It is important to note that “The Phantom Menace” has undergone intense new litigation in recent years. It went from one of the biggest films of 1999 to one of the most reviled films in blockbuster history very quickly. Thanks to a series of fan-made video essays – specifically the “Mr. Plinkett” review published by Red Letter Media in 2009 – “The Phantom Menace” has become the prime example of how to ruin a successful media franchise and eliminate public goodwill.
When “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” debuted in 2015, however, essays began appearing online describing “The Phantom Menace” as “Not bad, actually” and “Good, actually.” The film's own Caroline Cao admitted that “Menace” was “deeply flawed” but still managed to get it on the hook.
The attitude toward “The Phantom Menace” in 2024 appears to be one of warm, smiling acceptance. The film is still bad, but it has gained a lot of affectionate fans who appreciate its look, its tone, some of its action, and John Williams' “Duel of the Fates” theme. The hatred for Jar Jar, especially, has been reconsidered, especially considering how difficult Best was for years after the film's release. Lucas felt he wrote a funny character, Best felt he was providing excellent physical support for his digital avatar, and Neeson felt he was working with a talented comedian. Neeson publicly stated:
“Ahmed was so funny and inventive. Me and Ewan [McGregor] were personally hurt and offended by the critical reaction to the character.”
Neeson has been beating this drum for years, defending Best at every opportunity. He also previously spoke about expecting big things from Best when they were making the film.