Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace (3D)
- Director:George Lucas
- Cast:Jake Lloyd, Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman
- Release Date:February 09, 2012
- Running time:101 minutes
- Film Worth:$7.00
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The under-utilised 3D adds little to this prequel, which only serves as a sore reminder of the brilliance of the original films.
Given the twenty year hiatus George Lucas took from directing and the level of expectation upon his return to the chair, it's not surprising that his prequel trilogy follow-ups to the original Star Wars trilogy would disappoint. That they would be such gargantuan misfires, however, was something no fanboy could have predicted. Lucas takes one of the greatest twists in cinematic pop culture ("Luke, I am your father") and then spends three films rendering that revelatory twist utterly void by exploring the minutia of how it came to be.
The first trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, The Return Of The Jedi), focused on the personal; a single narrative telling the tale of Luke Skywalker, his dreams of adventure and his crossing paths with an aging Jedi Knight, a princess and a wily smuggler. In the first prequel Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Lucas lays out an ornate galactic mise en scène, threading a clumsily scripted, bone-dry Skywalker dynasty back story throughout it, telling the beginnings of how Anakin Skywalker came to be Darth Vader. Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his young apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) mediate negotiations over an intergalactic trade blockade, uncovering a conspiracy to invade and occupy the Planet Naboo and kill its Queen, Amidala (Natalie Portman). Along the way, the Jedis meet a young boy, Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), bringing him into the Jedi fold and leaving the story to play out with leaden predictability across two more films.
As one would expect, the 3D re-processing is executed with a high degree of care, but it's so unobtrusive and under-utilised that there seems little to gain from viewing it in 3D in the first place, other than the huge sweaty wads of cash that will inevitably fill the Lucas film coffers.
By abandoning any character-led plotting, Lucas kills any emotional connection with the story or events, relying solely on iconography from the previous trilogy to elicit nostalgic mojo from the audience. When that goodwill wears off, the script's clanging dialogue and incomprehensible story are a sore reminder of the lightning-in-a-bottle brilliance of the first trilogy, making the missed opportunity of this film a bona-fide cinematic tragedy.