The Phantom Menace : Anticipation was at a fever pitch for The Phantom Menace when it came out. And why wouldn’t it be? This was the origin story of Darth Vader; the tragic villain of the original trilogy; Luke Skywalker’s dad. How, why, and when did Anakin Skywalker turn to the dark side? The possibilities were endless! And yet, for a film whose premise has so much potential, The Phantom Menace is wholly lacking any sense of momentum.
Perhaps the writing was on the wall during the opening crawl, in which we’re brought up to speed on the thrilling drama behind…trade negotiations. Even the opening sequence with Qui-Gon Jinn and a young Obi Wan Kenobi is devoid of any excitement or tension. The lines are delivered entirely flat, there’s no sense of danger, no sense of intrigue. Things just happen on a screen, one after another, as plainly as possible until the credits roll. That’s The Phantom Menace in a nutshell.