Reviews

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D

2

A Brief History Of Taxation Disputes In Naboo

The least loved of the space-opera sextet, The Phantom Menace is the first up for the stereoscopic treatment (the rest are on their way at a rate of one per year). So, now George Lucas has gone back to tamper with the film that tampered with your childhood, what's changed?
 
The answer is disappointingly little, except for Yoda, whose puppet self gets a CGI makeover (as per the Blu-ray).

The plot is still impenetrably dull, lacking the fairytale-in-space simplicity that helped A New Hope endure. Kids, or grown-ups for that matter, probably haven’t become more interested in the taxation of trade routes over the last 13 years.

Mini-Vader Anakin is still brattily irritating, the awkward racial stereotypes haven't been banished, the A-grade cast underperform across the board (the pitch still sounds great on paper - Liam Neeson is a Jedi! Oh...), and time hasn't been kind to Jar Jar, who still makes the Ewoks look like bad muthas.
 
The so-so 3D conversion highlights the peaks and troughs experienced first time round. It's the pod race that benefits most from the upgrade, its speed-thrills boosted by arcade-style immersion. Similarly, the final three-way lightsaber duel remains a series highlight, in however many dimensions.
 
But the added visual depth does little to disguise quite how flat everything in between is.
 
Sure, the scrolling prologue will get your inner kid grinning from ear-to-ear, but that all-too-familiar feeling of disappointment soon kicks in, meaning this re-release will likely be most appreciated by the generation too young to have experienced it on the big screen before.

Verdict:

Anakin's still irritating, Darth Maul's still cool and everything else is just as you remember it. Phantom Menace works best as kids' wish fulfilment stuff, so it's best left for the under 10s.

User Reviews

    • ChrisWootton

      Feb 9th 2012, 12:32

      1

      Fair review I'd say. I remember going to the cinema on opening night and seeing people drive past in their cars with John William's ace soundtrack playing.. everyone was so excited.. we all thought this was a great moment in our lives and for cinema and movies.. Lucas making 3 new star wars movies.. it was amazing.. As soon as the first shot came into view after the opening text and the characters started to speak it was like a mist of doom had taken over everything else. The disappointment was unbelievable and it didn't really get any better when they released the others. When you watch the DVD extras on Phantom Lucas seems obsessed with the pod race and nothing else.. even Rick McCallum looked disappointed after the initial screenings for cast and crew.

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    • pdanyluk

      Feb 9th 2012, 12:47

      Wow, how TF's loyalty to this movie has changed over the years. The Phantom Menace 1999 - TF post review verdict: Believe the hype - - this is worth the wait, so long as you don't expect a masterpiece. Better than Jedi, but not as good as Empire, Episode I should please both adult fans and pre-teen newcomers. Not exactly a great movie then, but still great fun. 4 Stars awarded. The Phantom Menace 2012 - TF post review verdict: Anakin's still irritating, Darth Maul's still cool and everything else is just as you remember it. Phantom Menace works best as kids' wish fulfilment stuff, so it's best left for the under 10s. 2 Stars awarded.

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    • badger86

      Feb 9th 2012, 14:36

      Decent review, it still amazes me though that some people, like @pdanyluk seem to think TF operates like some sort of hive mind. Just because on reviewer, 13years ago seemed to enjoy the film does not mean that every subsequent member of staff must automatically have the same opinion.

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    • eddzigs

      Feb 9th 2012, 14:45

      @pdanyluk Here's a quote from their DVD review from 2001: "While a thrilling experience on its initial multiplex release, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is one of those movies which fails the `second viewing' test." 2 stars awarded.

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    • timbatman

      Feb 9th 2012, 16:19

      I'm with pdanyluk on this: we're all aware that people have different opinions, but the ratings given in the magazine and online are the magazine's ratings, not just that reviewer's and although it's okay to maybe differ by half a star or two, a jump from 4 stars down to 2 is just too much - the 'second viewing' excuse just isn't good enough; it just sounds a bit lazy.

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    • timbatman

      Feb 9th 2012, 16:19

      I'm with pdanyluk on this: we're all aware that people have different opinions, but the ratings given in the magazine and online are the magazine's ratings, not just that reviewer's and although it's okay to maybe differ by half a star or two, a jump from 4 stars down to 2 is just too much - the 'second viewing' excuse just isn't good enough; it just sounds a bit lazy.

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    • Murphy0806

      Feb 9th 2012, 18:41

      I'm with badger. I read reviews knowing that this is one persons opinion. I welcome differing opinions on films even if they come from the same website/magazine. You get a better and idea of whether you're going to see a decent film or not (saying that I do tend to read reviews after I've seen a film so not to sway my opinion either way). timbatman, what you said about scores jumping around to much is madness. If a critic genuinely thought differently about a film than someone who had written a review for the same magazine in the past, by your reasoning, they would then have to compromise and adjust their review accordingly, no good can come of that.

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    • McSerious

      Feb 9th 2012, 20:00

      To be fair to TF, they've pointed out that they messed up with the original review before. In fact I remember a feature in the magazine (or was it a 'Best of TF' booklet that came with it at some point?) where they had a list of shame of the reviews they got horribly wrong. The only two I remember is they originally gave Sexy Beast one star and Phantom four. I was impressed that they were happy to point out their f-ups.

