Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones


Not Just Another Clone

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Frank Oz

Director: George Lucas

I’ll admit it.

I’m a Philistine.

I absolutely adored Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

Sure, you can take this with a grain of salt. I also liked The Phantom Menace. Neither am I at all what could be called a sophisticated movie critic or even viewer. There are all sorts of movies I really enjoyed that are widely considered to be flops (chief among them are First Knight and The Man in the Iron Mask). I rarely go see movies, much preferring my theater experiences to be live. So perhaps my expectations are slightly lower than those who attend movies with a greater frequency.

From the moments the music began in Episode II, I felt that tingling sensation associated with excited anticipation. I’d heard so many bad things about this movie that I tried desperately to squelch it, lest I be disappointed. But as the familiar lines of text reeled back across the star-covered background, I flashed back to my youth and to sitting in the movie theater to see the original trilogy for the first time.

I got shivers as I thought about how momentous that movie was in my life-at least as far as movies go. It was what confirmed that I would be a geek, though that term was hardly in use at the time. My husband is fond of saying that there are movies before 1977 and then there is Star Wars. Then everything changes. For segments of my generation, that’s true.

So I’ll admit that the anticipation became rather high. I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed.

I’m In Love

First and foremost, I have to confess that I’ve fallen in love. As we walked out of the theater, I told my husband that it was good that I was in a committed, happy, monogamous relationship with him, because otherwise he’d get thrown over for Natalie Portman. I loved everything about her from the way she looked to her voice to the expressions on her face.

She was gorgeous and her costumes consistently took my breath away. Well, almost consistently. There was the near-BDSM outfit she wore with the high-sleeved gloves and no shoulders that I didn’t care for. The rainbow dress that she wore on her balcony in Naboo while Amidala was talking to Anikin had me drooling. In fact, despite being relatively happy with my body size (I have to survive Michigan winters, after all), it made me want to lose 70-100 pounds so that I could beg a friend to make me a similar costume.

Oh, and her acting was outstanding too.

Give Me More of that Eye Candy

The costumes and Portman were merely the best of a two-pound box full of eye candy. Everywhere you turned in this movie there were more stunning visuals. It certainly gives The Lord of the Rings a run for its money. The landscapes alternated between breathtakingly beautiful and intricately interesting. Naboo is beautiful. The water planet Obi-Wan visits a planet in search of a mercenary who is trying to kill Amidala, gets categorized as intricately interesting. It was a treat each time I got to peek out the window at the turbulent seas.

The ships were also a sight to behold. I enjoyed the different approaches they took to the scientific conundrums of space travel, all without ever bogging us down with complicated, pseudo-scientific explanations. It was there as a treat for the people who wanted to take the time to figure out why things were built the way they were, but no time was taken in explaining them to those who could care less. Most of the ships, though, were sleek, pretty, and impressive.

How About The Dialog?

Erm. Well. It was George Lucas. Do I need to say more?

Perhaps I’ll share the comment made by my husband who is an actor by trade: “You had to feel sorry for the actors. There were no good ways to deliver some of those lines.”

Don’t go for the dialog. I don’t think even Harrison Ford could have made some of those lines work. There is the attempt at flippancy with some of the lines, but they seem awkward and forced in the situations in which they are inserted. Lucas made some pretty weak choices when it came to consistency of character and mood.

Does It Have A Defensible Plot?

Well, sure. Especially if you’re a Star Wars fan already. Does it stand all by itself? Not really. If you’re going to enjoy this movie, you really have to have seen the other four movies. Or at least the original three.

Much of the plot of this movie is tied up in how well the Sith Lord manipulates behind the scenes. (And just in case you haven’t figured out yet who he is, I’ll refrain from spoiling it.) Lucas spreads the irony so heavy it feels like you’re getting rolled over with a tank. It is only ironic, though, if you have seen the original series and have a glimmering of what is to come. Events in this movie are important because of the future significance that they have. The original trilogy makes the events of this movie more compelling and more interesting.

I suppose since I’ve already confessed my newly found obsession with Natalie Portman it won’t surprise you when I tell you I enjoyed the love story between Anikin and Amidala. I’ll grant you it was flawed. If she really wanted to resist his advances, she probably shouldn’t have dressed the way she did, taken him out in front of breathtaking scenery and made sure every moment spent with him was designed to maximize romance. Anikin mostly behaved like a spoiled brat and didn’t really seem capable of the depth of passion that he was mouthing.

Those criticisms aside, it was still entertaining to watch their relationship develop, especially knowing what would become of them later. Perhaps that is where some of the believability gets strained. We know that the restraint in their relationship is doomed to failure. Otherwise there would never be that famous, “I’m your father” line down the road.

The rest of the plot centers on politics. The separatists are threatening the Republic-or so the Republic is led to believe-and some of the Senate believes they need to raise an army. Several assassination attempts threaten Amidala and the Jedi team of Obi Wan and Anikin are assigned to protect her. Along the way, discoveries are made about armies of droids and armies of clones that will represent a turning point in the galaxy’s history.

Another thing that impressed me about the movie was that I had moments where it was hard to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. It becomes difficult to discern when the Jedis are making their fatal mistakes and when they’re fighting on the side that they would want to fight on if all hidden conspiracies were known.

Just Have To Mention A Few More Things

Hayden Christensen (Anikin Skywalker) was definitely not the sword fighter that Ray Park as Darth Maul was in Phantom Menace, but Christensen’s light saber duels were mercifully few. Keep him behind the controls of a ship and he’ll shine much more.

John Williams has lost none of his talent with music and it is easy to see how much he is enjoying mixing the various Star Wars themes to help beat you about the shoulders with the foreshadowing and irony that Lucas has embedded in the show.

Then there are those standard elements that are thrown in as a sop to all the fans. You know, those elements which almost define a Star Wars movie: Jedi mind tricks, frightening flights through obstacle courses, asteroid fields, the druids, and a Cantina-like visit with lots of strange looking aliens.

Overall, I was highly entertained by this movie. Since entertainment is what I look for in a movie, I am satisfied. I’ll even see it again if the opportunity arises. It may not grow to be the classic that the original trilogy was, but for me, it continues the tradition and has me eagerly awaiting Episode III.

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