The Phantom Menace

Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas
Stars: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ray Park, Samuel L Jackson, Ian McDiarmid, Terence Stamp
Length: 131 minutes 
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

2.35:1 (anamorphic)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5:1 EX and 2.0 Dolby Surround
Technical Features: Scene selection, animated menus, multiple language subtitles, and English for the hearing impaired.

Extras: Two-disc DVD set, anamorphic; 2.35:1 film transfer, Dolby 5.1 audio mix; director's commentary; seven deleted scenes completed; 12 Web documentaries; five featurettes; the John Williams music video "Duel of the Fates"; galleries of stills; trailers and television spots; "The Beginning," a 66-minute documentary


For some reason this was the first movie I checked out when I was finally kitted out with my full multimedia set-up.

If you want to show off with whatever sound system you have, then this is the movie to pop into your player when people visit. The sound is fantastic. So is the picture quality of this movie. Really great. After watching it I wanted to throw away my VHS tape, which I bought so that I can say that I own ALL the Star Wars movies. 

If you want to show off why DVD is so much better, this is a double disc set of which the second disc contains a great making-off documentary and other features such as trailers, music videos and the differences between the DVD version and the cinema version.

Huh? You read that right. From George Lucas the man who brought you the superfluous Star Wars - Special Edition comes, well, Phantom Menace - Special Edition. Fans of the movie might go gaga over the extra added scenes, but they don't add any extra value to the movie really. They just make the movie, erm, longer.

And that's the problem really: The Phantom Menace gets worse every time I see it. I quite enjoyed the movie on the big screen when it came out, but repeat viewing on the small screen just accentuate the movie's faults. That kid that plays Young Darth Vader's acting gets poorer every time, Jar Jar Binks' voice gets more shrill and grating and everybody else seems more bland than before. I once said that Phantom Menace is better than Return of the Jedi, but I don't know anymore . . .

Watching the movie I thought how fantastic the Star Wars proper DVDs would be one day. I don't think I'll be able to force myself to watch the videos again until they do. And maybe the DVD will have an option to skip all those rubbishy Special Edition bits that stand out like a sore thumb . . .

WORTH IT? The extra features on the disc is great, especially the making-off feature, which really shows just what a huge undertaking a movie like this is. With all the visible effort that went into it one almost wants to forgive Lucas the ultimate mess the movie is. Almost . . .

RECOMMENDATION: Rent it. I am sure Lucas will bring out yet another "Special Special Edition" one day to wring more bucks out of you. Wait until he has finished the new trilogy . . .



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