Hindsight is 20/20...
Once upon a time (in a galaxy far, far away), Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace was as eagerly anticipated as The Force Awakens is today. While it's easy to look back now at what was quite possibly one of the biggest disappointments in the history of cinema, and see where it went wrong, back in 1999 it didn't take much to get caught up in the hype and excitement of it all.
Read most original reviews today and you'll be left wondering if we're all talking about the same movie. While most critics acknowledge its problems, there's some truly spectacular passages which praise Episode I with the words "inventive" and "deliriously exciting" even being thrown about. Enough time has passed that we can laugh about it, which is why we've gathered together some of the most unbelievable The Phantom Menace reviews - and yes, ours is included too - to give you a bit of a laugh. Read on and hope and pray that we'll genuinely be raving about The Force Awakens in a few weeks time.
Well, it *was* daring...
The Phantom Menace is probably one of the most deliriously inventive films to have appeared in years: it displays all of George Lucas's uncommon magic, a wide-eyed genius for adventure narrative that is beyond any ordinary capacity for wonder, and in many respects the latest episode proves itself to be a more finished movie than any of the others. It is daring and beautiful, terrifying and pompous and that's just the title sequence."
Andrew O'Hagan for Telegraph Film.
A deliriously exciting adventure? Really?
"By no means the feared anti-climactic disappointment, Episode I vitally succeeds in holding its own against the legions of blockbusters Star Wars was responsible for. It's an often deliriously exciting adventure, hitting the target audience of 10-year olds and satisfying long-time fans, providing the pop culture analysis is discarded."
Danny Graydon for BBC
The CGI won't look so good in a few years
"Lucas and his crew at Industrial Light & Magic have outdone themselves in production design and special effects. Nearly every shot contains a complicated computer-generated effect, supplemented by the usual model work. The film displays one dazzling visual after another, from what seem like hundreds of types of photorealistic creatures to a multitude of elaborate scenic designs."
Nothing's better than Jurassic Park's raptors
"Stripped of hype and breathless expectations, Mr. Lucas's first installment offers a happy surprise: it's up to snuff. 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 for The New York Times
We can't believe what we're hearing!
"Comic relief and, boy, does this movie need it arrives with scene-stealer Jar Jar Binks, a gangly, floppy-eared Gungan, voiced hilariously by Ahmed Best but otherwise a fully digital creation. Jar Jar is an alien amphibian who lives in an underwater city and speaks in a pidgin English that still gets the point across."
Peter Travers for Rolling Stone
Spectacular isn't the word we'd use
"The film is undeniably spectacular: droid armies, thriving cities and more alien races than the mind could ever process during a single viewing. There are some truly amazing visuals in the movie that blow away anything that any other filmmaker has ever attempted"
Yes, this is ours...
"The simple fact is this is a fun movie that only dedicated Star Wars-haters will fail to enjoy on some level. It has the requisite amount of monster madness and laser-showered space-based dog fights, and the climactic showdown is everything you'd hope for, combining a pitched battle between skeletal droids and amphibian aliens, an off-world attack on an immense spaceship and a three-way lightsaber showdown."