfx, has not aged well. Worst of all with a mere 5 minutes of screentime, Darth Maul, is absolutely wasted. Luckily, The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels developed him further. Now look, it’s by no means a horrible Star Wars film that people made it out to be. It’s just very weak compared to the masterpiece that is the original trilogy.