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"He was a good friend"

  • Jun 10, 2009
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Star Wars was a good friend of mine and I almost lost this friend and never looked back because of this one film.  Star Wars has had a million things said about it, groundbreaking, trendsetting, exciting, fun, whimsical, innovative, landmark, I can go on.

Not one of those aforementioned adjectives comes into play when I think of this movie.

Millions of people flocked to see The Phanom Menace back in 1999 and it was the most hyped THING on the face of the planet.  People were dying for a new Star Wars film since 1983 and it was going to be tough for a film to live up to expectations.  To say people were mixed in what they saw would be an understatement.  Some people thought the over reliance of special effects marred the movie.  Others thought it was catering even MORE to kids then Return of the Jedi did.  Others complained at the racial stereotyping of characters like the maligned Jar Jar Binks and Watto among others.  (Oh, as an aside I didn't catch ANY of the stereotypes when I saw the movie originally.  Now they linger in my subconcious when I see the film.  Thats always good isn't it?)

The film though to me was fun and exciting.  So to me it was at least entertaining and knowing that two more movies would be coming down the pipe made me a happy guy.  Three long years later, we got another film.

Attack of the Clones some fans see as a grand return to Star Wars form with more of the familiar trappings of Star Wars put back in, exciting action scenes and more.   The much talked about all digital format for shooting the movie was a also a big draw for some people.  Its arguabbly more popular then Phantom Menace was to most people but I am in minority here in a big way.  The main reason is because of our lead.

Hayden Christensen had a big role to film as a man who would grow up to be Darth Vader, one of the most evil and famous villians in film history.  For now he's just Anakin Skywalker a man whoes been told via prophecy he will be the most powerful man in the galaxy and still being taught by Obi Wan Kenobi.

Remember my title "He was a good friend" at the top?  Those words spoken so long ago at the start of this francize by Obi Wan?  Well, I don't know about you but when I hear "good friend" I don't think of arrogant, whining and prissy boys who constantly you are at odds with.  These guys have maybe one scene together where they are cordial with each other.  The rest of the movie they bicker, even when Anakin is apart from Obi Wan and vice versa then complain about each other.  Quick, can anyone think of a more offputting lead character for a major francize?  Aren't heroes supposed to be likable and at least a little charismatic and magnetic?  Anakin isn't any of those things.  Sure he's conflicted and confused and thus has some feet of clay but thats only so much.  Not only that but in retrospect watching scenes in the original trilogy of Darth Vader only makes me think that he's now some spoiled kid who got everything he wanted cause he moaned and groaned loud enough, don't belive me, just watch him constantly screw with his deal with Lando in Empire Strikes Back and see if you feel the same way.

Other problems involve Natalie Portman who is Anakins love, Padme.  Portman was the Queen in the previous film but is now a senator for her home planet.  Shes a great actress (and not hard on the eyes either) but you can tell she and Hayden needed some help and neither the script with it's most base lines of love that one can think of or George Lucas can help them out.  Don't get me wrong, I love George Lucas, and find him interesting in interviews but the guy should have handled the technical aspects of the film and handed the drama off to someone else.  The most cliched romantic scenes are all present and accounted for in this film say for a trip to the carnival where Anakin uses his force powers to knock over blue milk bottles to win Padme a stuffed alien.

The story if I can touch on it a little is that 10 years after Phantom Menace, several planets are seceding from the New Republic government and calling themselves the Sepratists.  The Sepratists are committing acts of terrorism and violence against the Republic and the Jedi Order tells Chancellor Palptaine that they will do they're best to keep the peace, but are not soldiers and they're too few of them.  Anakin must protect Padme from attacks and Obi Wan must track down a lead that takess him to the Sepratists hideout.  Not a bad story and I'll admit that as I watched it, it wasn't as disjointed the way Return of the Jedi felt.  (Half the movie feels like it's devoted to Han Solos rescue and the other half about the final attack).

