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Review: Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace 3D

Feb. 11, 2012by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jin, (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) uncover Sith treachery when they're sent as emissaries to the peaceful planet Naboo to mediate a trade conflict. They narrowly escape death, and end up stranded on the planet Tatooine, where they meet a young boy, Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) with a strong bond to The Force.

REVIEW: I honestly haven't seen STAR WARS: EPISODE I- THE PHANTOM MENACE in over ten years. I saw it in theaters when it originally came out (I was seventeen- too old to have really gotten much out of it), and probably one more time on VHS, before moving on. Having been an old-school STAR WARS fan (who isn't?), I was actually kind of looking forward to seeing this on the big screen again, even if it's one of the lesser entries (along with the other prequels).


However, the years have not been kind...

While the hype might have tainted my perception of it a bit in '99, thirteen years later, the flaws in the film are much more apparent. I know it's always been a bitter pill for STAR WARS fans to swallow, but honestly- I haven't give it much thought over the years, as I always just kind of dismissed the prequels as films for kids. But are they really? That's a defense George Lucas has used to death over the years, but really- is a complicated plot about trade federations, and political machinations really the thing that's going to get kids all amped up? Rather, this feels like more of a concession to the older audience than Lucas will admit.

Too bad it didn't work, as the story is dull, dull, dull. The one thing that THE PHANTOM MENACE really lacks is the old time sense of adventure and fun that the original films had. That, and the romance, as it's truthfully kind of dull to watch a big-budget adventure film where there's no love interest (yes, I know that the relationship between Anakin and Amidala was being set up, but as he's all of seven years old here, there's not much too it- not that there was in the next two films).


Most critically, the idea of showing Anakin Skywalker's childhood- before he became Darth Vader is probably one of the worst ideas in film history. Who cares what he was like as a child? The sense of mystery is what made Vader such an incredible villain. It's not helped by young Jake Lloyd, who's been heavily criticized for his performance. To that end, I don't think you can blame him. He was seven, and Lucas' awful dialogue (“that's so wizard! Yippee!”) didn't do him any favours. I don't think Lucas has ever been much of an actor's director (outside maybe AMERICAN GRAFFITI). Pros like Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor have no problems, but Lloyd is adrift. It also must be said that Natalie Portman, who's now acknowledged as one of the best actresses of her generation, isn't much better than Jake Lloyd as Amidala, nor was she very good in the other prequels. That said, it's awfully strange seeing her here as a teenager, not to mention a thirteen-year-old Keira Knightley as her doppelganger.

As for Jar-Jar, well, I'm not even going to go there.

That said, THE PHANTOM MENACE isn't all bad, as there are some good things about it. I've always liked Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan, and the climatic Duel of the Fates set-piece with the bad ass Darth Maul, is still a stunner. The podrace is also well conceived, if highly derivative of the great chariot race in BEN-HUR. Liam Neeson, back when he was still a respected character actor, and not the full-fledged megastar he would be once he hit his late-fifties, is also very good as Qui-Gon, despite the awfully goofy dialogue about things like miticlorians, and Jedi virgin births.


As far as the 3D re-release goes, I don't think anyone would dispute that this is yet another Lucasfilm cash grab (which the early box office figures suggest is a success), and the conversion is nowhere near as sharp as I thought it would be. Thirteen years ago, on 35mm film, THE PHANTOM MENACE looked gorgeous, but on digital it looks washed out, and the dark tinting thanks to the 3D specs doesn't help matters. The third-dimension is all but absent through most of the film, save for maybe the podrace, which looks like it got extra attention, but the rest is as bad a 3D experience as any post-converted film that's hit theaters recently.

Certainly, if you're a hardcore STAR WARS fan who happens to like the prequels, it might be fun to see THE PHANTOM MENACE back on the big screen, but if you hate them, this isn't going to change your mind. If, like me, you've been on an extended hiatus from the prequels, again- the film has not improved with age, and if anything it's worse. This is really only for the hardcore fans and kids.

