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Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace 3D

Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace 3D

Released 9 February 2012
Director George Lucas

Natalie Portman, Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor
Writer(s) George Lucas
Producer(s) Rick McCallum
Origin United States
Running Time 132 minutes
Genre Action, adventure, fantasy
Rating PG

Sith happens. Again.

As Julie Andrews once sang, the beginning is a very good place to start. Well she’d obviously never endured The Phantom Menace. As Episode I began and the words, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” scrolled up the screen to the sounds of John Williams’ masterful score, there was a frisson of excitement in the air of the packed screening I attended. A few fans cheered and clapped. But then the words “taxation” and “trade embargo” appeared and we were brought back down to reality with a bump. Yes, it doesn’t matter what new technology LucasArts fling at it, The Phantom Menace is still a limp, disjointed bore of a film.

As a reminder, this is the one centred on the plant of Naboo; home to Natalie Portman’s Queen Amidala and the amphibious Gungan tribe. The “evil” Trade Federation have set up an embargo around the planet and two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor), are sent to attempt negotiations. Instead, they are attacked - it would seem there are darker forces at work behind the Trade Federation. It’s hardly an epic fight between good and evil - but then for Episode I, Lucas was more interested in establishing the characters of later episodes than telling an interesting story. Thus we meet the future Darth Vader as an annoyingly cheery young boy.

So, if you’ve already seen The Phantom Menace, is it worth another go for the 3D? In short, no. The 3D is as low in quality as all the other films that have had it fitted post-production over the last few years. The colours become muted, landscapes that once looked immaculate are now drab; what was wrong with the film in the first place is still wrong (step forward Jar Jar Binks) but this time you get to look at it through a thick fog.

There are only two occasions that the film manages to raise the pulse - the high speed pod-race on Tatooine and the final fight between the two Jedis and the mysterious Sith Lord. It’s no surprise that the poster for this release gives Darth Maul centre stage, that last fight is stunningly choreographed and that double-sided light sabre is still damn cool. All the same though, this cannot save the film and for my money, the 3D only diminished what was already a distinctly uneven piece of filmmaking.

- Linda O’Brien