Prologue: I Have a Bad Feeling About This...

Senator Palpatine “There is no civility, only politics. The Republic is not what it once was. The Senate is full of greedy, squabbling delegates. There is no interest in the common good... If I may say so, Your Majesty, the Chancellor has little real power. He is mired by baseless accusations of corruption. The bureaucrats are in charge now.”

— Senator Palpatine,
The Phantom Menace

On May 19, 1999, I experienced one of the most thrilling and magical events of my life: my first viewing of The Phantom Menace, the long-promised Episode I of the Star Wars saga. Call me a geek, call me pathetic, beseech me to get a life if you must, but I'm not ashamed to say this was more than just a movie to me. It was the joyous return of a treasure I had feared lost forever, and the complete fulfillment of over twenty years of anticipation.

Sadly, I get the distinct impression I'm in the minority on this. The general consensus among "those in the know" is that The Phantom Menace sucked, George Lucas has completely lost his touch, and this ill-conceived prequel has irrevocably tarnished the classic trilogy. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but this hostility has spread so viciously it now seems that no intelligent fan of Star Wars is allowed to actually like this movie. Please allow me to retort.

I think Star Wars fandom is not what it once was. There is no civility, only closed-minded impatience. The Internet is full of whiny, squabbling reactionaries. There is no interest in the fundamental goodness of the Star Wars saga. If I may say so, the petty intelligentsia have smugly concluded that Lucas has little real talent. He is mired by baseless accusations of corruption. The hatemongers are in charge of popular opinion now.

It's time for a little rebellion. In the following dissertation, I will thoroughly elucidate the reasons for my belief that The Phantom Menace makes a magnificent first chapter for the Star Wars series, and offer my rebuttals to the many common criticisms and complaints leveled against it. I'm not expecting to do any Jedi mind tricks or turn the hardcore Episode I bashers back from the dark side. For most of them, there is no hope. But dammit, I've got to stand up and defend the honor of this wonderful and woefully misunderstood movie, and bring balance to the bad reviews.

"Why I Love The Phantom Menace" is composed of two trilogies: Parts I-III detail the things I like about the movie, and Parts IV-VI address the reasons why people hate it. You can read the two halves in whichever order you choose. Always remember, your focus determines your reality.

IV. Crush Us, Grind Us into Little Pieces, and Blast Us into Oblivion
Bad plot, bad characters, bad acting, bad everything?

I. Your First Step Into a Larger World
The rise, the fall, and the return of the magic of Star Wars.

Why I Love The Phantom Menace

Cinema