Star Wars 2: Attack of the Clones

[This review includes spoilers.]

Obi-Wan: "Why do I get the feeling you're going to be the death of me?"

I have to come down on the side of those who liked it. (Am I a Pollyanna, or what?) What I thought was particularly strong about this movie were (1) the visuals, of course; (2) the careful, accurate way it set up Episode 3, as well as the original trilogy, and (3) little Darth Christensen.

I know that reaction to Hayden Christensen was mixed, but I thought he was near perfect casting. Everyone, but everyone, must have had preconceived notions of what Anakin Skywalker would be like. He had to be talented, arrogant, headstrong, petulant and rebellious, and at the same time dashing, attractive, and compelling enough to be a love interest for Queen Senator Padme Amidala. I think Christensen pulled it off. I mean, really. Compare his performance in this movie to Mark Hamill's in Episode 4. Sorry about that, Mark.

What was wrong with this movie? Well, it could have been a lot more romantic. Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman managed to cope fairly well with the stilted Lucas dialogue while exchanging mildly smoldering looks of near passion, but it didn't satisfy. This was supposed to be a love story. It made the juvenile sniping between Han and Leia look pretty good. And Dooku was an uninteresting villain. Maybe they should have brought in the Emperor a little earlier, instead.

Is this trilogy flawed? Absolutely. After so many years, what could possibly live up to the expectations of the fans? The original trilogy was world famous, after all. But it is all that much better than this? Attack of the Clones is very ... Star Wars-y. It is incredible, and I mean incredible, to look at, and it even gave me a thrill a few times.

I think the biggest problem was that we are watching a trilogy centered around a tremendously evil character as the hero, and it's very difficult to make that work. Plus someone needs to sit George Lucas down and explain to him that he CANNOT WRITE DIALOGUE! Why didn't the man hire his buddy Spielberg to direct, and bring in the writers from Empire?

Bits and pieces:

-- I liked how Lucas finally explained the stormtroopers in the original trilogy. I had no idea they were clones.

-- The chase scene through the city was fun and exciting. Much better than the pod race. (But everything is better than the pod race.) And the big Jedi battle in the arena was exciting, too. More fun than Gungans and droids, for sure. Was this the only time we saw a huge Jedi battle?

-- Anakin's obscene rage when he lost his mother and the brutal way he slaughtered all of the sand people was a good way to give us a glimpse of his future self.

-- Why did they have to put in a negative librarian stereotype? We're not all old ladies with buns, you know. At least she didn't shush him.

-- Yoda didn't look like Yoda in Episode 1 (Dan said he looked stoned in Episode 1). He got a much-needed upgrade. And he got to duel with Dooku. That was fun.

-- Dismemberment is a huge theme in the Star Wars movies. Here, Anakin lost his hand and Shmi's husband his leg. And C3PO lost his head.

-- This time, it was Anakin who said, "I've got a bad feeling about this." He said it in the arena. The arena scene reminded me strongly of the arenas in Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic Mars series. Yeah, Roman, I know.

-- If you're considering a rewatch of the Star Wars movies, you might want to check out J.D. Balthazar's article, How to Watch Star Wars.

The Phantom Menace seems to get worse every time I see it. But Attack of the Clones improves on acquaintance, at least for me. Three out of four stars,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

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