Pop goes 'Star Wars' - in 3-D

Posted: February 10, 2012

You know how Jar-Jar Binks' eyes pop up out of his head?

That was from watching too many 3-D movies back on planet Naboo.

So, be forewarned. George Lucas has done a stereoscopic retrofit of his 1999 prequel, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, and it's being released in theaters Friday.

Arguably the lamest installment in the "long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away" canon, the new 3-D version was not previewed in advance for critics, and really, why should it have been?

The galumphing Gungan Jar-Jar was bad enough in 2-D (the Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern called Mr. Binks a "Rastafarian Stepin Fetchit on platform hooves"), but even the jaunty Jedi Knights played by Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn) can't light-saber their way through the leaden dialogue.

"What if this plan fails, Master?" Obi-Wan says into his iPhone 4S. "We could be stuck here a very long time."

"Well, it's too dangerous to call for help," Qui-Gon responds, seeking better reception outside the Tatooine desert cave where a little slave child dwells. And the little slave child's name is Anakin Skywalker, and he grows up to become . . .

Watch for English subtitles of the Huttese jabber jumping off the screen, watch for the pod-racing tournament to go whooshing at ya, and watch out for young Jack Lloyd's line-readings (he's Anakin "Annie" Skywalker). His words have so much more dimension, nuance, and gravitas when you put those clunky plastic glasses on. Well, maybe if you put the glasses over your ears, they do.

Hard to see, the dark side is.

Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/onmovies.

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