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


Hi peeps, Joel here with an extra special review of the new old Star Wars in 3D!

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace Poster 1

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

Director: George Lucas

Cast: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman

Running time: 140 minutes

Age restriction: 10 MV

Genre: Science-fiction




The Phantom Menace hasn’t really found a following over the years, neither has the entire prequel trilogy for that matter. There’s no getting around it, Episode I is the ugly duckling of the Star Wars saga…but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t entertaining. I won’t go into the story as I’m sure all of you must have some clue as to the first chapter of the series, if not, well then you might be the only one.

Episode 1 isn’t a particularly bad film, it just had the misfortune of being made when it was.  Before Jar Jar’s debut film, Lucas had last directed A New Hope – that’s a whopping 22 years since the bearded one was in the directors seat. We all look back on Luke’s first adventure with much fondness but through these rose coloured lenses we fail to see the all the Star Wars chapters are just as campy as Episode 1. The Public accepted it back then because it’s what they were used to but on the verge of the 21st century people had become used to sensitive tales rendered with realism in both story and acting. Unfortunately Lucas as a director still lives in the ’70s but his idea of visuals always remained current. This is where it all fails but we have to enjoy it for what it is.

Star Wars 3D

The draw card this time around is the 3D effect. I’m not mad about 3D for the most part, I’ve only seen a few films that have benefited from the effect. Thankfully the Phantom Menace uses it in a very practical way with George Lucas making sure that the 3D not only enhances the visuals but doesn’t destroy the film.

The effects are used well for the most part, with special attention going to the pod racing scene that just gets blown out the water with it’s hyperkinetic stereoscopic prowess. The 3D isn’t just emphasised in the action scenes though, Lucas and ILM add the effects albeit more subtly to the entire film ensuring that we get our money’s worth but not the eye strain. While it may be nearing it’s 15th anniversary, The Phantom Menace’s visual still hold up nicely and have only aged in slight but noticeable ways, the production values are still out of this world though.

The Target

Unless you haven’t seen it in cinema before or you’re a fan I can’t imagine the reason for a second viewing. Many kids and (subsequently) parents will be lining up for this but even with the added 3D it seems silly to put yourself through over 2 hours of Jar Jar Binks. However, the Pod racing is worth a look and it will probably be a while before you’ll get to see it in 3D on the home circuit. That said, the future of the rest of the Star Wars 3D conversion rides on the success of Episode 1 – if you want to see Luke kissing his sister and Obi-Wan taking one for the team again, you’ll have to get your ass to see this film now.

The Bottom Line

Star Wars is like wobbly marriage, you mostly remember the good parts but there are the rough patches and bitch slaps that leave their mark. In the end though it’s still a marriage and it is great to see it again. Sure the story isn’t as tight as the original trilogy but the ethos behind the whole shebang is just to enjoy the ride and not take it too seriously. Star Wars was made for big screen so go see it now before it returns for a special edition.

3 half


  • andrew B

    Finally a review that gets it right. Im a big defender of this film. I think the years have been good to it. The revolting feelings some have had over this film over the last decade should have subsided by now, if not then they are really losers. The acting in the film has been bashed, heavily, over the years, but people dont realize a lot of that blame lays on the ADR. 95% of the film had to be redubbed. most of the actors had never done ADR of that scale. Really, look at jake loyd. That kid had never done that before. natalie portman and ewen mcgregor had never done dubbing of that scale. not exactly a flaw in the acting.

  • A Gibson

    I love each and every Star Wars films. Yes there are differences between the newer ones, I, II, and III, but there is no getting around that. George did an awesome job with converting it to 3D. The 3D was wonderful, and not over bearing. Those who attack Lucas for changing or adding things to his story line, don’t understand the idea of editing and revising, and trying to get a masterpiece more perfect. Lucas is a writer, and an artist he deserves props for the 3D version of Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace.