Jar Jar Binks is a terrible character. Let’s get that out of the way first. From the way he talks to his appearance (which, even if we’re speaking just in terms of technical advances, has not aged well) to his ability to suck the life out of any given scene with his “comedy,” he makes it hard to sit through Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace as an adult. So, I use my kids as an excuse.
I recently appeared on a podcast in which much of the discussion centered around the (then) imminent release of Episode I in 3D. Memories of the original release were shared and finally, thirteen years after the fact, I was able to articulate accurately my reaction to seeing the movie for the first time after being, quite literally, a Star Wars fan my entire life (I was born the same year the original Star Wars was released): I didn’t know I was disappointed.
Only those of us who stood in line for six hours for tickets (this was before Fandango) can even begin to understand how it’s possible to be so completely out of touch with your own feelings that you return to the cinema six more times over a six month period to try to figure them out (yes, I did that). Trying to wrap my head around my own disappointment with the film was like trying to comprehend a slow leak when I desperately needed water. I didn’t want to believe what my eyes were seeing because I was so thirsty and the bowl looked full enough that I fooled myself into believing the levels weren’t really going down. But Star Wars was going down. The magic just wasn’t there in the same way anymore.
Did you see that? I didn’t say “the magic wasn’t there.” I said, “the magic wasn’t there in the same way.” Big difference. One my daughter would insist upon. She digs The Phantom Menace. Even though we already own the movie and she’d seen it several times, she wanted to see it again, in 3D.
Blame–and thank–Jar Jar. She thinks he’s hilarious. He says “doo doo” and she laughs. She’s smart–might be smarter than me one day–but she’s 9. This is how she rolls. And can I fault her for that? Of course not. When I was a kid, I coerced my dad into taking me to see the Garbage Pail Kids Movie. I deserve whatever fresh hell my kids can drag me into.
But (and this is between you and me), I didn’t completely dislike Episode One yesterday. It was kind of cool seeing the pod race on the big screen again. And that lightsaber fight at the end? Man, you can’t beat it.
The 3D was well done, I can’t deny that. It didn’t have View Masteritis like the John Carter trailer that ran before it. It looked more like the 3D in the trailer for the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man–slick, rounded and consistent. Time and care was put the conversion and whatever E1 may lack in charm, I can’t deny that it’s a visual splendor and the 3D added to the experience.
Am I blinded by time and age? No, if anything I’m blinded by my kids. Seeing things fresh again through their eyes is one of the great treats of parenthood. They soften my cynicism and my criticisms. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
I’d rather enjoy things than not, on whatever level.