Review: Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace 3D

Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) are sent to intervene in a dispute between the evil Trade Federation and the planet of Naboo, when events lead them to a chance meeting with a young Slave boy who may fulfil a prophecy to bring balance to the all-powerful ‘force’, so starts the most known, most loved, space saga of all time – Star Wars.

“You can dispense with the Jar-Jar bashing commander”

Now let’s get one thing out of the way; Jar-Jar Binks didn’t “ruin star wars”, he didn’t in 1999 and he hasn’t in this 3D re-imaging of Episode 1. What Jar-Jar is guilty of, is being George Lucas’ chosen vehicle to re-launch a franchise friendly enough to a young audience in order to capture a new generation of Star Wars fans. This was the platform for a new trilogy back when ‘The Phantom Menace’ was originally released in 1999. A New audience was needed. The old fans from the original films were always going to come back for more as many will this time around, to experience it all again in 3D.

Yes, Jar Jar does get annoying, but he also provides some genuinely funny slapstick moments and as everything in the Star Wars universe must have balance, as so told of ‘The Force’; any critique of ‘The Phantom Menace’ must also be so.

Jar Jar got too much screen time and was implausibly too central to everything, but this imbalance was mercifully redressed in Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones, with Jar Jar notably vacant. End of discussion.

Sadly, the prequel trilogy is full of its very own ‘human’ flaws which did far more detracting from the legacy of Star Wars than any virtual alien being ever did. Some poor acting, poor screenplay and too much child friendly humour tarnished the storytelling far more than anything else.

One thing has always been true of the whole Star Wars saga and is still true of episode 1, is that if you can look past the flaws you will find many important and meaningful themes that always made Star Wars more cherished than any other fantasy, Sci-Fi space opera. It is just that there are some real tests of believability in Episode 1, (even within the Star Wars universe) that had many of us scratching our heads and leaving us with some trouble in suspending our disbelief; “midichlorians” anyone? C3P0’s ‘maker’? A ‘Messiah’ like birth? and Darth Maul; The greatest mystery of all – Lucas set about creating a huge marketing campaign, both for merchandise and the Movie, centred around one of the most Iconic characters in the whole Star Wars universe and grossly underused him.

3D or not 3D…

The whole reason why we are here right? The 3D age of cinema, a way to keep us going to the cinema, and it is a welcome rouse when it works so well for this re-launch of THE iconic movie franchise. The 3D effect works superbly for much of the Movie, the pod race and the light-saber battles looking particularly spectacular, benefitting most from the extra dimension and it is the movies most dynamic and exhilarating parts that work best. For many of the more static shots it is nothing more than a gimmicky effect, but it is a fun and peculiar thing to behold. Well worth donning the specs for.

Relive the (industrial, light and) magic.

Episode 1 is still a good film, but is one of the weaker entries in the saga, it had a lot to live up to and just came up short. Blighted by many flaws there is still so much to admire with some iconic and outstanding set pieces and 3D provides enough spectacle to justify a revisit.

We will soon also be able to view the whole prequel trilogy once more, with the scheduled release of ‘Attack of the Clones’ and ‘The Revenge of the Sith’ in 3D, and it will be at this completion we will see many of the early failings of Episode 1 rectified on the big screen.

But for now we can relive Episode 1 again with all its imperfections and its wonderful highlights, in the best place meant for Star Wars, with the even greater spectacle of glorious 3D, get your silly specs on and enjoy once more!

RATING: 7/10 – worth a look!


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