Every time a vast advance in audiovisual technology arises George Lucas utilizes the opportunity to update his “Star Wars” film franchise.
3-D film has proven to be no exception and Lucas has decided to throw his hat into the ring by releasing one of the “Star Wars” films in 3-D to test the waters for a full franchise 3-D release. Unfortunately for many fans of the series, the film Lucas chose to start with was “The Phantom Menace.”
Released in 1999, 16 years after its predecessor “Return of the Jedi,” “Menace” was met with massive amounts of disdain and has since gone down in science fiction history as one of the genre’s worst films.
Why Lucas decided to start his foray into 3-D with such a notoriously hated film is up for debate, but at the very least the film has gotten better with age. In 1999, a “Star Wars” film was still held to the standard of the original trilogy and it doesn’t take a sci-fi maniac or an amateur film buff to figure out the “Phantom Menace” is no “Empire Strikes Back.”
In 2012, however, “Phantom Menace” is instead held up to the standard of its own legendarily poor reputation. While it’s a small conciliation to “Star Wars” fans who are hesitant to throw money into seeing “Menace” in theaters again, the film is at the very least not as bad as most “Star Wars” purists will have you believe.
Of course at this point anyone who has seen “The Phantom Menace” already has an opinion of the film and it isn’t likely to change, so a discussion of the film itself isn’t as useful as one of the films transition to 3-D. As someone who still can’t see 3-D as anything more than a gimmick to charge five more dollars for a movie ticket, “The Phantom Menace” did nothing to change my mind.
While it was cool to see spaceships coming out of the screen against the bleak backdrop of space or to have Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber ignite in your face, the 3D was far from jaw dropping.
This isn’t “Hugo.” “Menace” wasn’t made with 3-D film in mind and so it doesn’t take advantage of the technology. While the update is nice, it fails to impress as much as the “Star Wars” saga’s transition to high definition with the series’ Blu-ray release last fall. If you love “Star Wars” and the prospect of taking a trip to a galaxy far, far away on the big screen interests you, then you should go see “The Phantom Menace.” Otherwise, you’d be better of seeing a newer 2-D movie.