'Star Wars' Wins Battle

Finally, an encouraging word about “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.” The New York Times critic Janet Maslin writes, “Stripped of its hype and breathless expectations, (George) Lucas’s first installment offers a happy surprise: it’s up to snuff.” She lauded the movie’s “amazing” special effects and backdrops, which simply weren’t possible in 1977 when the original “Star Wars” premiered. By the way, in case you’ve not heard, “The Phantom Menace” opens today. At a theater near you.

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