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Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace

DOWN & DIRTY:
Sci-fi: Two Jedi knights save a desperate queen from an evil Trade Federation that wishes to take over her planet.

NITTY GRITTY:
A galactic trade dispute sends Jedi knights Qui-Gon Jinn (LIAM NEESON) and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi (EWAN MCGREGOR) on a diplomatic mission, but they discover that they've been set up by Darth Sidious (IAN McDIARMID). He's plotting to take control of the republic.

Barely escaping, they arrive at the planet of Naboo and find its young ruler, Queen Amidala (NATALIE PORTMAN), upset about the Trade Federation's strong-arm tactics -- a planetary blockade and an android invasion -- to force her to sign an unfair treaty with them.

The Jedi also meet and save the life of a Gungan, Jar Jar Binks (voice of AHMED BEST), an odd creature who's an outcast from his subterranean world.

They all set out for the Imperial city of Coruscant, but their ship is damaged during a battle, and they're forced to land on the desert planet of Tatooine. They try to get spare parts for their ship, but are forced to enter into a racing wager with their future riding on the success of a young boy, Anakin Skywalker (JAKE LLOYD) in a pod race.

Qui-Gon senses a powerful force in Anakin. Anakin wins the pod race gaining Qui-Gon the spare parts he needs and his own freedom. Then they encounter Darth Maul (RAY PARK) who's been sent by Darth Sidious to stop them.

Finally arriving in Coruscant, Queen Amidala pleads her case before the Senate while Qui-Gon does the same before the Jedi council about young Anakin becoming a Jedi. The council, including Yoda (voice of FRANK OZ) and Mace Windu (SAMUEL L. JACKSON), aren't so sure and sense something unsettling about Anakin's future.

THE ENDING:
Queen Amidala talks King Boss Nass, the head of the Gungan, into helping them fight the Federation. The Gungan are outnumbered by fighter droids, but Anakin destroys the starship controlling the droids which enables the Gungan to win.

Darth Maul shows up again and engages Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan in a light-saber fight. Qui-Gon is killed by Maul, but Obi-Wan does some quick division and cuts Darth Maul in two. Pieces...that is, sending him and him down a vent shaft.

Queen Amidala captures the viceroy and takes back control of Naboo.

WHAT EVERYONE WILL BE TALKING ABOUT:
Three words: Jar Jar Binks.

Runner up: The pod race. The greatest movie race since the Ben Hur chariot race.


 
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Movie posters courtesy of The Nostalgia Factory.