Spectacular yet remote.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
It sustains the gee-whiz spirit of the series and offers a swashbuckling extragalactic getaway, creating illusions that are even more plausible than the kitchen-raiding raptors of Jurassic Park.
Janet Maslin - New York Times
A pop-culture calamity, a soulless, passionless film whose only real effect was to smudge the happy memories of the three originals.
Peter Bradshaw - Guardian [UK]
Lucas has proved he has the Naboos to pull it off again.
Susan Wloszczyna - USA Today
Joyless, overly reverential and impenetrably plotted!
Rita Kempley - Washington Post
There is nothing in this noisy, overdesigned bore to equal the excitement generated by the mere idea of the trailer.
J. Hoberman - Village Voice
With Phantom, Lucas has brought the series to the brink of total artificiality, the future as a video game.
Jack Mathews - New York Daily News
The wow-factor action is irresistible, and Lloyd is no less appealing than '60s Disney star Kevin Corcoran!
Bruce Westbrook - Houston Chronicle
Philip Wuntch - Dallas Morning News
Perhaps Lucas has become too lost in his mastery of computer-generated effects and digital sound to remember that creativity in the movies is not just a technical thing.
Steven Rosen - Denver Post
Creating a so-called modern legend, droning on about The Force and all the rest of it, is no substitute for the full engagement of our senses.
Peter Rainer - New York Magazine
There is a sense of discovery in scene after scene of The Phantom Menace.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
A highly entertaining and visually breathtaking movie, capable at times of rocking and delighting you.
Michael Wilmington - Chicago Tribune
After waiting 16 years for the overture to this epic saga, this is what we get? An in-progress trade war?
Mark Caro - Chicago Tribune
Though I've been bored senseless by the Star Wars phenomenon for over two decades, I found The Phantom Menace something of a pleasant surprise.
Jonathan Rosenbaum - Chicago Reader
Phantom had me from the moment it touched down on Naboo.
Carrie Rickey - Philadelphia Inquirer
Visually dazzling, inventive beyond imagining and full of resonant detail that recalls stories told or hints at those to come!
Susan Stark - Detroit News
Delivers exactly what every kid of any age wants: wows. And plenty of them!
Bob Fenster - Arizona Republic
It is neither captivating nor transporting, for it lacks any emotional pull, as well as the sense of wonder and awe that marks the best works of sci-fi/fantasy.
Todd McCarthy - Variety
Lucas' directorial attention is clearly not focused on the cast, most of whom seem slightly adrift.
Jonathan Foreman - New York Post
What's missing from George Lucas' heralded return to the screen is . . . sex.
Thelma Adams - New York Post
Everything about this film is so mechanical you wonder if it was written, directed and acted by 'droids.'
Rod Dreher - New York Post
The Phantom Menace takes twists and turns you don't expect.
John Podhoretz - New York Post
Lucas has packed it with a carnival of amusing new characters and new versions of old ones.
Jay Boyar - Orlando Sentinel
Too busy and talky by half, overpopulated by a baffling array of aliens and robot 'droids,' The Phantom Menace fails to engage the audience in its mythic quest `to restore balance to the Force.'
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
An absolute disaster!
Tom Keogh - Film.com
This film has a strange air of nada about it.
Robert Horton - Film.com
A terrific piece of visual entertainment!
Ted Fry - Film.com
Story. Character. They used to mean something to George Lucas.
John Hartl - Film.com
Incomplete, but still fun.
Sean Means - Film.com
It does the job just fine. That job, as director George Lucas freely admits, is quite simply to thrill the beating hearts and the inquiring minds of 12-year-old boys.
Rick Groen - Globe and Mail
Who would have guessed that The Phantom Menace would be so incoherent, so completely bereft of a grand adventure's surging thrills?
Charles Taylor - Salon.com
A testimony to how far special effects have come.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace seems designed more as a promotion for Lucasfilm's billion-dollar merchandising concerns than a meaningful chapter in the Star Wars canon.
Frank Scheck - Hollywood Reporter
The line readings of Portman and Lloyd are often flat, or flat-out wrong!
Richard Corliss - TIME Magazine
The actors are wallpaper, the jokes are juvenile, there's no romance, and the dialogue lands with the thud of a computer-instruction manual.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
Even without the pre-release hoopla, The Phantom Menace would be a considerable letdown!
Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times
Anyone hoping the 3D would make-up for the film's many shortcomings, will probably continue to feel cheated by the first Star Wars prequel.
Ben Kendrick - ScreenRant
Dean Essner - Sight and Sound
We don't want to remember it's pretty bad. Then we do.