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    • simster82

      Feb 9th 2012, 20:19

      In all fairness people won't go to see it if they don't like it. I went first time and i'l go this time, i'm a massive star wars fan and that even means the prequels. I wish i had the ability to put something like this on the big screen. Only gripe I have is that I have to wait 3 years to see the greatest trilogy in 3D.

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    • FBKTudor

      Feb 9th 2012, 23:19

      3

      I've just seen the 3D Episode 1. I disagree that the pod-race benefits most from the 3D. There was depth in the most unusual places. Where ever there was a window or a view behind the actors, there was depth. The pod-race didn't appear that much better. The CG Yoda looked impressive, and Darth Maul's scream (which was in the blu ray as he plummets in 2 halves down the shaft) is now absent again. The opening scrawl looked incredible in 3D, as did the space battle towards the end. A review of the film itself is redundant, due to the fact that there is nothing new to be said of a 12 year old film. Sure, it's disappointing and certain characters are annoying, but out of the prequels this is less of the CG-Eye Sore of its successors, and at least has one of the most impressive light sabre duels featured (which also looks incredible in 3D). At least you can go in with no preconceived notions of greatness, and just enjoy it for the escapism it is. Not a patch on the originals, but certainly not as bad as it is made out to be.

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    • ChrisWootton

      Feb 10th 2012, 9:19

      I once met a bubblegum lady on Gumdrop Hill

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    • RaveyDaveyGravy

      Feb 10th 2012, 9:51

      Im with FBKTudor. Yeah its the weakest of the 6, but escapist knockabout fun and Im looking forward to taking my kids to see it tomorrow. Now, does anybody know where I could look for some no strings attached interracial fun?

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    • summy1001

      Feb 10th 2012, 11:31

      As a Star Wars fan of only 20, the prequels are my childhood. Therefore, I have a slightly biased opinion as far as they are concerned. Yes, Phantom is the weakest of the six, but does it really deserve this much flak? I really don't think that it's anywhere near a two star film, and that the verdict may well be down to reputation more than anything. I understand that for many readers, the original trilogy are their childhood favorites, but would you really expect films made 20 years after their counterparts to be any better than the originals. This debate is probably redundant and what I'm saying is nothing new, but it annoys me how the prequel trilogy get a bad rap. When compared with some so called 'Summer Blockbusters' this is brilliant. Like I said, it's the weakest of the 6, but in my opinion, the prequels get better, and Revenge of the Sith is probably the strongest the lot.

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    • DanRose

      Feb 10th 2012, 13:11

      pdanyluk... you'll love this film then seeing as you are about the right age democratic... mug.

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    • cookie1979

      Feb 10th 2012, 16:05

      So, essentialy, is it worth blowing about a tenner to go see the 3D version or should one just bung the dvd on? Does it make all that much difference?

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    • Hadouken76

      Feb 11th 2012, 0:28

      No amount of 3D is going to make the set look less like an episode of 'Knightmare'. Its a pity people forget that in his prime Lucas was visionary and a genius, his ILM single-handedly revolutionised the way special effects were made.

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    • YorksProp

      Feb 11th 2012, 11:53

      I really hop ewe aren't here in 20 years saying the same about Peter Jackson, visionary in special effects (Weta Digital pushed the boundaries as ILM did before it) but tinkering beyond belief!

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    • Igrayne

      Feb 11th 2012, 14:56

      I wish t***s would stop making excuses for bad films by calling them "escapism" or "popcorn entertainment" c**p is c**p, it is not escapism if you have just been ripped off seven or eight quid and you are being made to endure two or more hours of absolute brainless purile rot in the vain hope that the quality of the movie will improve to make you your money back. If I took your money then had an irritating kid, a demented Jamaincan frog and a boring Scotman waste your time for two hours going nowhere and making no point of interest would you call it escapism just because it is Star Wars? By the way film is made as art not just entertainment, ask Coppola or Ridley Scott.

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    • FBSTuck

      Feb 12th 2012, 9:06

      first...it's hard to best a classic..... especially 20 years later! Second, the entire pod race was needed. This showed how much in touch with the "force" Anikan was before he had even met the jedi and how amazing a pilot he was. On the 3D note....I don't think it made that much difference either way......but my two girls wanted to see it and that was the kicker.Oh and for all those who take this so serious.......it's just a movie!!!!!!!

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    • RaveyDaveyGravy

      Feb 13th 2012, 8:47

      Saw it on Saturday. Fell asleep a couple of times, but the actions sequences were really good. My kids loved it from start to finish, which was the whole point of going. The 3D however was completely un-noticeable after the title sequence finished. Pointless!

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    • Anakin1

      Feb 15th 2012, 20:37

      Best movie ever!

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    • Indianabones

      Feb 17th 2012, 21:12

      I don't think people are expecting them to best the Original trilogy, just respect it and make it from the heart, and in all honesty after watching the prequals he hasn't done it. Also in my opinion the 2nd film Attack of the clones was the weakest of the 3! not one redeeming feature, least Phantom menace had the great fight seen with Darth maul, but that was a wasted character, mainly so he can sell more toys. The very most i will go to see empire strikes back and maybe New Hope. I have to disagree about its only a movie, otherwise why not just except all movies are great and wonderful and not even bother reviewing films. I for one am passionate about films and want to be drawn in and lost in a film

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