By Matthew Dougherty, Staff Writer
“Phantom Menace” gets a bad rep. Many consider it to be one of the worst sequel/prequels ever made and a terrible film. My opinion of the film falls somewhere in between. It is the worst Star Wars movie, but it is rather enjoyable and a pretty decent movie.
The premise is an important one when it comes to expanding the “Star Wars” universe. We see how this society works outside of the Rebellion for the first time. Many have complained about the focus on politics and trade talk, but I find that it makes the entire universe far more believable, and enhances the original trilogy without completely changing it.
There are also some important character developments included in the film, most notably Obi Wan Kenobi who must grow from a padawan learner to a full fledged Jedi. We also see the seeds planted for Palpatine’s eventual take-over and hints at Anakin’s dark future.
But the best thing about “Phantom Menace” is the action, which takes the already fantastic stylized action of the original trilogy and brings it up to date with faster choreography and CGI. The two standout sequences are the pod race and the lightsaber duel with Darth Maul.
All these positives aside, there are reasons that “Phantom Menace” is the worst in the series. The most prominent is the awful acting. Aside from McGregor and McDiarmid, the rest of the performances are pretty wooden. Natalie Portman and Liam Neeson are at their worst in this film, and that child who plays Anakin (Jake Lloyd) is beyond annoying. Then again, these performances are probably hurt by the atrocious dialogue written into the script. The film also does drag a bit towards the end of the second act, right before the Queen decides to return to Naboo.
I also have to talk about two very unfortunate things. The first is midi-chlorians, which completely take all mysticism out of the Force. The second is Jar Jar Binks. In this entire universe that George Lucas created, Jar Jar is the single worst thing to ever enter it.
Alright, that’s enough of that, on to the reason I am writing this review in the first place: the 3D. This is a perfect post-conversion and rivals “Avatar” and “Hugo” as the best live action 3D yet. Depth is added to the amazing world that Lucas created. All CGI characters and objects look absolutely perfect for the format. Close-ups of the actors look great too. But the best is the action sequence, with pod racing being particularly mind blowing.
Love it or hate it, this is a flawless 3D conversion. So the simple solution is if you like “Episode I” don’t miss this rerelease, and if you hate it wait a few years for “A New Hope”. For me though, this was a great time at the movies.