Well, I’m going for it. I’m watching all the “official canon” versions of the theatrically released live action Star Wars films (mostly via Disney+) in preparation for TROS. I haven’t watched the prequels in over a decade and the special editions of the OT in even longer.
The Phantom Menace - you know, I don’t hate it. I don’t particularly like it, but I don’t hate it. It has some good things in it. Obi-wan and Qui-gon are both great casting choices and pretty well acted given the material and environment they had to work with. And Qui-gon is actually an interesting character. Darth Maul is also a positive. He looks cool in a very space-age-medieval Star Warsy way and he’s kinda mysterious and ominous. There’s some decently cool locations, sets, and costumes. Much of what we see on Naboo and Coruscant look like natural extrapolations/evolutions of the kind of designs we see in Cloud City, and that’s a good thing.
The story is also not terrible on paper. It had the potential to be a cool political drama/thriller a la something from the BBC. Unfortunately it falls WAY short of any of that potential and ends up being just incredibly boring for long stretches.
I’ve made some lengthy posts about sword combat in the Star Wars franchise and have been particularly critical of the prequels, so I was curious to see how this would hold up. The combat is not terrible. It’s not very realistic, even for a movie, but it’s fun and engaging and it doesn’t immediately make me roll my eyes or groan in disgust. It’s decent stage combat. And, more importantly, it’s fun and exciting to watch, even for someone who can apply a pretty critical eye to choreographed sword fights.
Overall it could’ve been a lot worse. I doubt I’ll have any desire to revisit it again anytime soon but I don’t recoil at the thought of sitting through this movie again someday.