Cinema Review: Star Wars Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace 3DWell, that was a bizarre experience. Having just sat through another re-release of a Star Wars film, I’m actually having trouble finding something to say about it.

I’m guessing that aside from the 3D guff, there is very little difference between the new cinematic version (which requires you wear a pair of big plastic glasses in a big room full of strangers), and the blu-ray version that came out last year (which requires you to sit down in the comfort of your own home, in the nip if your wish).

Which begs the question, why this was released at all?

Well, I’m guessing someone at Lucasfilm watched Avatar and thought “hmmm, Star Wars would look good like that”.

And yes. It would look good. Only if Star Wars was shot like Avatar. Which it wasn’t and as a result the 3D effect is very subtle and only noticeable during the talking scenes – of which there is a lot in The Phantom Menace, especially in the middle. So, if you like your films with a bit pointless political debate and in 3D, you’re in for a winner here.

Anyway, I digress. Usually when George Lucas decides to subject us fanboys to a new version of his vision he changes something. Be it Greedo shooting first, a big stupid inexplicable musical number or even Darth Vader crying “nooooooooo” like a big baby – there is always something to irk the fanboys.

But there was nothing new here and it left me feeling disappointed.

That’s right, I was actually looking forward to being disappointed by more disappointing changes so I could have a moan about them and on that note it didn’t deliver. So I’m gonna have to moan about this being the same old film I could have stayed in and watched.

It’s not like in this day and age, Lucasfilm with all their technical wonders can’t include something new and give the fans a little bang for their buck. A basic postproduction 3D conversion is just not going to cut it these days – especially with state of the art home cinemas and something new needs to be brought to the table to justify that ticket price.

There’s enough deleted scenes on the DVDs, could they not have edited those back in and given the audience a little something extra. It’s The Phantom Menace so it can’t get any worse.

With all the posters and trailers prominently featuring fan favourite Darth Maul, I was half expecting them to perhaps include some new footage of freaky-red-faced-double-hard-bastard. But no, like last time we just got 50 minutes too much of Jar Jar and 10 minutes too little of Darth Maul.

When 1997 special editions came out, it was exciting and not just because Star Wars was returning to the big screen. It was because it featured the enhancements and tweaks that we’d never seen before – which I know split fans right down the middle (well, perhaps two thirds against maybe?). But it was a great experience seeing the special editions first time round and I couldn’t wait to see the Jabba the Hut confronting Han Solo.

The 3D conversion itself is a little hit and miss. At times scenes are given a bit of extra depth and it works quite nicely. During other scenes, characters look a bit like cardboard cut outs and on some occasions I completely forgot I was watching a film in 3D. But then, I was watching a film with some woeful two dimensional acting so that might be why the effect was lost on me at times.

One thing that does still impress me is the sound design and audio editing. Whilst being subjected to the same old CGI Jar Jar tripe, it was a great pleasure to hear Ben Burtt’s sounds and John Williams score booming out of a decent sound system and I think it is fair to say that without their input the Star Wars universe would not be half as iconic as it is.

On the whole, there is very little with this re-release to recommend to people. If you’ve already seen The Phantom Menace, then you’re not missing much.

And I would normally say if you haven’t seen any Star Wars films whatsoever, then yeah, give it a go. But to be honest, it’s not the best of the bunch and you’re probably much better off treating yourself to the blu-rays or DVDs and watching the original films in the comfort of your own home.

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.