Technically, I've seen The Phantom Menace, or at least enough of it to claim that I had all these years. I was on a Bolt Bus between Washington D.C. and New York City in the summer of 2005, and it was was one those rare instances when the bus wasn't a crowded sweatbox full of bored interns like myself, but calm and quiet enough to show The Phantom Menace on the overhead TVs. By then I had seen both of the follow-up films, and kind of actually enjoyed Revenge of the Sith when I saw it in theaters a few months earlier, so I was well-versed enough to get the gist of it.

Do I remember anything from this experience? Absolutely not (one of many reasons you should never watch a movie on a bus). So tonight, when I venture to the Union Square Regal with an $18 ticket in hand, will be my first real experience with The Phantom Menace-- and people, I'm expecting greatness. OK, fine, I'm expecting to hate it, but in the curious kind of way, like when all the kids in your neighborhood promise you'll hate brussels sprouts, so of course you've got to find out for yourself. It's not that I haven't wondered enough about The Phantom Menace to want to see this midichlorians mess for myself, but the time never seemed right-- it's not the kind of movie I really want to watch on my own, and God knows none of my friends wanted to subject themselves to it again. As you might know from reading the site, I've got a long list of perfectly great movies I need to catch up with. Why would I bother seeking this one out?

But somebody had to review it for Cinema Blend, and when other movie writer friends had similar assignments, I figured I may as well get on board and join them for the midnight show. I'm not really sure how to prepare for tonight though. Do I attempt to travel back to my 1999 self, a 15-year-old English literature nerd who didn't really care much about Star Wars at all and therefore never saw it in theaters? Does attending a midnight screening of a Star Wars movie require wearing a Star Wars T-shirt-- and if so, where do I get one at such short notice? Do I keep in mind everything I've heard about the movie over the years and try to prove it wrong? And most importantly-- will keeping an open mind help me enjoy The Phantom Menace, or is it a totally lost cause?

Your expertise and advice is welcome in the comments. I'll be recording a video blog immediately after the screening with my moviegoing companions, and tomorrow I'll also be writing our To 3D or not to 3D column about the conversion, since that seems to be the main point of interest for everyone who isn't a newcomer like me. And if time permits, I'll write something a little more personal about the experience of seeing The Phantom Menace for the first time more than a decade after I knew everyone hated it-- and how your advice did or did not help me out.

Vote in the poll, chime in with some comments, and wish me luck!

Do you wish you could see The Phantom Menace for the first time again?

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