When Star Wars hit theaters in 1977, it was a jaw-dropping spectacle of game-changing visuals, and when it hit my family’s VCR in 1992, it was still exactly that. Some films’ technical achievements endure through the ages and I have a feeling that, even without George Lucas’ digital face-lifts, the original trilogy’s effects would still look impressive today. Other FX milestones, like say the work of Ray Harryhausen, may not be quite so protected against the kitchification of time, but are still awarded their due reverence in the history of the field.
The Phantom Menace, however, is an interesting case. It’s one of the few films whose impressive technical achievements were in service of a story so bland and characters so one-dimensional (forget 3-D) that the annals of cinema history are unable to separate one from the other. This is unfortunate because, by all rights, the prequel not only boasted some of the most impressive digital effects to date, but also ended up influencing, for better or for worse, how Hollywood has made blockbusters ever since. READ FULL STORY