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Nerd Shit Special Edition: Phantom Menace 3D

tn_pm3dI went and saw a revival movie at the local cinema, it’s called STAR WARS EPISODE I: DARTH MAUL (formerly The Phantom Menace) 3D. I’m not sure if you guys are familar with that movie from the dvd and blu-ray, but check it out, you’d probly like it. Anyway they have it re-released in theaters in 3D.

The reason I bring it up is because I think this is more proof of the wrong-headedness of modern 3D. Not because it’s 3D, as is the conventional wisdom, but because it’s not 3D enough. This is a special case because obviously it’s not a movie shot in 3D, it’s one of these postconversions that I decided to stop seeing, but (like TITANIC) it’s one that they spent more time and money on and it was done by technicians who seem to give a shit, so I was hoping it would be done well.

mp_pm3dThe results are mixed. There are some parts that look cool. There’s a great shot of the big city planet and some 3D lens flares (fuck you, I like lens flares). It seems like the podrace section, not just the race itself but the people in the audience and everything, looks more 3D than the rest of the movie. I don’t know if they spent more time on it, had a different person doing it, or just had a better attitude at that point in the production, but it’s clearly the best looking part, the most layered.

It’s not like HARRY POTTER PART 7 PART 2 or (from what I’ve heard) CLASH OF THE TITANS – it doesn’t have things that look distractingly wrong or blurry or muddy. It doesn’t detract from the viewing experience. But alot of the time it just doesn’t look very 3D. It looks like the same movie from before.

We might be able to blame this on the limitations of the postconversion technology, but then again I’ve seen the trailer for TITANIC 3D and at least those shots they used in the trailer had way more depth than this does. Apparently it’s possible. So my concern is that they might’ve done this on purpose. Not being very 3D was a deliberate artistic choice.

While the internet celebrates its 15th year of being seriously angry that in the first Star Wars he changed a shot of a puff of smoke to a brief, awkward gun fight, George Lucas is also out there saying stuff about 3D. In a press release for this one he says, ““I don’t like things coming out into the audience. I like everything to be behind the proscenium.” His attitude is apparently shared by many critics who frequently praise 3D movies for not having things protruding towards the audience. What they’re saying is that the industry has spent many years and many hundreds of millions of dollars developing technologies and completely overhauling the entire movie theater industry so that they could bring back the 3D idea that has been done since the ’60s, but it would be in poor taste to use it very much. You can use it in one direction, I guess, but please not in both. That would be too gimmicky.

I can’t remember where I saw it now, but the first review I read of PHANTOM MENACE 3D praised it for its “subtle 3D.” So that was a warning.

See, these filmatists who are pushing 3D as the next step in the evolution of cinema like to compare it to the invention of sound or at least of Dolby Stereo or something like that. I’ll go with stereo. Have you ever heard of a movie being praised for its subtle use of stereo? Do you ever hear people complaining that a stereo movie sounded too much like things were coming out of either the right or left, and should’ve been more like mono? No. That would be stupid.

When they first introduced sound, did they try not to use it much? Just save it for one or two lines of dialogue, because using it throughout the movie would be too in-your-face? I don’t think they did that.

What about color? When color was introduced to movies did they worry that they shouldn’t overdo it? It would be too much of a gimmick if the colors were vivid? No, they went hog wild with that shit and everybody loved it. In fact people still talk fondly about those bright Technicolor movies. It’s only in recent years that filmatists started using digital technology to suck the color out and make it almost black and white.

I guess I’m a broken record on this, but PHANTOM MENACE 3D is a reminder that if you’re gonna use 3D, you should use 3D. Be a man about it. This goes quadruple in this rare case where you’re converting an old classic (Phantom Menace is considered a classic, right? I know it gets mentioned constantly I don’t really pay attention I assume it’s because everybody loves it) from flat to 3D. You can’t tell me that 3D is the reason I should come see this if then when I come see it you tell me you know what man, I didn’t think you wanted it to be very 3D, I was worried you would get upset so I played it down.

I think I might’ve heard something that Lucas does not listen to you when you write on the internet that he should do things now more like he did them a long time ago. Or maybe that was someone else, not sure. But I think an ideal example of 3D done right is in the Disneyland attraction CAPTAIN EO, which was produced by Lucas, directed by his mentor Francis Ford Coppola and co-starring his cousin Hooter and college roommate Major Domo. If I remember right that used the full spectrum of 3D and it was great. Of course it gives the depth into the screen and everything but every once in a while it has a show-offy reach “through the proscenium,” like the part where the character Fuzzball seems to fly out into the audience.

Why is that bad? Why would it be bad in PHANTOM MENACE? In a 3D movie where things often explode toward the camera, why would you not every once in a while want to have a piece of shrapnel or a laser beam shoot out of the screen? As Chewbacca would say, that is highly illogical.

But I had fun going to the movie. It seemed that the half-full theater was made up of people with the same attitude as me: groaning and laughing at it, but also enjoying it. When one of the alien guys had a line that was more of a stereotypical Asian accent than I remembered and I heard a guy behind me chuckle a little it made me start laughing and then seemed to spread across the crowd. A few Jar Jar scenes in I heard a quiet, sincere sounding sigh that set me off laughing too. And there was various scoffing and snickering throughout, disrespectful but not too obnoxious. Then the same people seemed genuinely excited for R2-D2’s brush-your-shoulder-off type strut after rescuing the ship, or the near-fatal pod-crash of “an especially dangerous Dug called Sebulba,” or Obi-Wan’s (SPOILER) cutting (SPOILER) in half (SPOILER) of Darth (SPOILER) Ma(SPOILER)u(SPOILER)l.

