The Phantom Menace (1999)
We don’t think there was any reason to make the Star Wars prequels: All the backstory turns out to be unnecessary, often dull, and better left to the imagination.
That said, we have to respect George Lucas for having the audacity to not only revisit his beloved franchise, but also to write and direct all three prequels — something he hadn’t done since the original 1977 Star Wars.We also admire the film’s adventurous approach in terms of technology: It used high definition digital video to composite computer-generated effects.
We aren’t big fans of those effects, mind you, but we admire the effort. We also like Ewan MacGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala, and Jake Lloyd as young Anakin Skywalker. Darth Maul is a great villain, too. Despite all this, the movie is boring and a tonal mess, and frequently looks very fake.
We almost walked out in the first five minutes, despite our reverence for the original trilogy. Not every Star Wars movie is among the movies we respect, but we respect the boldness of The Phantom Menace.