Duke & The Movies

Film Criticism


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Written by: Sam Fragoso on February 11, 2012

February 11, 2012 | 10 comments | Featured, Old Format

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 3D

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.

Rating: ★★½☆

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There are 10 comments for this post.

  1. Ruth on February 11, 2012 4:16 pm

    Sometimes it saddens me that the first Star Wars movie I ever saw on the big screen was Episode 2…but then I think, ‘Hey, I’ve been lucky to have enjoyed the original trilogy since I was little.’ Dad introduced me to them when I was six, maybe :D
    Probably wont’ be shelling out the money for a ticket, but the Phantom Menace I never thought anywhere as bad as 2 and 3. Like you say, Liam Neeson is badass (so is Ewan McGregor in the last fight), and the pod racing and final battle sequences rock.

  2. Sam Fragoso on February 11, 2012 7:19 pm

    To be candid, I love Revenge of the Sith … but yes, not worth shelling out money for unless you’re a die hard.

  3. NIck on February 12, 2012 8:19 am

    “Lucas’ ingenious creation of an alternate universe is pure escapism that takes us away from reality and our problems, and places us somewhere else.” I think the original trilogy absolutely did that, but I think the prequels were like a postcard sent from this somewhere else. It looks pretty but we’re still not THERE, you know?

  4. Sam Fragoso on February 12, 2012 10:21 am

    I think some capacity he does that in every film … but yes, the original three are superior films.

  5. Rob Schaak on February 12, 2012 1:06 pm

    i totally agree with you when you say it was under whelming. I left the theater feeling a little unsatisfied, maybe seeing it with eyes that are a little older made me more critical. it was the first film i ever saw in theaters so there is still some nostalgia, but in hindsight i wouldn’t “shell out the money” to see Phantom menace again.

  6. Sam Fragoso on February 12, 2012 1:16 pm

    it’s an alright film, but there’s no need to pay for a 3D admission.

  7. Michael Fragoso on February 14, 2012 9:50 am

    Sam, do you remember that we saw the movie six times. Every weekend for two months – Good times…… I also remember that you wore a cape for the last two times….. Good times, good times……


  8. Sam Fragoso on February 14, 2012 10:03 am

    A moment worth remembering.

  9. Fitz on February 16, 2012 6:10 pm

    I remember being so excited when the film came out. I was ten and my best friend and his Dad were with me. So much of the film ended up being a disappointment, but when Quigon, Obi-wan and Darth Maul fight in the corridors and John William’s “Dual of the Fates” came on, I was in heaven.

  10. Sam Fragoso on February 16, 2012 6:14 pm

    I was in heaven, too.

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