As we are all well aware, the Phantom Menace has taken quite a drubbing over the years...and continues to today. It probably (maybe deservedly) gets the majority of the blame for when "Star Wars lost its way" to some people, and seems to be generally looked down upon by both fans and the general public (some of that, prior to ROTS, seemed to be because it was "cool" to rag on Star Wars). For some reason recently, I got in the mood to give it a watch again. I don't think I have watched it for at least a couple of years, aside from maybe catching portions when it was on TV. Although it is probably my least favorite of all the Star Wars movies, and there are things I would have liked to see done differently, it doesn't seem as bad to me now. Maybe I've just given it enough time, and I'm thinking back a little to the excitement of "a new Star Wars movie" coming out when I first saw it in the theatres, but I think I can appreciate it a little bit more now.
I'm more of an OT-person overall, but I do enjoy all of the movies in the Saga. Revenge of the Sith in particular is my favorite of the PT, and almost on the level of parts of the OT. The prequel movies never quite seemed "the same" to me, but they just aren't. Its a different enviroment that the movies take place in...its not rebels and rogues, its senators and Jedi...and later clones. Looking at the movies as seperate trilogies, instead of comparing one to the other helps more. Don't get me wrong, there are some parts of TPM that really bug me. The Gungans/Jar-Jar is a big one. I don't necessarily mind the gungans overall, and I think that the character of Jar-Jar could have been better received with a smaller part and maybe a different voice/manner of speaking. There also gets to be a lot of the political stuff in the movie, and that maybe could have been pulled back a bit too. And, we all know the complaints of Jake Lloyd as well. Maybe not as much him as the dialogue, but something could have been improved there.
But, overall there are some things I really like in the movie too. Qui-Gon Jinn is one of my favorite characters of the PT, and I enjoyed Liam Neeson in the role. Too bad he didn't last too long, but I thought the Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan team was good. Also, Darth Maul really was a pretty cool villain, even though he sort of ended up being a throw-away character. Heck, even Watto isn't too bad. The ending lightsaber battle is arguable one of the best in the Saga, as well as the Duel of the Fates theme that accompanies it. Anyways, this is getting longer winded than I intended, but basically do you feel that The Phantom Menace is as bad as it is known for? Obviously its not a perfect movie, and for most people probably ranked "last" as far as the Saga goes, but is it really that terrible? What changes, subtle or grand, do you think could have been made to improve it? Story changes, actor/character changes, the designs of the ships/cities, etc.? Just curious what some of you think.