Friday, February 10, 2012


This Blogger had the privilege of seeing George Lucas speak at a convention in 2005, where he spoke about his (then bold) plans to re-release his STAR WARS saga in 3D. It’s a shame that it took this long for it to finally come around, for it makes Lucas and his ILM company look like Johnny-come-latelys in a market now oversaturated with the format. With STAR WARS being a lot about visual effects, and ILM being one of the first innovators of digital 3D, the stage seemed to be set for another interesting chapter in the often turbulent book of STAR WARS history.

3D is all about depth of field, which is something that all filmmakers should strive for anyway. With the many large landscapes and vastness of space in THE PHANTOM MENACE, many opportunities are there. Overall, it’s fair to say the overall 3D experience feels about 50/50. In the places where it can be seen, it really works; the podrace, the Gungan-droid battle, any space-travel, and parts of the underwater sequence are sights to behold. Everywhere else, the 3D seems to vanish. Intimate scenes have no use for it, and many other wide-shots where you would expect to awestruck just fall flat. There are thankfully no gimmicks thrown in with debris flying at you.

The dimness of the glasses leads into a major issue of picture quality. MENACE was always known for its vibrant colors, and between the glasses and the conversion, that vibrancy is lost. Darker scenes are murky, and the overall picture feels like its being viewed through a drinking glass after the milk has been drunk. This Blogger has always been a believer in a perfect presentation every time out; advocating Blu-ray over standard-def and digital projection over 35mm. STAR WARS, being such a visual experience, deserves better quality than what 3D does to it.

The way a movie sounds can be even more vital than the way the picture looks. The digitally remastered soundtrack sounds tremendous; fully dumping your ass and ears in an ocean of sound. The iconic sound effects are crisp and the explosions have the low-end of the Earth burping. All this of course is held together by John Williams’s magnificent score; which sounds awesome over those big speakers. Good sound is less about volume and more about presence, and MENACE gets that perfect.

Fans of the film will likely be able to tolerate (not lightly) the picture issues and near-wasted 3D and still enjoy the experience. There is a righteous feeling about seeing a STAR WARS movie on the big screen; a feeling that is confirmed the second that big yellow logo slams in with old Johnny’s sonic blast of orchestration. This Blogger said from day one that all six films would do well, if not surpass 3D ticket sales with an excellent digital 4K presentation in 2D, and that seems to be where the biggest problem is. If people want to see STAR WARS on the big screen, they should be able to without the hassle and annoyance of (goddamn) 3D. Consumers like options, and they should have been given one here.

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