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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) from a militant group of political activists that is trying to assassinate her. This group is led by the evil Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). Among other troubles, Anakin faces some hard choices as he begins to fall for Padme, knowing this love is forbidden by the Jedi knights' creed. In addition, Anakin begins to show his rebellious attraction to the dark side--which will eventually conquer him, when he becomes the future Darth Vader. The story is set 10 years after STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE, and there are appearances by some of PHANTOM's characters, including Jar Jar Binks. CLONES also brings back familiar faces from the original STAR WARS: the lovable droids R2D2 and C3PO, and Yoda, who plays a key role in this film.
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For a title that includes the term “attack” there seems to be a repeat of the problems of Phantom Menace in this film. The lack of action and the continued overstylized CGI that possesses every frame. This was supposed to be, in a fans mind, where things got good. And when I say “good” I mean, “bad” for just about everyone in the story. We got the setup in Phantom Menace, everybody knows everybody and things are set in motion. The sad part about this film, is that instead of trying to follow through on those setups, the film attempts to vicariously channel the romance aspect of Empire Strikes Back without including the darker elements. Sure, there’s a slaughtering of the sand people and the not so subtle of Count Dooku, but I mean, the rest of the time it’s just Hayden and Portman giggling in the gardens and using the force to pass the dinner salt. Meanwhile Obi-wan takes a space vacation and runs into the Boba-fett wannabe dad while Yoda and Windu sit around the temple watching Palpatine run amok constantly saying “this is gonna be bad” and not doing anything to stop it. There ya have it. There’s the movie. The problem, again, is basically Lucas’ mindset of “we have to save all the good stuff for the next one.” And that’s basically explains the reason for this movie. Filler.
Granted, it takes a step in the right direction after Menace and there’s no repeat fish chase scenes, but overall, this is a Star Wars movie for teen girls. And there’s nothing wrong with that….well, except the core audience of this film don’t talk to members of that gender unless they’re members of the 501st. I do enjoy seeing Anakin and Padme falling in love, but I don’t need it dragged out for 2 hours. The romance aspect is just “there.” It doesn’t ever “build.” That’s my problem with it. The mystery aspects involving the clones and Obi-wan isn’t so much a mystery given what we know from the original films so maybe this movie will play different to my kids one day if I decide to have them watch them in order for Lucas and not release. Speaking of which, I think one day I’ll hold an experiment and have one son watch them in Lucas order and the other son watch them in release order and then watch them duke it out. Who knows how that could end haha.
Now, here’s where people are going to raise an eyebrow. I don’t think Hayden Christianson is a bad actor. I honestly don’t. Go see Shattered Glass if you have a chance. The dude can act. I don’t know what happened to him in these movies.Wait, on second thought. Yes I do. But I’ll explain his acting problems when you read the Revenge of the Sith review. Because until I saw something with that I thought he sucked just like the rest of the world.
The rest of the returning cast do the same old song and dance. Jackson is more characterized in this film as being the strict badass so he works a lot better in this film and if Ewan McGregor was channeling Alec Guiness every night, I wouldn’t be surprised. He works very well, even down to the subtleties of Guiness’ acting and speech. Very impeccable work. The only weak link, in my honest opinion is Christopher Lee. Yes, I know he’s a famous cult actor and one that fits this genre….well…kinda. Nevertheless, I never felt any life in his character. Never despised him like I do all of the Star Wars villains. I still think if Darth Maul had survived Menace and carried on until the third film in the same spot as Lee that it would have been a hell of a lot more interesting. Not only for us as an audience who see Maul as a mysterious and intriguing character, but also as a personal emotional arc on seeing how Obi-wan dealt with the theme of revenge as opposed to Anakin. But that’s just me.
Here ya go Mr. Lucas, let’s try this for a second time…don’t drop the ……..ball. Damn it George what did I tell you? As with the past of George Lucas famous directing shouts (“Faster and more intense.”) I have came up with his new ones all my own. For Menace it was “slower and more subdued.” For Clones? I’m going to make a guess and say it was “not too much, save it for the next one.”
Again – beautiful when not dealing with the CGI explosion love fest taking place.
Same as Phantom Menace, the problem here being that Lucas now using a digital high def 24p camera has a lot more ability to manipulate things with a computer so there’s a whole heck of a lot less production design and more CGI. And this, as a loyal student to the old school, makes me sad.
Much better off this time around. While I felt Phantom Menace moved too slow, this film still carries a nice pace. Like I said, most of this film just comes off as filler in the end, but it still keeps you hooked for the majority of the film.
John Williams makes moves. More movements towards the original score so the audience “gets it”. Granted, I’m pretty sure it was easy to tell the Clone Troopers would become storm troopers, but the music really gets you excited about it all, even if it’s just for the last 30 seconds of the film.
Too much of the same old song and dance. Sorry, the film comes off being a little too altruistic in the CGI sense. It’s almost as if the aesthetic is the only selling point of the film, and even at that, it chokes the story most of the time. Massively hinders the suspension of disbelief. There in lies one of the problems. Yes, we’ve made massive strides in CGI realism, but it’s not there yet. I can still tell when something’s fake, even in something these days like District 9.
Filler. I honestly think you could skip this movie, go straight to the third one and really only miss a beat or two. Nothing that a friend couldn’t explain in a sentence. The filler doesn’t really do much to justify or explain the details, oddly enough something we got too much of in Menace, to make it worthy of repeat viewing. The film is a let down mainly because this is the one we expected to see the rise of Darth Vader and then the next film to be full force Vader badassery. Hunting Jedi, taking over the galaxy. But no.
Flowers. Giggles. Clones and Wannabe’s. And a lot of “I have a bad feeling about this.”