It’s kind of like ROADHOUSE or something. I’m not saying it’s as good as ROADHOUSE because obviously that would be ridiculous, that would never happen. But I have kind of a similar type of appreciation for these movies’ combination of headscratching wrongness and genuine quality, and the blurry lines between the two. I mean I’m sorry for what PHANTOM MENACE did to you and everything but I still enjoy watching it every once in a while and that is my right as an American.

two things I never noticed before:

1) Terence “The Limey” Stamp is in this movie a little bit, and I remember reading how he would never do it again because he was so offended that Lucas had him by himself in front of a green screen when he was supposed to be having a conversation with Natalie Portman. What I didn’t notice before was that his first line in that scene is “It’s an honor to finally meet you in person.”

2) At the end of the movie, when Chancellor Phantom Menace lands on Naboo for the funeral/parade, there is some random black guy filling in for Samuel L. Jackson in the background. The Jedi Council people are in the crowd behind the Chancellor but there’s a different bald guy wearing Sam’s robes and everything. Of course when I looked it up I found out that the Star Wars Trekkies are aware of this and there are pictures online, but it’s much more hilariously obvious on the big screen. I find it kind of charming that in a movie so full of digital effects and green screens (and a puppet changed to animation in this version) they didn’t bother to fix a visible mistake like that. (Or maybe it wasn’t a mistake, maybe Mace Windu has decoys like Queen Amidala or Uday Hussein.) Good for you, body double, you got on screen.

I did notice the cameo by Senator E.T., but not Sofia Coppola this time around. I’ve never been sure which one was Keira Knightley, but I guess she’s the queen whenever it’s not Ms. Portman. So I guess I saw her. I don’t know, not to be racist but they all look the same to me.

Anyway, that’s all I got. I might regret bringing it up, but do your worst, fellas.

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91 Responses to “Nerd Shit Special Edition: Phantom Menace 3D”

  1. To respond to some obviously rhetorical questions — Chaplin’s MODERN TIMES features early use of sound in a discriminating way, and THE WIZARD OF OZ is careful about use of color …. But your point is still valid. That’s why you made the questions rhetorical.

    On a separate question, Vern, do you in general go to the movies alone or with other person(s)? I find I in fact prefer to go alone.

  2. I recently watched in on 2 dimensional DVD again and I have to say that I liked it more than ever. I never hated it, but this time it REALLY clicked with me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older now or because I already know what’s gonna happen in the next two movies, but all the political stuff, that the nerds hate so much about the prequels, suddenly came across as pretty engaging to me. How Palpatine influenced some unimportant leaders to invade another planet, just to get Terence Stamp kicked out of his office and replace him, is actually some pretty cool stuff. Sure, it’s not as engaging as THE WEST WING or even GAME OF THRONES, but I think Lucas played this part pretty well for now.

    I still don’t want to see this or any other movie in 3D, because after TR2N and TRANSFORM3RS failed me hard in the wow-3D-is-awesome department, despite being praised as some of the best 3D movies around, I gave up on that gimmick.
    Unless I go to an amusement park. These silly little 15 minutes long eye-poppers always worked very well on me.

  3. I´ve heard from people watching this that they found the movie to be even worse than before. Pretty funny in my opinion.

  4. I’m going when Ep. Four comes out, and I’m taking my boys. Star Wars is all the rage among the four-year-olds my oldest plays with, thanks to Clone Wars and geeky parents like myself who want to share their beloved movies with their kids. I actually wish it were being released in 2D as I am one of those people who gets headaches with prolonged exposure to 3D technology.

  5. I remember that when Liam Neeson was fighting Darth Maul, he kneels amid the forcefields and it was a raw and amazing moment. Was it? Or was I just hard up?

  6. AM – yeah call me when we get to Ep IV.

  7. I’ve never hated any of the prequels. All of them had an initial wow factor that made me enjoy them in the theater (I’m poretty sure I saw all of them twice) so there was no instant backlash for me. The nitpicking and disappointment came on later viewings, but I’m completely over that, too. In the final assessment, I’m with Vern on this one: They’re all filled with almost equal proportions of good shit and incredible dunderheadedness. If it’s a combination that I exalt in a Renny Harlin joint, I can’t really fault Lucas for using it, too.

  8. I never hated them but I was definitely disappointed. I haven’t seen them in years and don’t plan on ever seeing them. I’m good with the first 3 movies. If this thing makes enough bank to get the original trilogy re-released then I’m there for that. But somehow I doubt it. To me it seems like STAR WARS is finally dying in light of all these superhero movies and more LOTR movies.

  9. I do LOVE Lucas’ shitty dialogue in the prequels though. Shit like “Love won’t save you Padme. Only my new powers can do that.” is too fucking hilarious not to see any charm in and is stuff I could never forget. “Hold me like you did by the lake in Naboo”; or the infamous “I hate sand; it’s course, and gets everywhere.” yeah great macking there Casanova. That shit is classic.

    There is a price to pay with going independent. You’re your own boss and get to do shit your way to the fullest. But artistically you suffer cause you surround yourself with nothing but yes men by proxy. That’s what happened to Georgie but hey he’s a billionaire still sticking to doing things his way and made history getting there so I don’t take him for granted.

    All that “raped my childhood” nonsense never sat right with me. The original 3 are always gonna be there. I choose to not see the prequels. If I ever have children I choose to not show them the prequels etc.

    I always have STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and that’s all that matters to me. Even if their picture quality sucks. I personally appreciate the horrible transfers of the original on DVD cause it gives them more of the vibe of the type of grainy looking serials that inspired it.

  10. ah the Phantom Menace, the movie that ruined film nerd culture…

    I briefly considered seeing this just for the novelty of seeing it not in 3D, but in a theater again, but then I remembered, it’s the fucking Phantom Menace

    if I ever get a desire to actually watch it again (which is a fat chance) I’ll just pick up the blu rays

    we’ll see whether or not I’ll even see the original trilogy if they release it in 3D, because honestly I’m happy with the blu rays and don’t really have a desire to see it in 3D, the only temptation in that case is simply seeing STAR WARS in a theater with people again for probably the last time in my life

  11. They still give them on Spike TV all the time you don’t even have to buy them on blu-ray. It’s how I still catch brief glimpses of ATTACK OF THE CLONES & REVENGE OF THE SITH every now and then. I want to see STAR WARS in 3D cause of the whole battle of yavin but at the same time if Lucas’ approach to 3D is the same minimalist shit people say TPM 3D is then I don’t think it would be even worth it.

