I'm still not a fan of 2D to 3D conversions. The conversion of THE PHANTOM MENACE to 3D wasn't bad, but
it fails to awe like movies shot in 3D like AVATAR and RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE. I really don't want to see the other
movies of the STAR WARS series in 3D. Like all up conversions to 3D, they must stop. Unless the
filmmakers spend the time to shoot with 3D cameras and utilize the depth of field that actual 3D film making can bring to
cinema, 3D is a gimmick and a way to get the audience to pay more for tickets. I wish George Lucas would just
create a new STAR WARS movie and shoot it with 3D cameras instead of doing conversions of the other five movies. I
do think the audio experience was better this time round than my first viewing of THE PHANTOM MENACE in 2D in a theater with
bad stereo sound back in June 1999. Still the audio mix of the STAR WARS films aren't the most impressive I have
heard in a movie theater. Now I will end the rant and get down to my thoughts on the film after all of these
THE PHANTOM MENACE is the first of the prequel trilogy which chronicles the rise of Senator Palpatine in addition
to the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker who would go on to become Lord Darth Vader. Episode One has no major characters
that really stand out like with the Original Trilogy. You have no strong iconic characters like Han Solo or Luke Skywalker.
The strongest characters belong to the characters who have little screen time or work in the shadows.
Senator Palpatine and Darth Maul are two of the strongest characters in this film while Samuel L Jackson does leave an impression
as Jedi Master Mace Windu. Liam Nesson shows signs of promise, but the direction of the leads in the film could have
been better since George Lucas never was a good director of actors in any of the STAR WARS films he has directed.
Ewan McGergor does improve as Obi-wan over the trilogy, but I think Alec Guinness did it better. I do
think the Prequels would have been better if Lucas found a way to create characters as great as Han or Luke. Jar Jar
and young Anakin don't annoy me as much as they used to. Natalie Portman has better material in other films.
Now a few things do work in Episode One. It lays down the
manipulations and plans of Palpatine as he plays the situation of the Naboo invasion to his advantage. He
sends Darth Maul to help, but he manipulates Amidala to cause the upheaval in the Republic Senate which leads to the beginning
of Palpatine's rise to power and the control of the Empire. He is the ultimate grand master in the
Prequel Trilogy. He manipulates and corrupts bit by bit while creating control on two fronts. He rises to power
in the Republic while trying to use other forces to cause chaos in the Republic. Palpatine's arc is the most interesting
arc in the Prequel Trilogy while I feel George Lucas should have paid more attention to fleshing out the stories
of Anakin, Amidala, and Obi-wan Kenobi more in addition to giving better direction. THE PHANTOM MENACE has its'
moments like the Pod Race, the scenes with Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid rises to the task despite the poor direction by Lucas),
the special effects, and the climatic lightsaber duel between Qui-gon Jinn and Obi-Wan verses Darth Maul. THE PHANTOM
MENACE isn't as bad as I first remembered, but it still doesn't match up to the Original Trilogy. Skip the 3D conversion
unless you need to see it in theaters again and spin the movie at home on Blu-ray or DVD.
this movie review is (c)2-14-2012 David Blackwell and cannot be
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