Above when I said Star Wars movies were innovative, I wasn't kidding.  A lot of it has to do with the action scenes and just about all of them are memmorable whether it be the weapons characters are using or the vehicles they are driving, there were things that stuck with you.  No ship designs or weapons I saw got my imagination going and nothing that I saw gave me a lasting impression and looked like things I could have drawn on my notepads back in highschool (a good rule of thumb is, if you could have thought of something better or more creative then what your seeing, its not a good sign.)  With the exception of one action scene in the middle of the movie almost any of the other action I've seen from somewhere else in other movies.  Lets take a look:

Skychase in the Speeder cars is in Fifth Element and Judge Dredd.  JUDGE DREDD PEOPLE!!!

Anakin's sneaking into the camp site to rescue his mom is from The Searchers.

The ending Gladiator scene you could argue is from well, Gladiator or just about any Gladiator movie out there.

How about this, when Obi Wan is being pursed by Jango Fett (daddy to Boba Fett) in an asteroid field, they take a tactic Obi Wan uses straight out of a 60's Star Trek episode!!!  Does Trek ever take from Wars?  Not that I know of.

A factory battle where Anakin and Padme fight off automation toward the end of the film is new, but it wasn't exciting enough to make me care by that point.  The Jedi and Battle Droid  slugfest was better but seeing Jedis getting shot and killed, many of them by those same junky droids that got sliced and diced by the thousands in the previous film doesn't make me think of the Jedis as being all powerful anymore.  Yoda finally whipping out his own lightsaber and becoming a whirling green dirvish of destruction was great but alas, one great scene does not a great movie make.

One minor point.  I don't mind "special effects" movies like this, but when the major battle takes place between the droids and Clonetroopers, I swear I thought I was watching a FPS introduction for the PC, especially when you see a bad Yoda reflection in the Clonetroopers helmet.  All it needed was "Press Esc to skip" at the top of the screen.

The political scenes are back too from the Phantom Menace and are scenes that some really could do without.  I actually thought they were a nice touch to help us see more of how this galaxy works.  They don't last long but give you the feel of how if The original trilogy is a galaxy thats now scraping by, this is what it WAS like before it all collapsed.

So, thats about it.  A Star Wars movie that feels uninspired.  Action was a let down, our lead is a pain and gets so much screen time by the way you REALLY get tired of him,and it's BORING!  All the action is spread out that you have to sit through a lot of melodrama and wooden romance to get whats good, and whats good as I said isn't that great.  Some people have the nerve to say that this movie is BETTER then Return of the Jedi?  Are they diseased?  Jedi has flaws don't get me wrong but it's a first class piece of movie making compared to this.

Please don't leave this review with the feeling that "my childhood was raped" like others might say.  I didn't grow up with Star Wars the same way other people did (I didn't see any of them till I was 12) but to say that I hate this movie for making me almost give up on Star Wars would in fact be true.  Lets put it another way, every big movie series has that one or two movies that are just plain letdowns: Superman has The Quest for Peace, Star Trek has the Final Frontier, Batman has Batman and Robin, James Bond (and this is in dispute) has Moonraker and now Star Wars has Attack of the Clones.  The fact that there is a bad Star Wars movie though is a shame.

There is a bright side though.  Three years afterword, after a little doubt, I was a fan again and like finding that lost number from someone you haven't talked to in a while.  Star Wars and I were friends once more.
Anakin Skywalker with disgust for Obi Wan Obi Wan under Attack by bounty hunter Jango Fett Mace Windu has tracked down the Sepratists The Battle of Geonosis Obi Wan catches up with an old friend Obi Wan and Anakin track down rogue Jedi Dooku

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October 21, 2010
Well done once more
October 21, 2010
My first review is still one of my favorites.
June 11, 2009
Great review, you inspired me to create the Star Wars game.
June 10, 2009
NIce review John! The one thing I will say about Natalie Portman in the Star Wars films is that apparently she didn't really have interest in playing the role. I really liked how you touched on every aspect of Attack of the Clones. I don't really agree with you about the films ripping off from other series and films though, but otherwise a great review. And I to, am a fan of Episode I. If you're up for it, I'd love to see you write a review of The Phantom Menace.  Keep it up John, good work!
June 10, 2009
Wow...Great Review. I agree with so much of what you said. Annakin was such a spoiled child in this film that it was a real downer. It is a shame that for as much as I loved the first three movies, this one fell so short.
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About the reviewer
John Nelson ()
Ranked #5
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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