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Star Wars - Episode II, Attack of the Clones

Action & Adventure and Science Fiction & Fantasy movie directed by George Lucas

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Neither Great nor Terrible

  • Oct 11, 2003
  • by
To me, "Attack of the Clones" was neither Great nor Terrible. I went expecting some pretty lights, some good fight scenes, and basically dumb, fun entertainment. Though the movie has definite flaws, I was not disappointed.

There, now you don't need to read the rest of this. I suppose I might go into at least a little more detail. Let's start with where the movie went wrong.

The dialogue is bad. Not just regular-bad, either. This dialogue is Vogon poetry-bad - painfully bad, of the sort that could be considered a form of torture were it not that we saw the film voluntarily. Attempts at humor fell flat with a wet thud, with the exception of one line - Yoda gets the only truly funny line in the film. Lucas needs to either stop writing dialogue, or stop trying to direct actors in speaking dialogue. Probably both. He's not especially good at either.

The plot is contrived to the point of absurdity. Suspension of disbelief is fine, and I'm pretty good at it... but Lucas seems to want us to set aside all sense and reason along with disbelief. Sorry, doesn't work that way. I can suspend my disbelief until Kingdom Come if it makes sense... this stuff just didn't.

The John Williams score deserves special notice... because it is one of his worst ever. I don't know what he was thinking here (or what Lucas was thinking in making the music pretty much omnipresent), but I've never heard music for a film with a good-sized budget that was so inappropriately-used, and so flat-out bad. Cues that represented characters in the wrong places, themes used in places where they really shouldn't be, music in scenes where there should be none, and (rarely) no music in scenes that should have had it. Williams' scores from the previous year ("Harry Potter" and "A.I.") were just sort of dull, while his music for the more recent "Catch Me If You Can" was some of the best of his career. The score for "Attack of the Clones," however, can only be considered annoying.

Lucas' dependence upon digital effects is one of his new weaknesses as a filmmaker. Making Yoda fully-digitized was probably the biggest mistake, making the water on the cloners' planet all-digital was another. Neither came off well. Yoda, frankly, looked more convincingly lifelike as a puppet. Making him all-digital, all the time just sucked the life right out of him. Lucas and his special effects team could learn a few lessons from Peter Jackson and the "Lord of the Rings" crew... they used digital only when it was the best solution, and even then it was generally used only in combination with several other techniques.

And yet, there are many entertaining aspects of "Attack of the Clones" that mostly balance out its deficiencies.

The battle scenes are pretty much universally good. Sound design (with the exception of the score) was stunning, with new ship sounds and creature sounds that really worked. The sounds of the seismic charges in the asteroid field (if one ignores the fact that there should be no sound in space) were especially cool.

Some reviewers complained about a lull in the middle of the film, but I disagree. I can see where they are coming from, as I too could have done without Amidala and Anakin's picnic scene that just wound up stuck in the middle, but overall I felt that it actually had a pretty good balance of action and dialogue throughout, even though the dialogue was horrid. One of my favorite scenes, which nobody seems to talk about much, was the chase between Jango Fett and Obi-Wan in the asteroid field, a thrilling ride in any estimation, I should think.

The real payoffs are at the end of the film, though. Mace Windu's battle with Jango Fett was short, but perhaps the best-choreographed in the film. It's what a real Jedi should be able to do. Nice to see Samuel Jackson kick some butt, the way he's supposed to. And of course, the battle between Yoda and Tyrannus... a fight I've been waiting to see (in some form or another) for four films, since I first saw Yoda. I always suspected he could kick it, too, and I was not disappointed. His "Force" duel with Tyrannus was a nice buildup, the lightsaber duel afterwards simply rocked.

Then Lucas goes and almost ruins that, too, by making Yoda do something really stupid. A lame ending to an otherwise excellent fight scene. Making a "wise" character do something stupid like that is yet another plot contrivance, one of many. But the scene was still fun... just not believeable or consistent.

So, if you see "Attack of the Clones" expecting a plausible plot, consistency, good dialogue, well-rounded characters, or meaningful themes, you'll probably be disappointed. If you see it, however, expecting pretty lights, big noisy battles, new worlds, and basically a dumb but fun entertainment, then it's actually a pretty decent movie.

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More Star Wars - Episode II, Attack... reviews
review by . January 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
In terms of acting, plot, dialogue, and special effects, Attack of the Clones is light years beyond The Phantom Menace. Much of the movie focuses on the mystery of the clone army. It ends with a spectacular battle scene - still one of the best sci-fi battles out there.    I like a lot about Attack of the Clones, but at the end of the day it just seems like the plot still needed to be worked out. There is a whole mystery about who built the clone army, but this is never fully …
review by . May 19, 2005
This film still lacks the wit and style that came naturally to the original trilogy. Much like the first film, I feel that the actions of many of the characters were forced on the audience in an attempt to create some sort of likeable character. In "Menace," we were force-fed Darth Maul in order to make him like Boba Fett. In other words, Boba Fett had a small part in the original trilogy, but people attached themselves to the character. Maul failed to do this in "Menace." In "Clones," we are given …
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Rich Stoehr ()
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I often hide behind a pithy Douglas Adams quote or maybe some song lyrics. I guess it makes sense that much of what I share is reviews of things I like (or don't).      People … more
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IfThe Phantom Menacewas the setup, thenAttack of the Clonesis the plot-progressing payoff, and devotedStar Warsfans are sure to be enthralled. Ten years afterEpisode I, Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), now a senator, resists the creation of a Republic Army to combat an evil separatist movement. The brooding Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is resentful of his stern Jedi mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), tormented by personal loss, and showing his emerging "dark side" while protecting his new love, Amidala, from would-be assassins. Youthful romance and solemn portent foreshadow the events of the originalStar Warsas Count Dooku (a.k.a. Darth Tyranus, played by Christopher Lee) forges an alliance with the Dark Lord of the Sith, while lavish set pieces showcase George Lucas's supreme command of all-digital filmmaking. All of this makesEpisode IIa technological milestone, savaged by some critics as a bloated, storyless spectacle, but still qualifying as a fan-approved precursor to the pivotal events ofEpisode III.--Jeff Shannon
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Director: George Lucas
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Fantasy
Screen Writer: George Lucas, Jonathan Hales
DVD Release Date: March 22, 2005
Runtime: 142 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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