  12. Mr. Majestyk – the Phantom Menace and Attack of The Clones certainly had an initial wow factor, that’s true, but by the time Revenge of The Sith came out the “gee whiz” factor of the CGI had worn off, it was all so much cartoonish nonsense flying around…

    actually though, I do have to wonder, were nerds as whiny in the past as they are today? or did that really all start with the Stars Wars re-releases and the Phantom Menace?

    it seems to me like the Phantom Menace killed movie nerd culture at the very least, it gave birth to I guess what you could call the “Aint It Cool” culture of nerds where they complain about every little fucking thing

  13. I think nerds were probably always as whiny, it’s just that they didn’t have message boards to whine on way back when. The Phantom Menace just happened to come out around the same time the general populace was getting online.

  14. It’s hard to get too worked up about these movies a decade later. I remember trying to convince myself that The Phantom Menace wasn’t too bad after my first viewing, and then I saw it a second time and realized it was pretty crappy. These films were pretty disappointing, but I don’t really have much energy to yell at George Lucas or anything. Like people have said already, if you’re a fan of the original, then you still have those.

    Oh, and after Whiny Vader went on a diatribe against sand in the second movie, I kept on hoping that at some point he would have to go up against a giant sand monster. That was a big missed opportunity.

  15. Mode 7 – I think that’s pretty much it. I remember when LAST CRUSADE (hey what do you know it’s Lucas related again) came out and my cousin’s friend kept harping about what a betrayal to RAIDERS it was and how it was like a sitcom compared to TEMPLE OF DOOM. All summer this guy kept saying this. Forgetting that we had BATMAN and LETHAL WEAPON 2 and other hot shit holding us down around that same time. This guy was like 10 years older than me so he was like15 at the time which means he falls into the demographic of the modern internet whiner.

  16. Broddie – and I’ve seen modern nerds harp on Last Crusade too, which is fucking bullshit, fuck anyone that says Last Crusade is bad

  17. Any movie that has Sean Connery using seagulls to kill nazis is ok in my book.

  18. Blitzkrieg – I’ve seen all his prequel reviews they were a bit heavy handed and tried too hard with some of the skits but he was dead on with his points in every single one of them.

    It is what it is but the prequels are probably forever going to go down as the greatest missed opportunity of all time and he basically to use a hip hop term “ethered” them. It stung so much that SW nerds still talk about those reviews with serious contempt to this day and they’re a few years old now.

    Think of it like this in the same year that we got a new STAR WARS movie it was just another mediocre movie compared to a non-franchise (at the time) Keanu Reeves movie that ended up being the sci-fi cinema classic we were all looking for. That shit speaks volumes about how much George’s priorities changed. He went from a guy really genuinely caring about telling you a story with real characters (THX 1138, AMERICAN GRAFFITI, STAR WARS) to a guy who’s priority was ONLY the technical shit. Fuck everything else.

    He was so enamored by the innovations he helped finance he didn’t give a fuck about cohesive narrative bla bla bla that was never his goal. These movies were glorified tech demos. Everything in it including the actors are just props. Stock characters take a backseat to making sure a CGI robot rolls around a digital landscape.

    The man couldn’t even critique himself anymore now he was some type of weird demented technical perfectionist in his own mind. A “digital filmmaker” cause “fuck film”. Since it’s his sandbox all you can do is just let the guy play. Complaining about it with everything BUT your dollar will solve nothing and a lot of these SW nerds are some of the biggest suckers of all time cause of that. At the end of the day many of the people bitching about TPM ended up seeing it in 3D this weekend anyway. He will always get your money. Cause “it’s STAR WARS man”; gimme a break. Have some integrity and stand by your convictions or just stfu.

  19. It comes as no surprise that THE PHANTOM MENACE has the worst jedi ever:


  20. Please, never ever link to those fucking Mr Plinkett videos again. They are pretty much the perfect example of what’s wrong with today’s nerd culture.
    Somebody really makes an overlong video for every SW movie, in which he just repeats in the most annoying voice on earth the typical whiny nerd “arguments”, only interrupted through lame attempts at “humor” (“I’m an insane psychopath who hates women, ha ha ha”), and the nerds think that this is “smart and insightful”.
    When I have to think about all those REALLY smart and insightful, or at least damn hilarious people, who struggle to get anybody to watch their videos and read their blogs, while that Plinkett guy becomes a huge internet sensation, I just want get offline forever.

  21. CJ – I have to agree. The only thing more upsetting than how poorly executed the prequels were was much of the nerd backlash. Those Plinkett videos (at least the small section I was able to sit through) and the “Lucas Raped My Childhood” are more incompetent in their execution than any Lucas has put upon the screen. And I don’t mean to say this in order to defend the prequels. I just think a lot of the nerd rage is obnoxious.

  22. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 11th, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Broddie – I see no charm.

    CJ – you can dislike the guy, but he’s hardly “uninsightful”. I think his review is the least uninsightful thing I’ve ever seen. I don’t think it’s possible to be MORE insightful. That’s like having a ton of pure insight strapped to an anvil and dropped from a very high place right onto your head. (Yeah, I agree that that may not necessarily be a good thing.)

    Vern – I gotta give you credit for 1) managing to not include any “old” “Phantom Menace” criticism at all, keeping it all to the 3D stuff; and still make your review absolutely freakin’ hilarious. I loved the spoiler warnings btw.

