Ah, sweet memories. Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace is 19 years old but to our nostalgia-addled minds it feels a lot, lot longer. Often laughed off at the worst Star Wars movie ever to grace the silver screen, The Phantom Menace has received a tough rap over the years. Not so back in 1999, where hilariously overblown hype was the name of the game.
We’ve all cottoned on to the fact that not everything can be as perfect as we’d hoped - see the immediate reaction to Star Wars: The Last Jedi for starters - but this… this is a bit much. “One of the most deliriously inventive movies to have appeared in years,” writes one reviewer (who is now presumably under a new identity in Witness Protection) and that’s just the start of the flurry of superlatives. Read on for a chunk of the best Phantom Menace reviews from the movie’s release, including *shudder* our very own review that (hopefully) stands the test of 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 1 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 an 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."