Roger Moore - McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Has a film director ever induced such terrible performances from such great actors? Liam Neeson - wooden, Ewan McGregor - monotone and the Oscar winning Natalie Portman - a speaking alarm clock!
Brian Henry Martin - UTV
It hardly needs to be said that the 3D conversion here is nothing more than proficient, that it adds nothing and actually takes away some of the clarity and vividness of the film's varied colour palette.
Martin Roberts - Fan The Fire
Darth Maul is back, this time waving his wand in 3D. "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" was poorly received by critics when it debuted, so does it fare any better with its new up-conversion? Not really. Paul Chambers, CNN.
Paul Chambers - CNNRadio
Chris Bumbray - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
It's a nifty enough film that's entertaining but not comparable to the original 'Star Wars.'
Linda Cook - KWQC-TV (Iowa)
The Phantom Menace is, at best and worst, a mediocre film-a boring adventure undermined by anemic political theatrics and the rusty artistic tastes of its maker.
Todd Gilchrist - Boxoffice Magazine
It's cinematic junk food, the pernicious effect of which had already set in long before this film came out.
Philip French - Observer [UK]
The special effects are something to see in 3D, but don't listen too closely to the screenplay or try to work out who is who.
Dean Essner - This is London
You'll be surprised at how well its assets hold up and how much easier its liabilities slide away as a result. But $15 a ticket? Please George. Some of us have kids to feed... and yours don't need the money.
Rob Vaux - Mania.com
The 3D conversion on this film is one of the best I've ever seen... and that's what makes it worth paying some extra money to see it again in the theater.
Kevin Carr - 7M Pictures
You realize how much humor Harrison Ford brought to things; without him, at times the movie itself feels frozen in Carbonite.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
The 3D conversion isn't going to change your opinion on the movie or give you a whole new moviegoing experience, but it's not bad either.
Katey Rich - CinemaBlend.com
The Phantom Menace, in any number of dimensions, is an exercise in disappointment, a film filled with enough callbacks to the first trilogy to remind you about what you loved about them without adding much of note in all the new material.
Alison Willmore - Movieline
Naturally, if you already despise everything George Lucas touches, well, these aren't the droids you're looking for. It's more of a 3D party for fans and admirers, playing to the convinced with a conversion.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
Oh George, why?
Ed Whitfield - The Ooh Tray
"Star Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom Menace" got dismissive reviews in 1999, and it deserves the same today. But you probably know that.
John Anderson - Newsday
You may never experience this or any Star Wars movie as a cinematic experience ever again. Especially not in theater.
Matt Patches - Hollywood.com
Still unsure of the basic mechanics of the plot, drags in places and that Binks chap wasn't just a bad dream, but when it soars, it soars.
Adam Lee Davies - Little White Lies
The only plus point is introducing newbies to the big-screen Star Wars experience - if the 3D price is right for you.
Lisa Giles-Keddie - Real.com
The added visual depth does little to disguise quite how flat everything in between is.
Matt Maytum - Total Film
For the most part, the sludgy re-processing of the original leaves everything looking as if it was lensed through a wet, worn sock. Only one sequence -- the epic pod race on the planet Tatooine -- goes close to making any worthwhile use of the 3D format
Leigh Paatsch - Herald Sun (Australia)
I will say this: the time and money they spent working on this post-conversion is evident in the final result. It is technically very impressive.
Drew McWeeny - HitFix
The Phantom Menace's fleeting pleasures aren't even table scraps to my inner child.
Rob Humanick - Projection Booth
The under-utilised 3D adds little to this prequel, which only serves as a sore reminder of the brilliance of the original films.
Jarrod Walker - FILMINK (Australia)
It's difficult to discern precisely where this all went wrong, and even more difficult to speculate about possible improvements.
Calum Marsh - Slant Magazine
Kid-centric but violent prequel lacks energy of originals.
Matt Springer - Common Sense Media
So it begins. First episode comes as prequel to original 3.
Nell Minow - Common Sense Media
Is it ironic or just par for the course that the most technologically radical FX film ever made would also be the most egregiously regressive blockbuster imaginable?
Rob Nelson - City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Episode 1 lacks a lot of the heart the original series embraced.
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
The special effects are some of the most dazzling and amazing ever seen on the big screen. In addition, the acting is excellent.
Mac Verstandig - rec.arts.movies.reviews
Clearly there is something wrong with a film, when the loudest applause occurs as the curtain goes up, in anticipation of, rather than response to, what is being seen.
Steve Biodrowski - ESplatter
The visuals are indeed eye-popping, but I was left with no vested emotional tie to either story or characters.
