on March 11, 2004
A film by George Lucas
"Attack of the Clones" takes place ten years after the events of "The Phantom Menace". Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is an Apprentice in the Jedi order and is studying under Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). When Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) from Naboo barely survives an assassination attempt, Kenobi and Skywalker are assigned by the Jedi Council to protect her and eventually to look into who is trying to have her killed. This sets the events of the film into motion.
Senator Amidala intended on speaking out against the Republic raising an army. There has been unrest in the Republic and thousands of star systems have already left the Republic and have formed an Alliance under a former Jedi named Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). The army would be to help the Jedi keep the peace in the galaxy, but many do not feel it is the role of the Republic to have a standing army. I do not give this background information to bore, but rather because this is the set-up that the movie is presenting us with.
Anakin and Obi-Wan are able to track a subsequent attempt on Padme's life to a bounty hunter. Obi-Wan follows the trail of the bounty hunter to a planet where he discovers there is a clone army being created, apparently at the orders of a Jedi ten years ago. He also meets the bounty hunter who is being used as the stock for the clones: Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison). Kenobi believes that Fett is also the Bounty Hunter who was trying to kill Padme Amidala. We also get to see the child: Boba Fett.
While Obi-Wan is investigating the bounty hunter and now the clones, Anakin has been instructed to return Padme to Naboo for safety reasons. It is during this trip that romance blossoms. There is a courtship, intense on Anakin's part, and our knowledge of the original trilogy tells us how it is going to end.
This movie serves to set up several important points in the Star Wars universe. We see the relationship between Anakin and Padme which will eventually provide us with Luke and Leia. We see Anakin begin his descent into the Dark Side and also have him start to become as much machine as human (as Vader is in the Original Trilogy), and we also see how Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) gains so much power as well as the clone army, which is the precursor to the Imperial Stormtroopers.
Is this movie perfect? By no means. Much of the dialogue feels stilted and awkward, and I can only imagine how difficult it is to act against a blue screen because the creatures will only be digitally added later. Still, this was an enjoyable movie with excellent effects and more of a feel of "Star Wars". Besides, there is a certain sense of justice in Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) being indirectly responsible for the rise of the Empire. This is a science fiction "Star Wars" movie. We're not going to get classic cinema, but we will get a fun trip to the movies.
on June 25, 2002
I have studied Wagner operas for many years, I was fascinated about his mythological plots. Wagner's operas made me get interested in mythical and symbolic ways of expression in recent times (XIXth and XXth century is what I mean), for example, fantastic literature, or, in our times, sci-fi movies.
When thinking in symbolism many of us tend to think in sophisticated poetry, but the real symbolic stuff is to be understood by a majority of people. What is more, real mythical/symbolic art has always been the most spectacular form of art in any time. The impact on the public that the description of battles and heros had in Homer's Illiad, the chorus in greek tragedy, or the music in Wagner dramas, is achieved in Lucas films by digital means (and music also).
I've been a fan of Star Wars since I was a child. When I grew older I became conscious about it symbolic structure, very similar in some respects to that of 'Parsifal' by Wagner. There are many important correspondences between these two plots (Jedi knights/Grail knights, Darth Vader/Klingsor, Luke/Parsifal...), the main difference being that 'Parsifal' is more sexually oriented. Anyway, there is a strong political layer in both of them.
I enjoyed very much the first trilogy, but found a little childish, more like a tale than like a myth. It lacked the dialectical element, good and evil were clearly defined, there was no internal fight.
I have no space to justify mi opinions here, but I can say that in this film I've found a real dialectical, political and adult substrate, I've found a real tragic figure in the person of Anakin, and I've found the dark counterpart of the wagnerian 'Mittleid' (which is quoted in both Episode I and II, for my delight!) in the 'fear'.
Episode II projects its gloomy ligth to all the cicle, that gets now a completly different meaning (and seems even more onesided by comparison). Episode II is also more sensitive to every plot's nuance than its predecessors. In Episode IV a planet was banged and everyone seemed to forget the tragedy in one minute. Here, almost every detail is full of meaning and emotion; when Obi goes to ask Yoda about the missing planet, he does not just go to his 'office', he finds him teaching the children...; now that I have seen the relation that Obi had with Anakin as a teacher, I want to see a more subtle and nuanced duel between them in Episode IV (and more state-of-the-art clothes for Darth Vader, please).
Episode IV has shocked me in I way I couldn't expect. I'm still wondering about what was the reason of it, and I think that I see in the film some kind of premonition of the downfall of our own civilization, a downfall that has to do mainly with ethics. What I mean is: How does humankind behave when pressed by necessity (anothe wagnerian cliché)? Doesn't it turn right to the dark side? What do we do when we feel menaced by those who live in starvation? What should it happen if petrol became extinct? (I'm not sure to have found the right words, please make an effort to understand my horrible English).
I'm anxious (and frightened) to watch Episode III.
on November 28, 2002
Attack of the Clones gets off to a slow, albeit needed start. In other words, for an Action/Fantasy movie, "Clones" had to have a basis to bring you up to speed from the first movie to this one. The first 20-30 minutes will leave the casual viewer in the dark because of the backstory that needs to be told. That said, here's my take on the film from then on.
Anakin Skywalker was a gifted, God-fearing and wide-eyed boy in "Phantom Menance." Obi-Wan Kenobi, on the other hand, just semed to shadow his master Qui-Gon Jinn until the final battle with Darth Maul. Queen Padme' Amidala is now a Senator in the Republic and Jar-Jar Binks, well, he's just a passing character in this film with little screen time. However, Jar-Jar has one scene which turns the tide of what will be in Luke's world.
Obi-Wan has matured to the point of a Jedi Master training Padewan Anakin Skywalker who has become self-indulged in his own powers and love for Senator Amidala. Some reviews have called his character a joke, but maybe they're missing the bigger picture. This is the seed which turns the story into what will be in IV, V, & VI. I don't think a hulk-type like "The Rock" (Scorpian King) would have been the best choice to play an arrogant teenager.
Casual space opera/fantasy fans will be lost, as I said, but not disappointed as there is plenty of action, romance, and a sense of spirituality to this movie. Surely, it's the most intimate. If you noticed, I did call this a 'Space Opera" and "Fantasy" because it is. Science Fiction it borders on in remote ways, unlike its rival "Star Trek" which uses a lot of real theoretical and factual basis.
What this movie exceeds on is the telling of the story. All the small things add up to the bigger picture, as I keep mentioning. That's what the plotline is all about. The visuals are outstanding and we finally see the power of the Jedi, what they did in the Old Republic, and the fierce warrior of Yoda alluded to in "The Empire Strikes Back."
Episode II is a long movie coming in at around 2:20 (long by Star Wars movies) yet the final 1:30 minutes are gripping with the final battles. Yes, the Clone War has begun.
on September 27, 2013
I take it from the number of reviewers who are prepared to say it is beneath contempt that not everyone was happy with this movie. Never having seen any of Star Wars previously, I am now working through the newly numbered series, with this, obviously the second I have seen. I liked it. The romantic interest was simply what one expects and Miss Portman is so good to look at that I can forgive the lovers for not being Olivier and Leigh. For the rest, I assume most come for the spectacle, at least I did, and spectacle there was, in spades. It is also interesting to see how many different body shapes, sizes, and capacities Lucas and Company can dream up and how many ways of speaking they can create to indicate differences in origin. One does have to get used to Space Speak in any of the numerous interplanetary film and television voyages that are commonplace these days. I take it in stride, as I assume do devotees.
All in all, a fine family film, with fun for everybody and no death realistic.
on February 22, 2016
Set ten years after "The Phantom Menace", Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) has grown into an accomplished Jedi apprentice of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) while Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) is now a senator in the Galactic Republic which is now threatened by a Separatist movement led by former Jedi Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). Because of this movement, the senate is voting to pass a bill for the creation of an army for the Republic. When Senator Amidala, who is opposed to the creation of this army, arrives on Coruscant, she survives an assassination attempt. Obi-Wan and Anakin are called in to protect her. They are soon caught up in trying to find the assassin and uncover part of a conspiracy that threatens to plunge the Republic into an all-out war.
Obi-Wan discovers a secret facility where they are cloning a huge army, reminiscent of the Empire's army from the original trilogy! Meanwhile, Anakin and Padme start to fall in love. When Obi-Wan is captured by Count Dooku and the Trade Federation (who are members of the Separatists), Dooku reveals to Obi-Wan that the Republic is now under control of a Sith Lord. Obi-Wan refuses to believe this. Anakin and Padme unsuccessfully attempt to rescue him and end out getting captured themselves. But just as they are about to be executed, the Jedi and the clone army arrives. And so begins the first epic battle in the Clone Wars which ends in an epic lightsaber duel between Count Dooku and Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda. It is here that Yoda senses that the dark side of the force surrounds the Count. But is there any truth to what Dooku says about the Sith controlling the Republic?
This one has certainly got a lot going for it: a complex plot of conspiracy, great action sequences, we see the beginning of the Clone Wars, we see Yoda in an epic lightsaber duel for the first time, and we see the Republic start to build up a military force that would eventually become the Empire. So why is this one the weakest of the lot? Simply because of the love story between Anakin and Padme. It goes on for far too long, taking up about an hour of the movie where nothing really that exciting happens, the love story was badly written and cheesy (it could have been written a lot better), and Hayden Christensen is a terrible actor. I'm surprised considering George Lucas cast the original trilogy so well and now he for some reason thought Mr. Christensen had talent. But despite this there is still a lot to enjoy here and "Attack of the Clones" makes a decent entry in the Star Wars saga. Highly recommended!
on August 27, 2014
Listen, I know there are lot of you out there who don't like AOTC and thats very well and good. However, I feel that AOTC was 1,000% better than Episode I. The CGI is a little overwhelming, I would have liked realistic locations vs. CGI backgrounds and sets but hey I didn't direct or write the fim so I guess we'll have to live with that.
Now getting to the story line, This is what Obi-Wan had told Luke about! That he and his father (Lukes dad) fought together during the Clone Wars in Episode IV! Many of us had many theories about the Clone wars and what they were about and finally we get to bare wittness to it! I am happy this War was addressed, we now understand what it was all about! Maybe it's cause I'm a woman, but I did enjoy the love story between Anakin and Padame. Lets face it, if that didn't happen we wouldn't have Luke and Leia, so I'm glad they didn't just throw them together at the of the third movie and have no build up. If you are one of those people who have to be technical about everything then you are never going to be satisfied with these movies and you might as well save your money when Episodes 7-9 come out because I'm sure you won't like those movies either.
In all honesty, this is a fine movie. If you love star wars and you just can't get enough, then watch this movie. It's better than Episode 1 in my book.
The great thing about going to a film that has been out for awhile, and that many people have trashed, is that your expectation level is reduced to a normal level of expectancy, which is where it should be to begin with.
Flat out, I thought the film was terrific and that nearly all the criticisms I have read prior to seeing the flick were groundless, inane, and overblown. First, this absurd idealization of the original films is nonsense! They weren't that damn great. They were new & original and breakthroughs, but the stories weren't that hot with the exception of Luke's quest & discovery of who his father has become. There was little great dialogue, and no jaw-dropping performances. There was, thank goodness, Alec Guinness as Obi Wan. The rest of the cast just limboed in under the age limit not to be ridiculous in their awkward teen love scenes. At least the young performers in this film are young! Their awkwardness fits. I always found the byplay between Carrie Fisher & Harrison Ford embarrassing.
Anyway, I'm not going to compare and contrast the two sets of films. The old ones are what they are, the new ones are what they are. I will just comment on all the vitriol heaped on Lucas, e.g., that he is too isolated & out of touch on his ranch (read empire). Well, he may be, but he's also busy inventing worlds & universes out there that I found beautifully realized, detailed, and exciting in this film.
The movie has some slow spots, but they don't last long. There are some eye-popping, stunning and fantastic set-pieces: the chase through the nightscape of the huge city; the great fight on the water planet; the chase through the asteroids; the narrow escapes of the foundry/assembly line; the battle in the arena; the climactic battle with the clones & droids, and of course, Yoda going Postal!
All of this is done with seamless and gorgeous CGI work, with new and amusing characters, with all kinds of mean & nasty critters, with a new villain (our beloved Chris Lee) and with a drop-dead beautiful Natalie Portman (sorry Carrie) and a young Anakin who has a nasty temper and has committed a war crime already. And Ewan McGregor makes a nice young Obi Wan.
The look of the film is fabulous (I saw it in digital) and the inventiveness and immagination throughout is phenomenal. I ask his critics: what else can Lucas do? He cannot make it all new & never-seen-before again. He is presenting a complex story of how an individual and a society can turn to the "dark side". The groundwork for this story made Phantom Menace slow-going at times, I agree. But the pace is accelerating.
Lucas presents us with fabulously imagined worlds & creatures, done with meticulous care. He has this film filled with mind-boggling action scenes. He stretches the capability of the technology with each outing. It's enough. Works for me.
on March 6, 2009
I find it kind of weird to be writing a review of Star Wars: Episode II so long after the fact. But for what is and has always been a series of popcorn movies, it took me a surprisingly long time and large number of viewings to really appreciate the subtlety of what Attack of the Clones was doing and how well the prequel trilogy as a whole succeeded.
In a nutshell, George Lucas set himself a gargantuan task in doing the three prequels. He had to take the character of Anakin Skywalker, make him a likable and sympathetic character that viewers would enjoy watching for most of three movies, and then turn him into Darth Vader at the end in a way that was both fundamentally believable and effective, and allow the us to feel the tragedy. In short, he had to do something almost completely unlike the heroic arc he did in the original trilogy.
And you know what, for me anyway, he succeeded, and once again the middle chapter is the key one. This is where Lucas had to develop Anakin as a real, likable character, and yet give us just enough of his darker side to set up his final fall without yet making us actually dislike him. I think Anakin's romance with Padme was the linchpin and very well-done, even though many fans have criticized it for lousy dialog. You know, I had badly-written dialog when I was that age too. We've had a lot of hip teenagers in popular culture these days, like the character from Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, who talk more like what their 30-something writers would have liked to have talked like when they were that age. Anakin is an awkward, conflicted, serious yet emotional teenager who is deeply in love with Padme and doesn't know how to talk to her. And that's what he sounds like, and for me, it worked, allowing Anakin to develop both sides of his character (Padme's side of the relationship is a little sketchier; her role isn't as well drawn in my opinion, and additionally Natalie Portman, a talented actress, may have been mailing this one in).
