lemme tell you why The Phantom Menace is a shoddily-wrapped gift to human kind
1) The main protagonist (though, I suppose this term is used loosely, because there are some very strong secondary characters) is a teenage girl.
2) A teenage girl who is a QUEEN OF A PLANET
3) IN DISGUISE
4) WHO, LET ME ADD, KICKSTARTS THE ENTIRE PLOT OF STAR WARS BECAUSE SHE WANTS TO PROTECT HER PEOPLE AND PLANET AND MAINTAIN THE PEACE
5) “I will not condone an action that will lead my people to war” hOLLA like what a kid. But you know the best part? She’s a girl who is incredibly brave, incredibly capable, and supremely awesome - but she’s also a teenage girl. She pouts when she doesn’t get her way and is hopelessly naive about some things and makes friends with funny little kids who are nice to her
6) it introduces the “main villain” of the entire franchise as a small, compassionate, loving, enslaved boy. The whole introduction of slavery and all that entails is another point altogether, but the fact that Anakin Skywalker is introduced as a child, not innocent, exactly, but filled with child-like hope and wonder and the ceaseless need to help others - mother love, that was a brilliant move. His character suddenly hold fifty times more depth. It makes the arc that much more heartbreaking and relateable. Because lemme tell you what - if Darth Vader were introduced as the angsty teenager he is in AOTC, it would have added very little to his journey. Sure, you get some more material, and they could have probably done a great job with it, but the fact that Anakin is shown as a child, a clean slate (though he is anything but clean) - it reinforces a thousand fold this Main Theme in star wars that is all about how the potential to do good is there in each and every single being. That idea that Luke clings to, believes in with all his heart? Yeah, reinforced. Everyone’s got that loving child inside of them, still. Even the Baddest of bad guys.
7) SHMI SKYWALKER. We’re almost to the Slavery Point, but Shmi. Lordy Lordy, this woman. She’s the most important character in the whole series, I think. Or one of the most. And you know what? She’s the one that pushes forward the belief that goodness can be found in everyone. She is the one who has undergone years of suffering and hardship and slavery and yet still teaches her son to be kind and hospitable and loving to a fault. She is the one who Anakin gets separated from twice, and both times are a critical juncture to his path and his life.
8) The slavery background. Now, I’m always gonna grump about how they never bring it up again in the next two movies, but the fact that it’s there makes Vader’s entire arc 34095839405x more powerful and heart shattering sorry but I’ll fight anyone who says othersie. Lovingly, of course. But I will fight u.
9) It also diversifies and broadens the SW universe? I mean, in the OT we rarely see the planets themselves, except for Endor. Hoth doesn’t count, becuase it’s all white. But WORLDBUILDING and a whole culture and the fact that yeah, horrible things are happening in the galaxy, just like they do here on earth, and yeah, the good guys don’t know about it and it’s not actually top priority.
10) Sassy Ewan McG in the background I’m sorry this was gold
11) I actually really love QuiGon’s character? I mean, I love that they introduced Obi-Wan as a padawn, actually, and made it clear that he was barely qualified to train Anakin from the beginning (honestly the entire set up of all the relationships was so very well done), but I also love the contrast between Qui Gon and Obi-Wan’s thinking. Obi-Wan is … well, he really believes in the Jedi Order. (long discussion, which I’ll not get into here but YAY beard boy meta). Qui Gon - well, he respects it, and believes in it, but his belief in the council itself is not exactly something to tell stories about? Which is a very interesting way of showing the differences within the Jedi Order itself, and, also, speaking of which, I LOVE the portrayal and introduction of the Old Jedi and how Qui Gon and Obi-Wan are so separate from the council at first. Up until this point, the only Jedi we’ve known really well is Luke (and Obi-Wan and Yoda, but Luke is our guy, he’s the main character, he’s the one we’re adhering to for “oh, this is how a Kedi is supposed to be”) anyway I HOPE THIS MAKES SENSE.
12) PODRACING. NEED I SAY MORE
13) Cool colours and ships and planets and people and a sudden influx of LIFE that was never present in the OT, and wow WHAT A BRILLIANT CONTRAST. Of course, this is also present (though slowly dwindling) in the other two movies, but TPM paved the way. It was the first one. It was the one that decided the others.
And now for the shoddy wrapping - yeah, the acting was a bit wooden at times, especially from the kids. Yeah, the plot was difficult to follow, and not particularly character driven, though it did have its moments. Jar Jar was endearing maybe 10% of the time, that last shot of Sheev’s face was the farthest thing from subtle that I have ever in my natural life witnessed, and I don’t even know what was up with that animatronics Yoda. BUT. Consider: beautiful choreography in the fighting, DARTH MAUL, Padme kicking 4309850459% butt, QUEEN AMIDALA’S WARDROBE, the entire theme of politics, which was literally the beginning of ANH like - bruh. Politics is a huge part of Star Wars. The entire Rebellion is essentially a political dispute that’s dragged to all-out war. The fact that the clone wars seemingly start because of politics is ideal, rather than making them into “wow random bad guy swoops in and tries to kill everyone”. THE SOUNDTRACK. Threepio with no plating one. THE INTRODUCTION OF ARTOO, Midichlorians, which is think are the COOLEST THING because wow science? And so many new and bright thoughts and concepts and ideas that were added to the SW universe. It’s not a cinematic masterpiece in acting or storytelling, but thematically? it’s EXCELLENT. And the character choices? ALSO EXCELLENT.
Basically, I can agree that sometimes TPM isn’t the most amazing. Certainly, only three of the six are truly amazing, and even ROTJ has its hangups when you’re not talking intensely character-focused scenes/Luke’s arc. BUT. WHY PEOPLE HATE ON IT. I REALLY DON’T KNOW.