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YMMV: The Phantom Menace
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • A lot of arguments could be made that Qui-Gon Jinn is actually quite an unethical Jedi by excessively using the force to cheat, swindle and practically steal; even if the ends justify the means. Examples include using the mind trick on Boss Nass to acquire an underwater vessel that he trashed without any hint of him repaying this, and trying to scam Watto out of a ship part he had with a currency he has no real use for.
    • Here it's argued that Padme, not Anakin, is the real protagonist of the movie.
  • Angst? What Angst?:
    • In this film, Anakin doesn't seem to have any real gripes about being raised as a slave from birth. If anything, he seems to have more angst about being freed, since it means leaving his mother behind. This a bit ironic, considering one of the biggest complaints about Anakin's portrayal in the next two films is that he's too angsty.
    • Related to the above, Qui-Gon seems surprisingly okay with separating a young child from his mother for life (even if it's the only way to save him from slavery), and treats it more as a simple necessity than a difficult moral choice. See Alternative Character Interpretation above.
      • This is justified though since normally children with high enough medichlorian counts were seperated from their families and brought to the temple as early as their infant years. It happened all the time, standard procedure.
  • Arc Fatigue: When the group is grounded on Tatooine, it takes about forty minutes just to replace the damaged ship part. The overly long pod-race didn't help matters either.
  • Contested Prequel: Critical and fan reviews are split basically down the middle. In general, the movie isn't considered as good as the Original Trilogy, but the dividing point is on whether or not it's a good movie in and of itself.
  • Critical Backlash: Like the whole Prequel trilogy, this movie gets this a lot. It received the most, even among the prequels.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: "Duel of the Fates".
    • The innocent sounding Anakin's theme devolving into the Imperial March in the End Credits.
    • "The Droid Invasion" really gives off the vibe that there's an army outside your doors.
    • "The Droid Battle" is quite good as well.
  • Demonic Spiders: Droidekas. They're fast to get from point A to B, usually attack in pairs, and have personal deflector shields when in combat mode.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Darth Maul was a coldly efficient badass who takes on two skilled Jedi (who we've seen take on hordes of battle droids) and positively makes them look like amateurs. It is such that his performer, Ray Park, is a fan favorite actor despite only speaking a handful of lines in the movie (that were dubbed anyway).
    • Qui-Gon Jinn is this for some fans, despite his questionable actions, if only because he's played by Liam Neeson.
  • Ethnic Scrappy: Jar Jar would already be The Scrappy from his antics alone, but the fact he's considered an alien caricature of Jamaican people.
  • Evil Is Cool: Again Darth Maul, for the same reasons (as well as the double-ended Laser Blade).
  • First Installment Wins: Though the final one of the prequels ended up being the best received, this is the one people remember the most (the preceding hype helped).
    • Though those who dislike the prequels are often quick to point to this film as the reason why. Even if Attack of the Clones is seen by some as a worse film, many cite Menace as a film that was far more disappointing BECAUSE of the hype that led up to its release.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The False Flag Operation is a lot harsher after the Truther conspiracy theory.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The Pod race was surprisingly popular in Spain. Even though in America it's mostly considered a pointless filler, in the Spaniard fandom it's fondly remembered. Even among those who disliked or even hated the film as a whole.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Behind the scenes, Jake Lloyd (the actor who portrayed young Anakin) retired from acting not long after the film. Why you ask? His fellow classmates kept bullying him over it!
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In Mars Attacks!, Natalie Portman appears in a scene mocking the final award scene in A New Hope. Here she appears, playing the exact same role within the scene, in a straight Homage.
  • Hype Backlash: Everyone had really high expectations after 16 years. Many ended up disappointed. It's safe to say the movie did not live up to expectations in the least.
  • Just Here for Godzilla:
    • The first trailer was shown in front of select screenings of A Bug's Life, and the second was shown in front of Wing Commander. In both cases, many people would buy a ticket just to see the Episode I trailer, and as soon as it was over, they would walk out of the theater. Wing Commander was an especially interesting case, as the movie underperformed at the box office (it cost $30 million to make, but only grossed $11.5 million)... yet it probably would have performed way worse had it not been for people buying a ticket just for the Episode I trailer.
    • Many prequel haters watch the movie just for Maul himself, especially his final battle set to "Duel of the Fates".
