Feb 12, 2012 11:26 AM EST

I've Got A Bad Feeling About This -- A Look at Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 3D

I've Got A Bad Feeling About This -- A Look at Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 3D
To not much media fanfare (or fan desire), George Lucas has decided its time to re-release the entirety of the Star Wars catalog back on the big screen...only this time in glorious 3D! Another in a long list of cash grabs for Mr. Lucas, The decision to start with the much maligned Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and go in what he considers the new canonical order of the series is quite questionable. That is, until you realize its not about pleasing the "hardcore fan". Lucas has moved on from you. This is all about moving those unsold Jar-Jar Binks merchandise tie-ins to a new breed of fan!
The movie itself is not all bad. It's a film for children, there is no question about this. From flatulence jokes, to an 8 year old, dough eyed main character saving the day (he's gonna turn to Darth Vader?...hmmm...) what you remember about Star Wars is gone. Sure there are light sabers, yeah there are space battles, but the film is not for you, or your nostalgia. Sorry. It's for your 6 year old.
With that in mind, a 2nd look at the film with the new breed of "Playstation3-Lego-Star Wars-Clone-Wars-Cartoon-Network" light saber toting young Jedi is warranted. Seeing it through their eyes, hearing them laugh at Jar Jar Binks (however much you may shudder) - that is what this movie is about. To them there is no over analyization of character development or plot - and good thing because there isn't any.  Its all about the poop jokes and the light sabers.
The story is a complete mess. Nothing really makes any sense. The trademark Star Wars opening crawl talks about the taxation of trade route disputes being endlessly debated in congress...er...something... what? We're then thrust into watching the chance meetings of the main characters, none of which are very like able or interesting. We go from computer generated environment to computer generated environment for no real reason other than to show off what Industrial Light and Magic was capable of pre-millennium. The effects, however unfortunately, are both where the film shines and its downfall.
Indeed, the last 30 minutes of the film are worth the price of admission. You get the most exciting light saber battle of the entire saga (despite it having zero emotional involvement from the viewer) and some amazing if not over the top battle scenes. This is what the edge of your seat was made for and you might just forgive the rest of the lackluster film.
The over reliance on CGI though out completely kills the rest of the film however. With actors unable to act within the confines of a green screen, speaking to characters who aren't really there, the illusion all falls apart pretty quickly.
The 3D is a good addition. Where it doesn't add anything to the film its not a distraction and where is does enhance the scenes its fantastic. Most notably in the Pod-racing scenes and entire last act with the all out space battle and CGI character ground war. You get the feeling of George Lucas being shown these two scenes in a private screening with the dollar signs in his eyes reflecting off the 3D glasses.
So there you have it. A mediocre children's film with really great special effects designed to sell happy meals. If somehow you missed the first go round and you have a spare 6 year old biting at your heels, the film will be a good 2 and half hour distraction. For everyone else just stick to your old standby ‘Empire' on VHS. Han Shot first.

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