It couldn't have lived up to the hype of course, but I think the creators gave it their best shot.The Phantom Menace is a fun movie, and a decent action film. No question. It met my expectations, which weren't much. I was expecting the worst, but I was almost certain the magic of the originals would be absent in this film.
You can tell Lucas had a field day with this. The effects are wonderful, and there are some crazy scenes (in terms of the amount of objects being manipulated on screen) to behold. As an aspiring animator, I was in awe at the complexity.
The story, however was minimal. Menace feels very incomplete, the first chapter in a novel. The characters don't have much to do, and thus they're not well rounded. The acting is merely adequate, and it's a shame Lucas needed to resort to physical comedy (in the form of Jar Jar Binks). It's missing the wit of the originals. Admittedly, Jar Jar didn't get on my nerves as much as I expected, so that's a plus.
On it's own merits, Menace is a good action picture as I said before, and a technical tor de force. But mediocre overall. It did entice me into wanting to see the next two prequels though. I'm much more interested in the possibilities of that story, than the one presented here.I was left wanting more, but not for the right reasons.