From Raising a Rebel:
“I love The Phantom Menace. This I say without shame or irony in spite of the continued hate and ridicule it attracts some twenty years after its release. I’ll admit that this appreciation, in part, comes down to timing. I was seven years old when TPM was released in cinemas. I still fondly remember the fervour building up to its release and trading magazine cuttings with school friends.
This was my first time seeing Star Wars up on the big screen and it was as much a transcendental experience for me in 1999 as it was for kids back in ‘77. I’d sustained myself with the original trilogy for years, and I can’t recall a time not being infatuated with the franchise. Despite needing a pee break during the Gungans’ battle with the droid army, I was utterly transfixed.
Star Wars finally felt like it belonged to me and not the preserve of my parents or the previous generation. It was fresh, exciting and mine. For years I watched and re-watched the film on VHS knowing nothing of the backlash or contempt some held for it. In fact, it wasn’t until I was about 15 that I discovered how much people hated Jar Jar.
To cut a long story short, I grew up with TPM and, coupled with the rest of the prequel trilogy, it offered a backdrop to my own coming of age. There’s a certain poetry there, don’t you think? I certainly did. At least for a time, until I allowed the loudest, most hate-filled voices dictate to me what my own opinion should be. And, for a while, I hated the prequels with the best of them. I’d watch them ironically, you see, and laugh, groan and roll my eyes through them. I look back now in embarrassment, but at least I saw the error of my ways and now, I adore them. It just gets so exhausting feeling I need to justify that all the time.
So, what is it about TPM in particular that I adore? I’d be lazy to say everything, and so I’ll take you on a brief whistle stop tour. I love the aesthetic, this bright and gleaming look. In order to establish the celebrated “used universe” look that defined the original trilogy, Lucas had to establish the republic in all its glittering beauty, even as it reached its death throes. And oh, what beauty. […]”
Read more at Raising a Rebel.