Category Archives: Star Wars 3D

Movie Review: The Phantom Menace 3D

There’s nothing quite like hearing the 20th Century Fox music in surround sound in a movie theater. The Lucasfilm logo follows and then the first chord of the fantastic work of John Williams blares through the speakers. A certain chill goes through the air. The yellow text scrolls up the screen. No matter how many times I’ve read the scroll for The Phantom Menace, I read it again.

There’s just something about watching Star Wars on the big screen. My husband and I went to see The Phantom Menace on Friday during the afternoon. The theater gave us a pair of Darth Maul 3D glasses. The collector in me would have liked to receive one pair of Maul and one pair of Anakin’s racing goggles, but I’m not complaining.

During the movie itself, I was constantly aware of the 3D element, which presented itself the clearest during close-up shots. The 3D, as it is in all 3D films, was distracting. The only upside to the new format was how bright the colors were. We saw this with the Blu-Ray, so it wasn’t anything new. The 3D was better than other films, but it’s still not worth it.

I don’t like being aware of 3D while watching it. While it’s important to notice that it’s there. It shouldn’t be distracting or annoying. Even though Lucas’s 3D was much more tolerable to the eyes than others, I still experienced eye strain.

I’d rather watched the movie in 2D once again rather than waste money on 3D. It wasn’t an option. In the small area I live in, the theater is eight screens and something must be a mega blockbuster to earn another screen. The other movies theaters closed years ago due to lack of business.

The best part about the Star Wars movies coming out in theaters again is simply that we fans can enjoy them once again on the big screen. It brings back feelings of awe and wonder. It’s also a great way for new fans to experience the Saga. For this reason alone, I’ll go see the others—even if I have to view the 3D.

After viewing TPM once again, I think that the story is pretty solid. It’s a good foundation for what lies ahead. I discussed the plot last week, so I won’t repeat it.

The movie was fourth in the domestic box office. That’s not bad at all for re-release. The Vow beat it, but it was also the weekend before Valentine’s Day. Plenty of people were going on the weekend for the holiday. I’m not sure what Lucas was deem “successful.”

With the rest of the Saga, I hope that more theaters can show it in 2D so that the fans who can’t watch 3D won’t miss out on the experience. We all need to see Darth Vader say, “No, I am your father” on the big screen again.

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The Phantom Menace: Hate it or love it?

The Phantom Menace. Will reviews change this go around or will people still consider it the weakest of the Saga?
Unfortunately, I doubt anything will change. I’ve blogged about how nostalgia for the Original Trilogy and expectations hurt the chances of TPM being accepted as it deserved. The reasons people dislike this film are a mixed bag of plot and character issues.
 “Trade routes? Trade Federation? What?”
Why is it when politics are brought in, a movie is suddenly labeled “boring”? The politics made the movie interesting. I admit when I was younger I didn’t find it nearly as interesting as I do now. It wasn’t the blaster fighting, action-packed movie fans were used to. The galaxy, unbelievably, isn’t at war all the time. Something had to happen for Palpatine to rise to power. Empires don’t spring out of the sands of Tatooine with a little womp rat fertilizer.
The movie used a smaller plot, the issue with the Trade Federation and Naboo, to open the door to the larger scheme of everything. This move eases viewers into the story rather than throwing them into a whirlwind of treachery, deceit and betrayal. While trade disputes might seem unimportant, look at the history of various countries to see similar problems. Trade routes being blocked or blockaded lead to wars and border disputes. A large bomb or attack isn’t always the way the wars begin.
The plot was the foundation for the trilogy and in a broader sense, the saga. Think about the prologues, introductions or beginnings of stories. They are typically filled with background information and details that come into play in the future or tell fans who the players are. To some this information seems boring but it is vital to a complete and well-developed story. Without a foundation, the story will fall. Knowing that Anakin was a slave and seeing how leaving his mother affected him was vital to understanding his fall to the Dark Side. Another example is how Obi-Wan become a Jedi Knight and Anakin’s master as such a young age. That event also sheds a bit of light on Anakin’s eventual turn.
Coupled with the plot are the characters. Lucas and co. received quite a bit of criticism over Anakin as a nine-year-old boy. Sometimes when reading these complaints I wonder how much time that person spent around nine-year-old boys. They say strange things. They are (usually) naïve even during a hard situation. They point out what they believe should be the obvious answer to a problem. And they remember some statements parents say to use later. Jake Lloyd’s acting was like a kid. Had Anakin acted too “adult” or hard, it’d been hard to believe he was a kid. While Jake Lloyd was no Dakota Fanning, he did pull off a difficult role.
Jar Jar Binks is another character ran through the gutter. I never cared about Jar Jar either way. He was just “there.” That said, I could completely understand why he annoys the snot out of so many people. I do wish he’d been disregarded after the first movie. Bringing him in as the idiot who gave Palpatine more power was a little too “let’s blame it on the village idiot.”
The Phantom Menace isn’t my favorite of the Saga. It’s not even in my top three. I don’t find it to be a failure as others do. Is it the perfect movie? No, but it’s still enjoyable and great to watch. It’s not fair to hate a movie without being completely objective about it and thinking about the points fully. Just because something isn’t how you expect it to be doesn’t make it dull or a mess.

