Star Wars: Episode 1 - the Phantom Menace 3D


Directed by George Lucas. Starring Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Pernilla August, Frank Oz, Samuel L Jackson, Terence Stamp PG cert, general release, 133 mins

WE MUST HAVE missed the relevant internet lobby but finally, Star Warsfans can rest easy: Jar Jar Binks is finally back on the big screen where he belongs.

In 1999, George Lucas crushed the dreams of wittering Wookiepedia correspondents with the first of three unlovely prequels. Diehards complained about the stupid muppets in the cast, the overly protracted spaceship spills, and the endless onscreen negotiations between Federation delegates. This was nothing like the original three films. Oh, really?

Critics, meanwhile, loathed the film’s use of racial stereotypes:

the dreaded Binks bowed and scraped while making slow-witted observations in a Jamaican patois; Watto channelled Shylock as Menace’s ruthless, greedy pawnbroker; the Neimoidians are plainly coded “nefarious Chinese”.

Time has not been kind to these aspects of The Phantom Menace; indeed, 13 sensitising years on and “Mesa your humble servant” sounds even more bizarre in a 1990s picture than it did at the time.

To be fair, Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn is a proper Jedi who knows what to do with his lightsabre, and there’s fun to be had with the foreshadowing game. Score five points when C3PO says: “I can assure you they will never get me onto one of those dreadful starships.” Score six for our introduction to R2D2 as “an extremely well put-together little droid”. Score 10 for the moment the gay robots meet: “Oh, hello.”

We had hoped the 3D gloss would, at least, make for enhanced battle action. Unhappily, Lucas has opted for the pointless immersive experience. The picture is crisper. The green screen lines are tidy. But we removed our glasses 30 minutes in and, save the odd blurry subtitle, had no further need of them.

If, mind, you’ve been yearning to see The Phantom Menaceagain with 30 per cent less visibility, then Phantom Menace3D is the movie for you.

Qovpatlh!At times like this we take stock and thank Tuq’mor we’re Trekkers.