Picture from Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
Overall B+

Categorized as a "prequel," The Phantom Menace introduces us to the characters and a plot that are featured in the first Star Wars franchise. In this episode, a youthful Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) meets the boy Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) and unwittingly starts him on the path to becoming the tyrant Darth Vader.

Violence C+
Sexual Content A-
Profanity A
Substance Use A

MPAA Rating: PG for sci-fi action/violence.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

There is a foreboding feeling...

What did the Y2K bug and The Phantom Menace have in common? The anticipation generated more excitement than their actual arrival enjoyed. Despite this, I'm sure the release of 'Menace' will cause many parents to be bugged by children pleading again for the associated licensed merchandise.

Categorized as a prequel, meaning it begins prior to the proceeding three films, this first edition introduces us to characters and a plot that will tangle and weave through two more movies until it becomes a perfect fit to the initial release back in the disco 70's. The fact that George Lucas has kept the look of this film so similar to those earlier productions is a feat in itself.

Star Wars - Official Site Meeting the youthful Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd -- whose character, of course, will become the tyrant Darth Vader), is almost as fun as going back in time to discover your spouse in grade school.

Skywalker and Kenobi, along with master Jedi trainer Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and a completely digitized character named Jar Jar Binks (voiced by Ahmed Best) become the team to root for. They attempt to save Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) from a bad hair day, and her planet from being overrun by the Trade Federation.

Conflict is the core of any movie with the word war in its title, and The Phantom Menace is chock full of space-aged digital violence -- but no gore. Thousands of those killed are robotic droids or of a non-human descent (that makes it okay?). With the exception of a high-speed pod-race, which is organized for recreational/gambling purposes and results in needless loss of life, the rest of the action depicts individuals fighting for freedom after other attempts at negotiating have failed.

The lack of profanity and sex (other than a brief shot of a woman in just as brief a bikini) impressed me more than the effects, which is bound to make this film a huge hit with many families. The good news is, if the old Star Wars movies met your family's standards, this will too.

Related news about Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

“Anakin” Makes List of Popular Baby Names

“Anakin” Makes List of Popular Baby Names

Are Star Wars fans behind this naming trend?

The Big Teaser: Star Wars VII

The Big Teaser: Star Wars VII

We get some clues about where the Force is going

News About Star Wars VIII and Rouge One

News About Star Wars VIII and Rouge One

Bob Iger reveals details for the first stand alone movie in the Star Wars universe.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer and News

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer and News

Star Wars VII Has An Official Title

Star Wars VII Has An Official Title

The online community is already bubbling over in anticipation