Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones

Star Wars Episode IIStarring:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine
Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker
Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks / Achk Med-Beq
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO / Lieutenant Faytonni
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Frank Oz as Yoda
Andy Secombe as Watto
Silas Carson as Ki-Adi-Mundi / Nute Gunray
Oliver Ford Davies as Sio Bibble
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku
Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa
Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett

Summary:
Attack of the Clones is a big improvement over The Phantom Menace. It delivers on action and effects, but a weak romance slows it down. It’s not the best Star Wars movie, but it is still great fun.

Story:
Set 10 years after The Phantom Menace, the Republic is threatened by a separatist movement led by Count Dooku, a former Jedi. However, the Republic has no army to counter this threat. The Jedi are simply outnumbered. Padme Naberrie, now a senator, returns to Coruscant to vote on the creation of a new army. When an assassination attempt on her fails, she comes under the protection of Obi-Wan Kenobi and a now grown up Anakin Skywalker.

Unfortunately, there’s a second attempt made to kill Padme which, of course, fails. It is then decided that Anakin will escort Padme back to Naboo to hide until the plot is uncovered. There, a romance blooms that eventually makes Anakin and Padme question their roles in the universe. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan tries to chase down a clue about who is behind the attempts to kill the Senator. It leads him to the planet Kamino and into the crosshairs of the bounty hunter Jango Fett. There, he discovers a secret clone army being created which become the seeds of the Empire.

Attack of the Clones is rated PG for sustained sequences of sci-fi action/violence.

What Worked:
This is a hard one for me to review. If you know me, then you know I’m a big Star Wars nut. I’m co-creator and co-editor of TheForce.Net, the biggest Star Wars fansite online. So I’m a bit biased. So how do I review this for the casual fan? Well, I’m going to try an review it on two criteria. How does it compare to Episode I and how does it live up to its aspirations to be a summer popcorn flick?

Attack of the Clones is an improvement on Episode I in practically every sense. There are no poop or fart jokes. There’s less Jar Jar (though he does make a brief appearance that is like fingernails on a chalkboard). There’s more Jedi and more action. And, of course, there’s more romance. It has all the elements of the classic trilogy. It is my favorite Star Wars film after The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope.

Attack of the Clones is superior to Episode I visually, too. The effects are a lot cooler. The planets are more impressive, the space battle more intense, and the final battle blows away the big finale in Episode I. This movie puts the “wars” back in Star Wars.

Here are a few highlights that the casual movie fan should look forward to:

- The final battle between Dooku and Yoda is stunning. I never thought that Yoda would look cool in a lightsaber fight, but he was awesome. Take Jackie Chan and speed him up by a factor of 3 and you have Yoda. He drew cheers from the crowd when he showed up for the final confrontation. Christopher Lee was a great bad guy, too. He’s as elegant and stylish as Darth Maul was intimidating and ugly. Lee was fantastic.

- Ewan McGregor was great as Obi-Wan. While he sleep walked through Episode I, he’s infinitely better in this film. Ewan is so much funnier and has a lot more personality. He has good chemistry with Anakin and he handles the battles well. His line to Anakin drew quite a reaction from the audience: “Anakin, why do I get the feeling that you’ll be the death of me?”

- The fight between Jango Fett and Obi-Wan in the rain is awesome. You wanted to see a Mandalorian in action? You got it. It’s a great mixture of hand to hand combat, blasters vs. lightsabers, and more. It’s cool how even young Boba Fett comes into play.

- Another cool scene features a chase through some asteroids between Slave-I and the Jedi Starfighter. There’s an incredible new weapon called the sonic bomb which not only has devastating effects, but has a really cool sound effect sure to blow out your theater’s speakers. The relentless firing of laser bolts from Jango onto Obi-Wan are also some of the most intense of the entire series. Awesome stuff. Boba Fett cheering on his dad while this happens is fun, too. The audience was laughing at just how sadistic this kid was.

- Hayden Christensen was a great choice for Anakin. He’s good looking, handles the action well, and broods with the best of them. He’s a great bridge between young Jake Lloyd and Darth Vader. Hayden plays the tortured soul well. His reunion with his mother is one of the most dramatic moments of the series.

- The final battle is what you’re going to see the movie again for. It was so big and brutal that it was improssible to take it all in. The clone troopers are just awesome. It’s cool to see them taking orders from Yoda and calling him “commander” and such. Their ships and weaponry are amazing. There’s a great scene where they blow a Federation Core Ship out of the sky and the impact sends shockwaves and dust throughout the battlefield. You’re gonna love it.

So, in the big picture, Attack of the Clones is a great success at being a popcorn flick and improving on it’s predecessor. Star Wars fans should be entertained and general audiences should get a kick out of it too.

What Didn’t Work:
As much as I enjoyed this film, it still had its fair share of problems,

The romance between Padme and Anakin has been a much hyped part of this film. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work very well. The dialogue between the two characters is just terrible. I cringed whenever Anakin professed his love for Padme. I also had a hard time believing that Padme could fall in love with this hot-headed fellow in such a short time so that she’d marry him. I never saw a moment where I thought, “They really love each other!”

It’s great to see R2-D2 and C-3PO united, but there was one sequence that just didn’t work. Towards the end of the film Threepio is dismantled. He then goes into a series of panic attacks which are followed up by some bad puns about his situation. They seemed forced (no pun intended) and probably should have been left out.

And as cool as Jango Fett and Obi-Wan’s battle was, the one between him and Mace Windu is rather anti-climactic. It had such promise to be the definitive fight of the movie, but it ended up falling flat. It started out with such promise then ended up being a disappointment.

The effects of this film are just stunning, but there were a few problems. Any time a character rode an animal, it looked really fake. There were a few obvious blue screen moments, too. Lucas should be able to win “Best Animated Film” at the next Oscars.

Finally, John Williams’ music gets the job done, but the highlights are when his old themes are reprised. I wish his new themes were as memorable as his old ones.

So is it worth seeing? Yes. Is it worth seeing twice? Yes. Is it the best Star Wars movie? No, but it is still a fun one. Be sure to check it out.

And remember, Yoda rules.

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