The Galactic Republic is in a period of decline, with its bureaucracy bloated and corrupt and its economy deteriorating. In response to a taxation on trade routes, the greedy Trade Federation organizes a blockade of battleships around the small planet of . Hoping to resolve the matter, the Supreme Chancellor dispatches two Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, to negotiate with Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray. Unbeknownst to them, the Trade Federation is in league with the evil Sith Lord Darth Sidious, who orders them to invade Naboo with an army of battle droids and kill the Jedi. Narrowly evading death, the two Jedi stow aboard landing crafts and escape to Naboo. There Qui-Gon saves local Gungan outcast Jar Jar Binks from being trampled by a Federation tank. Indebted to the Jedi, Jar Jar leads them to the underwater Gungan city of Otoh Gunga, where the Jedi unsuccessfully attempt to persuade the Gungans to help the people of Naboo, though they are able to obtain a transport to reach the city of Theed on the surface.
Queen Amidala of the Naboo is captured by the Federation army, but is rescued by the Jedi. The Queen escapes Naboo with the Jedi on her personal starship, which is damaged on its way through the blockade surrounding the planet, forcing them to land on the nearby desert planet Tatooine for repairs. Qui-Gon ventures into the settlement of Mos Espa with Padmé, one of the Queen’s handmaidens, to a junk shop to purchase a new hyperdrive generator. There they meet a young slave child named Anakin Skywalker, who takes an immediate liking to Padmé. After spending time with Anakin and his mother, Qui-Gon senses a strong presence of the Force within him, and suspects he may be the Chosen One who will bring balance to the Force. Qui-Gon makes a bet with Anakin’s owner to enter him in a Podrace, and that if Anakin wins, he will be freed. With Qui-Gon’s guidance, Anakin manages to win the race and joins the group to be trained as a Jedi, but he is forced to leave his mother, who Qui-Gon was unable to release, behind. Before they leave, they are attacked by Darth Sidious’ apprentice, Darth Maul, who was dispatched to capture the Queen. After a brief fight, they manage to escape.
The Jedi escort the Queen to the Republic capital planet of Coruscant so she can plead her people’s case to the Galactic Senate. Qui-Gon, meanwhile, attempts to persuade the Jedi Council to train Anakin as a Jedi, but they refuse as Anakin is too old and has too many attachments, which would risk him turning to the dark side of the Force. Within the Senate, Senator Palpatine of Naboo convinces the Queen to move for a vote of no confidence in the Supreme Chancellor so they can vote for a new, stronger Chancellor who will help end the conflict. However, she grows frustrated with the lack of action by the Senate, ultimately deciding to return to Naboo with the Jedi.
Back on Naboo, Padmé reveals herself to be Queen Amidala, the other “Queen” having been a decoy for her own protection. The Queen convinces the Gungan people to form an alliance against the Trade Federation. While the inept Jar Jar leads his people in a battle against the droid army and the Queen moves in to capture Viceroy Gunray in Theed, Anakin commandeers a vacant starfighter and joins the dogfight against the Federation droid control ship in space, using his skills with the Force to destroy it, which deactivates the entire droid army. The Jedi, meanwhile, encounter Darth Maul once more and engage him in a two-on-one lightsaber duel. Qui-Gon is mortally wounded in the battle, but Obi-Wan manages to kill the Sith apprentice. With his dying breaths, Qui-Gon tells Obi-Wan to train Anakin. Senator Palpatine is elected as the new Supreme Chancellor, Viceroy Gunray is sent to stand trial for his crimes, and the Jedi Council reluctantly allows Anakin to become Obi-Wan’s apprentice. At a grand ceremony, Queen Amidala presents a gift of appreciation and friendship to the Gungan people.
I’m a die hard fan of the Star Wars franchise, so you knew I was going to eventually get around to reviewing these films, right?
There are some out there that say this is the worst film of the franchise. I’m not sure if I agree or disagree. If I were to agree, it wouldn’t be to say that it sucks, but rather to say that of the 6 films it is the weakest. With that in mind, I don’t subscribe to what critics have said and continue to say about these prequels.
There are some inconsistencies between this and statements made in the “holy trilogy”, but I’m not gonna throw myself into a tizzy about those.
From the moment you hear the first chord, you know that John Williams’ timeless theme has been retained, but when the climactic fight scene comes near the film’s end, Williams outdid himself with “Duel of the Fates”. His music really captures the audiences imagination as well as provides the perfect atmosphere and excitement for such a climactic moment in the film. Not to be undersold, his score for the rest of the film is typical John Williams, brilliant, to say the least.
As with every other film in the franchise, there is lots of action mixed with scenes of dialogue here and there. The excitement is nonstop and fits perfectly wit the other films. Now that I’ve said that, I must mention the CGI overkill.
I don’t hide my distaste for CGI. I believe it should only be used when necessary, such as giant robots transforming, natural disasters, etc. The aliens, spaceships, and podracers were all obviously CGI. As much as I want to bash them for this, I have to remember that this is a George Lucas film, and his company is one of the companies that really knows how to use CGI. Still, I think they could have done a better job of hiding the CGI-ness of it.
The whole purpose of these prequels was to let us in on Anakin’s rise to jedi status and his eventual turn to the dark side which led to him becoming Darth Vader. I really love how this film handles his youth and doesn’t try to rush into anything. They show Anakin as a young boy, and with the exception of Vader’s trademark breathing after the credits roll, there is no mention of what we already know about his future, unless you count Yoda’s prophecy.
It is good to see some major characters in younger forms, such as the beginning stages of C-3PO, R2-D2, Jabba the Hutt, Emperor (Senator at this time) Palpatine, and Yoda. The acting is top notch. I read a credible critics review that said this film was ”…all action and lacked romance.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t go into an action film expecting to see a love story, but it has everything else you would expect from a sci-fi/action film. Don’t listen to what the critics and obsessive Star Wars fans say, this is a good picture. See if you can spot Kierra Knightley.
4 out of 5 stars