So I saw Phantom Menace 3D today.
Reaction: Yeah, it’s still the Phantom Menace. The only major difference, other than the 3D, is a slightly extended pod race scene. We’ve all had 13 years to dissect what’s wrong with this movie, so there’s no point in going over that again.
The 3D was actually surprisingly good, or at least a lot better than I expected. The only really odd thing about it (other than the fact that 3D in general doesn’t really look three dimensional, but more layered, like a pop-up book) is that the CGI objects in the film fairly consistently pop out of the screen more than the physical objects and actors. This isn’t surprising to me: 3D actually normally looks much better when applied to CGI (the Toy Story movies, for example) than when applied to live-action. In fact, this may really be why TPM looks good in 3D: because so much if it is CGI that redoing the CGI stuff so it looks good in 3D can work pretty well.
But this is, of course, the heart of what’s wrong with the movie in the first place: that George Lucas was so enamored with what computers could allow him to put on the screen that he concentrated on that and made characters, storytelling, pacing, tone, and plot secondary concerns. If Phantom Menace 3D is a tactical success, in that it does actually look good in 3D, it is a strategic failure, in that this just serves to reemphasize Lucas’s misplaced priorities in making the film. Phantom Menace 3D is a better-looking movie, but it is not a better movie.
And this is why it fails.