If Lucas's brief '70s directorial career saw him regress further into immaturity at each step, it's hardly surprising that after a 22-year gestation his return to the fray should prove both so inanely childish and so thoroughly unskilled, however saturated with state-of-the-art special effects. What you don't expect is just how dramatically drab and impenetrable it proves: right from the opening title scroll, the film grinds its way from nonsensical plot exposition to anti-climactic finale through vast stretches of intergalactic tedium. The space-set pastichess of old-time childhood favourites - war films, underwater adventures, swashbucklers, Harryhausen-modelled Greek myths (McGregor's performance is straight out of a Gerry Anderson cartoon) - are familiar from the earlier films (as is the spiritual mumbo-jumbo), but the absolute dearth of human reference in Lucas's entirely imaginary universe must be almost unprecedented. With much of the action and most of the intrigue taking place off-screen (where are the baddies?), the menace's phantom nature at least seems clear: this is just a crude curtain-raiser of Episode II. Charmless, sexless, passionless and robot-humoured, it's preposterously uninvolving.