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Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace 3D

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace 3D

By Patrick Samuel • February 15th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 3/5
20th Century Fox International

Release date: February 9th, 2012
Certificate (UK): PG
Running time: 132 minutes

Year of production: 1999

Writer and director: George Lucas
Composer: John Williams

Cast: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd

My earliest memories of Star Wars consists of robots, Ewoks and, for some strange reason, a fascination with those peculiar glowing swords which I was later told were called lightsabers.

Along with Indiana Jones’ bull whip and hat, a lightsaber was what all the kids at school regarded as the must-have movie item to play with.

As the 80’s rolled on and films like E.T. The Extraterrestrial captured my imagination, I was also being introduced to Poltergeist, Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street and the world of Star Wars didn’t continue to have the same appeal for me as it did to all the other boys in my class. I was more about the love for the glove and the killer with the machete.

By the 1990’s it was films like Aliens and Terminator that re-introduced me to the sci-fi genre and while I came to love them both equally as a teenager, Star Wars just seemed too whimsical with an appeal I found too narrow. Despite this, I thought to give Episode I – The Phantom Menace a try during a day at the multiplex when I also saw South Park: The Movie. One I hugely enjoyed, while the other only managed to make my slush-puppy induced headache even worse.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D

Over a decade later and still thinking there’s just something I’m not getting with this franchise that comes so easy for everyone else, I gave the 3D version a go. The story opens with Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) arriving on the planet Naboo for diplomatic talks with its leaders and the heads of the Trade Federation. Instead, they are ambushed by Federation robots and realise that the talks were a ruse for a hostile invasion organised by the evil Sith master.

Together with Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) and Naboo’s Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman), the Jedis make their way to another planet. It’s there that Qui-Gon will meet Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), a slave boy who will grow up to be a powerful Jedi in the later/previous instalments.

If you love the original 1999 version you will still love it in the 3D version. How do I know this? Because what I didn’t like in it then hasn’t changed because I can kind of look around Jar Jar Binks’ ears now. There’s so much going on that it would need mental 10D to concentrate on the characters and form any kind relationship with them that might lead you to care about what’s happening to them. The characters that lacked depth and personality still lack all of those same things.

Once more I’m reminded that 3D is a technical term above all. If it’s more about hitech rather than writing, plot and acting I feel like watching a filmmaker playing with his toys — the more so since The Force was with some of the actors a little too long apparently; they are still so stiff they might as well have been CG.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D

The young Anakin Skywalker comes with some potential but sadly he’s lost in a blizzard of special effects and his presence on screen is marred by the ill conceived Jar Jar Binks and the equally bizarre Queen Amidala. The duel with Darth Maul and the Jedis is still a standout moment in the film, as is the deadly podrace despite all its brutality. It’s the choreography, timing and set-up of these scenes that makes them an experience; by then I wasn’t even aware of the 3D any more which usually happens 20 minutes after I put on the specs.

While there are some things to enjoy in Star Wars, for those who don’t get it, they still won’t get it in 3D or even 4D and those who love it, will love it the same. None of the effects — least the addition of 3D — makes a difference. What it comes down to is a loose collection of archetypal characters held together by a story that’s as old as time itself, and it’s this story that could have done with a new dimension, back in 1999, when the movie was originally made. In the end, I should maybe just resign myself to the fact that Star Wars is from a galaxy way too far for me to get.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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