Thursday, 9 February 2012

Star Wars : Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D Review

So, I have literally just got back from watching Phantom Menace 3D at my local cinema and so these are my immediate reactions after watching the film. I will start by giving my general feelings on Star Wars and Phantom Menace, then give more detail on the 3D presentation. I will try to be as brief as possible, as I know I start to ramble on when talking about Star Wars.

So, I am a huge Star Wars fan and have been from an early age, therefore I cannot remember the first time I watched the original trilogy. By this point it seems like they have always been a part of my life. Some of my earliest memories of childhood are Star Wars related, so when I was 8 years old I was so excited to see Phantom Menace on opening day and I can still remember the adrenaline rush I got from watching the film and in particular watching the Podrace sequence. Needless to say I love Phantom Menace because I love all 6 Star Wars films.

Now, when I first heard George Lucas was going to be taking all 6 films and re-releasing them in 3D, I was not at all excited or interested. I was ecstatic however at the idea of being able to watch the films again on the big screen and if I needed to watch them with 3D glasses on to achieve this I would. But the fact remained that I really did not give a shit about the 3D side of things. So I decided to go in and watch the film with an open mind. If the 3D was rubbish I would enjoy watching a great film again and if the 3D was great, even better. Then the 20th century fox logo appears on screen followed by the Lucasfilm Ltd. logo. Then, as we all know, fades on screen 'A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....'

As John William's incredible score filled my ears the goosebumps kicked in and the legendary opening crawl started. From that point on I forgot I was watching the film in 3D and I mean that as a compliment. The 3D was not distracting at all and added a surprising amount of depth to the frame considering it is an up-converted 2D film. I have seen many up-converted 2D to 3D films, all of which have been absolutely awful. Most of these films up-conversions had been rushed to devastating effect and as a result these films looked like they were out of focus and far too dark, as the brightness has not been adjusted to compensate for the dark tint to the glasses. But there was something about the way it was used in Phantom Menace that worked for me. You can certainly tell it was not shot in 3D, but the 3D is used in such a way that it just draws you in, even in the dialogue scenes.

As you may have guessed the main showcase for the 3D in Phantom Menace is the Podrace sequence and when watching the scene you can certainly tell that this is where the technicians have put the majority of their time and effort. It looks brilliant. The reason it looks as good as it does is because George Lucas does not use quick cuts and close ups nor does he excessively shake the camera to add a feeling of 'realism', the camera is steady and always in focus, which enables the Pods in the scene to really stand out in 3D against the very blurry fast moving background.

[Spoilers Below]

There are however scenes in which the 3D conversion does not look very good. Qui Gon Jinn's cremation scene looked terrible for example because the open flames seemed completely separate from what was going on in the rest of the frame. The only other shots that looked pretty shitty were the shots of Corousant from space. Because Coruscant is a black and white planet, the contrast between the darkness of Corousant and the pitch black of space was not very clear and could have been solved easily by upping the brightness ever so slightly. However these are all minor gripes in what was a surprisingly good conversion.

To wrap up, I thought I was going to have to tolerate/hate the 3D in order to watch Episode I again at the cinema, but it turned out that the 3D was for the most part very good and effective. In fact I liked it so much that I will probably try to go and see it again while it is still on at my local cinema. Bring on Episode II - Attack of the Clones (my least favourite of all 6 Star Wars films)

Star Wars : Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Film : 10 / 10
3D : 8 / 10

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