  23. I think the video i´s pretty funny, but maybe because all that angry and cynical raging among many internet “reviewers” really resonates with me. I am myself a cynical bastard and deep down angry. i just think it´s more fun listenening to someone completely bashing something, than to give praise.
    If they have valid arguments of course…

  24. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 11th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    And RBatty, while I agree with you about the obnoxiousness of how long this movie was “hated on”, I think it got way past the “nerds”. By the end of it, schoolboys who’d never even heard of “Star Wars” before this movie were joining in the clamour. And as pointless, charmless, racist, unrealistic-looking, moronic, flat, unimaginative, unoriginal, incoherent, badly-written, badly-acted and downright unnecessary as the prequels were, I don’t think ANYTHING could deserve as much bile as they got. Except perhaps “Bad Boys 2”.

  25. You’re right. “Phantom Menace” is basically the new “Road House.” I’ve always sincerely liked the film. It has its own aesthetic, its own verve that I enjoy. If Charles Band or Jim Wynorski had directed the exact same film, it’d be hailed as a B masterpiece, like “Mutant Hunt.” Also, it delivers everything the fans wanted. Lightsabers, mostly. It’s not a good film to exploit 3D, though. Most of it is static, people just standing and talking. But I’m not a 3D enthusiast. I don’t care who shot first.

  26. It´s funny that you should mention, Paul about people spitting on the movie whilst having no clue as to why. I think the PHANTOM MENACE-hatred has become a sub-culture in it´s own. It´s really really weird….

  27. Paul: Just repeating everythng that has been said about it during the last 10 years, hardly counts as “insightful”.

    Shoot: I recommend you Max Landis’ video about the death & return of Superman. (It’s pretty much just a re-enactment with lots of “What’s up with that?!?”, but at least it’s seriously funny.)

  28. “There is a price to pay with going independent. You’re your own boss and get to do shit your way to the fullest. But artistically you suffer cause you surround yourself with nothing but yes men by proxy. That’s what happened to Georgie but hey he’s a billionaire still sticking to doing things his way and made history getting there so I don’t take him for granted.”

    Yeah but the same scenario gave us Mel Gibson, who so far has made 3 astoundingly good, deep-reality, total immersion fantasy movies, despite also being a totally wacko demagogue in the same vein as Lucas. To be sure, I get the sense that Lucas’ racism is more a result of a casual ineptitude towards content, whereas Gibson’s an extensively documented sociopath. Yet it couldn’t be clearer to me that Apocalypto is a way better fantasy movie than any of the Star Wars prequels. It loves its subject matter to an extent that seems evidence of a clinically unstable mind*, and this is obviously a more productive frame of mind in which to be a totally insulated auteur free of financial or critical scruples. Sort of proves that if Werner Herzog had been a Bad Person he still would have made awesome movies. Lucas seems to be more of a Boring Person.

    *people say Apocalypto is racist because it says “the Mayans were a bunch of brutal savages!” But obviously in Mel Gibson’s ideology they are the purest, greatest race who has ever lived. It’s like a whole civilization of Jesuses.

  29. The Escapist has this video series called “No Right Answer” where there’s a debate about something pop culture/nerd-related, and they recently did a “This Generation’s Star Wars”, with one side arguing Harry Potter, the other The Lord of the Rings movies. But at the end, someone interjected to say “It’s still Star Wars”, pointing out negative or positive, the prequels and other stuff to spin out of it have gotten so much attention and been so pervasive that yeah, this generation pretty much has made Star Wars its Star Wars. I do feel like it would be best if as a franchise it just fucked off for a few years and then came back with something fresh. Maybe the supposed live action tv show would be good for that, since it would be a bridge between the prequels and originals, and we could focus on some non-Jedi motherfuckers for a change. Time to go back to the rebellion and smugglers and other aspects of the universe.

  30. It just amazes me we are still talking about Star Wars.

    That 4 year olds are still buying Star Wars shiat. That it is still in theatres. That during a superbowl commercial last week they are mocking the cantina scene. That from the Czech Republic to Australia, we see this:


    It’s just amazing, as a cultural phenomenon, to have this lord humungus sized staying power.

    In thousands of years, will they still be talking about this movie like they still talk about the Bible today? What amazing raw cultural, cinematic, memetic power this movie has. It is awesome to contemplate, and be part of the birth of, to witness, this cultural neutron bomb.

  31. “In thousands of years, will they still be talking about this movie like they still talk about the Bible today?”

    honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised, I’m dead serious

    I actually wonder if in the distant future Jedi will be a real Religion and people will think Star Wars actually happened

    I saw a web ad for a “Book of The Sith” thing, if they later come out with a “book of the Jedi” will those literally be treated as holy texts in the distant future?

    also, there will probably be a Religion worshiping Elvis in the distant future too

  32. maybe the idea behind it will be that George Lucas was just a normal guy who got this divine vision from a Galaxy far far away and made movies based on these visions, but they were based on stuff that really happened!

  33. Oh great, imagine a religious war in the post apocalyptic wasteland over the last copy of the original version of the first trilogy. The discovery that Greedo didn’t shoot first, will make the last survivors on earth question everything that they believe in.

  34. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 11th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Griff – there already IS a religion worshipping Elvis.

    There’s also one worshipping Clay Aiken. No joke.

  35. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 11th, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Ok, maybe a LITTLE joke.

    Although I do remember Penn and Teller interviewing a group of women who seemed to regard him as some kind of divine figure.

    Serious about the Elvis worshippers though.

  36. “There’s also one worshipping Clay Aiken. No joke.”

    I confused Clay Aiken with Andrew Dice Clay for a second there and was going to make a “Jesus? I fucked him. OH!” joke.

  37. Hey guys, did you know I can see 3D now? Remember when I used to think I couldn’t see the 3D movies because something was wrong with my eyes? It turned out I was seeing them just fine. I just didn’t know they weren’t USING the 3D. I thought everyone was seeing all this stuff come all the way into the audience like up to the back row of the theater, but they weren’t. Even stuff coming out of the screen maybe made it to the first row, but really only a little past the “proceneum.”

