The beloved "Star Wars" saga is back in theaters and better than ever -- in 3-D. Audiences can relive all of their obsessions with George Lucas and his work on the "Star Wars" saga.

No die-hard fans were found carrying light sabers or with their faces painted like Darth Maul, but the theater was well attended with fans eager to once again see the 1999 masterpiece that began the six-part saga. I have never seen a 3-D movie before, so I was interested to see what would happen. The lights dimmed and I put on my special glasses, perhaps a little too excitedly. The well-known theme started to play, followed by the screen reading, "A long time ago in a galaxy far far away ..."

The 3-D version of the film wasn't jumping off the screen right in my face, but it had more of feeling like I was actually in the scene.

In an interview, Lucas, director and creator of the films, said, "I believe very strongly with 3D that I don't like things coming out into the audience ..." and that's exactly what he did with the help of special-effects supervisor John Knoll.

The film itself on the big screen is exactly how it was back in its debut, with only one minor change that I noticed. Everyone's favorite Jedi master Yoda was a bizarre puppet throughout Episodes 4-6. Instead of returning as the little green puppet, Yoda was transformed into a computer-animated version, looking exactly as he does in Episode 3. Just that change alone made the movie look more modern and adjusted to what today's special effects have become. But on the same note, it's a little upsetting to not see the same Yoda that has been since 1977.

Overall, it seems as though everything has been a little retouched. The light sabers are much more illuminated, the starships glide across the stars even faster, and even the battle droids look a little tougher. Queen Amidala's geisha-inspired makeup is brighter. One of the final battle scenes between Darth Maul and Master Qui-Gon Jinn, still brings the same anger and sadness fans felt when they saw it the first time. The 3-D makes the story seem more alive.

Lucas made an amazing decision to bring "Star Wars" back to theaters, and an even better one by transforming them into 3-D. Most may agree that the "Phantom Menace" isn't one of their favorite episodes, but it's the start of the classic saga. Episode I gives is the background to all the stories.

The return of "Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" prepares fans for the other five films in the saga, which also will return to theaters.

May the force be with you.

Ashton Warner is a junior at Frontier High School.


"Star Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom Menace"

Rated PG

4 stars (out of 4)