This column will either cause you to kill me with your fake lightsaber or scream to the heavens like a Tusken Raider. But here goes … I’ve bit my tongue for too long …
I am overly excited to experience ‘Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace’ in its new 3D format. I will be one of those stereotypical nerds lined up for a showing, waiting expectantly with bated breath. I won’t wear a costume, but I will give myself over to be transported to “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.”
For fans of the Star Wars saga from George Lucas, this enthusiasm might seem odd. The prequel films (Episodes One, Two and Three) are largely seen as a disappointment, and many Jedis-in-training have decided to write them off as mere cash cows for the film studios involved. After all, isn’t ‘The Phantom Menace’ the film that includes an annoying Jar-Jar Binks and equally grating Jake Lloyd? Isn’t Episode One needlessly childish, featuring stilted dialogue and weak acting performances?
The answers to all of these questions are “yes.” But that doesn’t mean the prequels should be forgotten, and it certainly doesn’t mean that fans should boycott their 3D release.
Where are all the Star Wars fans jumping at the chance to watch a lightsaber duel on the big screen? Where are all the fans gushing with delight over the chance to once again experience the unique wisdom of Yoda? What about those people who want to relive the exquisite performance by Ian McDiarmid as Palpantine?
Don’t let the negatives outshine the positives. Each of the Star Wars films, including the prequels, has enough eye candy to be worth the price of admission. ‘The Phantom Menace’ features one of the most action-packed, high-adrenlaine sequences in the entire saga (the pod race, of course). Plus, although Jar-Jar Binks is annoying, Boss Nass is a unique addition to the space drama. Ewan McGregor grows into the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Liam Neeson is perfectly cast as Qui-Gon Jinn. I’m also a big supporter of Ray Park as Darth Maul, one of the best villains to appear in any Star Wars film.
Many fans are upset over the franchise not because it’s re-releasing the prequels, but because they are coming in different formats with several changes. I’m a purist at heart, and I will always relish the chance to experience the six films in their original presentations. But let’s not be archaic about these movies — they’re not historical snapshots; they’re forward-thinking sci-fi films. Technology changes, and today’s audiences expect many more fireworks than moviegoers from even 10 years ago. If the 3D format will pop a few more things off the screen and make everything look sharper, why not just embrace the updating?
And as far as the specific changes that were included in the rereleases of the original trilogy a few years ago: As a fan, it’s neat to note the differences and relish the memories of the original. For newcomers, they would never pick up on the modifications.
Most importantly, ‘The Phantom Menace’ should be welcomed because it will likely entrance a whole new generatio n of youngsters, introducing them for the first time to the Star Wars universe. With Anakin Skywalker being only a boy, the movie holds a special place for children and first-time fans. It’s certainly not a perfect story, but at least it’s rightfully told from the perspective of a young child. The cheesy lines of dialogue are forgotten by the younger audience members who are mainly drawn to the lightsaber battles and pod race.
For too long the Star Wars franchise has been hijacked by ultra-fans like myself. It’s almost as if we stumbled upon this great secret and won’t let any other generation enjoy it on their own terms. I, for one, am willing to share the gift of Star Wars, and if that means more 3D and a few changes along the way, then so be it. Yes, I would prefer to watch the originals in their original format on the big screen, but I will always say “yes” to these limited theatrical runs. The franchise deserves to live and breathe for old fans and new fans alike. This will undoubtedly mean more money in the pockets of Lucas and the studios, but it’s not like they’re holding a shotgun to our head.
It’s probably time for everyone to take a deep breath, smell some of that desert Tatooine air, and try to appreciate that the vat of carbonite is half full, not half empty.