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Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

2 Ratings: 4.0
A movie directed by George Lucas

In the second installment of the Star Wars series, EPISODE II--ATTACK OF THE CLONES, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is now a teenage Jedi apprentice to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). Together they must protect Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) … see full wiki

Director: George Lucas
Release Date: 2002
MPAA Rating: PG
1 review about Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Episode II: Size Matters Not!

  • May 18, 2005
  • by
Pros: Yoda opens a freakin' 24-pack of whoopa**!

Cons: Hayden Christenson's performance is more wooden than a log cabin.

The Bottom Line: Yes, I re-wrote my original review. If you complain, I'll cut off your fingers with a lightsaber.

I thought it odd at first that Yoda has to use a cane to walk, but during his big fight scene with Count Dooku, he suddenly morphs into the whirling green tornado, literally flying off the walls, throwing himself everywhere, and generally making Dooku’s fight a big pain. You’d think that after all that, he’d keel of a heart attack the second everyone’s backs were turned. But then I was reminded by several people that Yoda has the power of the Force backing him! So while Yoda is arthritic in most situations, he calls on the power of the Force when the time calls for it. Now since Yoda can call on the power of the Force anytime he wants, he wouldn’t have to be a useless, dyslexic old cripple if he didn’t want to be. This makes him very humble, which of course is a Jedi trademaark. In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, we see Yoda strut his stuff in both power and humility, and finally see why this 800-year old, two-foot tall frailty is the Ultimate Jedi Master, and that size truly matters not!

Forgive me for that rant - it’s just that I’m missing two fingers on one of my hands, and Yoda is missing two fingers on both of his hands, so I can’t tell you how much it means to me that he’s the Ultimate Jedi Master. Anyway, the day I walked out of the theater after seeing Attack of the Clones three years ago, I was struggling to come up with the right words to use in my review when I heard a random passerby give a one-line review herself: “That was better than all of them.” I couldn’t help but agree with her. I thought it was better than all of them too, including the almighty Empire Strikes Back. And I’m a die-hard, sold out Star Wars junkie. I’ve earned my reputation on this site by reviewing video games (which I now do mostly for the great site Netjak) because I’ve been addicted to video games since I was six years old. I’ve been addicted to Star Wars since the age of four. Does that tell you how big a role this fantastic movie series has shaped up the character who calls himself the Baron?

Anyway, Attack of the Clones is what The Phantom Menace should have been. While The Phantom Menace was bogged down by its politics, Attack of the Clones has all the great action we’ve come to expect from Star Wars, without the pointless jibber jabber in between. Furthermore, the original trilogy begins to shape up in the expected ways here, the most significant of which is the introduction to the idea that there’s a good side and a bad side to the Force, and that the bad side will maybe, just maybe, take control of the galaxy and commit the heinous crimes and human rights abuses associated with all the really popular empires throughout history. The unmarried teenagers Owen and Beru show up on the farm where they raised Luke and told him lies about his father and Obi-wan Kenobi, we get our first glimpses at the plans of the Death Star, Natalie Portman is really hot and therefore more of a resemblance to the beautiful woman Leia referred to as her mother in Return of the Jedi, we get to see the beginning of the Clone Wars that Obi-wan tells Luke about in the original movies, and, most significantly, we get to see tiny little shreds of an evil side to Anakin Skywalker which indicate that he will become Darth Vader.

The full coming out of Darth Vader doesn’t take place until Episode III, though. For now, we get to deal with a young, brash, arrogant, and whiny Anakin who really WAS too young to begin the training. (You gotta be YOUNG to begin that sort of training. We’re talking even younger than WB young here.) Qui-gon Jinn was right about Obi-wan when he forsaw Obi-wan becoming a great Jedi, though: In the ten years since Qui-gon’s death, Obi-wan has adopted many of the traits of his former mentor and at least TRIED to pass them on to Anakin. Ani is incredibly gifted, and his gifts are being acknowledged by every last Jedi and his mother in the Republic, but all the compliments have done a good job of stroking his ego. He’s aware of how good he is, but he’s too busy thinking with his heart (a Jedi no-no) and his cock (a REALLY, REALLY SERIOUS Jedi no-no). While Ani has done just fine under typical Jedi pressure situations in the last few years - which include falling into a pit of vicious beasts - he’s been having trouble keeping it together lately. He’s recently been having nightmares which feature his mother being in some sort of tight spot, and he still hasn’t let Queen Padme Amidala out of his head. In fact, he’s been thinking about her every day for the last ten years, which proves to be a real bump on his path to true Jedi-dom when he’s assigned to protect her.