Source: JoBlo.com

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12:39PM on 02/13/2012
It's been 13 years. Long enough for this to be a non-issue now. Let' all move on. Also, it's hard for me to be super critical about this film when movies like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen exist.
It's been 13 years. Long enough for this to be a non-issue now. Let' all move on. Also, it's hard for me to be super critical about this film when movies like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen exist.
Your Reply:



9:33AM on 02/13/2012
You're almost to kind with TPM!
What I fear the most, is that this ugly post conversion will make people avoid TITANIC 3D which is the opposite side of the coin as far as post conversion goes: 60 weeks instead of the usual 6 to 10, $18M to do it (and the remastering of the movie) and Cameron HAD to approve EVERY converted shots... Say what you want about Cameron, but HE's never fucked up the quality (at least technically) of his films for economic reasons. If $10 must be spend instead of $1 to
You're almost to kind with TPM!
What I fear the most, is that this ugly post conversion will make people avoid TITANIC 3D which is the opposite side of the coin as far as post conversion goes: 60 weeks instead of the usual 6 to 10, $18M to do it (and the remastering of the movie) and Cameron HAD to approve EVERY converted shots... Say what you want about Cameron, but HE's never fucked up the quality (at least technically) of his films for economic reasons. If $10 must be spend instead of $1 to make it right and look beautiful, HE will spend them! What we've seen of TITANIC 3D so far is SO beautiful, you could swear it was SHOT in 3D.
Your Reply:



-4
8:45PM on 02/12/2012
@Rodie: Good god, man! I think you've just re-written the prequels!!!!! Somebody get this son of a bitch a comic book contract ASAP!!!!!!!
@Rodie: Good god, man! I think you've just re-written the prequels!!!!! Somebody get this son of a bitch a comic book contract ASAP!!!!!!!
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3:44PM on 02/12/2012

PS

As this is obviously (and ufortunately) never going to happen, I will continue to hate and boycot George Fucking Lucas!!!
As this is obviously (and ufortunately) never going to happen, I will continue to hate and boycot George Fucking Lucas!!!
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3:43PM on 02/12/2012

@ Rodle

I LOVE your idea!!! Would have created a completely different set-up for episodes 4-6, and we would've actually cared more for Anakin!! If Lucas read this and said, "Hey, Everyone. I'm sorry for being a complete tool and putting you through episodes 1-3, and making Anakin into a total moany douchebag, and anger you all with Jar-Jar...! You know what?? I have a completely new, and better trilogy (explains this concept) and I want you all to forget TPM, AOTC, & ROTS exist, and I promise you this
I LOVE your idea!!! Would have created a completely different set-up for episodes 4-6, and we would've actually cared more for Anakin!! If Lucas read this and said, "Hey, Everyone. I'm sorry for being a complete tool and putting you through episodes 1-3, and making Anakin into a total moany douchebag, and anger you all with Jar-Jar...! You know what?? I have a completely new, and better trilogy (explains this concept) and I want you all to forget TPM, AOTC, & ROTS exist, and I promise you this new trilogy will be written by accomplished and proven Writers, and directed by accomplished and proven Directors, and I will only produce as much as having my name on it, and helping finance it..." If he said this, and went through with it, then maybe, just maybe, I could start to forgive him for his past movie attrocities (including his rape of Indy!!!) and start to enjoy Star Wars all over again!!
Your Reply:



-1
3:15PM on 02/12/2012

F this

George has lost whatever cred he earned from Eps IV-VI and Indiana Jones. I wish I lived in a parallel universe where an actual filmmaker controlled the rights to Star Wars.
George has lost whatever cred he earned from Eps IV-VI and Indiana Jones. I wish I lived in a parallel universe where an actual filmmaker controlled the rights to Star Wars.
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+11
12:05PM on 02/12/2012

