3-D Isn’t That Menacing

Imagine an alternate universe where “Star Wars” isn’t the huge franchise it is today. Now imagine that back in the 1970s, George Lucas decides to make his saga in chronological order. If his first movie was anything like “The Phantom Menace,” it’s likely that the story of Anakin Skywalker’s fall and redemption would never have attained a sequel.

I guess the Force was strong with Lucas back then, when he chose to start with the sequels rather than the prequels. Or maybe it was his Midi-chlorian count …

The second time around, “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” doesn’t have the years of hype and anticipation that preceded it the first time in 1999. Now in 2012, we have it again, this time in stereo-converted 3-D. Jar Jar Binks has never looked more beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful, you have to give credit where it’s due. Despite my initial thoughts about the CGI looking outdated, Lucas and his special effects team know how to create and present a universe. The different cities and planets look amazing, from Naboo to  Coruscant to even Tatooine. Lightsabers have never flashed so brilliantly; pod-racing is still spectacular; and Natalie Portman. Enough said.

Still, no amount of cosmetic surgery would have been enough to bring back any balance to the Force for this film. “The Phantom Menace” lacks a proper story, and dialogue and character development goes out the window also.

The cast list would make you think otherwise; Liam Neeson plays the stoic Jedi Knight, Qui-Gon Jinn, Ewan McGregor plays the young Obi-Wan Kenobi and Portman stars in her first blockbuster role as Queen Amidala. Despite the potential, there is no enjoyable chemistry between any of the characters like that of Luke, Leia and Han Solo of the original trilogy. Instead, we are treated to bathroom humor in the form of a lizard-fish.

But you’ve all heard this before in some form or another (likely by some rabid fan) of how the newer prequel trilogy is full of stank in comparison to the original trilogy. It may not be full of it as it is lacking substance, but there’s no doubt the re-release will still draw older fans, children and a few who are curious about the 3-D conversion.

Unfortunately, this whole 3-D thing seems more like a money-grabbing strategy for George Lucas. It’s not needed at all, and for those whose eyes hurt when wearing the tinted glasses, the movie itself will add to the pain.

Rating: 2 out of 5