Either way, whether you love it or you hate it, The Phantom Menace 3D release will be an interesting one to watch. The box office numbers will be quite telling about the future of the 3D releases. I think the movie will fairly well for a rerelease. With the Clone Wars, more kids are into the fandom. Many may have missed the opportunity to see any of the six in theaters. This is another great opportunity to bring more people into the fandom.

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If anyone can make 3D look right, it’ll be George Lucas

With the upcoming 3D release of The Phantom Menace, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about 3D in general. I’m not a fan of 3D. I don’t think it’s going to take over many homes. It’s simply not friendly to those of us who multitask when we watch TV or movies.
In addition to the tech aspect of 3D, I also don’t see the point. A tree popping out of the screen doesn’t make the story any better. Look at Avatar. The movie had a mediocre, predictable plot with pretty pictures. Sure, great visuals can bring ticket sales, but that doesn’t mean the movie is good. I spent Avatar begging for the end credits.
I watched Thor in 3D (as it was the only option and it was free). The 3D was only noticeable during the fast moving scenes that made my head hurt. Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, looked great in 3D, but it was a gimmicky kids’ movie. The 3D didn’t add to the drama.
And yet, with these complaints I am still going to see The Phantom Menace in this format. Because let’s face it, if there’s anyone who can give us a movie where the 3D is relevant, it’s George Lucas. He’s already done so much to the world of movie making and special effects. He could change 3D to something worth the time and money.
When special effects look bad for the time, it distracts viewers from what is going on in the movie. I’m not talking about the horrible looking creatures at the end of Ghost. Those bad effects are forgivable. I mean when you can tell that a person is CGI for a few moments.
Just because we know that CGI was used doesn’t mean that we want it to be that obvious.
When watching Avatar, little bits of forest would fly out of the screen in the corners. It was rather annoying. That’s not good 3D. I don’t know what would constitute a good 3D, but it’s not a podracing flying in my face.
Watch TPM carefully. It may show us what the future of 3D really is.

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Darth Maul is Alive…What a Disaster

Darth Maul is alive.

Darth Maul, who Obi-Wan sliced into two pieces, is alive.

How? And more importantly, why?

I know! To attract more attention to the Clone Wars and the 3D release of The Phantom Menace.

Darth Maul was a fantastic, one-shot villain. Fans thought Maul was cool because of his fighting style, not because he had an interesting back-story or amusing sense of humor. The Maul-Kenobi-Jinn lightsaber fight is amazing. It never loses its luster.

Oh wait, with this announcement, it just did.

Think about the latter part of the fight. Obi-Wan, Maul and Qui-Gon are separated from each other. Maul paces like a caged beast. His nostrils flare with anger. Qui-Gon appears worn out and tries to regain strength. The timers then turn off and he and Qui-Gon engage in an exciting duel. We watch as Maul puts one of his blades through Qui-Gon and hear Obi-Wan’s anguished scream.

At that moment, many of us wanted to see Darth Maul pay for what he did to Qui-Gon. Obi-Wan rushes forward and assaults Maul in a frenzy. Soon Obi-Wan is hanging on for his life while Maul swings his lightsaber like the smug Sith Apprentice he is.

And then…then Qui-Gon’s lightsaber moves, Obi-Wan leaps up and slices Maul in half. A spray of blood appears and Maul tumbles down the shaft. Obi-Wan has defeated the Sith. It’s one of his greatest moments.

Not anymore!

Regardless of your opinion of The Phantom Menace, that entire sequence is amazing and moving. Knowing that Maul survived and that Obi-Wan didn’t defeat a Sith kind of kills it.

This action brings another question to mind. How? The man was cut in half. His body bounced off the sides of a metal shaft. I find it hard to believe that his skull wasn’t at least fractured. It’s not as if he was caught on fire like Vader or lost a limb. He was cut into two definite pieces. No humanoid lives through that.

With the release of The Phantom Menace 3D poster, I am even surer that this move was tied in. Darth Maul is the predominant picture, yet Anakin is omitted. You know Anakin? The character the entire saga is about? At least Darth Sidious made it in the shadows, a placement that’s rather appropriate.

Oh wait. Anakin’s in his podracer. Probably. Let me get the magnifying glass.

I mulled the news around in my head for a day before writing this blog entry. I didn’t want to fall into a fit of rage or illogical ranting. Obi-Wan is such a crucial character to the Star Wars saga that any change that dramatically alters his character needs looked at. While I applaud the staff of the Clone Wars for keeping people talking about the series, I can’t get behind this plot decision. Give Maul a brother. Why not? Bring in Chewie? Sounds like a plan. Bring back a dead character? No thanks. Bringing back the dead is a horrible plot device. It’s up there with time travel. Overused, cliché and cheap. Bringing in Maul’s brother and Chewie didn’t harm other characters.

The cartoon should not take precedent over the movies. Period.

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