George Lucas’ rerelease of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace – in the grandeur of 3D – has to be the biggest marketing ploy of the past decade.
While the idea of rereleasing a film in a new type of medium isn’t necessarily bad or unnecessary, one would think the famed filmmaker would add some intricate touches, invent something new, or at a bare minimum enhance action sequences to the full magnitude of 3D.
No such exploration takes place however. Which, for aficionados of the Star Wars mantra, will be just fine. And quite honestly, the decision to redistribute the film is not to attract new audiences members (though that’s certainly possible), but to reward long time fans for their relentless and utter devotion to the series.
I’m not going to explain the narrative. I understand for those who haven’t seen the film, you may be upset by this decision. But lets be honest: if you didn’t bother seeing Phantom Menace back in 1999, rent, purchase, or hear about the franchise – then I suspect you have no interest in the film.
So, since this isn’t a typical review, I’m going to jot down some observations.
- While the film was only released 13 years ago, the technology feels a tad antiquated
- Obi Wan is in the story far less than I remembered
- The runtime is unbearably long
- Jar Jar Binks’ voice still makes me contemplate ending my life
- The age difference between Anakin and Padme is creepy
- Liam Neeson is still a badass
- Mace Windu becomes aggravated after anyone ever speaks aloud
- Lucas enjoy his money
- I despise Chancellor Palpatine
- Hey, it’s Star Wars again
Perhaps in a galaxy far, far away, I loved Phantom Menace. But re-watching the film in all its cinematic glory, I found it to be a bit underwhelming. The iconic scenes – like the climatic sequences between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon vs. Darth Maul or Anakin racing the fighter pods – still excite and delight in equal measures.
At the end of the day, though, the whole idea of restoring the film in a new format has gone to waste. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in 3D is just an excuse to watch Lucas’ grandstanding epic on the big screen.
Just one last note: As I watched The Phantom Menace I was thinking about what makes Star Wars movies different? What makes this resonate with such a large audience?
I was initially perplexed … but the answer is simple: While many don’t enjoy the newest installments, there’s no denying the sheer spectacle on display. Lucas’ ingenious creation of an alternate universe is pure escapism that takes us away from reality and our problems, and places us somewhere else.