8:15 PM, 20th October, 1999
Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute. Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships, the greedy Trade Federation has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo. While the Congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace, to settle the conflict...
So starts the first Star Wars movie in almost 16 years. The critical backlash against The Phantom Menace was inevitable-it had been built up to such a frenzy of hype that a let down was inevitable. However, the film ultimately is very successful in what it tries to do. You can't go watch Star Wars expecting to see something like The Matrix-the Star Wars films are ultimately designed for children. (At least, that's the only explanation I could come up with for Jar Jar, the annoying sidekick character, that didn't involve senility).
Liam Neeson is good as Jedi Knight Qui Gon Jin, and Ewan McGregor is uncanny as the young Alec Guiness, sorry I mean Obi Wan Kenobi. Jake Lloyd is adequate as Anakin, and Natalie Portman does quite well in her role. The real star is the special effects, which are mind blowing. Apparently there is one scene in the movie without some effects in it, but I couldn't spot it.
Well now I'm sure the Force will be with me. This film carries the Star Wars mantle very well. The premise is that a mega trade organisation is blockading the small planet of Naboo and some Jedi fly in to sort things out. The action starts immediately when the nasty aliens are not willing to negotiate. The action never really stops and ultimately culminates with an incredible lightsaber battle the likes of which has never been seen in any other Star Wars movie.
Overall this film has an involving, if a bit basic, storyline, incredible special effects, likeable and hateable characters and, of course, lightsabers which all create a great movie experience. The classic goody versus baddies Star Wars movie is here with a bit of the dark side thrown in. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and disagree with anyone who says that it did not live up to expectations. This film is visually spectacular and the incredible special effects meld into the film perfectly. I am very interested to see if Episode 2 can match this. A definite must-see and, I believe, a definite must-see-twice.