    Nothing wrong with my eyes. I’m seeing it just fine. I’m just completely underwhelmed. I think I liked the depth in PINA and maybe a few scenes of HUGO but I sat through TRANSFORMERS 3D twice and still didn’t know I was actually seeing the 3D effect as intended.

    You guys seen THE PEOPLE VS GEORGE LUCAS? Excellent documentary framing the nerd arguments as relevant historical issues and making a strong case for just let it go already. Vern, love your ironic interpretation of the constant mention of TPM (it must be praise, right?) and how Lucas doesn’t do what internet folks want. Expertly written.

  38. Oh man, Great review Vern. I love how you purposefully add mistakes into reviews of incredibly famous movies like you’re begging for someone to take you to geek court so that you can invoke Poe’s Law as your sole defense. (This would result in a slow clap started by yours truly. [Also, it would start out as an ironic slow clap, but then we’d get really into it and it would turn sincere and I’d be forced to shave my ironic mustache. ((Actually, I already shaved my ironic mustache, I was just being ironic about my irony.))])

  39. Anonimouse – I doubt it’s on very many screens, but apparently they do have it in 2D also. At least that’s what it says on the poster and the ads.

    Fred – What you’re saying makes sense if you’re watching this or some of the Pixar movies that are in 3D, but to me HUGO and TRANSFORMERSES both had noticeably better 3D than most. So if you don’t see a difference I wonder why that is. Or maybe I have super fine tuned 3D sense. Did you ever see any of the Zemeckis mocap movies in 3D? To this day those are the most 3Dified movies I’ve seen. Like going on a Disneyland ride.

  40. You know, I’ve sorta expected for several years for Whitney Houston to keel over from the drugs or something and it finally comes, yet it feels unexpected. It shouldn’t, but it does regardless.


  41. Vern, I noticed HUGO was better, not really TRANSFORMERS. I meant that even stuff that’s supposed to come out of the screen (like Shia flying through the air) was slight. I saw part of POLAR EXPRESS and all of BEOWULF and MARS NEEDS MOMS in 3D.

    I can certainly tell the difference between CLASH OF THE TITANS Viewmastery and AVATAR/HUGO depth. I thought THOR looked flat and CAPTAIN AMERICA was a little more 3D. Unfortunately I did not see PIRANHA 3D where they specifically were throwing things out at the audience.

    The revelation came when a 3D CEO showed me a clip of U2 3D and paused it as Bono reached his hand out towards the audience. It was clearly in front of the screen, but still didn’t reach the first row of seats. So just how close does it get to your face when they poke something out of the screen? I know kids are trying to reach out and grab it, but is it really supposed to be that close?

  42. what does Whitney Houston dying have to do with Star Wars? please put that kind of stuff in the potpourri if you must

    anyway CJ – the whole “Greedo shot first” thing will be the futuristic version of The Davinci Code, so dark the con of man!

    wait a minute, this is actually starting to creep me out a bit, don’t some people (other than Dan Brown) say the Bible was changed over the years? that’s just like the changes made to Star Wars

    holy shit you guys, I think we’ve stumbled upon something here!

    I wonder if there’ll also be a Religion in the future based around the works of Stephen King? (where people believe the Dark Tower is real)

  43. what if every modern nerd hobby spawns it’s own Religion? what if there’s people in the future worshiping comic book superheros? what if there’s the Church of Anime? the Church of D&D?

  44. Just for kicks, to answer some rhetorical questions (and to be clear, all of Vern’s points still stand, I think), lots of critics who review from a technical slant do praise standout use of stereo sound and note when sound hasn’t been properly balanced between audio channels. This comes up a lot particularly in attentive DVD/Blu-ray reviews.

    Pointy-headed critics of the day actually DID frequently complain about color cinematography and the unnatural color palettes of early Technicolor. One of the concerns during the production of the first color feature, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, was that looking at Technicolor for the length of a feature film would damage audience’s eyes!

  45. Griff – because we’re never on topic? Besides you cleaned the mess up, good job.

    I feel like that guy in DAZED & CONFUSED who sociologically figures out how to get into a fight at a party without getting his ass kicked.

    Oh and to try to stay on topic, is Jar Jar Binks a racist chariacture?

  46. What if Keira Knightley had been casted for Padme instead?

  47. So not to be stupid, but did they finally replace puppet Yoda with CGI Yoda?

  48. Also finally, out of curiosity, Vern how much did you pay for that ticket? $10 or 13?

  49. Griff:

    Scientology holds that all space opera scifi is divinely inspired and ‘true.’ So…kinda,

  50. “Scientology holds that all space opera scifi is divinely inspired and ‘true.’”

    ohhhhh man, I forgot about that….

    oh that crazy L Ron!

  51. Any more crazy than Modern Christianity’s adoption of The Divine Comedy as the basis for discussions of Hell?

    I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but *anything* you find crazy about Scientology has a pretty clear parallel within accepted religions. Either it’s all crazy and should be ignored, or it’s all fair game. Holding Scientology to an entirely different standard is unfair and frankly, bigoted.

    Remember, you were raised in a religion that holds sacred the story of a man born of a virgin, died to replace the blood of lambs killed 2000 years earlier and who will one day come back to earth with an army of ghosts/zombies to do battle with an 9-headed, 11-horned dragon for supremacy of the universe. The outcome of this battle, which is preordained, will determine if you spend eternity in a paradise or a pit of fire and the only way to aid in this battle and prove your allegiance to the victor is to send psychic messages to the zombie/ghost’s father, who also created the dragon, and was later betrayed by him, in spite of the fact that he is omnipotent.

    So like, the idea that alien ghosts infect your body with negative energy doesn’t strike me as all that weird.

  52. I for one continue Tawdry’s continuing campaign. But back on topic:

    “So not to be stupid, but did they finally replace puppet Yoda with CGI Yoda?”

