Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 3D Review

If it ain’t broke, you shouldn’t be too bothered about fixing it.

Recent technology has witnessed Hollywood turn its attentions towards two new obsessions; needlessly rehashing and re-making respected and revered works of cinema that had happily been consigned to the annals of film history, and ostentatious 3D affairs that rely on little more than showy graphics to get bums on seats.

Once in a while, these two Venn circles overlap.

Enter George Lucas, and his genius idea to re-release each film of the Star Wars saga in 3D.
Since the introduction of 3D to mainstream cinema, there’s only been one film that has truly realised the added dimension in a genuinely spectacular way.

James Cameron’s Avatar, however, was the exception and not the rule as by and large there’s little to be added to a movie which makes up for the discomfort and inconvenience of those stupid 3D glasses.

At a packed, ahem, Empire cinema in Leicester Square, the voice of C3PO Anthony Daniels introduced the first film in the saga with a short speech.

He praised the idea of re-release these classics, claiming the timing was perfect to turn a new generation of kids onto the franchise following its various other offshoots in recent years.

After hearing his albeit shaky argument, we were left to make up our own minds as John Williams’ now unmistakeable score kick-started the saga in trademark fashion.

Sadly, watching The Phantom Menace in 3D is a lot like watching The Phantom Menace in 2D; it’s just a dud movie and even if this was in 6D this wouldn’t change.

From the incessant comedy cloying of Jar-Jar Binks, easily the single most irritating character in the entire franchise, to young Natalie Portman’s deadwood performance as Queen Amidala, Phantom Menace wasn’t a good film when it first came out and the added dimension does little to disguise this.

It’s not all bad news though. The big set pieces, particularly the merchandise-friendly pod-racing scene and the final battle between the Gungans and the droids, looked spectacular on the Empire’s gargantuan screen, shining even brighter in its new 3D format.

It goes without saying that Star Wars was and still is both spectacular and ground-breaking, so it’s great that younglings who missed these films the first time round will have the opportunity to see them on the big screen.

And these days, if you’re going to re-release, why not re-release in 3D?

However, for bitter and jaded die-hard cinema nostalgics like me, the sound of George Lucas’ cash register going “ka-ching” rang a little too loudly for the experience to be truly extraordinary.

Tom Hoare

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Dates ‘n stuff

February 2012