However, it has two things going for it. 1) Hayden Christensen isn't in it, and 2) there isn't a romance subplot. That is enough for me to enjoy it so much more than the other two pieces of cinematic diarrhea.
I also like that it more directly references one of the movies that inspired the first movie: The Hidden Fortress by Kurosawa Akira. Of course, The Phantom Menace is way too stylized and soulless to actually warrant a positive comparison, but I think it's admirable that Lucas wanted to pay homage to one of his mentors.
You know what? A big part of why I like this movie over the other two isn't because of what it is; it's what it could have been. There are real strokes of genius in there, like mirroring A New Hope (but not being a copy) and introducing the Jedi way of life, but it just got too mired in Lucas' ego. I have posted this video before, but I'm going to do it again below and leave today's entry at that.
Belated Media's "What If Star Wars: Episode One Was Good?"
BACK TO CHALLENGE
* The pod racing sequence was mind-numbingly dull, and it wasn't just because the length was ridiculous. There was literally no way that Anakin was going to lose, so the faux-urgency was insulting as a movie viewer. If you cut out the majority of the pod race - or hell, even develop a different contest by which Qui-Gon can win Anakin's freedom - the movie runs much more smoothly and actually seems to have a purpose.