The phantom menace?

Honestly, "Phantom Menace" is a better title for this 100% rendered flick than that first Star Wars episode. There is probably more history from the video game series, but the movie stands on its own - strange, largely transparent creatures called phantoms have been a plague upon the earth. There are two opposing strategies at work, the high-tech/high-touch scientific approach, and the just-blast-them approach. Guess which side the script is on.

The animation is pretty impressive, simulating many film techniques successfully and showing very realistic human movement and expressions. It doesn't hurt that the story lends itself to this sort of treatment, giving opportunities for showing off advanced technology in the form of screens and overlays, and then with the phantoms themselves, which are most realistic in their unreality. It's not perfect, though. I am particularly aware that the character voiced by Steve Buscemi seems wooden in comparison to his actual presence - his natural speaking voice has a certain intensity and expressiveness that should have been accounted for in the animation.

Judging the acting is an interesting prospect here. Acting is generally about choices, making decisions about what is going on in the mind of a character. Visually, the decisions here are made by the director and animators, disconnected from the actors who are lending their voices to the production. Again, the story doesn't hurt, as an action flick, people don't expect finely nuanced performances. Because of this joint acting job, the choices tend to be a bit on the surface, mostly revealing of character where the script was wanting character to be revealed.

The plot itself doesn't actually suck. It falls within typical known elements in the macho sci-fi realm, not breaking new ground in imagination, but nowhere as bad as most of the other sci-fi dreck out there.

Most people will want to see this for the rendered animation, which certainly is a significant hallmark toward what will be more movies like this in the future. Outside of that, the film is something of a toss-up.

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