Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Every generation has a legend. Every journey has a first step. Every saga has a beginning...Return to galaxy far, far away in the first chapter of the mythic Star Wars Saga.

Set thirty years before the original Star Wars film, Episode I introduces young Anakin Skywalker, a boy with special powers, unaware that the journey he is beginning will transform him into the evil Darth Vader. Obi-Wan Kenobi, the wise old Jedi from the original series, is a determined young apprentice and Palpatine, well known as the evil Emperor, is am ambitious Senator in the Galactic Republic. It is a time when the Jedi Knights are the guardians of peace in a turbulent galaxy and a young queen fights to save her people. In the shadows lurks an evil force waiting for the right moment to strike.

Sixteen years after producing Return of the Jedi, George Lucas once again presented the world with the next installment in his STAR WARS saga. However, this was no mere continuation of the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia. This story, followed by installment II and III, tell the story of Luke & Leia's father, Anakin Skywalker, who would one day become the right hand man of the Emperor, Darth Vader. The Phantom Menace would also introduce us to a very young and outspoken Obi-Wan Kenobi, in the final period of his Jedi training under his master Qui-Gon Jinn. We meet Queen Padmé Amidala, who becomes the object of future affections for young Anakin.

While fans of the epic film series rushed to the theaters to get their latest fix of this space opera, many fans came away from this episode shaking their heads. A most annoying character has been introduced - even more insipid that the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi - Jar-Jar Binks. His double-reverse slaughtering of the English language would be the butt of many a joke and the target for much of the criticism placed on the film.

Further issues were raised by the concept of somehow measuring the Force. The symbiotic relationship with the midi-chlorians. No mention of this had been made in any of the previous film installments - and none was made in Episode II. References to the Christ-like conception of Anakin did not help matters either. While I'm not the first to come up with this theory, there is strong evidence that supports Senator Palpatine, whom we know is also Darth Sidious, is actually Anakin's father.

The film had a reported budget of $115 million and despite the mixed reviews, managed to pull in $431 million in it's 6+ month run on the Domestic box office. The reported worldwide take is $925.6 million.

For the video release, LucasFilm authorized a LaserDisc release only in Japan. The release on April 7, 2000 is the only way to view the original theatrical cut on videodisc. When the DVD was released in October 2001, LucasFilm had completed several new segments of the film for inclusion as bonus material - and in addition, added three minutes of footage into the body of the film.

Updated: February 22, 2012
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