13 YEARS?!?

--I still think of these as the "new" ones... how fast are we getting old?? Slow down, TIME...that's right, Time-- Im talking to you!! holy crap-- I dont even want to think about when New Hope first came out... HOly crap...!
--I still think of these as the "new" ones... how fast are we getting old?? Slow down, TIME...that's right, Time-- Im talking to you!! holy crap-- I dont even want to think about when New Hope first came out... HOly crap...!
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-4
11:25AM on 02/12/2012
This is easily far and above the only good movie of the prequels. AOTC was garbage and Sith lacked and real bite to be truly dark. Liam was great in this film as was Ewan - those two together was gold. Add a little Maul to the mix and it was a fun ride.
This is easily far and above the only good movie of the prequels. AOTC was garbage and Sith lacked and real bite to be truly dark. Liam was great in this film as was Ewan - those two together was gold. Add a little Maul to the mix and it was a fun ride.
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7:59AM on 02/12/2012
could they just do the trench run in 3D then i can watch the only 3D scene i'm interested in
could they just do the trench run in 3D then i can watch the only 3D scene i'm interested in
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7:35AM on 02/12/2012
Lucas only claimed these were for kids after his target audience turned on him for this trash. I'm sorry Revenge of the Sith isn't a kiddie movie, unless kids getting butchered by an out of control Sith Lord is considered kid-friendly these days.
Lucas only claimed these were for kids after his target audience turned on him for this trash. I'm sorry Revenge of the Sith isn't a kiddie movie, unless kids getting butchered by an out of control Sith Lord is considered kid-friendly these days.
Your Reply:



5:15AM on 02/12/2012

Sadly I will probably see all six in cinemas again

I know the prequels are terrible and post conversion 3d is awful as well. But I just can't help myself. It's one of those self mutilation things I guess. Every chance I get to see some lightsabres on screen, I grab immediately. Hell I even went to the cinema for that awful clone wars movie! When I'll watch the Phantom Menace on the big screen again, I will be listening to Plinkett's new commentary on my mp3 player though.
I know the prequels are terrible and post conversion 3d is awful as well. But I just can't help myself. It's one of those self mutilation things I guess. Every chance I get to see some lightsabres on screen, I grab immediately. Hell I even went to the cinema for that awful clone wars movie! When I'll watch the Phantom Menace on the big screen again, I will be listening to Plinkett's new commentary on my mp3 player though.
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+2
4:05AM on 02/12/2012
Maybe, maybe, maybe will I see Revenge of the Sith in 3D, but doubt it....Empire, though it may be a lame post convert 3D, abso-f@ckin-lutely....
Maybe, maybe, maybe will I see Revenge of the Sith in 3D, but doubt it....Empire, though it may be a lame post convert 3D, abso-f@ckin-lutely....
Your Reply:



1:21AM on 02/12/2012

eh

I HATE WITH A MAD PASSION JAR JAR! One of the worst characters in the history of cinema. CGI characters that is. He single handedly ruined this film, not that is was that great in the first place, but still...
I HATE WITH A MAD PASSION JAR JAR! One of the worst characters in the history of cinema. CGI characters that is. He single handedly ruined this film, not that is was that great in the first place, but still...
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11:50PM on 02/11/2012
STAR WARS Episodes 1 thru 6: movie escapism fully intact.

...but that's just me...
STAR WARS Episodes 1 thru 6: movie escapism fully intact.

...but that's just me...
Your Reply:



-18
11:42PM on 02/11/2012

Quick Poll: Episode IV?

Who would DEFINITELY watch Episode IV in 3D when it comes out in theaters? (I won't.)
Who would DEFINITELY watch Episode IV in 3D when it comes out in theaters? (I won't.)
Your Reply:



