It Takes a Special Audience . . .
My mind wandered a lot during the two hours and 23 minutes of the 3D revamp of George Lucas’ “Star Wars Episode One — The Phantom Menace.”For starters, I am not entirely clear as to what “phantom menace” refers to. The menace seemed pretty above-board to me — all these little droid soldier things everywhere, plus the two Trade Federation guys with no noses.And the fellow with the red-and-black face paint job. Not one of these was a phantom.I’d better back up. Liam Neeson is Qui-Gon Jinn, a Jedi knight, which means he can fight his way out of almost anything, utter gnomic pronouncements that everyone believes and dress like a dork at a comic book convention and not get laughed at. His sidekick, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), is along for the ride and has the added advantage that his made-up name sounds almost normal by comparison.So they have to go get these Trade Federation jerks to stop the boycott of Naboo because the Galactic Senate is too busy racing their super senate pod ship things around the Great Hall to do anything useful. But the Federation guys find that because they don’t have noses, they can’t smell a rat. Anyway, they are in the tank for some shadowy evil guy who appears on secret holograms every so often to give orders and threaten. So there’s this whole complicated thing with the Queen (Natalie Portman) and the Gungans and escaping to another planet and finding some spare engine parts and a little kid named Ani who will turn out to be Darth Vader, but we really don’t know that. And lots of meetings and then a version of a demolition derby and some more meetings and space ships and the Gungan army and zip zap powie wowie zowie — in 3D.I might as well just lay this out: This movie is boring, with or without the special glasses.Here are some of the things that crossed my mind as I fidgeted in my seat:• The accent of the no-noses Trade Federation bigshots was an uneasy cross between a yakuza chief in a Japanese gangster flick and the late Ricardo Montalban extolling the virtues of the Chrysler Cordoba.• The Galactic Senate doesn’t use Robert’s Rules of Order. • The trip through the planet Naboo’s core, a dark, wet place filled with dangerous creatures, reminded me of the colonoscopy I have scheduled for next month.• I wish I got paid to write lines such as “Zsa Zsa bunga the booba!”• When the power goes out of the droid army it reminded me of the first week of November around here.What I really want to know is this: Is there no need for guard rails in space? Everywhere you go there are platforms sticking way the hell up in the air for landing your ship on, and not a guard rail in sight.If this flick were shorter and paced better there would be no time to wonder about these things, and that’s the problem. The other problem is getting up to go to the bathroom and forgetting to take off the 3D glasses.If you’re a Star Wars person, or a comic book collector, or captain of the Quidditch team at Nerd State, then you have to go see this and marvel at Jar Jar’s 3D tongue work. And if you have a little boy your parental duty is clear. Otherwise... “Star Wars Episode One — The Phantom Menace” is at The Moviehouse in Millerton and elsewhere. It is rated PG for sci-fi action/violence.