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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a 1999 film by George Lucas starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Jake Lloyd[?]. Menace is the first in a trilogy of films that function as a prequel to the more famous original Star Wars trilogy (1977 - 1983).

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

The film begins with what appears to be a trade dispute between the planet of Naboo and the greedy Trade Federation. The Trade Federation blockades the planet in order to force them to accept their terms. Supreme Chancellor Valorum of the Republic secretly sends two Jedi knights (Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi) to resolve the dispute. The plot then thickens when it is revealed that the Trade Federation are in fact in league with the evil Darth Sidious Dark Lord of the Sith. Sidious orders the federation to invade Naboo and kill the Jedi knights. The Jedi escape the assassination attempt aboard the Trade Federation control ship and land upon Naboo. There they meet Jar Jar Binks who helps them reach the main city of Naboo where the Jedi rescue the queen of the Naboo Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman). They then try to reach the capital planet of the republic Coruscant so that they can plead their case to the senate. Before reaching Coruscant they are forced to land on planet Tatooine for badly needed repairs. Whilst searching for the parts needed for repairs they meet Anakin Skywalker who helps them raise the funds for the repairs by flying in a pod race. Qui-Gon Jinn recognises Anakin's potential to be a powerful Jedi and takes Anakin with him on the journey to Coruscant. At Coruscant the queen becomes disillusioned with the bureaucratic procedures and lack of action and decides to return to Naboo to repel the invasion herself. There she enlists the helps of her people's former enemies the gungans to form an alliance in a desperate battle against the Trade Federation. During the battle the gungans are forced to retreat until Anakin destroys the droid command ship. The Trade Federation is defeated, but not before Qui-Gon is killed by Darth Maul. The Jedi council then decide that Anakin should train to become a Jedi knight.

Filming The budget of Menace was 115 million US dollars. Filming was primarily done at Leavesden Studios[?] in England, with additional location shooting in the Tunisian desert and the Italian palace Palazzo Reale, Caserta[?].

Reaction After an enormous marketing campaign, there was almost unprecedented interest amongst both fans and the wider community in the return of one of the most successful movie series of all time. However, critical and fan reaction ranged from guarded praise to outright derision.

The much-hyped special effects, whilst generally viewed as groundbreaking in their sheer scope, were perhaps less impressive than anticipated. However, many critics heavily criticised the direction and the work of Portman and especially Jake Lloyd as the young Anakin Skywalker. Some aspects of the scripting were also criticised (for instance, the underwater journey which added essentially nothing to the plot). Fan reaction was similar, with extra venom at the character of Jar-Jar Binks, who was regarded by most fans as purely a merchandising opportunity rather than a serious character in the film. The introduction of "midichlorians" as an explanation of The Force was also disliked by many fans.

A number of people anonymously re-edited the film and released their edited versions over the Internet. One, known as The Phantom Edit, deemphasised some of the aforementioned aspects of the film and is regarded as a superior version by many who have seen both.

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