Prostituting his beloved franchise at the altar of commodity, George Lucas was taking a calculated risk when he decided to throw Episode 1 at us in 3D. He could have suffered the backlash caused by such a transparent money-grabbing stunt, but he could also use this as an opportunity to balance The Phantom Menace’s scorecard. In this case, I think I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
The film has always been the Saga’s goofy cousin, thanks in no small part to Jar Jar Binks. Sadly the silly mum’s crumpet couldn’t be wiped from history, even after all this time, so we’ve had to make do.
What the 3D release has brought with it, however, is a staggering few seconds of additional CGI. Scenes are lengthened; perspectives are broadened and our viewing experience is extended. All in the name of progress. Or money.
I may be in the minority in my admiration for these precious few moments. They’ve even taken the time to remove the ghastly Yoda puppet in favour of the digital creation seen in Episodes 2 and 3. It’s the little things that have tickled me so, but tickled me, they have.
Modifications aside, the overall 3D experience isn’t remarkably underwhelming, which is about the highest compliment I can pay it. I’m not a huge fan of 3D, even less so when films are manipulated to suit the latest fad. Maybe it’s the amount of CGI that was already in place, but the 3D adaptation of The Phantom Menace was bearable, if still a little forced.
I’m glad I was able to watch The Phantom Menace at my University. More so because it was a cheap night out. But the thing that makes me most glad is that Episode 1 survived another battle with its own sore reputation, and came out the other end with an ounce of dignity (and progress) intact.