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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Fails to recapture the elemental magic of Star Wars, and that, ironically, is because it represents the coarse culmination of the original film's adrenaline aesthetic.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Susan Wloszczyna

    Let the killjoys squawk. Lucas has proved he has the Naboos to pull it off again. And again. And again.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Not a masterpiece, but it's an example of how imagination, craftsmanship, and technological bravura can fashion superior entertainment out of something that is far from flawless.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    An astonishing achievement in imaginative filmmaking.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    A highly entertaining and visually breathtaking movie, capable at times of rocking and delighting you.

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  • See all Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 8+

Kid-centric but violent prequel lacks originals' energy.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this prequel to the classic sci-fi action trilogy does have a few scary and surprisingly violent moments, although there's no explicit gore. The humor and plotting are aimed at children, but very young kids may not be ready for the movie's darker moments. Widely considered to be the weakest of the films in this franchise, the film will likely entertain children with its straightforward story and imaginative design; though it may also confuse those who've already seen the original films and aren't yet old enough to understand the concept of a prequel. Note: The 3-D version of the movie renders some scenes (like the pod race) more exciting and others (like lightsaber battles) more intense.

  • Families can talk about The Phantom Menace's moments of violence and threatening behavior. Is the violence shown in the film important to the story? Why or why not?
  • How did you feel watching Anakin leave his mother? Why do you think so many kid-oriented movies involve parents leaving or dying?
  • Have you noticed Star Wars merchandise? Does seeing the characters on products make you want to buy them?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true0

    Educational value: The film is intended to entertain, not educate, but there are some clear messages around good and evil.

  • message true3

    Messages: The film's story and characters emphasize personal sacrifice for the greater good. Positive traits like bravery, thoughtfulness, and inner peace are demonstrated throughout by the heroes. A key element of the film's plot hinges on racial acceptance between two alien groups. The villains are sharply defined, and their behavior is cast in a purely negative light.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Characters generally exhibit positive character traits throughout. One of the lead heroic characters demonstrates a disregard for authority, which is the only poor example set by the heroes in the film.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence and scariness: Heavy sci-fi violence, although none of it is especially gory or detailed. Viewers see the deaths of at least two major characters on screen, one of whom is sliced in half by a laser sword. The movie's climax cuts together a sword duel, two separate ground invasions, and a space sequence, all of which feature frequent lasers, explosions, and the deaths of minor characters and creatures. A key moment in the film involves the lead character, a boy of about 8, leaving his mother forever; the moment is played as bittersweet, and the character recovers quickly. The film's chief villain is a menacing, silent figure with a frightening appearance.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Not an issue

  • language false1

    Language: Though there are no curse words and very few moments of derogatory language, there's a bit of potty humor -- for example, a lead character stepping in the droppings of an intergalactic creature, or another creature passing gas.

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: The film takes place "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away," so there are no real-world product placements. But the Star Wars film franchise is perhaps one of the most heavily merchandised in the history of film, with action figures, kids clothing and accessories, and every other type of product available even today.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue