Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Attack of the Clones picks up ten years after little Ani Skywalker became Obi Wan Kenobi’s padawan learner. The galaxy is on the brink of a civil war. There are still Sith lords on the loose, and star systems are threatening to leave the Republic. After multiple assassination attempts on Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), team Anakin (who’s no longer a baby-faced kid but an angsty nineteen/twenty something year old – played, well, pretty awfully by Hayden Christensen) is on Padme’s detail and Team Obi Wan (Ewan McGregor) leaves to investigate the who and what behind the assassination attempts.
Anything else? Oh yeah. Anakin and Padme fall in love.
While Attack of the Clones is leagues ahead of Phantom Menace in most respects… it still has two issues. Just two – no big deal, right? Wrong. Those two things are sort of, like, central to the entire prequel trilogy. They’re really unfortunate things to mess up on:
Number 1? Yeah. Anakin. I’m not sure who’s more to blame, Christensen or George Lucas. Hayden aside, what kind of character do we have? Some idiot who complains all the freaking time about things like sand and life being super unfair. Unfair? This is coming from a nobody who was literally brought out of the boonies to become an incredible somebody – all out of the goodness of a Jedi master’s heart. Man, I wish he’d shut up. I’ll give him some things, though. I like him all right when he’s with Obi Wan. His recklessness and cocky attitude are fitting and keep Obi in check. I really like their relationship, actually. (“If you spent as much time practicing your saber techniques as you did your wit you would rival Master Yoda as a swordsman.” “I thought I already did.” “Only in your mind, my very young apprentice.”)
Number 2? That freakin’ romance. Natalie Portman’s much better this time around, but I just couldn’t buy their relationship. Zero chemistry. And really, why the heck is she attracted to someone who’s so whiny and unlikeable anyway? Right, I too get turned on by sandpeople slaughterin’ macho men… ? She started out fine with her initial older sister-like disdain for Ani and the I-think-you-should-shut-up-kid look, but the next minute they’re frollicking in the grass. Sheesh, man. It’s all pretty dismissable, except the whole grab-a-quick-kiss-on-a-rhino’s-back thing. Now that really got me laughing. Could you get any cheesier?
With those major bits out of the way let’s get to the good bits.
Love the Jar-Jar shut-down. But did anyone else notice that he was the one who granted Palpatine emergency powers? So he’s responsible for every… nevermind. Limited Jar Jar is good.
This installment is full of “aha!” moments. Such as…
- Jango Fett is a stormtrooper. Sorta. At least, they all look like him. Like father, like son – he too was a bounty hunter.
- With that – stormtroopers used to be good! The clones were on our side in The Clone Wars.
- Owen and Beru get screen time. Owen’s actually Anakin’s step brother through Shmi’s second (first?) marriage. Great choices, they look like their future selves.
- Death star plans? Yessss.
Being the SW nerd that I am, I dig any freaking second on other star systems. Kamino, Coruscant, not s’much Tattooine, Geonosis, and Naboo (I’d live there!) The galaxy-expansion is very exciting. I’m also totally into the political intrigue that went behind the birth of the Empire.
I’m not gonna lie, I get a major adrenaline rush when all those jedi rush out with their lightsabers on Geonosis. It’s the first time there has been more than three lightsabers present at any given time in the franchise, so that was freaking legit. This is the golden age of the jedis – to see them in action is such a thrill. It’s also pretty great to see Mace Windu (Sam’s the man L. Jackson) kick major trash. The Yoda (Frank Oz) battle is pretty sweet too, what a mean green fighting machine. Frankly though, I prefer his throw things at you with eyes closed approach better than lightsaberin’ it up. He flips around so much, you’d think he could just chop his legs off being so small but whatev. Yoda rocks no matter what.
Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) is pretty sweet, though Maul still rocks the ceiling off. My personal favorite aspect of AotC is Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan. What a dog, he’s jumping out of buildings, getting in more bar fights, and talking back to his apprentice. A great character, he is.
The redeeming factors outweigh the major flaws. This is a much better movie than Episode I, but I think it’s weaker regarding the bigger picture. After watching Revenge of the Sith where Hayden isn’t quite so bad, if only he could’ve just been likeable in this one… it would have saved the entire trilogy. If Anakin and Padme had been believable together in this one, Ep. III would make much more sense. It’s the weakest link; it doesn’t tie the two together like it should. Thank goodness for kick-A lightsaber battles. 7/10