Star Wars Is Back In Theaters


The Star Wars saga continues in theaters this weekend as George Lucas rolls out his signature franchise for yet another go around.  We all remember the original series, then the prequel series, the roll out of the director’s cut series of the original series, now, we get the 3D series.  This weekend marks the arrival of the fan panned “Star Wars:  Episode I, The Phantom Menace”.

Now I know, this is a Miami Dolphins web site, what the hell am I doing talking about movies?  Well simply put, it’s a slow news day and I actually just got back from seeing SWEITPM.  In 3D.  So was it worth it?

First and foremost you all likely have seen the movie/s a few hundred times in your life or maybe some of you haven’t seen them at all.  The return of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, played to perfection by Ewan McGregor, and the always spectacular Natalie Portman has not been revamped to save the viewer from a too young Anakin Skywalker or the worst character ever developed in the history of cinema, Jar Jar Binks.  The movie in 3D doesn’t save itself from the movie in 2D.  This is however, still Star Wars.

There are several benefits to seeing this film and each viewer takes something away from it on his or her own.  You will laugh and you will roll your eyes and at times will ask what the hell was Lucas thinking.  Perhaps out of the numbness that has ensued over the years since this first episode of the series arrived, this outing didn’t seem as bad…honestly.

Believe it or not, I really didn’t see the issues with Jar Jar or the boy wonder like I have for several years.  There is a reason of course.  My eight year old son who watched it with me.  That of course brings me to the benefits of returning to the big screen to watch a movie you can simply watch at home.  Bonding, memory, and theatrics.

I was 2 days into my 8th year of life when the original Star Wars debuted in 1977.  Naturally, on opening weekend, my father took myself and my sib’s to see it.  Let’s just say I have been a fan of the series since.  Today, I had the benefit of seeing Episode 1 with my 8 year old son for the first time.  No he hadn’t watched them on DVD oddly enough.  I wasn’t alone.  The theater was crammed with dads and their kids and I wonder how many of them had sat through one of the original films in a movie theater with their fathers.  There were families of middle aged parents and younger couples with younger kids.  It all added up to family fare.

As the 20th Century Fox logo appeared and the unmistakable horns began their tune that same tingle of excitement gripped me.  My son sat next to me munching on popcorn with his 3D glasses fixed over his face.  He tried to read the scrolling words and did a great job of doing so.  It was all over with from there.  He giggled at the antics of Binks…something that Lucas intended all those years ago.  He marveled in the light saber fights and the toot toot tooting of everyone’s favorite droid R2D2.

The 3D effects were nothing compared to Avatar but were so much better than what was presented in Clash of the Titans.   The 3D wasn’t an in your face dimension but provided a nice contrast of depth to the screen.  Some shots were much better than others and at times some shots didn’t work with the conversion.   Camera pans often left the foreground objects slightly blurred  until the camera settled and the objects came into focus.  This was an annoying blur early but quickly faded away as the attention of the details became apparent.

The battle scenes of space were deep and enriched by the added depth that was provided by the 3D.  I read some reports that the 3D did well in the final saber duel although I didn’t find it to be something agreeably special.  It didn’t hurt the fight scene but I wasn’t left amazed.  Instead, I was amazed by, again, the depth of vision that was provided.  At times I felt like I was looking through one of those really really good “ViewMasters” of old.

If you asked me whether or not you should see this movie in 3D I would tell you that should not be the draw to see it.  What should though is that this will likely be the last time you can watch these on the big screen.  It’s also kind of cool to be able to watch them on a cinematic scope from Epi I to Epi VI.  It’s also great to watch this with my son as I stated above, in fact for me it was the highlight although I would have gone without him had he said no.

Star Wars is not a simple motion picture to many fans it’s a universe that we can’t help feel connected to.  From character to character there is something to relate with, something to see part of yourself in or something you wish you were like in some small way.  It’s a fantastical world of fiction that takes you on a journey.   It’s good fun.

Unlike the previous releases, I won’t be speeding back to the theater to see this one again.  I saw Avatar multiple times for the 3D alone but this was and really shouldn’t be about the 3D, it should be about the opportunity to experience it all over again.  Perhaps with your children.  When we got home from the film the neighbor kid ran over to play with my son and immediately my son went on a “Star Wars” rant.

It’s funny, I did the same thing all those years ago.  Perhaps in another 30 or so years from now, my son will be in his early 40’s and some studio exec decides that it’s time to pull the Star Wars legacy out of the crypt and send it back into theaters and my son will take his kid.  Maybe by then, they will have figured out a way to get Jar Jar Binks out of the film, of course, as I said, it wasn’t ‘that’ bad this time around…but I had a laughing 8 year old beside me to put it into perspective.

The downside to all of this?  Lucas plans on putting out the films one each year between now and 2017 which means that by the time Return of the Jedi rolls around my innocent little eight year old will be a 13 year old pre-teen who won’t give a lick about seeing a bunch of furry bear like warriors.  Lucas would have been better off running this off in four to six month increments.

Now back to our normal Miami Dolphins talk.