Parents' Guide to

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

By Matt Springer, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Kid-centric but violent prequel lacks originals' energy.

Movie PG 1999 133 minutes
Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 52 parent reviews

age 9+

Kids Will Love This Film, with the Exception of the Death of Qui-Gon Jinn

This is one of 2 Star Wars films I let my son watch at the age of 7 (although almost 8). He LOVED it. He's been a Star Wars fiend ever since, which is great for the Lego franchise. He loves building Lego Star Wars sets now, and I can't help buying him more. I would say the main disturbing scene that I had forgotten about, was when Qui-Gon Jinn is defeated by Darth Maul. This probably wouldn't be quite so bad by itself, but it's followed by a scene where his his body is burned in fire by his friends. I explained the concept of cremation to my son, but I didn't find this particular scene quite appropriate for a 7-year old. I suppose eventually though, those kind of conversations are necessary in life, so you may find it a teaching opportunity. Since then, my son has watched the film a few more times because he loved it so much. Due to the silliness of Jar Jar Binks, it actually fits a younger audience quite well, with the exception of the death of Qui-Gon Jinn.
age 5+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (52 ):
Kids say (204 ):

With its 8-year-old lead character, bright and imaginative design, and never-lets-up plotting, this prequel is perfectly suited to kids' attention span. It's a shame that The Phantom Menace doesn't hold up to adult standards as well as most of the original three Star Wars films did. It could be a generational thing, and maybe 1977's Star Wars is as clunky and leaden to older viewers as The Phantom Menace is to most twenty- and thirty-somethings.

But director George Lucas seems to make some of the same mistakes here that he narrowly avoided in the original trilogy. Technology trumps storytelling, plot trumps character, and hollow exposition trumps clever dialogue. There's little doubt that Lucas and his team accomplished some amazing visual feats with Menace, and there are a few sequences (the opening 10 minutes, the Tattooine pod race) in which that old Star Wars feel returns once again. Overall, kids will probably love Phantom Menace, but parents will be wishing it were over so that they can put the kids to bed and watch the classics again.

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