A Jedi shall not know anger. Nor hatred. Nor love.
Star Wars: Episode II-Attack of the Clones is a 2002 space opera film directed by George Lucas, written by George Lucas and Jonathan Hales, produced by Lucasfilm Ltd., and distributed by 20th Century Fox. The film stars Hayden Christiensen and Natalie Portman. The film was nominated for Best Visual Effects, but did not win. This is the fifth film in the Star Wars franchise, the second chronologically. It was preceded by Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace and followed by Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith.
"What if I told you that the Republic was now under the control of a dark lord of the Sith?" -Count Dooku
After a mysterious attack on Senator Padme Amidala concerns the Galactic Republic, the Jedi Order assigns Obi-Wan Kenobi and a grown-up Anakin Skywalker to her protection. As Obi-Wan decides to investigate Padme's would-be assassin, her and Anakin begin to fall in love. Through Obi-Wan's investigation, he discovers a secret army of clones for the Republic. As the Jedi attempt to dig deeper, the Dark Side clouds their vision, giving way to the beginning of the Empire.
Once again, the best thing about this film is easily the score. I don't know how he does it, but every time, John Williams manages to save the bad movies that he composes. The music in this movie is more subtle and more menacing, but also has some uplifting new themes. We get some very quiet notes of the Imperial March in certain scenes that sent chills up my spine. The best thing about Anakin and Padme's romance is their theme song. And every other classic theme that Williams has ever composed for Star Wars is available in Attack of the Clones.
Among other things, Ewan McGregor is good. He manages to be the lone bright spot in a film full of wooden dialogue and emotionless delivery. He does the best that he can with Lucas' awkward, "poetic" writing.
There are also some cool nods to the original trilogy that I caught this time around. Obi-Wan says to Anakin very early in the movie "Why do I get the feeling that you are going to be the death of me?". The line has a fun double meaning. There is also good setup for Revenge of the Sith. We see Palpatine's plan begin to take action, and that helped Revenge of the Sith be the best film in the prequels.
But I hate this movie. It's pretty much a dumpster fire.
Out of all the bad in this film, the worst thing is Hayden Christiensen's portrayal of Anakin Skywalker. He has the single worst performance I have ever seen in a movie. Sure, he's terrible in Revenge of the Sith, but not as bad as he is in this. Every line is said with the same amount of emotion (0%), the same facial expression (blank), and the same intensity (none). He delivers his lines with this quiet and annoying teenage voice that eventually irritates the audience. This dude is supposed to be Darth Vader. But, instead, George Lucas cast a monotonous teenager that isn't intimidating, isn't charming, and isn't likable.
And then there's the dialogue. George Lucas did a bad job with Phantom Menace, but, oh boy, did he figure out how to write worse dialogue in Attack of the Clones. The scenes with Anakin and Padme are horrific. They have the cringiest, most disgusting dialogue ever. Just go and watch this scene: Anakin and Padme on Naboo. It tantalizes you with these horrendous words that are spoken. You will understand if you watch it. That's not the only thing. These characters just don't talk like regular people. They act as though they are in the middle of the worst play that Shakespeare has ever written. It's full of terrible exposition that honestly just feels like the characters blabbing useless info straight to the camera. I don't know why Lucas thought that he was such a master of dialogue. News flash: He's not.
The entire Anakin-Padme romance is just bad. Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman have no chemistry on-screen whatsoever. I actually don't think Natalie Portman is terrible in this film. She's just setup for failure by the script. However, the entire film relies on the audience buying into this relationship, and it just does not work. At all.
Once again, Lucas stuffs all the CGI that he can into this film. Once again, it doesn't hold up. The digital imagery in this movie is even worse, in my opinion, than in Phantom Menace. There are some really terrible green screens and the CGI creatures look like Looney Tunes. Also, there are certain parts when the humans are made digital because of the actions that they have to do, and it looks laughable.
The movie doesn't even have a redeeming lightsaber duel at the end of the film. Because Count Dooku is played by Christopher Lee, who was 80 while filming this movie, the entire fight is very processed and unnatural. The only time that it doesn't look like it's digital is when they do close-ups of Anakin and Dooku swinging their lightsabers in front of their faces in the dark. And I am not a supporter of Yoda with a lightsaber. The flippy-kicks and really fast saber swinging doesn't look convincing, making this lightsaber fight the worst in the Star Wars franchise.
I don't really understand the story of this one. Obviously, there is the Anakin-Padme romance and Obi-Wan's investigation, but there isn't really an overarching plot line until Dooku shows up...which is 3/4 of the way through the film. I don't understand Palpatine's plan to start a war and get emergency powers and get the clone army to take over the galaxy. It is overly complicated and convoluted, which makes it frustrating, because that's one of my positives with Phantom Menace.
Since Dooku doesn't show up until 3/4 into the film, it's just horribly boring. There isn't any forward momentum, so there is no excitement. The film is broken up by action a little bit, but it doesn't keep up a nice, brisk pace. The film is the least exciting and least fun of the franchise, which also contributes to how bad it is.
Lastly, the film really doesn't feel like Star Wars. In the first half hour of the film, we go to a Tokyo-like city with billboards and alleyways full of people. There are bars with video games. There are restaurants with salt and pepper shakers on the counters. There are libraries with computers. We have Jedi schools where Yoda is the teacher. It really takes the high fantasy idea of Star Wars out of the picture by incorporating all this real-world stuff. By doing that, the film loses the audience's interest very early on.
The good thing about Attack of the Clones is that Star Wars cannot get any worse. But it's a pretty rough watch that has almost no redeeming qualities.
I will give it a Moldy rating. Age range is 6+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
"Attack of the Clones"
Fun Factor: 2/10
Directed by George Lucas
Rated PG for sci-fi violence and action, thematic elements
Released on May 16, 2002
2 hours and 22 minutes
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker
Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett
Frank Oz as Yoda
Ian McDiarmid as Sheev Palpatine
Jack Thompson as Cliegg Lars
Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa
Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker
Leeanna Walsman as Zam Wesell