All right, I know, The Phantom Menace is the weakest of the six movies, even of the three prequels. Too much Jar Jar Binks. A far too long pod racing scene. Jar Jar. Not nearly enough Darth Maul. Binks. The bad acting. Jar Jar... again, really he seems to take over the entire movie. Maybe the crazy theory about him being a secret Sith has some validly after all.
But despite all of the faults, I just can't hate the movie as much as my fellow Star Wars fan do. Maybe, it's because I still enjoy the good points of the movie. Darth Maul, aside from looking wickedly awesome he has some awesome light saber skills. I mean he killed Qui Gon Jinn played by Liam Neison, who usually is unkillable in his films. Some people complain about his silence, but I think it adds to his frightening demeanor, and when he does speak it's in a quiet, dark tone. So my inner Goth may have a crush on him, but moving on.
The light saber fights in this movie are pretty good. I agree they lack the raw energy of the original three, but they are still good, mostly because of the Martial arts influence of Ray Park who plays Darth Maul. Ok, so, I haven't quite moved on from Darth Maul, but I really enjoyed the potential he had, potential that was sadly, not used.
All right, now I am moving on to Shmi Skywalker. She may be the best developed character in the movie, the goofy subplot about Anakin's conception not withstanding. She has suffered greatly and yet puts on a brave face for the sake of her son, who she is losing, but she knows she must not be selfish and allow him to go with the Jedi.
I admit it; I like Phantom Menace, maybe not so much for what it is, but for what it could have been. It is still Star Wars after all and can't be completely terrible, except for Jar Jar; he's pretty terrible no matter how you slice it.