Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
After years of waiting and releases of special editions of episodes four, five and six, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace finally sees the light and we get to see how the first grounds of the evil Empire get formed.
In a galaxy far far away, all species people live together in harmony in “The Republic”. However, the Trade Federation puts up a blockade of one of the republic’s planets for no apparant reason. Since decision making isn’t the strongest point of the republic, 2 Jedi knights, Quai Gon Jin (Liam Neesom) and Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), get sent out to investigate the blockade. Once they arrive at the Trade Federation’s main ship, it soon becomes clear that the federation is not interested in resolving the problem but rather wants to use the blockade to ultimately take control over the republic.
Both Jedi knights escape and go to the planet to protect Queen Amidala as she is the only one that can force the Republic to take action against the Trade Federation. While trying to escape back to the Federation’s Senate, their ship breaks down and they have to land on Tatooine where they meet up with Anakin Skywalker, a young slave who seems to have an immense amount of “the force” within him. After having freed Anakin, the Jedi’s take him with them to give him the chance to train and become a Jedi Knight as he might be the one who can bring balance to the force.
Before they are save, however, they will still find many dangers on their way including the vicious Darth Maul, an apprentice of Darth Sidious who is the last remaining of the Sith, the evil opposite of the Jedi, who were thought to have long vanished.
Sound and Vision:
This DVD is THX-certified which should mean that image and sound quality are top notch. Still, the edge enhancements which should definitely not be necessary are obnoxiously present due to insecure encoding of the mpeg stream. Also from time to time, the contrast could have been better. For the rest, the image quality is good with nice colors and sufficient details and contrast.
On the part of the sound, the Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track is excellent. There’s absolutely nothing bad or even minor about the soundtrack which is encoded at 448kbbs. Truly sensational;
This release has two disks with on the first one next to the movie itself a commentary track from George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, John Knoll, Dennis Muren and Scott Squires. The real extras start on the second disk where loads and loads of them are stored.
Here’s a quick rundown : 2 trailers, a music clip, 7 TV commercials, deleted scenes (some which easily could have been integrated into the movie but were not finished by the time the movie got released and were especially finished for the DVD release) including information on them, a documentary called “The Beginning” which gives over an hour of information on how the movie was created and a couple of shorter documentaries on specific subjects. Next to that we get multi-angle views of the pod race and the underwater scene, animatics, storyboards, picture gallery and a documentary on the PS2 game Starfighter.
Star Wars I did not live up to the expectations qua movie itself. George Lucas apparantly has no idea on how to create interesting dialogues and the storyline is simplistic at best. The acting itself isn’t top notch either but one can’t blame the actors for that as it’s clear there was hardly a screenplay. As a DVD however, Star Wars I is a success. Despite the average image quality, the soundtrack is one of the best available and the huge amount of extra’s make a purchase already worthy.