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Movie Column: Oh, Look. It’s “Star Wars” again

What can I say about George Lucas that hasn’t already been screamed at movie screens by angry nerds for the past 15 years?  He’s responsible for some of the most thrilling and spectacular cinematic moments that you remember from your childhood. However, I doubt there’s ever been a person born more completely unable to leave well enough alone than George Lucas.
For the uninitiated, most people believed the original “Star Wars” trilogy was great just the way it is, but starting in the mid-’90s Lucas has felt that he must re-release the original trilogy every few years with a new and completely arbitrary change or 20, his excuse being that he didn’t get to fully realize his “vision” when the movies were originally released.
He also created the prequel trilogy, which, except for Episode III (for the most part), is quite completely horrible. Well it’s been a few years since the prequel trilogy was released, so now it’s time to start re-releasing those as well!  And in 3-D, no less!
“Episode I: The Phantom Menace” was released Friday, and like a good little sheep I went to see it, thus giving more money to the monstrous machinations of Mr. Lucas.
This is my first time seeing “Episode I” in theater, and while I’ve never ever liked the movie, I gained a bit of a new appreciation seeing it on the big screen.
Everything that was wrong with it before is still wrong with it now. Jake Lloyd’s portrayal of Anakin Skywalker was the single most annoying performance from a child in movie history. The acting in general is completely awful, which is quite an accomplishment for a movie starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Samuel L. Jackson. The dreadful “midi-chlorians” are still there. The pod race still goes on forever. The trade federation mumbo jumbo still bores one to tears. Jar Jar Binks still exists.
So, what’s my new appreciation?  Well, taken as a “Star Wars” movie, “Episode I” is terrible, but taken as an over-the-top exercise in surreal weirdness, it delivers in spades. So much of the dialogue, general pacing, set pieces and transitions make so little sense and are so out there that if David Lynch had directed this movie, everyone would have called it a masterpiece. I found myself enjoying the movie much more when watching it this way.
But, aside from the plethora of reasons I just mentioned, why does everyone dislike this movie so much? Probably because it never feels like “Star Wars.” The fight between Darth Maul and the two Jedis is the only part that feels like it has any connection to the original trilogy. The rest is just a dumbed-down toy commercial crossed with video game cutscenes.   
The 3-D isn’t much to write home about either. I was sort of expecting a little more from a “Star Wars” movie in three dimensions, but I found this one to be very lacking. Oh, well, they’ve got five more to go, so maybe it will get better.