These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
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, trying to scam Watto out of a ship part he had with a currency he has no real use for, and then later fixing a legitimate bet with him over Anakin, his mother and a racing pod part to his advantage.
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.
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.
The innocent sounding Anakin's theme devolving into the Imperial March" in the End Credits.
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).
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.
Prequelitis: This movie has become one of the most infamous examples in history according to the general reaction from critics and fans.
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.
Also falls into Ethnic Scrappy territory. He's a Scrappy Casserole, a dish you really don't want to eat.
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.
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.
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.
Also, Obi-Wan calling Jar-Jar a "lower lifeform".
As mentioned above, Anakin's life as a slave is shown as relatively happy and tranquil, and the man who owns him is presented as a decent guy (though he's pretty greedy). And being freed seems to give him more angst than being a slave, since it means leaving his family behind.
The Jedi are the Guardians of Truth and Justice in the Galaxy... but have no problem with a planet that keeps slaves who are implanted with explosives so they can't escape! Sure, you can make the argument that they have to keep a low-profile and Tatooine is technically out of Republic jurisdiction, but still, the sequels show that for over a decade they never came back or even bothered to do anything! Someone hand them a dictionary to look up what "Justice" means or just Force-Smack them upside the head! Honestly, What the Hell, Hero?
The "outside the Republic" probably has a lot to do with it, particularly since Tatooine is in the middle of Hutt Space where slavery is rampant. Adding to the problem is that there are only so many Jedi (about 10,000 Knights and Masters in Episode II) and the Republic not having a large military with which to effect change for about a thousand years. You can't fix everything.
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.