Mark Halverson - Sacramento News & Review
The horror of Jar Jar Binks aside, there's plenty in Episode I to keep us entertained.
Dean Essner - Film4
It's still a galaxy far, far away, and it still looks like nothing we've ever seen before.
Joe Lozito - Big Picture Big Sound
Charmless, sexless, passionless and robot-humoured, it's preposterously uninvolving.
Dean Essner - Time Out
It's good to have Star Wars -- any Star Wars -- back after such a long time; and it's worth seeing.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
Despite a shaky start and the presence of questionable elements throughout, by the time it arrives at its finale The Phantom Menace has won its place alongside the original Star Wars trilogy.
Keith Phipps - AV Club
Lucas has protected his multibillion-dollar franchise by making a film targeted at children. It gives them exactly what they want--eye candy that moves at light speed.
Christopher Smith - Bangor Daily News (Maine)
What's important to remember is that the better moments don't merely balance out the weaker ones - they topple them.
David Cornelius - eFilmCritic.com
What is most striking about Lucas' movies -- all his movies, including THX 1138 and American Graffiti -- is a sort of startling obviousness.
Philip Martin - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
I must take issue with the intense backlash from other critics against the film.
Jeffrey Overstreet - Looking Closer
No film made could measure up to the avalanche of buzz and craziness surrounding this release. There is plenty of both good and bad news here.
Jim Shelby - Palo Alto Weekly
I enjoyed the film and feel that it established the foundation for many story elements that were curiously unexplained in the previous trilogy.
John R. McEwen - Film Quips Online
As an artist, Lucas is lacking, but as a businessman he knows his stuff.
Scott A. Mantz - Scott Mantz' Movie Reviews
Wesley Lovell - Cinema Sight
Film franchises come and go all the time in Hollywood, particularly in science-fiction circles, but the Force is still strong in this one.
Nick Davis - Nick's Flick Picks
There are no romance, no humor, ultimately nobody to care about in this oddly sterile movie.
(CNN.com) Paul Clinton - CNN.com
Paul Clinton (CNN.com) - CNN.com
Lucas' films might not be very deep, but they're very complex and involving in a comic book kind of way.
Kevin N. Laforest - Montreal Film Journal
Even with a pretty rotten crust the toppings are still delicious.
Joshua Tyler - CinemaBlend.com
The movie's visual artstry amazed me.
Betty Jo Tucker - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Se este fosse o primeiro episodio da serie a chegar aos cinemas, ela nao teria alcancado o status e a longevidade que conseguiu nos ultimos 20 anos.
Pablo Villaca - Cinema em Cena
It exactly has the same strengths and weaknesses as the original three, plus breathtakingly spectacular visual design and special effects.
Nell Minow - Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies
Episodio I tuvo la virtud de juntar a dos generaciones en un mismo fenomeno
Luis Martinez - Cinenganos
Lucas at his visionary best and at his maddening worst.
Steven D. Greydanus - Decent Films Guide
The movie has no heart, dark or otherwise, only state-of-the-art accouterments.
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
Lucas has fashioned a fascinating pluriverse of outer space works filled with strange and amazing creatures and special effects.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
A murky, talky prequel that emphasises all the series' weakest elements rather than its strongest ones.
Andrew O'Hehir - Sight and Sound
It's not perfect ... but it's still fantastic.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
The Phantom Menace opened to the exact same complaints as its now canonical predecessor. Only this time, its very real assets have been almost completely dismissed.
Rob Vaux - Flipside Movie Emporium
as a film it's a warmed over, albeit technically superior, rehash of sights and concepts we've seen before.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
...not in the same league as the original Star Wars. But, then, it was never meant to be.
John J. Puccio - DVDTown.com
John J. Puccio - Movie Metropolis
An often deliriously exciting adventure, hitting the target audience of 10-year olds and satisfying long-time fans.
Danny Graydon - BBC
It's a scam.
Brandon Judell - Jednet
Overwhelmed by digital effects and watered down for children... the narrative structure is just awful
Carlo Cavagna - AboutFilm.com
The visual imagery comes off the screen in leaps and bounds, and it allows Lucas the freedom to construct intricately detailed action sequences that put the audience right in the action.
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
Let the movie speak to the child inside you -- the child that is still optimistic and that still believes in magic.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
This is a film made for the fans. On that level, it doesn't disappoint.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
I'd have to say it's a better picture than Return of the Jedi while falling into the same third-act trap of juxtaposing a terrific swordfight with boring, slapstick scenes of combat.
Bill Chambers - Film Freak Central
Being amazed has never been this boring.
