Continuing the prequel trilogy is Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones. The Trade Federation has been beaten back, and Padme (Natalie Portman) is now the Senator from Naboo. She’s nearly assassinated when she arrives on Coruscant, so the Jedi Council assigns Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin (Hayden Christensen) to protect her and try to figure out who is behind the attempts on Padme’s life.
Instead of the awkward young boy Anakin, we now have the creepy teenage Anakin. His “smile” was more of a salacious leer. Padme must have had a lobotomy during the ten years since the events in the first film to not see him practically undressing her with his eyes from the moment they first met again. It was creepy. His smile reminded me of the smile Ted Bundy had on his face in some of the file photos before he was executed.
The courtship between Anakin and Padme, if you can call it that, want so quickly it almost gave me whiplash. They acted like scared 14-year-olds, hoping their parents wouldn’t find them playing footsie or rolling around in the grassy fields. It seemed Lucas was trying to make Padme and Anakin into loveable rebels, but they could never seem to manage the loveable part. They just came off as angry kids with very little sense (even though Padme kept spouting things that sounded somewhat wise).
The story was very weak and often difficult to follow from one scene to the next. The pacing was off for most of the film. Rather than flowing steadily and strongly, it felt stilted and choppy. Attack of the Clones could have easily been two films with everything that was happening, and it might have been better that way. It was like Lucas was trying to be tricky and weave together a very complicated story, but what came out was instead a big complicated mess, like mixing all the courses of a multi-dish meal into one giant lightsaber smoothie. This movie was not better than the sum of its parts.
Most of the dialog was stilted and unnatural. People just don’t talk that way. It felt like most of the actors where just reading cold from a teleprompter. Even Jimmy Smits (playing Bail Organa) couldn’t help pull things out of the cold, dark hole this film was in. Jimmy Smits!
The only ones who really sounded natural were Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison). In fact, the most compelling story in Attack of the Clones was that of Jango and Boba Fett. While I’m not a huge fan of heartless bounty hunters, I definitely understand more about Boba Fett.
One of the weirdest parts of the film was Anakin’s slaughter of the Tuscan village. I can understand being grief-stricken when his mother died, but it seemed a bit of overkill for him to kill all the Tuscans. On top of that, Padme didn’t stop the romance even after Anakin admitted to murdering the entire village. I guess some people are just drawn to sociopathic mass murderers.
The music, as is usual for John Williams, was beautiful and stirring. If Attack of the Clones had been as well done, this would have been an amazing experience. The lightsaber fight between Count Dooku and Yoda was well choreographed. It was fun to see Yoda doing something other than looking old and hobbling around.
The costumes were generally very well designed, too, especially some of Padme’s dresses. The Renaissance feel of a couple of them was unmistakable, and they looked very good on Portman. Some of her costumes, though, were really poorly executed and looked horrible on her. Not flattering at all.
In the end, there are only a few redeeming qualities in Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones, but they are so sparse and spread out as to be practically unnoticeable. This is, by far, the weakest Star Wars film. It has very little going for it, and the only people who tend to like are complete-ists (like me). This film was definitely a low point in Lucas’ career.
Release Date: May 16, 2002 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (brief social drinking)
Language: 1 (very few, minor)
Sexuality: 1 (rolling around in the field, Anakin stroking Padme’s bare back)
Violence: 3 (murder, attempted murder, some battle scenes, one beheading, death)