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Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Fox // PG // May 16, 2002
List Price: Unknown

Review by Loren Halek | posted May 19, 2002 | E-mail the Author
The Movie

As I walked out of this movie, a question popped into my head: "Were everyone's expectations for this movie so low because of The Phantom Menace that everyone blindly called this a great movie?" Something tells me the answer to that question is yes. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (AotC) is a good movie, but not nearly as good as it could have been. As I was watching the movie I began to wonder if Lucas was knowingly trying to create AotC in such a way that it would rival Empire Strikes Back in its magnitude and scope. In some ways this movie excels Empire and all the other Star Wars movies, but in other ways it falls far below all of them.

This movie is set 10 years after The Phantom Menace. Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) is now a senator after her term as Queen was completed. She is a major senator that is deciding whether to authorize the Republic to create and put into action an army to go against Darth Sidious. Anakin (Hayden Christensen) is still a Padawan under Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). He seems to not want to follow his master's advice and is already displaying tendencies toward going against the way of the Jedi. An attempt on Padme's life is averted when she first lands on Corusant. Obi-Wan and Anakin are given the job of protecting Padme. Another attempt is done at night and Obi-Wan and Anakin avert it and the first good action sequence begins as they chase the assassin in speeder cars. After this Obi-Wan and Anakin go their separate ways. Obi-Wan goes off to a far off planet and finds out that a clone army is being made on this planet for the Republic. Anakin continues to guard Padme and ends up telling her his true feelings about both her and his place in the Jedi order. This is just the beginning of the movie.

I am a Star Wars fan, but this film rubbed me both the wrong and right way. It rubbed me the wrong way by giving the romance between Anakin and Padme too much weight. The dialogue between them is poor and Hayden Christensen is obviously not in the league of the other actors in this show, including Frank Oz voicing a CGI Yoda. The realization that they come to about their feelings is very rushed in my opinion. Another thing that rubbed me the wrong way was how quickly the Senatorial debates went by in this picture. This is an important choice for the Republic of whether to start up the army or not. Jar Jar, filling in for Padme as Senator for Naboo, makes the biggest, and most costly in the future, decision for the Senate. Jar Jar shows up very little in this movie, which will make every Jar Jar hate happy. For the first hour and a half of this movie things move along very slowly in perception but very quickly in story execution. When the movie is split in two between Anakin and Obi-Wan, one side goes well (the side with Obi-Wan). The other side falls flat (Anakin/Padme). Once the sides come together again, the movie takes off once again to its thrilling conclusion.

I have a problem with deciding if the ending of this movie is good or not. It seems like many things are rushed to completion in the movie to finish up loose ends built up in this movie so that we can concentrate on what is going to happen in Episode III. Lucas was obviously trying to parallel Empire's ending with this ending, but I do not think it reaches that high. This movie could have ended with Yoda's retraction to what Anakin says, but instead all the loose ends are sewn up. If it had ended where I said, it would have perfectly paralleled with Empire. The last part of this movie is obviously a set up for Episode III and for some of the sections of the very end I am very excited, others I am not so excited.

So, you ask, what rubbed me the right way about this film? The Jedi have a larger part in this movie, with Yoda and Mace Windu (Samuel L Jackson) taking center stage at key points in the movie. Ewan McGregor, as Obi-Wan Kenobi, also shines in this film. He has nailed down the late Sir Alec Guiness' treatment of the Obi-Wan character. It is sad to see when Hayden Christensen brings a scene with McGregor down just because he is there. When Obi-Wan is on his own searching for what Darth Sidious is planning are some of the best parts of the movie early on. We are introduced to Jango Fett, father of Boba Fett. He and Obi-Wan have a fight on a planet far away. Although it is a short battle it is quite exciting. Basically any scene that involves the Jedi, the Dark Side characters and Obi-Wan Kenobi is great and the others go from bland to good.

The special effects are great for about 98% of the movie. The 2% are the ones where Anakin is riding a beast both on Naboo and one of the beasts in the coliseum toward the end. It is very obvious that Anakin just does not look right riding the beasts. He seems to be floating in air, very akin to what I talked about in Spider-Man where Peter was jumping from rooftop to rooftop. The effects in AotC easily outdoes any previous Star Wars and Spider-Man. It is hard to believe than many of these effects are not real because they look so real. There does not seem to be as many action scenes in this movie as there was in The Phantom Menace, but what is done here is great. Now I wish to talk about the last 40 minutes. Go straight to the Final Thoughts part if you do not want to read.

Major Spoilers coming

The greatest part of the film is the last 40 minutes. It starts when Anakin, Padme and Obi-Wan are all tied to poles waiting for execution. Three large beasts come in to kill them. Padme gets out of her cuffs and heads to the top of the pole while Anakin and Obi-Wan find their own ways out of their predicament. They stave off both the monsters and the droids, but it starts to get overwhelming. Then Mace Windu shows up behind Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and holds a lightsaber to Jango Fett's head. The hidden Jedi in the coliseum reveal themselves and a full scale battle starts between the Jedi and Count Dooku's droids with Jango Fett. The Jedi are outnumbered and this is when Yoda shows up with the clones from the far away world that Obi-Wan went to earlier in the movie. The clones and Jedi join forces to push back Dooku's army. Dooku gets away in a speeder and Obi-Wan and Anakin follow him. Padme is knocked off of the ship and Anakin wants to go back and get her, but Obi-Wan says duty comes before love. Anakin begrudgingly agrees. Anaking first tries to take Dooku on instead of waiting to do a double attack with Obi-Wan. Anakin is rendered helpless by Dooku's lighting powers. Obi-Wan then takes on Dooku in a lightsaber battle and is taken care of with relative ease by Dooku. Just as Dooku is about to kill Obi-Wan, Anakin stops him and Obi-Wan gives Anakin his lightsaber. Anaking now takes on Dooku with 2 lightsabers, but is easily defeated when Dooku chops Anakin's right arm off.

We then see a shadow coming in the room. It is Yoda slowly walking in with his cane. He drops his cane and tells Dooku that this is the end for him. Dooku and Yoda then do battle with Force powers. Yoda catches Dooku's lightning and sends it back to him in what almost looked like something out of Dragonball Z. Then they do some heavy lifting with objects in the room. Yoda is able to do whatever Dooku does. Dooku then says something along the lines of, "The only way to settle this is with a lightsaber duel". Dooku lights his up and then Yoda moves his robe aside and uses the Force to move his lightsaber into his hand and lights it up. Yoda looks very badass. They then lunge at each other. Yoda is extremely fast and is jumping all around Dooku, doing flips while blocking and attacking. In the end Dooku takes the wimpy way out and knocks a pillar down toward Anakin and Obi-Wan and Yoda has to use his force powers to move the enormous pillar while Dooku gets away. Yoda then picks up his cane as Anakin and Obi-Wan awaken and he slowly walks out of the room again. It is amazing to see Yoda move slowly and then so quickly while fighting.

Final Thoughts: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is both a great and ok movie. Padme's character is really brought down by the bad acting by Anakin. Portman just is not able to extract anything from the rock that is Christensen. Anything that has to do with the Jedi and Count Dooku's forces is the great part of this movie. Maybe they should have honed in on this instead of the romance. I would have no problem with the romance if it had been written better and had a better actor doing Anakin. The Jedi/Count Dooku parts easily outdo The Phantom Menace and the last 40 minutes, outside of the very end, easily outdo anything the Star Wars series has seen. There is, however, another 1 hour and 42 minutes in this movie that moves along slowly for the most part except for a few great action sequences here and there.

I highly recommend this movie for the last 40 minutes. For the rest of the movie outside of other action scenes, this movie could easily be rented. This makes it a straight recommend, which is quite sad. If the same excitement in the end had taken place in the beginning, this episode may have been the best yet. As it is it sits below Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope. I will be getting this movie on DVD, especially for the ending sequence. I wish I could recommend this movie more, but 40 minutes out of 2 hours and 22 minutes does not make a great movie. Read my very first sentence of this review again and think about it. I am sure I might get a lot of mail on this review and I await it.




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