Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Released: May 19th, 1999
Runtime: 2hrs 16mins
Directed by: George Lucas
Written by: George Lucas
Starring: Natalie Portman, Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Pernilla August, Ahmed Best, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Terence Stamp, Warwick Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Ray Park, Peter Serafinowicz.
Significant characters introduced: Qui-Gon Jinn, Queen Padme Amidala, Shmi Skywalker, Jar Jar Binks, Chancellor Valorum, Darth Maul, Mace Windu.
Notable universe developments: Queen Amidala inadvertently helps Senator Palpatine get elected as Supreme Chancellor; Obi-Wan Kenobi takes Anakin Skywalker on as an apprentice.
Opening crawl: “Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. Taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute. Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships, the greedy Trade Federation has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo. While the Congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, to settle the conflict…”
The Trade Federation has established a blockade around the planet Naboo. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) are sent to negotiate its resolution, by Supreme Chancellor Valorum (Terence Stamp). The Sith Lord Darth Sidious secretly orders Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray to invade Naboo and kill the Jedi. Escaping, the Jedi Knights connect with the Gungan Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best), whose people help the Jedi as they escape Naboo – rescuing Queen Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) in the process.
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Queen Amidala, the Jedi, Jar Jar Binks, and R2-D2 arrive on Tatooine for starship repairs, and meet nine year old slave Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd). Anakin is already a noted pilot and engineer, and has created the protocol droid, C-3PO. Qui-Gon Jinn senses that The Force is strong with Anakin, but that he needs guidance to prevent him from succumbing to the Dark Side. He defies the Jedi Council and takes the boy on as a student. Qui-Gon Jinn then saves Amidala from the Sith Lord, Darth Maul (Ray Park).
Under the protection of the Jedi, Amidala heads to Coruscant to negotiate for Naboo with Chancellor Valorum. She is manipulated by Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), however, and paves the way for him to be elected as the new Supreme Chancellor. Amidala returns to Naboo and persuades the Gungan society to fight the Trade Federation. Anakin joins the fight, and Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi battle Darth Maul – leading to the death of Qui-Gon Jinn. Mourning his mentor, Obi-Wan agrees to train Anakin as a Jedi.