There have certainly been eagerly awaited big-budget blockbusters that turned out to be as bad as “The Phantom Menace,” the first installment in the new “Star Wars” trilogy. But it’s hard to think of one that’s more perverse. George Lucas has always been a clunky, pedestrian filmmaker (just look at “Star Wars”), so it’s no surprise that his return to the director’s chair would follow suit. But who would have guessed that “The Phantom Menace” would be so incoherent, so completely bereft of a grand adventure’s surging thrills?
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