While Queen Amidala has managed to increase her ruling status in the last ten years by becoming a Senator (how going from Queen to Senator is an increase in political status is beyond me), she’s still the all-wise, idealistic people power proponent we met on Naboo. But, as with the United States right now, people just don’t seem to care for democracy anymore. Since George W. Bush is still waiting for his Mars plan to come to fruition, the people can’t elect him into office, so they just make do with seceding from the Republic and trying to kill poor Padme. The Republic, fearing for her life, assigns Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to protect her. Eventually, it’s decided that it’s far too risky to keep her on Coruscant, so Obi-wan is asked to play detective on a planet that was erased from the Republic’s memory archives while Anakin gets to accompany Padme to Naboo and pour his heart out to her.

It isn’t long before Anakin’s feelings begin to overwhelm him (I don’t blame the guy), and unfortunately, when his feelings torrent out, we get subjected to just about every played-out love story cliche in the book. There are various scenes of Padme and Anakin romping around in the flower fields of Naboo, which is very appropriate since the delivery of Hayden Christenson, who plays Anakin, is the type that makes you think he would throw on a pink dress at any moment and do just that. While Christenson and Portman are on Naboo failing to generate any romantic chemistry between each other, poor Obi-wan is stuck on a rainy planet looking at the Republic’s new clone army and interrogating bounty hunter Jango Fett, who was hired to kill Padme. After a series of events which would make this review more long-winded and reveaaling than it needs to be, Obi-wan is reunited with Anakin and Padme in a Gladiator-like arena where the three are scheduled to be on the receiving end of death sentences. Being Jedis, they manage to break out even despite the fact that Anakin spends the early parts of the scene making out with and then worrying about Padme. After their last-minute rescue by the Jedi council, the three find themselves in a raging battle between the Separatist droids and the Republic’s new clone army in the most amazingly jaw-dropping climactic battle scene in any movie EVER. A massive battle with soldiers and their land support and air support, imagine a wild combination of the Imperial Land Walker scene from The Empire Strikes Back, the Gungan/Droid epic from The Phantom Menace, and the scene in Braveheart where the Scots first meet the English, and you have an idea. During the scene, Obi and Ani chase Dooku to his base, where they spend an eternity dueling lightsabers until Yoda shows up and kicks some Separatist a**.

I don’t think I spoil anything by saying that Dooku manages to escape, because if he didn’t, the whole saga would have ended right there. While the good guys - who are, at this point, finally designated as the good guys - do manage to carry the day, there is a sour note in the air which is mentioned by Yoda. It kinda sucks after the good, hard, action-packed fight they put up. Before we get to the climax, there’s a very cool air car chase through the mean streets of Coruscant, a fight through a factory in which Anakin narrowly avoids turning into Jedi Chopped Liver, and the Jedi council taking to the arena during the rescue scene, in which we get to see Mace Windu administer some smackies with a purple lightsaber.

Since George Lucas wrote and directed this thing, picking out the stinky French cheese is too easy. Writing. The script is significantly buffed up from The Phantom Menace, but that’s like saying Pretty Woman was a better movie than Runaway Bride: It may be true, but it makes little difference to those who don’t like Julia Roberts. Acting. Lucas still doesn’t get it. While Ewan McGreggor and Natalie Portman are a lot looser and therefore less robotic and more convincing this time, Christenson comes off as a poor man’s version of Leonardo DiCaprio - or, as people like myself who understand acting refer to him, Lardo DiCrapio. (Though I’ll admit, that remark could be mistaken for a compliment in this day, with DiCaprio improving as an actor in every performance.) I see a lot of potential in Christenson, who won a Golden Globe nomination for another movie in 2002. During a scene on Tatooine, Anakin ruthlessly slaughters a group of Tusken Raiders, and he does it with a fury that makes you believe, for the first time in the prequels, that this character has enough pent-up evil to be Darth Vader. Christenson’s facial movements in this scene are marvelous, and his emotion is convincing through most of the movie. It’s the delivery that grates me. I hate to generalize or stereotype, but the kid sounds like he’s gay. Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Mace Windu, is the best actor in the movie by far, but his role still isn’t a stretch for him. He’s playing his favorite kind of role: bada** muthaf***a.

For all the trouble Lucas has with scripts and actors, however, he still knows his way around the special effects lab. Yoda is digitized now, and every pearl of wisdom he dispenses is accompanied by a raised eyebrow or some other insignificant facial expression. Jar-jar, of course, was the first digital character brought to life through a real actor, and he has a ten-minute performance in Attack of the Clones. (Thankfully!) The views from Naboo and Coruscant remain as awesome as ever, and Lucas spared no expense in showing us how to make a good action sequence out of special effects. The battle scenes are flooded with them, and at one point he re-creates the asteroid field scene from The Empire Strikes Back using colorful bombs that send shock waves shooting across a circumfrence.

Attack of the Clones is, in short, superior to The Phantom Menace in every way, shape, and form. It’s even superior to the original trilogy, and those movies are all classics! It’s worth it to sit through Attack of the Clones to bring yyourself up to speed for the third Episode. If this is a preview of Episode III, then it should be everything we want it to be and more.


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