The Phantom Menace

Star WarsThe Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic sends two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, to the planet Naboo to investigate a distress call indicating an invasion by the Neimoidian Trade Federation. When their diplomatic visit leads them into an ambush, the two Jedi stow away on the Trade Federation’s landing vessels to warn the people of Naboo themselves. The first local they encounter, Gungan misfit Jar Jar Binks, takes them to his undersea home city of Otoh Gunga for safety, but the Gungans quickly turn all three back toward the surface. Just when the Trade Federation’s battle droid army appears to have captured the young Queen Amidala, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan rescue her, convincing her to escape with them to Coruscant, where she can plea for Naboo’s freedom before the Galactic Senate. Amidala reluctantly agrees, but her personal ship is almost destroyed in the escape from Naboo, saved only by the valiant efforts of an astromech droid designated R2-D2. With her ship’s main drive unit in pieces, the Queen agrees to a brief layover on a frontier planet called Tatooine for repairs.

On Tatooine, Qui-Gon and Jar Jar try to find replacement parts, with a royal handmaiden named Padme’ in tow. As Qui-Gon tries to bargain with a no-nonsense parts trader, Padme’ becomes acquainted with a precocious nine-year-old slave boy named Anakin Skywalker. After failing to strike a deal for the parts needed to repair the Queen’s ship, Qui-Gon and his companions move on, but a run-in between Jar Jar and one of the locals reunites them with Anakin. A chance sandstorm forces Qui-Gon’s entourage to take shelter in Anakin’s slave quarters, where he lives with his mother, who is also a servant. Anakin eagerly suggests that Qui-Gon sponsor him in the Boonta Eve pod race, just a day away – a race whose prize money could allow Qui-Gon to buy parts for the Queen’s ship an escapes. Though Anakin’s mother is concerned for her son’s safety, she agrees, and Qui-Gon makes the bet. At the same time, the Jedi Knight suspects that Anakin is very strong with the Force, since no human has the reflexes necessary to race pods.

The hazardous pod race, overseen by Jabba the Hutt, results in the death or disqualification of most of the contestants – except for Anakin and an alien named Sebulba, who has no qualms about cheating. But quick thinking (and, Qui-Gon believes, the Force) not only keeps Anakin in one piece, but he beats the reigning champion. What Anakin does not know is that Qui-Gon had such confidence in his abilities that he added Anakin’s freedom to his bet. But Anakin falters at the thought of leaving Tatooine for a life of adventure when his mother will still be toiling away. Shmi Skywalker assures her son that he will be safe, and encourages him to pursue his dreams. With a new hyperdrive and a new young passenger, Qui-Gon sets out to return to Queen Amidala’s ship – a journey which is abruptly interrupted by a dark warrior who tries to use his considerable Jedi skills to kill Qui-Gon. Barely escaping with his life, Qui-Gon realizes that his attacker could only have been a Sith Lord – the evil opposite number to the valiant ranks of the Jedi, and probably an assassin in search of Queen Amidala.

On Coruscant, Qui-Gon informs the Jedi Council of the murderous Sith, though some of the members insist that the Sith are extinct. He surprises them even more by introducing them to Anakin, whose Force instincts and genetic makeup both prove to be very unique – and potentially very powerful. But the Council members, after testing Anakin’s skills and interviewing him, conclude that the boy is too old and set in his ways. Elsewhere on Coruscant, Queen Amidala’s attempts to bring the pressure of the Senate to bear are thwarted by bureaucracy. Naboo’s Senator Palpatine suggests a vote of no confidence, which is quickly passed, deposing Supreme Chancellor Valorum from leadership of the Senate. Naturally, Palpatine nominates himself as Valorum’s replacement, and the Senate’s sympathy for the plight of Naboo assures his ascension. Queen Amidala vows to return to Naboo to rally her people, calling on Jar Jar to help her make peace with the isolationist Gungans. Qui-Gon (with Anakin in tow) and Obi-Wan accompany the Queen back to Naboo to protect her.

Though Jar Jar has a difficult time convincing his people – now in hiding from the Trade Federation’s battle droids – to help defend Naboo, the Queen puts herself at the Gungans’ mercy. The Gungans commit all of their resources to the battle in an attempt to retake the Queen’s palace, a fight made more difficult by the entrenched army of droids. Anakin is forced to take shelter in a Naboo starfighter, but in trying to protect himself he accidentally launches the ship, hurling himself into the midst of the intense space battle being waged between the Naboo defense force and the Federation’s droid fighters. Darth Maul, the Sith Lord, also reappears, and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan divert all of their energy and strength to preventing him from assassinating the Queen. The freedom of Naboo depends on the efforts of the Jedi, the determination of Queen Amidala, and the inquisitive Anakin . . . but not all of them will live to see the peace restored.

Order the DVDswritten by George Lucas
directed by George Lucas
music by John Williams

Cast: Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn), Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Natalie Portman (Queen Amidala/Padmè Naberrie), Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker), Pernilla August (Shmi Skywalker), Frank Oz (Yoda), Ian McDiarmid (Senator Palpatine), Oliver Ford Davies (Sio Bibble), Hugh Quarshie (Captain Panaka), Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks), Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu), Ray Park (Darth Maul), Peter Serafinowicz (voice of Darth Maul), Ralph Brown (Ric Olie), Terence Stamp (Chancellor Valorum), Brian Blessed (Boss Nass), Sofia Coppola (Sachè), Adrian Dunbar (Bail Antilles), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Warwick Davis (Wald), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Silas Carson (Nute Gunray), Dhruv Chanchani (Kitster), Celia Imrie (Bravo Five), Margaret Towner (Jira), Silas Carson (Ki-Adi-Mundi), Oliver Walpole (Seek), Kristina DaSilva (Rabe’), Jerome Blake (Rune Haako), Steven Speirs (Captain Tarpals), Warwick Davis (Spectator), Benedict Taylor (Bravo Two), Greg Proops (Beed), Scott Capurro (Fode), Liz Wilson (Eirtaè), Khan Bonfils (Saesee Tiin), Cin (Adi Gallia), Roman Coppola (Naboo Guard), Michaela Cottrell (Even Piell), Mark Coulier (Aks Moe), John Fensom (TC-3), Ray Griffiths (Sebulba), Warwick Davis (Grimy man), Ray Griffiths (Power Droid), Madison Lloyd (Amee), Lewis Macleod (voice of Sebulba), Geoffrey Pomeroy (General Ceel), Alan Ruscoe (Plo Koon), Hassani Shapi (Eeth Koth), Alan Ruscoe (Bib Fortuna), Christian J. Simpson (Naboo Pilot), Alan Ruscoe (Sil Unch)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

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