Star Wars 3D: THE PHANTOM MENACE
February 10, 2012 ~ Cinemark Allen 16 ~ Allen, Texas
It was never my intent to see the Star Wars movies in 3D, and most especially not The Phantom Menace which lives in my mind as the least of the films in the saga. But when the first boy brought it up and assumed that I would certainly accompany him… well, there’s no saying “No” to that. Thankfully, there are good elements to this first episode, not the least of which is Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor playing Jedi Knights. That alone is worth the (crazy expensive) price of admission.
Was the film better in 3D? No. But I did find moments of joy throughout, including the richness of detail that does make a movie more visually stunning when viewed in 3D. It wasn’t any more impressive in the cinema, though, than it is in Blu-Ray on a large television screen. It’s just, well, bigger. The one thing we did look forward to seeing in the 3D format was the pod race; unfortunately, it wasn’t as impressive as we would have liked. I wish George Lucas had turned it into a more personal experience, wherein we could have been in little Anakin’s seat and viewed the entire race from his perspective. I really wanted the stomach-lurching experience that three-dimensions ought to offer, and the pod race would have been the perfect vehicle for it (pun intended). Instead, the sequence was simply another cool ride with a little more depth of scenery. And that just seemed like a missed opportunity.
Still, the joy of seeing Star Wars isn’t really in the viewing itself. It never has been. The joy of these movies is in the sharing of the experience, and that made watching this first episode in 3D worth its admission. The first boy was four-years-old when this first film was released, and it was his first introduction to the saga that I have loved since my own childhood. The Phantom Menace is made for the young kids, not for us older ones, and I was reminded of that as we listened to a roomful of children watching the movie for the first time ever. They were mesmerized and joyous and just as captivated as we all were when we saw our first Star Wars films. There’s nothing like that experience, and hearing the kids around me in the audience reminded me just how precious is this movie saga. As adults, we complain at the changes that are made as Lucas continually tweaks and “updates” the films, but those complaints come because the memories are so dear to us. The reality is that my nephews may have never seen any of the Star Wars films had Phantom not been made. They don’t care as much for the original trilogy because those films look dated and had little of the technological wizardry that is so commonplace for them. No amount of defense on my part will ever convince the boys otherwise. So I’ve learned to accept whatever changes come along, like them or not, and be happy that new generations are given the opportunity to experience these beloved films on the big screen. Even with complete redo’s, that really is the only true way to appreciate Star Wars.
Now, bring on the Clones!