Review: Star Wars episode 1: The Phantom Menace in 3D: you sure it’s 3d?

Basically, it’s just as bad as it was in 2D, but some of the sequences are a bit more 3D-y.

But the bits that you really want to be more 3D-y – to take advantage of the (limited, but still not zero) possibilities that the three-dimensionality offers – aren’t.

Specifically, the pod race, which you’d think would offer terrific opportunities, if it was properly done, to give you those “oof” feeling in the pit stomach, is just the same pod race as in the 1999 version, but with just a shimmer of 3D-ness added. The stone pillars don’t loom at you, the tunnels and canyons don’t zoom out of the screen.

And the climactic fight between Gingerchops (Darth Maul to you) and the Linen Sack Wearers (Jedi Knights if you prefer) really wants to have some bullet time added. (The Matrix and this film orginally came out in the same year, 1999.) But of course they can’t. You’d need to call everyone back, redo the sets, and reshoot it.

However there’s a worrying indication that 3D is being used just as the CD was in its early years – for the industry to shore up its revenues and profits by redoing films that did well the first time. As we left the cinema (the boys had wanted to see it) I noticed an ad for something else from the past – so old I’ve already forgotten what – being re-offered in 3D.

It’s a bad trend. Star Wars might have its own fanbase who’ll go to everything (and a new younger audience who have never seen it in the cinema) but if the film industry tries to rely on 3D as its moneymaker, things are going to go badly.

Not that they’re going swimmingly as it is. There were ads for tons of rubbish films there – Prometheus (looks like nonsense), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer (er, what?), Battleship (more Transformers-like nonsense). No doubt they’ll have 3D versions. Not worth the money, I’d wager.

In fact, besides Avatar (which I haven’t seen) is there any 3D film that really makes good use of the technology? Actually, is there any good use of 3D in normal cinema films?


  1. Hugo makes excellent use of 3D, such that you realize after viewing that 3D has artistic possibilities beyond just whiz-bang effects.

  2. Whilst it’s not exactly a “normal” cinema film, Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” is a very good use of the technology: