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STAR WARS I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

The beginning of the Star Wars six-part adventure series commences with the childhood of Anakin Skywalker, AKA the future Darth Vader.  With the friendships of Obi-wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Qui-Gon Jinn, Anakin grows to harness the art of the Jedi Knights.  Along the way, Anakin and friends use their powers to help Queen Padamé save her Embassy from greedy trade executives.

The cast includes: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Pernilla August, Frank Oz, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Written and directed by: George Lucas.

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

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"The Phantom Menace" is the first one of Star Wars Epic Series of films, whose format is inspired by the Saturday afternoon movie serials, such as the old Flash Gordon tales, and that all were written and produced by George Lucas. In this film, which is set 30 years before the first Star Wars film, Lucas shows the peace-keeping Jedi Knights in action, how the evil Emperor got his start in power, and the early beginning journey of Anakin Skywalker, as a boy with special powers, who of course winds up going down the evil path, and becoming the infamous Darth Vader, in later episodes of this Star Wars epic series.

All these characters become involved in the trials and tribulations of a young queen, whose planet is first being blockaded by a trade federation ship, trying to get her to sign an unfair, oppressive trade agreement, that would enslave her people. The blockade turns into a droid invasion from the blockading ship, all under the direction of an unknown, evil, ambitious Senator, who is an elected official in the interplanetary Senate. When the good guys enable the Queen to escape, the evil Senator sends his equally dastardly, scary-looking apprentice out to try to stop the heroes, and to foil the Queen's fight for her people.

The result of all this is a gripping tale of adventure and courage, as worthy as any of the already made Star Wars films. The script, direction, special effects, ground-breaking, realistic computer animation and the acting from the cast, and the direction from Lucas, are all right on the mark. The character, Jar Jar Biggs, as well as all his countrymen were visually created completely by computer magic, as was the scenery behind the incredible Boonta Eve Pod race, as well as other key scenes, such as the battle between the soldier droids and Jar Jarr's people's army in the movie.

Favorite scenes include: The Pod race on Dantontwine, the underwater scenes, the Jedi Council scenes, the incredibly detailed, computer animated battles outside the queen's city, the fantastic, well-planned & staged light saber battles, the star fighter battles, battles in the queen's palace, and the great ending.

Most everyone in the family will find "The Phantom Menace" a most entertaining film. Parental Guidance is suggested for young children and children sensitive to scary make-up, evil characters, and intense situations.

Music by: John Williams. Produced By: Rick McCallum. Written and Directed by: George Lucas.

Jar Jar Biggs Quote: "How wude!"