Sunday 19 February 2012

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

Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson in Phantom Menace
(Image from
Star Wars is back on the big-screen in three-dimensions, with George Lucas taking us back to where it all began (chronologically) with 1999's Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Set 32 years before the events of the original 1977 Star Wars, Phantom Menace charts the discovery of a young slave boy named Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) by two Jedi Knights Qui-Gon (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) on a remote desert planet.

Widely accepted as the least popular Star Wars film since it's release 13 years ago, how does it stack up today? Whilst the films downfalls and hiccups are still present and are possibly more prevalent today than they were initially (Lucas can't exactly take the digital eraser to Jar Jar now can he?), there is still much to enjoy about the Phantom Menace. 

Whilst the addition of 3D visuals seemed fairly trivial before walking into the movie, I can gladly say that they worked very well, immersing the viewer in the Star Wars universe better than ever before. Benefiting most from the added dimension are of course the action set-pieces. Impressive enough by themselves, the addition of the 3D visuals allows them to really leap out of the screen and get the audiences heart racing. It seems if there was ever a film series made for showcasing the benefits of adding 3D visuals, it's Star Wars. 

The high-speed pod-race around which the fate of Anakin, the Jedi and Queen Amidala's fate revolves is edge-of-your-seat stuff. The same can be said for the finale which sees star-fighter dogfights above the planet of Naboo. The icing on the cake however, is the epic duel between the Sith Lord of Darth Maul and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan at the film's climax. Arguably the best light-sabre sequence of the entire saga, the 3D visuals makes it simply spellbinding. 

The rapid shot changes aren't marred by 3D blur to such a degree that it makes them feel wasted, unlike other poor 3D cinema experiences I've had in the past (for example, see my recent review of Underworld: Awakening here) Whilst not perfect, the 3D visuals in Phantom Menace are an impressive addition to the film. It makes for a enjoyable and entertaining experience that will please audiences of all ages. 

As I mentioned before however, the film itself suffers from the same hitches that plagued it back in 1999. Time has not been kind to annoyingly kid-friendly and cartoonish frog/alien hybrid Jar Jar, who still fails to raise a smile and grates throughout. Young tyke Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker also sets about delivering dialogue akin to being a school nativity play, hardly a Dark Lord in the making. Lastly, the overly wordy and "diplomatic" scenes set within the Galactic Senate are hardly enthralling stuff for anyone unfamiliar with the series and may not win over new fans. Phantom Menace simply doesn't reach the admittedly atmospheric heights of those in the original trilogy (where's Han when you need him, eh?)

Despite not being the fan-boy favourite or the promised timeless classic, Phantom Menace should still do well enough at the box-office for George Lucas to continue with his planned 3D re-releases of the rest of the saga over the course of the next 5 years. With 2002's Attack of the Clones up for the 3D treatment next year, that's where the fun really begins. Huge fans of the films like myself will regard seeing Phantom Menace back on the big screen and in 3D as a must and will undoubtedly be the ones to get the most out of the experience. 


  1. So harsh on little Anakin! I think he is adorable!

  2. Replies
    1. then hurry up haha! they're not in cinema's for long...



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