Even in 3D, Phantom Force is still a farce

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

WE MUST HAVE missed the rel­e­vant in­ter­net lobby but fi­nally, Star Wars fans can rest easy: Jar Jar Binks is fi­nally back on the big screen where he be­longs.

In 1999, Ge­orge Lu­cas crushed the dreams of wit­ter­ing Wook­iepe­dia cor­re­spon­dents with the first of three unlovely pre­quels. Diehards com­plained about the stupid mup­pets in the cast, the overly pro­tracted space­ship spills, and the end­less on­screen ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Fed­er­a­tion del­e­gates. This was noth­ing like the orig­i­nal three films. Oh, re­ally?


Crit­ics, mean­while, loathed the film’s use of racial stereo­types: the dreaded Binks bowed and scraped while mak­ing slow-wit­ted ob­ser­va­tions in a Ja­maican pa­tois; Watto chan­nelled Shy­lock as Men­ace’s ruth­less, greedy pawn­bro­ker; the Neimoid­i­ans are plainly coded “ne­far­i­ous Chi­nese”.

Time has not been kind to these as­pects of The Phantom Men­ace; in­deed, 13 sen­si­tis­ing years on and “Mesa your hum­ble ser­vant” sounds even more bizarre in a 1990s picture than it did at the time.

To be fair, Liam Nee­son’s Qui-gon Jinn is a proper Jedi who knows what to do with his lightsabre, and there’s fun to be had with the fore­shad­ow­ing game. Score five points when C3PO says: “I can as­sure you they will never get me onto one of those dread­ful star­ships.” Score six for our in­tro­duc­tion to R2D2 as “an ex­tremely well put-to­gether lit­tle droid”. Score 10 for the mo­ment the gay ro­bots meet: “Oh, hello.”

We had hoped the 3D gloss would, at least, make for en­hanced bat­tle ac­tion. Un­hap­pily, Lu­cas has opted for the point­less im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence. The picture is crisper. The green screen lines are tidy. But we re­moved our glasses 30 min­utes in and, save the odd blurry sub­ti­tle, had no fur­ther need of them.

If, mind, you’ve been yearn­ing to see The Phantom Men­ace again with 30 per cent less vis­i­bil­ity, then Phantom Men­ace 3D is the movie for you.

Qov­patlh! At times like this we take stock and thank Tuq’mor we’re Trekkers.

In your face: Ray Park as Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Men­ace

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