Though certainly not without its merits, "The Phantom Menace" is easily the weakest of the "Star Wars" films. The special effects are great (if slightly dated), the action is engaging, and it plants seeds that will pay off in later entries. But, the story is not very interesting, the new characters run the range from bland to awful, and the acting is, well...not very good. Overall, it's more disappointing than bad.
The trailer is better and show every important scene better than this overkill in CGI and unnatural acting. This prequel add to the insult with annoying characters, boring dialogue and a sleepwalking Natalie Portman. Only Samuel L. Jackson and the villains seem inspired and fun and the music is still fantastic.
I would not have revisited this film, except my fam and I are rewatching the entire sequence, starting with this one. With an open mind, I tried to overlook the stiff acting, the endless exposition, and the cartoony smaltz. In the end I found that... those things were hard to overlook.
Don't get me wrong, I love Star Wars, but calling this movie flawed is an understatement. The writing besides being extremely poor and dull it's also clichéd and predictable (not to mention the introduction of many annoying characters). The acting rages from below average to God-awful. Props for the great music, some good visuals and the really cool Darth Maul, but other than that... It's just not a very good movie.
Time is the healer of all wounds. The world needed to see THE FORCE AWAKENS to understand why quirky (or quacky!) George Lucas is the 'special sauce' of Star Wars. Released in 1999, PHANTOM MENACE's greatest sin was that it dared be different. From the rolling Droidekas to Nute Gunray's Thai accent to the uncomfortable age gap between Anakin and Queen Amidala, it's George Lucas riffing on the weird and the wonderful.
The plot isn't great, yes. But still, there are some pretty good things in this movie. Darth Maul is a character who looks bad and evil as hell without saying a single word. Gives a bit of information regarding Anakin's future; the cloud in his future, as Yoda perceives. The beggining of Obi Wan as one of the greatest characters in the Star Wars Universe.