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Mondegreen: Corn on the cob, corn on the kabob.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The journey through Naboo's core features the heroes' Gungan submarine getting attacked by a series of freaky-looking sea monsters. The largest of them all (and the inspiration for Qui-Gon's infamous "There's always a bigger fish" line) even has a built-in Slasher Smile.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: The film has received many tie-in games, several of which were critical and commercial hits, including Battle For Naboo for the N64, Star Wars Starfighter for the PS2, Xbox and arcade, Star Wars Episode I: Racer for the N64 and Dreamcast and Game Boy Color, Star Wars Jedi Power Battles for the PS1 and Dreamcast, and later on LEGO Star Wars. Some of the children aimed tie-in computer games, such as Jabba's Game Galaxy and the LCD Podracing and Naboo Fighter handheld games, aren't so bad either.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Some of the tie-in games for Episode 1 are of uneven to bad quality, including the original tie-in game for the PS1, Super Bombad Racing, and Star Wars: Obi Wan for Xbox.
  • Protection from Editors: Widely considered a reason for the questionable quality (so much that George Lucas even hired co-writers or ghost writers for Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith).
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • The Scrappy: Jar Jar is one of the most infamous, and is the Trope Namer in German. RiffTrax calls him "Roger Rabbit redesigned by Satan."
  • So Bad, It's Good: This "kids featurette" for the movie is full of cheesy narration more suited for a lighthearted comedy.
  • Special Effect Failure: There's three major instances, the most noticeable is when Darth Maul falls down a pit after he dies, he's a CG double that somehow sounds like rubber.
    • The animation for Jar Jar has not aged well, especially compared to the other fully CG characters like Boss Nass and Watto.
    • The Yoda puppet in this film bears no resemblance to the original (his eyes looking stoned for one). This was replaced with a CG version for the Blu-ray release.
  • Stop Helping Me!: A frequent issue with Jar-Jar Binks.
    Jar-Jar: Mesa your humble servant!
    Qui-Gon: That won't be necessary.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: The infamous "Are you an angel?" scene, along with several other lines by Anakin.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: One of the most obnoxious things about Jar-Jar is that he is unnecessary: Boss Nass, who was played by BRIAN BLESSED, is much funnier in his few appearances. Had he simply been the only comic relief character, the film would be much better.
    • Darth Maul is considered a more egregious example due to his overall lack of screentime and character development. Perhaps in compensation, he is given a greater part in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
    • Obi-Wan Kenobi, the guy who really should have been the main character of the film - considering that he is The Mentor of both Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker - spends most of the movie just sitting things out beyond a few fight scenes, elegated to the background while Liam Neeson goes out and does all the work, creating a huge Continuity Snarl in the process.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Some of the actors make more of an effort than others, but most tend to agree that Liam Neeson managed to make a somewhat engaging performance out of inferior material.
  • Unfortunate Implications: The use of real life accents to distinguish fictional Star Wars factions could play in to unfortunate racial stereotypes.
    RiffTrax (*as Nute Gunray): We get you hot and sour soup while you wait for NOODLE!
    • Interestingly, the language localizations changed the Trade Federation to represent different stereotypes each time.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: One of the few unanimous aspects of the movie. Much of the CGI (particularly the podrace and space battle sequences) has held up astoundingly well, to where even advancements in today's CGI since don't detract much from the experience. And to give an even better idea of how ILM outdid themselves even in smaller scenes, a "making of" featurette of the film shows a scene where, in a podracer garage, the camera pans over to an area with R2 and C-3P0. The part to the right with the live actors was done with a real set, while the other half of the shot with 3P0 was done entirely with CGI—part of this even overlaps with a podracer engine shared between the two. You can't tell the difference.
    • Also of note; the abundance of CGI in the film makes it very easy to overlook that a lot of the FX work in Phantom Menace was actually practical effects, including many miniature models (i.e. Theed), ships, and full sized sets and props (i.e. some of the close up shots of the podracer engines in the arena), and puppetry (Yoda and C-3PO).
    • On that note, Phantom Menace for its day was one of the most ambitious special effects tour de force movies ever made—out of the thousands of shots for the movie, about 1,950 of them have special effects, and there is exactly one that does not have any digital alteration or enhancement applied to it—the shot of gas being pumped out of a wall early in the movie.
  • What an Idiot: Nute Gunray. And he gets progressively stupider and stupider in the next two films.
    • Qui-Gon as well. Upon discovering that the Trade Federation is assembling invasion forces, he tells Obi-Wan that they need to warn the Naboo...even though going down to the planet with the droid army means it's too late to warn the Naboo about the droid army.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Word of God said so himself...
  • The Woobie: Anakin, particularly after leaving Tatooine.

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