With George Lucas's incessant desire to tweak and alter his Star Wars saga, it was almost inevitable that the movies would receive a 3D makeover. Lucas believes that "moving from 2D to 3D is like the difference between watching a film in black and white and watching a film in colour. It works in black and white but it works better in colour". He can argue that this 3D re-release of The Phantom Menace is his continued search for perfection, but the healthy boost another cinema push will give his bank balance is surely one of the more fortunate side-effects for the bearded auteur.
The opportunity for Star Wars fans to revisit the most disappointing day of their cinema-going lives may not sound like an appetising one, but despite The Phantom Menace's myriad flaws it still possesses the old school Star Wars charm that was missing from its successors Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
Those latter prequels were saddled with excess CGI and excruciating romance between Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman - Episode I strikes a balance between computer wizardry and practical sets, giving it a texture and sense of reality that you don't get from making an entire movie on a green screen.
This swashbuckling, space-travelling derring-do means the film is in line with the Saturday morning serial vibe of the first Star Wars (and its key influences: Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon).
Visually, the film still holds up as an impressive spectacle 13 years on from its original release, although the 3D treatment does little to enhance the big eye candy moments.
Phantom Menace's real fault lies in its characters. The galaxy-trotting team of Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) and Queen Amidala (Portman). There is no devilish rogue in the mould of Han Solo or lovable sidekick like Chewbacca, instead we get a stoic Jedi presence and the irritant that is Jar Jar Binks. They simply aren't as engaging as they need to be.
Nevertheless, Phantom Menace occasionally clicks and provides some exhilarating big screen moments. The extended pod race sequence is a masterclass in sound and fury, cut together expertly with engines roaring and crowds cheering. Lucas, who grew up a petrol head and brought cars to the forefront of his '70s comedy American Graffiti, is in his element here.
Ray Park and Peter Serafinowicz (as body and voice) create a dynamic and vicious villain in the form of horned Sith warrior Darth Maul, too. His final showdown with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, backed by John Williams's epic 'Duel of the Fates', is probably one of the highlights of the prequel trilogy. Strip away the hype and the overwhelming expectations of '99 and The Phantom Menace is not nearly as terrible as you remember it.