+3
11:35PM on 02/11/2012
I saw Phantom Menace in 99 when it opened as an 18 year-old, and thought it looked great at the time, but the overall movie left me very dissapointed. I watched it a few times in between on VHS and DVD, even on Spike TV when they do their Star Wars marathons, and thought it was pretty, but dull. I sat down to watch it on Blue-Ray when it came out this winter, and it totally changed my opinion on the aesthetics. Watching it in digital hi-def ruins the look of the movie completely. You can see
I saw Phantom Menace in 99 when it opened as an 18 year-old, and thought it looked great at the time, but the overall movie left me very dissapointed. I watched it a few times in between on VHS and DVD, even on Spike TV when they do their Star Wars marathons, and thought it was pretty, but dull. I sat down to watch it on Blue-Ray when it came out this winter, and it totally changed my opinion on the aesthetics. Watching it in digital hi-def ruins the look of the movie completely. You can see all the seams and errors in the CGI, and how bad it was done. I can just imagine seeing it blown up to theatre size with a bad 3-D transfer. I knew it was a bad idea to re-release these movies.
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+57
9:59PM on 02/11/2012
Phantom Menace should have starred an Anakin the same age as Luke was in the original Star Wars as a parallel. THere should have been just one main Jedi mentor, not two. Qui-Gon should not have existed and Obi-Wan should have been Qui-Gon's age. There were too many Jedi in TPM. They should have been more religious and mysterious, like an underground sect that secretly protects the universe from the dark side Jedi. Darth Maul should not have been killed off and his character should have been
Phantom Menace should have starred an Anakin the same age as Luke was in the original Star Wars as a parallel. THere should have been just one main Jedi mentor, not two. Qui-Gon should not have existed and Obi-Wan should have been Qui-Gon's age. There were too many Jedi in TPM. They should have been more religious and mysterious, like an underground sect that secretly protects the universe from the dark side Jedi. Darth Maul should not have been killed off and his character should have been developed over the course of all three prequels. Jar Jar should never have gone past the concept stage. The plot should have been simpler: Palpatine and Maul sense that an ultra-powerful new force-user is out there (as Anakin begins discovering and using his abilities more) and begin hunting for him to turn him or kill him. Yoda senses the same thing almost simultaneously and dispatches Obi-Wan to find him and train him. So then its a race to find Anakin. Meanwhile, he's a former slave on Tatooine who mounts an assault on the slave-owners to free all the slaves. Amidala is a slave girl who Anakin loves and is the main reason he starts the revolution to save everyone rather than just use the force to escape and never return. As Anakin's slave revolt breaks out, both Obi-Wan and Maul arrive on Tatooine at the same time. Then you have Obi-Wan dueling Maul and Anakin kicking slave-owner ass and saving Amidala from her god-awful life at the same time.
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4:30PM on 02/12/2012
Oh my god, dude. This would've been amazing.
Oh my god, dude. This would've been amazing.
11:16PM on 02/12/2012
damn, what a nerd!
damn, what a nerd!
12:31PM on 02/13/2012
Hindsight is 20/20...
Hindsight is 20/20...
8:55PM on 02/11/2012

I don't mind

I think TPM and the prequels get way too bad a rap due to the standard of the originals. I was ten when TPM came out. My dad made me watch the originals already so I was a big fan. I did not enjoy Jar Jar, and I found parts of it bland for sure. But let me tell you, I spent the better part of the year daydreaming of being in a pod race, or recreating the Duel of Fates battle with my toys. I played TPM on the PC and I dressed up as padawan Obi Wan for Halloween. A lot of fans claim that the
I think TPM and the prequels get way too bad a rap due to the standard of the originals. I was ten when TPM came out. My dad made me watch the originals already so I was a big fan. I did not enjoy Jar Jar, and I found parts of it bland for sure. But let me tell you, I spent the better part of the year daydreaming of being in a pod race, or recreating the Duel of Fates battle with my toys. I played TPM on the PC and I dressed up as padawan Obi Wan for Halloween. A lot of fans claim that the prequel raped their childhood. But for better or worse, the whole series made my childhood, warts and all.
Your Reply:



1:35AM on 02/12/2012
Well said!
Well said!
7:38AM on 02/12/2012
As much as I dislike the prequels. Seeing the Pod Race and the Darth Maul fight for the 1st time did blow me away.
As much as I dislike the prequels. Seeing the Pod Race and the Darth Maul fight for the 1st time did blow me away.
8:45PM on 02/11/2012

Meh

I saw TPM about 5 or 6 times in theaters when it was first released. Then I watched all of them again when the blu ray release came out. Man can you say cringe worthy. I could barely sit through TPM...what was I thinking back then.

I will definitely not be hitting the theaters for this cash grab. Maybe if they make it to A New Hope I will check it out.

Ah to think what it could have been...except for George LOL
I saw TPM about 5 or 6 times in theaters when it was first released. Then I watched all of them again when the blu ray release came out. Man can you say cringe worthy. I could barely sit through TPM...what was I thinking back then.

I will definitely not be hitting the theaters for this cash grab. Maybe if they make it to A New Hope I will check it out.

