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The Phantom ReviewJuly 18th 1999.
Please do not read this article if you do not wish to know what happens in Star Wars - The Phantom Menace. It contains major spoilers and large pieces of plot.
This morning I was intrigued to find Johnny Vaun of the Big Breakfast interviewing George Lucas. After all the predictable questions Johnny went on to ask why the federation wanted control of the Planet Naboo. George replied there was no reason. I don't know why, but I found this worrying. The bad guys went to all the trouble of assembling a huge army of robots for nothing?
It doesn't surprise me that the federation needed such a huge army of robots either. Whilst the shear number looked impressive, the robots themselves looked too weak and pathetic to be menacing. It was a wonder that they managed to take the palace in the first place. They were hardly worthy of being sabre fodder.
There just wasn't enough in Menace to make it epic. Huge parts of the movie just seemed to float by. By the end of it, I was left feeling that over two hours had passed, but I wasn't sure if I'd seen the whole thing. I completely missed that fact that one of the senators was really the emperor.
Darth Maul (or whatever his name is) was in the film for a pathetically short amount of time given the amount of time we see him in trailers. He just turned up to give the Jedis a reason to wave their light sabres around. Since there was a lot of speculation over exactly what he was why didn't we find out more?
However, I don't agree with the extreme Jar Jar haters. The only problem I had with the CGI sidekick was trying to make out what the darned thing was trying to say. Jar Jar was a distraction who neither added or took anything away from the film. Quite what it is was about this creature could whip people into such a frenzy is still a mystery.
The Phantom Menace is by no means a bad film, but is it a long way off being the best film you will see this year, let alone this decade. Fanatics will love or hate it but the rest of us will probably just like it.