Dean Essner - E! Online
This time, the Force wasn't with him.
Wallace Baine - rec.arts.movies.reviews
Greg Dean Schmitz - Greg's Previews at Yahoo! Movies
[Lucas] ought to spend more time on story and less time crunching binaries.
Marc Savlov - Austin Chronicle
A great work from a greater director, and a blockbuster of quite the most swashbuckling kind.
Mark Dinning - Empire Magazine
I'm glad I saw this movie. You'll be glad you did too. It's an amazing adventure into technology and glitz.
Dean Essner - culturevulture.net
Steve Rhodes - Internet Reviews
Dean Essner - Irish Times
If I had to pick six words to describe this movie, they would be, 'too busy, too silly, no mystery.'
Ron Wells - Film Threat
It's got everything you've hoped for -- in gigabytes.
Urban Cinefile Critics - Urban Cinefile
A vigorous, romping, hugely entertaining movie!
F.X. Feeney - Mr. Showbiz
This entry into the Star Wars saga does the originals justice in terms of heart, action, and fun.
Marty Mapes - Movie Habit
It actually undoes some of the myth and magic that the first three movies forged in the hearts and minds of millions of movie lovers.
Tor Thorsen - Reel.com
Wait till it's out on video. Then borrow it.
Emily Blunt - Blunt Review
It's well-made and entertaining!
William Arnold - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Deeply flawed and occasionally inept, The Phantom Menace strikes me as no better--but not necessarily lessor--than any of the previous Star Wars movies.
Chuck Rudolph - Matinee Magazine
By purporting to be yet-another-episode in a larger saga it has franchised itself, a thought that is sure to get the critical bile rising
Shane Burridge - rec.arts.movies.reviews
It's a frenetic visual feast indeed; there's nothing quite like it in the galaxy.
David N. Butterworth - rec.arts.movies.reviews
A very pleasing technical accomplishment.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Like a giant anchor in a sea of scattered Hollywood myths, Phantom Menace --the mere making of it -- promises viewers a point of reference of biblical proportions.
Yazmin Ghonaim - Cinephiles
Quite uninteresting in its stale moments, the "Menace" soars from time to time.
Ross Anthony - Hollywood Report Card
Only time will tell if this movie deserves to be connected to the last three episodes, or, for that matter, if the final three episodes deserve to be connected to this one.
David Keyes - Cinemaphile.org
Flawed as it is, The Phantom Menace captured my imagination and I enjoyed it.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
A feast for the eyes and ears!
Edward Johnson-Ott - NUVO Newsweekly
Was I disappointed? A little. Am I going to see it again? Yes. Two more times? Probably.
Jon Popick - Planet Sick-Boy
It's slow. Its characters are anorexic. The dialogue is mostly forgettable. Jake Lloyd delivers something short of an exciting performance.
James Verniere - Boston Herald
Bob Strauss - Los Angeles Daily News
Exceptionally well-made, highly imaginative.
Michael Dequina - TheMovieReport.com
A solar bore!
Kevin Maynard - Mr. Showbiz
Geared more to video-game fans than to grown-up moviegoers who remember when the best fantasy films had grander ambitions.
David Sterritt - Christian Science Monitor
The Star Wars series is back with all of its virtues intact.
Steve Schneider - Orlando Weekly
Finally someone has crossed the line where reality and fantasy are indistinguishable!
Christopher Null - Filmcritic.com
In special effects, Lucas has moved a galaxy beyond. In energy, not yet.
Bob Graham - San Francisco Chronicle
Jack Garner - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Even without aliens, though, the humanity in Phantom Menace would still be hard to find.
Gene Seymour - Newsday
It isn't the best in the series, but it delivers about what you would expect.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
Lucas has gotten rusty, and it shows in quite a few places. But he still has the heart of a visionary, and when that shines through, The Phantom Menace is a wonder to behold.
Madeleine Williams - Cinematter
This movie is a perfect example of why the word 'eye-candy' was invented.
JoBlo - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
Packed with creative characters and breath-taking action sequences!
Jay Stone - Ottawa Citizen
Lucas has made a deal with the devil, trading strong characterization and narrative for visual indulgence and verbal convolution.
Bryant Frazer - Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
An old-fashioned epic and like epics of yore it supplies its audiences with enough spectacle and awe.
James O'Ehley - Sci-Fi Movie Page
This is a franchise in deep spiritual trouble!
Jeffrey Wells - Mr. Showbiz
The Phantom Menace proves that Lucas still knows how to capture the imagination of young and old.
Louis B. Hobson - Jam! Movies
It is an understatement to say that the movie is a disappointment; it is the disappointment of the millennium.