Ah to think what it could have been...except for George LOL
Your Reply:



7:40AM on 02/12/2012
I was the same way, I was blinded by the fascination of a new Star Wars movie hitting the screen but over the years they are quite difficult to watch now. The original though on a big screen could be worth the time.
I was the same way, I was blinded by the fascination of a new Star Wars movie hitting the screen but over the years they are quite difficult to watch now. The original though on a big screen could be worth the time.
6:56PM on 02/11/2012
I don't think TPM is the best Star Wars film, but I loved seeing it on the big screen again! The 3D was awesome! Frankly, the movie, while flawed, has gotten better with time. I like Jar Jar and love the machinations Palpatine puts in place in this film. It looks fantastic and I loved seeing kids in there seeing Star Wars.
I don't think TPM is the best Star Wars film, but I loved seeing it on the big screen again! The 3D was awesome! Frankly, the movie, while flawed, has gotten better with time. I like Jar Jar and love the machinations Palpatine puts in place in this film. It looks fantastic and I loved seeing kids in there seeing Star Wars.
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6:46PM on 02/11/2012
Is it true Jake Lloyd quit acting because of the criticism of Episode 1. Not necessarily his performance but everyone's opinion of the movie?

I heard when he was in highschool, people would bully him to a very extreme degree. Calling him the 'Killer of Star Wars" (paraphrasing)
Is it true Jake Lloyd quit acting because of the criticism of Episode 1. Not necessarily his performance but everyone's opinion of the movie?

I heard when he was in highschool, people would bully him to a very extreme degree. Calling him the 'Killer of Star Wars" (paraphrasing)
Your Reply:



-16
6:44PM on 02/11/2012
Losers and kids you mean.!!
Losers and kids you mean.!!
Your Reply:



6:37PM on 02/11/2012
Hey Chris, you picked up on something that was my major gripe the first (and last) time I saw the film... Dedicating the whole film to a 7-year-old Anakin was such a huge mistake. I really believed they should have had the adult actor playing the role from the first film. Little did I know that actor would turn out to be Hayden Christensen...
Hey Chris, you picked up on something that was my major gripe the first (and last) time I saw the film... Dedicating the whole film to a 7-year-old Anakin was such a huge mistake. I really believed they should have had the adult actor playing the role from the first film. Little did I know that actor would turn out to be Hayden Christensen...
Your Reply:



+3
6:37PM on 02/11/2012

gotta disagree

with the 'but the rest is as bad a 3D experience as any post-converted film that's hit theatres recently' part. I mean strictly in terms of post-converted 3D Green Lantern and Immortals were fantastic and actually added quite a bit to the overall experience, especially with Immortals (now that I've seen both in 3D and 2D).

on a side note though regarding the 3D of this movie for anyone interested in a more specific, detailed review of that portion of the movie (as I'm sure you've all already
with the 'but the rest is as bad a 3D experience as any post-converted film that's hit theatres recently' part. I mean strictly in terms of post-converted 3D Green Lantern and Immortals were fantastic and actually added quite a bit to the overall experience, especially with Immortals (now that I've seen both in 3D and 2D).

on a side note though regarding the 3D of this movie for anyone interested in a more specific, detailed review of that portion of the movie (as I'm sure you've all already seen the movie itself already) I found this article which picks it apart piece by piece... [link]
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7:08PM on 02/11/2012
The statement "as bad a 3D experience as any post-converted film that's hit theatres recently" does not necessarily mean that all 3D post conversion is bad, just that this is an indication of how bad it CAN get.
The statement "as bad a 3D experience as any post-converted film that's hit theatres recently" does not necessarily mean that all 3D post conversion is bad, just that this is an indication of how bad it CAN get.
8:36PM on 02/11/2012
@martin - hmm, maybe I misunderstood because of the way it was written, but upon reading it it certainly seems like he's saying that all post conversions are bad, which is a common misconception which is why I took it that way, when it of course is untrue (citing a couple examples like I did) but maybe he did mean the worst of the worst post conversions like you're saying... at the same time, from all the 3D reaction from this movie (and in the 3D review link I posted) it certainly doesn't seem
@martin - hmm, maybe I misunderstood because of the way it was written, but upon reading it it certainly seems like he's saying that all post conversions are bad, which is a common misconception which is why I took it that way, when it of course is untrue (citing a couple examples like I did) but maybe he did mean the worst of the worst post conversions like you're saying... at the same time, from all the 3D reaction from this movie (and in the 3D review link I posted) it certainly doesn't seem even CLOSE to that 'worst of the worst'/how bad it can get area