    Please tell me this was just a joke. I mean Yoda was puppetted by a guy who was a) fairly beloved and b) dead. Even Lucas wouldn’t, right?

  53. **I for one, continue TO FIND Tawdry’s campaign ______…. some positive adjective goes there. I failed to complete that sentence utterly.

  54. Renfield:

    Thanks for the support in my ________

    However, I’m pretty sure that Yoda was performed by Frank Oz. And while the Stepford Wives redux basically killed his career, I’m pretty sure that he’s still breathing.

  55. Also, good job on locating my campaign. It’s kinda like Waldo sometimes.

  56. I guess I was thinking of Jim Henson?

  57. I continue to find your anti-Catholic Church campaign, uh, cathartic I guess is the best word. That would have been the correct phrasing.

    The Catholic Church is the most powerful organization on the planet.
    1) 1.147 billion people are a member of this organization (2007 data)
    3) It is led by one person
    4) All 1.147 billion of his followers believe what he says is literally the divine word of God.
    5) It is a sovereign nation whose citizenry exists, often in positions of great influence, in a great many other nations around the world, and whom can be called upon to wage all manner of cultural war in The Church’s/The Pope’s favor (which of course is a direct conduit from God and totally not something you have a right to question a Catholic about).

    It’s a sketchy setup if you ask me. President Obama is a fucking joke compared to the power this Pope guy wields.

  58. I have no love of the Church nor religion, but I know for a fact that number 4 on that list is flat out, 100% not true.

  59. I’m not anti-Catholic, per se. I’m just saying, if we’re going to accept some religious stories as reasonable, we can’t arbitrarily draw the line at others when clearly the mainstream versions are more corrupt. I’m using the Catholic Church as an example simply because it is the largest group and the group that I have researched the most thoroughly. I could get into minutia from the Torah to explain this point, but those stories are more obscure to most folks, and thus would be less effective rhetoric.

    Irrational beliefs freak me out. But validating irrational beliefs through open hostility toward other, comparably irrational beliefs is far more odious. More than any issue I may have with religion, I have issue with Jingoism, racism and cultural intolerance. When I see the tone of discussion regarding Scientology, I see echoes of the violent Antisemitism I have experienced. I just want there to be an level playing field in this marketplace of ill-conceived ideas. I’m not being glib or ironic in my defense of Scientology. In fact, if I squint, I can actually see some real wisdom in their practices. But then, I’m also the stick in the mud who takes people to task when they casually use the word, “Gay” to me, “Stupid” or, “Inferior.”

  60. Post Script:

    Actually, the Pope is only infallible when he is speaking directly from the pulpit. He is not infallible all the time, and in fact there is some debate over that concept, which I believe is only about 700 years old. But I’m doing that from memory.

    Also, my above statements aren’t meant to imply that I’m some enlightened Uber Mensch who is beyond any type of bigotry or hate. Lord knows I have no shortage of character foibles.

  61. You see how powerful religion is? This discussion managed to get out of the Potpurri and invade a talk about Star Wars!

  62. It IS off topic so we should stfu. Yet there is the Trinity of Mel Gibson, George Lucas, and The Pope, three powerful autocrats/demagogues and purveyors of fantasy, so it is all connected….

  63. Fred: Well, the modern 3D rarely uses it, but it is possible to create the illusion that something is uncomfortably close to your face. The Tim Burton ALICE IN WONDERLAND had a part with a butterfly, which reminded me of the part I referred to from CAPTAIN EO. Of course it’s not gonna fool you that it’s actually floating over the chair in front of you, but I think it looks cool.

    One recent use of it that was really misjudged was in PIRANHA 3D where the credits were in your face in front of a far away background and it actually did hurt to try to refocus each time a new credit appeared.

    Coincidentally, the remake of MY BLOODY VALENTINE is one of the few modern ones I’ve seen that does alot of Comin’ At Ya. I really respect the number of times the miner found a reason to throw a pick axe. You’re right, PIRANHA 3D did too but it was a postconvert (some asshole tricked Aja into believing that you couldn’t shoot 3D on water – France must not have gotten JAWS 3D) so it didn’t look as good as MBV3D.

    RRA: On the blu-ray and the re-release the PHANTOM MENACE Yoda puppet has been replaced with the CGI one like in ATTACK OF THE CLONES. Kinda silly, they coulda just digitally removed the puffy eyes if they were worried about how obviously high he was. But that new puppet never looked as good as the original one so I don’t mind that they replaced it.

    And I think the ticket prices just went up here ’cause I was told it was $15 by the person who bought the ticket. Unless I was getting scammed.

  64. “And while the Stepford Wives redux basically killed his career”

    oh man, I forgot all about that, Frank Oz directed it? that was a pretty bad movie, I never understood what the point of remaking a horror movie as a comedy was…

  65. There’s real wisdom in every religion Tawdry. I think the only thing that really turns most people off Scientology is their “fair game” policy more than anything else. That type of aggressiveness is pretty intolerable especially when it’s uncalled for. In the end it also makes them look like psycho loons filled with repressed rage who really COULD use psychology to help sort themselves out despite being so against it ala Anne Archer’s son Vs. John Sweeney or Tom Cruise Vs. Matt Lauer.

  66. Holy shit until reading Vern’s post right now I really never realized just how blitzed Yoda DID look in PHANTOM MENACE. To quote a famous dead comedian “I feel like a horse’s patoot.”

  67. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 12th, 2012 at 7:47 am

    “There’s real wisdom in every religion Tawdry.”

    Hmmmmm… you see, to me there are individual members of the Catholic Church who are nice people, but the organization itself is an openly homophobic, sexually-repressive regime that supports the idea that human suffering is good for the “soul” and that human nature can and should be repressed and changed according to their own rigidly-defined moral structure. I fail to see the wisdom there.

    And while I know less about the Mormons (thankfully we don’t have much of that particular breed over here in the UK), pretty much everything I’ve heard has been negative. And I come from a Christian family. I’m not somebody who’s ONLY been exposed to the anti-religious views of atheists. Quite the contrary in fact.