Chris Gore - Film Threat
The end result looks like a great video game, but is as cold and emotionless as the computers that spit it out.
Jim Judy - Screen It!
This Star Wars engages by its sheer variety of characters!
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
The lack of emotion is glaring!
Karen Hershenson - Contra Costa Times
The force is gone and George Lucas apparently has no idea where he left it!
Steven Boone - Citysearch
I wish Phantom Menace was a better film. The bones of a great film are there. But there's no beating the sense of hope and adventure and honest-to-goodness wonder that shines through.
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
The biggest letdown since the Clinton presidency!
Andrew Essex - Citysearch
Perfecto ejemplo de como la imaginacion puede traspasar fronteras y edades
Jorge Avila Andrade - Moviola
It works as an action flick, visually eye-popping and often paralyzingly exciting; it also works as an elicitor of memories, a piece of exquisite nostalgia.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
This isn't so much a movie as a two-hour special-effects demonstration reel.
Robert W. Butler - Kansas City Star
This pumped-up prequel is an essential history lesson fueled by a numbing sense of magic and myth.
Jason Kaufman - Citysearch
Still, you have to see it, don't you? I know I did, and I'm glad I did. But I can honestly say I was never really entertained.
Rob Blackwelder - SPLICEDWire
Far from a shattering blow to my faith in Star Wars, I believe that in time these new films will only make it stronger.
Paul Malcolm - L.A. Weekly
The special effects are as awesome as you would expect, and this is an extremely slick production.
Brian Webster - Apollo Guide
Worth the wait, worth the trouble, worth all the noise!
Glenn Gaslin - New Times
At times this science-fiction adventure is thrilling, and it is also touching and even has its share of silly moments.
Jeff Vice - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
The result is an adventure that feels...well, Forced.
Scott Renshaw - rec.arts.movies.reviews
Not a great film, but it is magical and majestic.
Bob Bloom - rec.arts.movies.reviews
Too bad writer-director Lucas left out the gee-whiz enthusiasm of the original movies. He also left out memorable characters. He left out the fun.
Steve Murray - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
You keep looking for the emotional center of the movie and never find it.
Kevin Lally - Film Journal International
Not only is it a fanciful phenomenon but it's also the most eye-popping spectacular special-effects picture ever made as George Lucas integrates the fantasy of computer imagery with reality.
Susan Granger - rec.arts.movies.reviews
There's plenty to look at!
Maitland McDonagh - TV Guide's Movie Guide
I can't convey the essence of the plot because I wasn't clear about it even as it was happening.
Stanley Kauffmann - New Republic
Star Wars of the next generation!
Alex Sandell - Juicy Cerebellum
Everything seems to have been doubled.
Stuart Klawans - The Nation
Stanley Kauffmann - The New Republic
Eye candy isn't a reward in and of itself--it has to be backed by substance.
Annlee Ellingson - Boxoffice Magazine
I warn you, I'm gonna continue whining about the movie. Just keep in mind that I liked it.
Greg Burk - L.A. Weekly
The technology is state-of-the-art, but the people around it are far from state-of-the-heart.
Lawrence Toppman - Charlotte Observer
This isn't a film that will change history the way the first Star Wars did 22 years ago.
Julie Hinds - San Jose Mercury News
Phantom Menace is unlikely to convince folks who waited in ticket lines for weeks that they made the right choice.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
Many of the scenes feel shapeless and flat-they're not ended, but abandoned.
David Ansen - Newsweek
Decide for yourself.
Scott Weinberg - eFilmCritic.com
The John Williams score is dynamite, the sound is brilliant, the pictures are richly detailed and ferociously eye-popping!
Mark Ramsey - MovieJuice!
The perfect movie for families!
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Jason Gorber - Film Scouts
More shrewd showman than a great filmmaker, Lucas employs these effects to create a total fantasy universe.
Joe Baltake - Sacramento Bee
John Hartl - Seattle Times
It's wholesome and enjoyable entertainment for kids, rather than the slap in the face a truly bad movie would have been, but the fans deserve more.
Ian Waldron-Mantgani - UK Critic
Is it fun? For the most part, yes. Is it a life-changing experience? Only if you reach puberty, give birth or die while watching it.
James Sanford - Kalamazoo Gazette
A film that not only couldn't stand up to the hype monster, but also couldn't stand up to multiple viewings.
Widgett Walls - Needcoffee.com
It's an extremely enjoyable movie, blending imagination with technology and creating visual eye candy, wrapped up in a lightweight but enjoyable story.
Matt Easterbrook - Matt's Movie Reviews