Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace
PG
Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: -1

In 1977, George Lucas wrote and directed the original phenomenally popular STAR WARS science fiction adventure and went on to produce two sequels, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI. After a lapse of several years, he has now returned to create STAR WARS EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENACE. This prequel" goes back a full generation to tell one of the stories which took place before the original film. The tiny planet of Naboo is under siege by the armies of a wealthy trade federation who plan to take control of the government and its Queen (Natalie Portman). Two powerful Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), are sent by the benevolent, mystical Jedi Council to help them defeat the federation. While taking the queen to safety, Qui-Gon befriends Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), a 9-year-old slave boy. From this point on, a series of grand, action-packed adventures get underway as the Jedi Knights and the Naboo forces battle the much superior invading federation forces. The Jedis must also contend with the evil black knight, Darth Maul (Ray Park). In true Lucas style, many characters are a motley array of weird humanoid beings, robots, strange animal creatures and sea monsters. And the futuristic galactic cities, space ships, and battle weaponry are spectacular. Amongst all the action, Qui-Gon discovers that young Anakins mother conceived him without sex and that he has supernatural abilities. So Qui-Gon obtains Anakins freedom to train him as a Jedi Knight. This spectacular film doesnt have quite the magic and thrill of the original STAR WARS adventure, but its bound to have a tremendous following and be an outstanding box office favorite.

Like the previous STAR WARS films, this one is refreshingly free of foul language, sexual content or gratuitous violence. To be sure, it is filled with fierce hand to hand fighting, shoot outs, harrowing chases, and action packed ground and space battles. None of these seem excessive or exploitive, however, and all of the injuries are bloodless and inflicted mostly on robotic, inanimate warriors. Even so, it could be too intense for pre-teens. Overall, this sequel is an old fashioned story of bravery, courage, compassion for others and good winning over evil. Also, the theological implications of the story are important, particularly the concept of THE FORCE which empowers the Jedi Knights with supernatural abilities. It implies some type of spiritual force which permeates and controls the universe and those who inhabit it. Some may interpret it as the Christian concept of God, but it is a more general concept which seems to include the gods of all religions, particularly Eastern religions. Lucas said recently in a magazine interview that he believes in God, but that one can find and relate to God through virtually any religion. Audiences will likely perceive THE FORCE as this general concept which, from a Christian perspective, is misleading. Although presented in a fantasy setting, its also disturbing that Anakin experiences a virgin birth which implies a comparison to Jesus Christ. These misleading theological concepts prevent us from recommending this otherwise decent film.

Preview Reviewer: John Evans
Distributor: 20th Century Fox Film Corp., 10201 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: Many Times - Moderate (Intense hand to hand fighting with light swords, violent shootouts, and massive ground and space battles with destruction of many robot soldiers, space ships ships and other property, two men killed in laser fights, threatening chases)
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None, but one brief view of slave woman in scanty clothing
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Once, Mild: Humanoid creature given massage by two female attendants.
Drug Abuse: None
Other: Comical slang term for excrement used once; pantheistic concept of God implied ; animal passes gas in comical scene, Jedi knights have supernatural physical powers, virgin birth of boy)
Running Time: 131 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teenagers and adults; science fiction, STAR WARS fans

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