Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace is a 1999 American science-fiction action film directed by George Lucas. It is a prequel to the original Star Wars trilogy and the first film in the prequel trilogy. It was produced by Lucasfilms and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It was released on May 19, 1999. Two sequels followed, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones on 2002 and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
The Trade Federation has blockaded the planet of Naboo in hopes of resolving a trade dispute. Valorum, chancellor of the Galactic Republic, sends Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi to the Trade Federation fleet to settle the crisis. However, upon arriving, they are attacked by battle droids. The Trade Federation, having sided with Sith Lord Darth Sidious, invades Naboo with the droid army with the two Jedi stowing away in one of their transports. Upon landing on Naboo, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan meet Gungan outcast Jar-Jar Binks, who takes them to the underwater Gungan society. Meanwhile, the droid army invades the Naboo city and captures Queen Amidala, ruler of Naboo. However, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Jar-Jar arrive at the capital and rescue Amidala, and they depart towards the planet Coruscant to seek help from the senate.
As they leave Coruscant, they are attacked by the Trade Federation. Though one of the ship's droids, R2-D2, fixes the shields, the ship's hyperdrive is damaged, forcing the crew of the ship to land on the desert planet of Tatooine for repairs. Qui-Gon arrives in a nearby city to search for repairs, along with Amidala's handmaid Padme. They arrive at a junk shop owned by Watto and Padme befriends his slave boy, Anakin Skywalker, who has built protocol droid C-3PO. Qui-Gon senses a strong presence of the Force in Anakin, believing him to be the "Chosen One", an individual who will bring balance to the Force. Qui-Gon enters Anakin in a podrace in exchange for getting the needed parts to fix the hyperdrive. Anakin manages to win the race, gaining his freedom. Anakin leaves his mother and C-3PO and joins the Jedi and Padme as they prepare to leave.
However, Sith apprentice Darth Maul unexpectedly arrives and attacks the group, battling Qui-Gon until the crew escapes in the ship. They arrive on Coruscant, where Qui-Gon informs the Jedi Council of Darth Maul. The council is troubled and believes this may indicate the return of the Sith, practitioners of the dark side of the Force who were believed to have gone extinct centuries ago. Qui-Gon requests that Anakin be trained as a Jedi, but the council refuses, believing him to old for training and that his emotions will cloud his future. Meanwhile, Amidala is persuaded to call a vote of no confidence in Valorum, leading to his removal from power and allowing Senator Palpatine to be nominated for chancellor.
Queen Amidala, the Jedi, Anakin, and Jar-Jar return to Naboo to stop the Trade Federation. After arriving, Padme reveals herself to be the Queen. She forms an alliance with the Gungans, who arrive on the Naboo Plains and battle the droid army, distracting them and allowing the team to infiltrate the capital. The Naboo pilots are freed and they depart to battle the Trade Federation control ship. Darth Maul confronts the team and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan engage him in a lightsaber battle while the team battles the droid security. Amidst the chaos, Anakin pilots a starfighter and joins the battle in space above Naboo, landing in the control ship. He destroys the control ship's reactor, causing the ship to explode, though Anakin escapes. With the control ship obliterated, the droid army is deactivated.
Nute Gunray, viceroy of the Trade Federation, is apprehended for his crimes by the infiltration team. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan continue their battle with Darth Maul, who fatally injures Qui-Gon, leaving Obi-Wan to battle him. Darth Maul gains the upper hand in the duel, disarming Obi-Wan. However, Obi-Wan retrieves Qui-Gon's lightsaber and catches Maul off guard, bisecting him and causing him to fall into a reactor. In his final moments, Qui-Gon asks Obi-Wan to train Anakin to be a Jedi. After the battle, Palpatine is elected chancellor and congratulates Queen Amidala on her victory. Obi-Wan is promoted to Jedi Knight and Jedi Master Yoda allows Anakin to be trained as a Jedi padawan. However, though Maul has supposedly been killed, the council worries that there may be another Sith. A celebration is held on Naboo, celebrating the alliance between the Naboo and the Gungans.
- Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn.
- Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
- Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala.
- Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker.
- Ian McDiarmid as Senator Palpatine.
- Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker.
- Oliver Ford Davies as Sio Bibble.
- Hugh Quarsie as Captain Panaka.
- Ahmed Best as Jar-Jar Binks.
- Anthony Daniels as C-3PO.
- Kenny Baker as R2-D2.
- Frank Oz as Yoda.
- Terence Stamp as Chancellor Valorum.
- Brian Blessed as Boss Nass.
- Andy Secombe as Watto.
- Ray Park as Darth Maul.
- Lewis Macleod as Sebulba.