    This is why I agree with the sentiment that while human beings, individually, can be kind, decent, compassionate and intelligent, put a bunch of them together in the right frame of mind and they are capable of the worst kind of delusions and monstrosities.

    Also (to make some belated attempt to get back to topic here) I’ve never seen a 3D film outside of a theme park.

  68. the real question about Religion should be “what does God need with a starship?”

  69. Because they’re cool griff. Because they’re cool.

  70. but couldn’t he just make his own? you know being God and all you’d think he could do anything

    also what’s up with your name, Tawdryhwpburn? are you some sort of impostor?

  71. Paul – Wisdom in the sense that their scriptures (Ie: the bible, the qur’an, the torah) are full of great moral and ethical lessons that could benefit mankind. Then again so are Aesop’s fables and Dr. Seuss books. Not wisdom in the sense that they have a lot of wise and logical members. Religious people do not often practice what their teachings preach.

    Religion by nature also defies logic as it refuses to accept actual scientifically tangible facts as fact. It’s a congregation of mental control used to easily deceive the most naive in man & make a buck off em. Therefore It’d be stupid to think of a lot of those individuals who take those scriptures literally to be anything but illogical.

    It’s ironic really; it could show the best in men when people apply the great lessons in those religious texts into their lives. But also shows how corrupt and naive they could be when they twist the text to fit their warped interpretations or actually believe anything in those books to be literal and not metaphorical. It’s a really funny thing.

  72. I don’t want to paint all religions with a broad stroke. There are obviously some religions that are open to science and change their thinking based on new information. There are also open minded individuals who belong to a more closed minded religious group. That being said, I do think there’s a real danger inherent in a lot of religions that people need to be careful of. Religion creates rigid, absolute certainty that can prevent someone from actually engaging in reasonable thought and discourse. I personally am not a believer, but I do know intelligent well informed people who have a sophisticated, questioning religious beliefs. Unfortunately, I know more people who have backwards, unthinking religious beliefs. I think the latter outcome is more common than the former.

  73. I’ll paint all religions with a broad stroke: They are all basically the same, because people are all basically the same. What’s the substantial difference between the beliefs of Jediism/Christianity/Buddhism? Be a good person, they all say. Oh they disagree about HOW to be a good person? I don’t think so; don’t murder, don’t steal, etc. I mean, the three giant monotheisms that constantly hate each other are EXPLICITLY derived from one another.

  74. Enough… just… enough. I’m burned out on Star Wars.

    I loved the original trilogy, of course, and I enjoyed the prequels. I kind of think The Phantom Menace was the best of them, mostly for reasons nothing to do with the story. I thought the film looked terrific – and it was film, 35mm, which gave it a great textural quality rather than the plastic looking 2 & 3 which were shot on digital cameras that were in their infancy. The FX work was great (love the miniatures), and I thought the final lightsaber fight was awesome. And also, Liam Neeson, solid as ever.

    But no more. I’ve been bombarded with re-releases and video games and cartoons and books and whatever merchandise for decades. I feel the whole franchise has been run down to the ground a long time ago. I can’t just get excited about it all any longer. And since Lucas refuses to releases the original versions in a decent format, I’m not so sure I even give a shit about the films as standalone cinematic works anymore. The magic is gone, and whatever cultural significance the originals had, they’ve been erased by the smear of unnecessary digital shit added to them.

    I’m not going to say the films are for kids, or that I’ve grown up or grown out of them. But I have grown tired of them. And since the 3D doesn’t seem to add even novelty value to it, I’m going to pass. I’m through pouring money into something that doesn’t bring me any enjoyment anymore.

    And thinking about it more, I think I’m done with 3D too. Especially post-conversion crap. The glasses are uncomfortable when worn long, the picture is often dim and falls apart if there’s sudden movement – and all the hassle isn’t really worth the extra depth moments here and there. It’s gimmicky but not necessarily in a way that brings any real value to the presentation.

    I’m much more interested in the frame rate changes than the third dimension. People who have seen footage shot and running at 60 fps as opposed to the normal film 24fps have said it looked unbelievably real. Not necessarily stylistically suitable for every project, but for a film that aims to give you the feel of “being there”, it could look great. Better than 3D does, I think.

  75. Yeah that must look nuts. Every gamer knows there’s a big difference between 24 and 60 fps.

    I still think 120hz televisions look disconcertingly realistic…removes all sense of artifice and makes everything look like a home movie or something.

  76. Aside from the endless alterations George Lucas makes to Star Wars issue, I think the reason many of us interneters were/are frustrated by the lameass portions of Episoders 1-3 is that they seem so glaringly lameass that it wouldn’t take even a padawan Star Wars fan to nix them, let alone cool 70s wunderkind Lucas. It’s so hard to imagine having Jake Lloyd come in and read for Annakin when you had literally a thousand other choices and then casting him. Who else would have named Jar Jar Binks because of their kid (not me, no kids)? Yeah, Lucas probably hadn’t talked to anyone he didn’t employ for twenty years before making these decisions. It’s tough to imagine what kind of headspace you would get into while getting fat sitting around on your ranch surrounded by props from your movies. But me not being able to understand that makes Lucas’s protests/defensiveness/apologetics for the new movies seem lame. And it doesn’t seem like a ridiculous expectation to think that he’d appreciate the fact that it’s not just his genius that produced the newer trilogy, but also his fans long-time support. I think we’d feel a lot better about things if he didn’t so often tell us it’s our fault for not getting that Greedo actually shot first/the movies are just for kids/digital is better than film/we don’t need the original cuts in bluray, etc.
    From this point of view, unlike Vern, the new digitized Yoda does bother me (not that I’ve seen him or probably will, but you know, internet). Yeah, the weirdly gnarly puppet version in the 1999 release didn’t look as good as the first movies, but to me it’s an issue of principle, not aesthetics. Why in the name of sweet jeebus did George Lucas say he had to wait all those years for technology to catch up with his vision to make Episode I, and then now go back and make Episode I MORE DIGITAL EFFECTS-Y than before, unless he was just full of shit, or has at least become more full of shit? Either technology was up to snuff for you in 1999 or it was not, but if it was, you’re changing your mind, and that goes a long way toward not getting us Star Wars people to like you or your new shit very much. Maybe that’s what’s worn a lot of us out. Traditionally, the contract with the movie audience seems to be that you give us your best stuff, and then our part of the deal is experiencing it, enjoying it, evaluating it. But when you take a movie and keep tweeking it, telling us over and over that essentially you didn’t give us your best stuff the first time around (and maybe we’ve already decided that fuck it, we liked the first version the best), we can start feeling insulted. And then when you get hurt that we’re insulted and just decide to blatantly make a few more bucks post-converting your movies to 3D, well, that’s enough to make some of your previously most loyal and exploitable fans move on.
    But there is still hope for Star Wars, I do believe. I don’t think there’s going to be a religion started on it (sure, our big current religions have evolved a lot, but none of them started from something that was originally regarded as entertainment), but since Lucas has recently said something along the lines of, “Since nobody likes it when I make Star Wars movies now, why should I make any more?” And the answer is, he shouldn’t. License that shit out, and have these be the next three Star Wars movies:

    1. Episode 7: Star Trek Wars (directed by J.J. Abrams)
    2. Episode 8: The Dark Side Rises (directed by Christopher Nolan)
    3. Episode 9: Blue Ghost Protocol (directed by Brad Bird)

  77. I don´t remember which one of you weirdos that posted a link to Pinkletts PHANTOM MENACE review.. but iactually haven´t seen any of that stuff on that webzone before , so I´ll guess a thank you is in order…

  78. According to Ender’s Game author Orson Scott Card, Jake Lloyd was in serious consideration for the part of Ender around the same time. Card notes that Lloyd was an accomplished child actor (I can’t remember what he cited to back this up, theater or something? I dunno) and that Lucas also failed to get worthwhile performances out of players such as Neeson and McGregor whose acting chops are well documented. Nonetheless nobody would have swallowed this kid as Ender after this film, as Mr. Card seemed to realize.

  79. Also the going-back-and-tweaking is total bullshit. I really appreciate, for example that Vern left Enter the Void on his 2011 film list; crossed it out to admit his error, but was respectful enough of his own fucking work to let the document stand. That’s what he said at the time, you know, and it’s dishonest to act like he didn’t, or something.

    I mean what if Lucas saw Drive and said “THAT’S what I was missing when I cast that whiny bitch Mark Hamill”, and overdubbed Gosling’s face over the entire original trilogy? This stuff goes beyond artistic credibility or lack thereof. Plus he has made it so difficult to SEE the original, undoctored trilogy. He basically is holding my memories hostage, that commie fuck.

  80. This video has the title Very awkward interview with Jake Lloyd. The title says it all….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEmgio0VV1E

  81. I think that depth–a sense of space going far back beyond the plane the screen seems to be–is more important to good 3D than things seeming to pop out in front of the plane of the screen (and I also think that the plane the screen appears to be is a lot closer to you than where the screen would look to be if you took off your glasses–watching a 3D movie always feels like I’m looking at one of those sci-fi holo-screens that seem to float in midair in front of a person’s face). Case in point: Hugo, which had some of the best 3D I’ve seen, but as I recall there was little to no use of the “things coming out of the screen and smacking you in the face” trick.

  82. Vern, I saw MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D and I remember parts where the axe flew towards camera, but certainly not into my row of seats. That made me think I had the eye problem, because other people were seeing it come closer.

    I didn’t get to see PIRANHA in 3D. That’s an interesting effect. The exec at 3ality told me they would never push something that far out into the screen because it would hurt your eyes.

    I saw ALICE but don’t remember the butterfly specifically. PIRATES 4 actualyl had some swords stick out, but as I said, not past the first row of seats.

    It’s possible some eyes are just more sensitive to that effect. And the 3ality guy did say it changes when you get older. For example, CAPTAIN EO reached right into my face, as did TERMINATOR 2 3D at Universal, but once in my 20s the TERMINATOR show doesn’t really stick out that far anymore. That’s the only controlled experiment of something I saw in my teens and then as an adult.

  83. For a Star Wars review which mentions a Michael Jackson project, this is very appropriate:

  84. You know that I hate to link to my own stuff, because it’s most of the time not worth it and nobody cares anyway, but today I wrote a piece that really pissed me off (Episode 1 related, hence the posting on here) and I would like to hear your opinion about the topic.


  85. Yeah, that AV Club summary of that interview was terrible. I know they always have a snarky tone on there, but I don’t remember seeing a post on there before that seemed that mean and uncalled for. I talked to a couple less prequel-friendly individuals who also were bothered by it. It’s weird because their sarcastic taunting is an example of the people-being-assholes-to-him that they are trying to sarcastically deny.

    Even the generally unreadably smarmy commenters on there seemed sympathetic toward Lloyd, judging from the ones I looked at.

  86. I feel for you Vern. Though I don’t share your interest in 3D (until it works without glasses I won’t be and even then, where’s my fucking holodeck) you are absolutely right that people should be taking advantage of, experimenting and pushing the limits of what is technically possible. When discrete sound (I’d say 5.1 but it’s not that simple a delineation) first hit the sound mixers went wild with separation and panning. Things may have calmed down but seeing what was possible helped figure out what worked.

    As for THE PHANOM MENACE which is a horrible movie, not just a bad STAR WARS film, the reasons can be elaborated in broad terms or the detail of that Red Letter Media guy. However I like to put it more succinctly: in STAR WARS we’re sad that Obi-Wan dies; in THE PHANTOM MENACE we’re sad that Liam Neeson dies. (SPOILER)

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