Fans can’t believe it’s been 21 years since The Phantom Menace released in movie theatres across the globe. While the first entry of George Lucas’ prequel trilogy received mixed reviews among critics and fans, it was still the highest-grossing movie of 1999 – fending off competition from The Sixth Sense, Austin Powers and Toy Story 2 to take first place on the podium.
The Phantom Menace wasn’t perfect – but it wasn’t awful either. Take a look at five things fans would change and five things fans would keep from the blockbuster if it was going to be remade today…
10 Change: Less Politics
George Lucas always insisted that Star Wars was a story for children. And, with that in mind, it makes his decision to make the 1999 movie centered around politics all the more bizarre.
Young kids certainly aren’t fully up to speed on legislations, senates and the like. There was definitely many children who left the movie theatre confused and even now, as adults, the political jargon bogs the movie down. We wouldn’t get rid of it entirely given it’s semi-important for the blockbuster’s plot but we’d definitely tone it down to make things run smoother.
9 Keep: The Worlds
The original trilogy introduced many planets and worlds to people across the globe. There was the sandy shores of Tatooine, the wintery winds of Hoth and stunning sunset of Bespin – all of which are now iconic.
And the first movie of the prequel trilogy did the same. Coruscant took our breaths away, a technological marvel in a day and age where the era of green screen was only just beginning. Naboo was beautiful and returning to Tatooine, many years on from it’s first appearance, was exciting too.
8 Change: Less Jar Jar
Make no mistake about it, Ahmed Best certainly didn’t deserve the abuse he got for playing Jar Jar Binks. The Gungan was created to provide light relief but, while he was popular amongst children, many disliked him.
So, for that reason, we’d tone down Jar Jar as well. He was extremely prominent in The Phantom Menace, one of the biggest characters in the entire movie. However Lucas, perhaps realising his mistake, gave Best a drastically reduced role in 2002’s Attack of the Clones and 2005’s Revenge of the Sith.
7 Keep: Anakin Skywalker’s Backstory
Given Darth Vader is perhaps the biggest villain in the whole of cinema history, it was always going to be difficult giving him an intriguing and fitting backstory. However, this is something we feel Lucas got spot on.
A character of Vader’s standing, somebody who allows hate to fill every fibre of his body, was never going to grow up in a beautiful palace somewhere. Making him a slave immediately forced audiences to consider the world from Anakin’s perspective – and the fact he wasn’t free somewhat explains the aggression and fire that burns within him.
6 Change: Anakin Skywalker’s Age
We were content with Anakin Skywalker’s backstory but, that said, we’d likely change his age. And that’s for rather obvious reasons.
Padme Amidala is established as a love interest within The Phantom Menace but it’s so difficult to look past the glaring age difference between the two characters. She’s 14, he’s nine, and that just wasn’t a logical decision. Therefore, if we were to remake the movie today, we’d make Anakin slightly older or Padme slightly younger. We definitely wouldn’t keep things the same.
5 Keep: Podracing
The first entry of Lucas’ prequel movies wasn’t universally loved – but it’s difficult to find a single person who didn’t enjoy the Podracing scene.
It was an enthralling watch the first time around, particularly given how fantastic the special effects are. You genuinely don’t know who will emerge victorious from the competition and it’s crucial for Anakin’s development, meaning he’s freed from slavery and able to start his training as a Jedi. It also shows just how special he is, being able to win such a fierce sport at such a young age.
4 Change: More Darth Maul
In the buildup to the movie’s release, everybody was intrigued about the new villain, Darth Maul. With his red and black tattooed face, pointy devil horns and double-bladed lightsaber he looked like he’d be an integral part of the movie.
How wrong we were. Maul was used sparingly and, given he was killed off at the end of the blockbuster, it meant he was definitely under-utilised. The Clone Wars TV series would eventually correct that mistake by bringing him back to life but, from a movie perspective, that decision came too little, too late.
3 Keep: The Attitude Of The Jedi
The Jedi council were introduced in this movie, meaning it’s the first time we meet Mace Windu. They’re an arrogant and stubborn bunch, flatly refusing to let Qui-Gon Jinn train Anakin Skywalker – despite the obvious talent the youngster possesses.
This was perfect. While it’s infuriating to watch it sows the seeds for what’s to come, showing Anakin never had their support right from the beginning. Consequently, it foreshadows his transformation into Darth Vader – which eventually comes in 2005’s Revenge of the Sith.
2 Change: Maul’s Fate
We said we’d change how much Darth Maul was in The Phantom Menace. And, now, we’re also admitting we’d change his fate, too.
Maul was killed off but, while he was brought back, this should never have been allowed to happen. The Sith Lord had the makings of a fantastic villain and, while Count Dooku and General Grievous in the two movies that followed were both decent, they lacked the same villainous instincts as their predecessor. It would have made sense for him to be the bad guy of all three prequel movies – rather than just the one.
1 Keep: Duel Of The Fates
When you think of The Phantom Menace, you also can’t help but think of Duel of the Fates.
Whether that’s John Williams’ excellent score or the fight scene itself, it’s easily the standout sequence of the entire movie – and perhaps the trilogy, too. The fight between Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi had us scared to blink in the movie theatre and all these years on, it remains exciting viewing.
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