Friday, March 23, 2012

Movie Review: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (3D)

I can still remember the thrill I felt when The Phantom Menace first came out. By that time I had started collecting Star Wars action figures, so not only did this film represent a return to a beloved film franchise that had been on hiatus for nearly 16 years and an opportunity to see how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, but also a pool of new characters and creatures to inspire new action figures. Some of my friends saw it before I did and they raved about certain parts of the movie (the pod race, the fight with Darth Maul, etc.) Now that it was being re-released (and since I missed seeing Avatar in 3D [1]), I decided to make it my first feature film to see in 3D.[2] That being said, this review will be more of a review of the 3D conversion than it is of the actual film.

Some of the previews before the movie were in 3D, so I experimented with taking the glasses on and off to see the difference. The most noticeable thing (besides the fact that without the glasses everything looks like blurred copies of red and blue version of the movie) is that 3D is dim. I imagine that this is because light is filtered out by the polarization of the glasses.

My verdict: There were parts of the movie that were improved by the 3D conversion. The pod race and fight with Darth Maul were even more thrilling in 3D. When the exile Naboo government seeks out the refugee Gungan government, the 3D is impressive—someone went to the trouble of making each and every fern plant 3D. However, in other scenes entire blocks of background are made 3D together, giving it a flat appearance. In fact, 3D in general seems to make things look flat, but at different depths. Also, I observed that there is a range where the 3D looks good. Too 'close' to the viewer and the two images still look separate; too 'far away' from the viewer and things look flat.

Setting aside the 3D conversion, my one real complaint about this movie is that it never explains why Darth Sidious wanted Naboo under the control of the Trade Federation (the eponymous phantom menace [3]). He even commanded Darth Maul to make sure that Queen Amidala sign a treaty of surrender (which would be valid under Galactic law). So, despite what others claim, it wasn't just a ruse to generate a sympathy vote in his bid for the chancellorship—that was merely a serendipitous side-effect which he astutely took advantage of.


[1] Read my review of that film here.

[2] Before this, the only 3D film I'd seen was IMAX Wild Ocean 3D at the Moody Gardens (see here) in Galveston, Texas, while Leann and I were on our honeymoon.

[3] Though you could argue that the title of the film refers to Darth Sidious and/or Darth Maul.

Image attributions:

Hubble Ultra Deep Field is by NASA (and is in the public domain), available at Ultra Deep Field part d.jpg.

No comments:

Post a Comment