20 Things You Didn't Know About Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Happy 20th to the most controversial blockbuster ever.

Star Wars The Phantom Menace
Lucasfilm

Oh, how time flies. Believe it or not, but this week marks 20 years since Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace landed in cinemas, first releasing on May 19, 1999.

It can't be underestimated quite how avidly anticipated the film was, being the first Star Wars movie released in sixteen years, since 1983's Return of the Jedi.

People were literally buying tickets to other movies just to watch the trailer for this thing and then leave - that is how much people cared.

But of course, the story of The Phantom Menace's release is a complex, frustrating and ultimately heartbreaking one, as despite its immense commercial success, reviews from critics and fans alike were heavily mixed.

Fans initially tried to temper their own high expectations, but it wasn't long before the backlash against the film's poor script and excess of CGI emerged in full force.

And yet, in recent years the film's reception has swung back (slightly) the other way, with many fans now appreciating certain aspects of its technical craft and its several solid performances.

But make no mistake, The Phantom Menace will always be the most controversial Star Wars movie ever made, and one of the most fascinating blockbusters of all time - both for better and for worse.

So, here's to two decades of analysis, contemplation and hand-wringing, during which the franchise has expanded far beyond what anyone, even George Lucas, could surely have expected...

Contributor
Contributor

Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.