||The first of three prequels to George Lucas's celebrated STAR WARS films, EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE is set some 30 years before the original STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE in the era of the Republic. Naboo, a peaceful planet governed by the young but wise Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman), is being threatened by the corrupt Trade Federation, puppets of an evil Sith lord and his terrifying apprentice, Darth Maul (Ray Park). Jedi knights Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor, performing an amazing vocal imitation of Alec Guinness, the older Obi-Wan) are called on to intervene in the trade disputes. Along the way, they acquire an apprentice of their own in the form of young prodigy Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), or as STAR WARS fans know him, the future Darth Vader. They also encounter Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best), a goofy, lizardlike creature who has been banished from his underwater world for clumsiness. When the Trade Federation launches an attack on Naboo, the queen and her allies must battle hordes of robot troopers while Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan face off against the sinister Darth Maul. ^One of the most anticipated films of all time, THE PHANTOM MENACE sets the stage for the tumultuous events to come. Lucas fills the screen with detailed sci-fi creatures and locations, revealing the most creative and exquisite sets, costumes, and character designs to hit the screen since the original trilogy.