For some it may have felt like, "another year, another way for George Lucas to make some cash!" when the news that the saga was going to be yet again reissued but this time in 3D rather than re-tinkered.
Universally considered as the weakest installment of the Star Wars saga, The Phantom Menace upon its release back in 1999 was one of the most anticipated films of all time. Younger fans fell in love with Lucas' return to director duties whilst older fans who grew up with the original trilogy felt disillusioned, expecting the new films to have grown up along with them. Not accepting that the whole saga has always been "young at heart" the likes of Jar Jar Binks was considered a step too far for many older fans. Will the addition of the third dimension make the bitter pill that is The Phantom Menace easier to swallow for those individuals?
In a word, no. To understand the following review, I must make it clear that although not enamoured with it, I was not a hater of the saga's beginning episode. Like the others, it had its highlights, and some of those are absolute stand-out sequences. However, unlike the others, it suffered from an over-complicated plot that tried to explain itself through a very light-handed manner mixing in elements of slapstick and wooden dialogue - a combination that doesn't gel whatsoever. The addition of 3D does nothing to cover over these jarring aspects of the film.
With the ever-increasing onslaught of 3D releases - prepare for re-releases such as Titanic as well as numerous new family-friendly fare - there have been lessons well learnt from previous disastrous films: the poor post conversion of Clash Of The Titans and the pointlessness of 3D in Sanctum where pitch black underwater caves were not third dimension-friendly. Here, with space featuring heavily in alot of sequences, the 3D appears to be switched off rather than added. Even the two standout scenes that still thrill upon the big screen - the podrace and the duel of fates lightsaber battle - have nothing added to them to make it a worthwhile experience. Where the depth of field should expand the barren wasteland of Tatooine as the podracers speed on by, the fastness of the craft and the editing create a negative effect. Only the long distance shots during the lightsaber battle creates brief moments of depth but not enough to compensate the 2hour+ viewing time.
A disappointing start to the saga, the 3D needs to be brought to the foreground and moved into the "in your face" territory to make it worth you spending your hard earned cash all over again! The Force is not strong in this one.
UK release date: 10.02.12