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Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

In today’s episode, we’re going back to the 90s! To be more specific, we’re going back to The Phantom Menace. Despite the political intrigue, Darth Maul, Jar Jar Binks, and having our name inspired by Duel of the Fates, the DotR gang gave this film quite a roasting. Some might even say we don’t need this film (gasp). Is this our phantom ranking? If you have a problem with it, just hear us out first.

“I’m about to give this movie a fair roasting.” - Amanda

Of the Star Wars saga, it sits at second-worst for Brody and Charley. Mainly due to the story and characters. One example being that Brody isn’t a fan of Anakin’s “Yippie!” in the script, and he doesn’t think the Gungans were all that endearing. Charley said the acting killed it for him. Amanda was turned off as a kid when watching this movie: Why would anyone elect to watch a discussion on politics and a trade federation? Even I’ll admit, there are some scenes I could watch over and over (podracing and the duel with Maul), but I usually skip through the rest of the movie. However, we won’t skip through our hot takes!

“I don’t mind Padme being a tough bitch.” - Amanda

Hot Takes

  • Where are the child labor laws? How was Queen Amidala elected at such a young age?

  • Jar Jar Binks is cool, and you hate him for it.

  • Qui-Gon should have a double-bladed lightsaber…or he should’ve been bald.

  • The Phantom Menace is a good movie.

“I would watch this over Episode III. Boom.” - Charley

individual Rankings

  1. Christian: 18

  2. Charley: 17.5

  3. Brody: 16.5

  4. Amanda: 10

Overall Score = 62

Ouch, only 62 points? Well, where are the points actually coming from? Brody enjoys seeing the political climate; it only sparks more questions about the separatist movement, their trade embargo, and what the roles of the Republic and Jedi have to do with it. Even though the characters aren’t developed here, the introduction of big-name actors like Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman are always fun to watch. He likes that we get to learn more about Sheev Palpatine (the real phantom menace), his influence into a supreme chancellor nomination, and the sith duo. We also see a busier side of Tatooine, involving the gambling surrounding podracing, gangs, and society in general. The Republic doesn’t exist out there.

“This is the lightsaber action that we didn’t know we wanted!” - Christian

Charley votes this episode has the best amputation…cutting Maul in half! He also sees the good in Jar Jar’s character; he sets them up with the underwater allies, uniting and forming alliances. Charley, like Brody and I, is a big fan of the CGI and digital effects as they show a night and day difference compared to the original trilogy. As a kid, I thought Qui-Gon literally caught Jar Jar’s tongue. I like seeing that we got a completely different tone and style with this prequel. Learning the role of the senate, republic, and all its failings intermixed with the Jedi having a political arm as peace-keepers was quite a departure from the original trilogy. The facade of the Republic and it’s beautiful planet-city of Coruscant is just that. It does not exist on planets like Tatooine, and closer to the surface (beneath the beautiful skyscrapers) is where the scum and villainy are.

It’s also very cool observing Qui-Gon and who he was to Obi-Wan. We’re used to seeing Obi-Wan as the mentor, but now he is the learner with a master. Charley and I thought the world-building was great with Naboo, Corousant, and Gungan City. We get the legendary Duel of the Fates song for the first time! Amanda even liked Anikan’s music theme as well.

“You don’t need this movie to understand and appreciate Star Wars.” - Amanda

Special Roast

We’re going to give Amanda her own section for roasting this prequel because she has so much to say. She raises the flag confused and conflicted about how young Padme is, and worse, the age gap between her and Anakin. Sure, canon established it’s only five years, but come on, look at the screen. The story is terrible, “it sounds like a great plot to a children’s film.” It’s slower than A New Hope, every character is pretty terrible (Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan save this movie), and there’s a heavy reliance on digital effects and CGI. We introduce the midi-chlorians and a double-bladed lightsaber…and then we forget about them for the rest of Star Wars. Starting at this point in the timeline was an obstacle Lucas should’ve avoided. If you enjoyed this as a kid, just know that you are judged by Amanda. Boom, roasted!

“It had to be humbled.” - Amanda

Well done Amanda, you might have ruined The Phantom Menace for a lot of folks now. However, we also discussed that having Anakin as a young boy in this film further propitiated this “chosen one” prophecy. I think it’s easier to latch onto something like that when you have a child in the mix as opposed to some adult. Regardless, we had to get all of this out of our system. There’s a lot to love…but maybe there’s more to roast.

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