Needless to say, the action and chase scenes are brilliant, and George Lucas is the master when it comes to framing and setting these things up. Whether it's the skillfully managed tension of the bar scene, the cleverly-shot lightsaber duel between Dooku, Anakin, and/or Obi-Wan, or fisticuffs in the rain, Lucas makes all the action scenes compelling. Crucially, they are an extension of the plot and character development and not just spectacular set pieces as they are in so many movies of this genre.
I'm not going to say the movie is perfect, or as compelling as The Empire Strikes Back; it's got its awkward moments, not all of them there for a good reason. The first time I saw Episode II, I wasn't that impressed. But what Lucas set out to do was much more ambitious than it appears on the surface, far more ambitious than most Sci-Fi action flicks, and for me he's succeeded in delivering a trilogy of both exciting action and emotional depth. It took a little while for them to grow on me, and for me to appreciate and understand what he was doing, but now that I'm there I like the second three as much as the first three.
on January 5, 2016
After the three year wait since the last movie I was raring to go with this one. I didn't get to see this movie in theaters until about month after it's release, but I couldn't wait to see just how this series was going to continue. This chapter is to further develop Anakin's continued commitment to the Jedi way in his still as yet pre-Darth Vader days as well as some further information on the Clone Wars and this time the thing with the clones themselves. While the last chapter proved pretty light-hearted and campy for the most part, this chapter however proves light-hearted in some ways and darker in other ways. In this review I'll not be talking about the plot to much degree as again I would assume that fans and all others already know it. I'm going to describe the characters and then talk about this movies strengths and weaknesses.
Now we get to see Ani grown up as a teenager. He now sports shorter hair and the same small braid on the side of his head that Obi-Wan Kenobi had in the previous movie. Obi-Wan has now grown his trademark beard. Padme' is older too, drop dead gorgeous, really hot, and quite composed. As Qui-Gonn Jinn has sadly been killed by Darth Maul, Obi-Wan took an interest in becoming Anakin's new Jedi master/teacher. Jar Jar Binks becomes a politician in their world. R2-D2 returns. C-3PO is still not fully built yet. Viceroy Nute Gunray and Count Duckoo are still at large. And we meet not only the Kaminoans and their clone making factory, but also Boba Fett as a child and his malicious father Jango Fett.
This movie's high points are, for starters: The special effects. The special effects for the space ships, the politicians meeting room, the light sabres, the planets, the light sabre fights, the big futuristic city, the aliens, and the traffic with the flying cars, were all top notch.
The costumes were awesome here and used implemented a whole host of imagination. Natalie Portman wore all sorts of lovely outfits including sexy ones. The usage of pretty colors in both the costumes and in many parts of every scene were sensational overall.
The action sequences in regards to such scenes as the light sabre fights involving Anakin and Obi-Wan vs. Count Duckoo and Yoda vs. Count Duckoo, any of the fights involving blasters and/or light sabres against the Trade Confederation battle droids or the Genosians, also either riding or killing any of the random alien creatures, Obi-Wan's light sabre and martial arts moves vs. blaster and spaceship against Jango Fett, any scene where the clones get to blast the enemy, and of course my most favorite of all the entire Jedi Council stepping in to square off against Jango Fett, the battle droids, and any remaining alien creatures were all scenes of pure excitement and awesomeness.
It was touching to see Padme' and Ani try to kindle their conciliation and romance while Padme' is being protected from an assassination plot against her.
John Williams's musical score is still a work of art giving you more of his greatness with his tense and taut melodies, raw emotion, commercial notability, and more score and vocalized sanscrit.
The characters still show some charm, relatabilty, and likability. But there's also some intensity and tensions too.
As for the not so good parts of this movie. Well for starters, the acting wasn't as good this time. Most of it was, but Hayden Christensen's acting as Anakin was just terrible. He was amateurish as well as corny. Sadly, Natalie Portman's acting was this time around, just painfully lackluster. She seemed to speak her lines without even trying to act, much less feel her lines. That whole conflict involving the tensions between Jedis and politicians leading to Ani and Padme's romance being forbidden was not only too melodramatic, but it was a sad shame, and it made the movie feel more like a soap opera. The way by which Padme' is constantly playing hot and cold with Ani's feelings and emotions and coming off as uncaring towards his feelings and emotions was both just plain vexing as it was anger-inducing. How can one say that they love someone and care more about having to hide the relationship rather than care more about their love for that person? It wasn't even explained what the tensions and distrust between Jedis and politicians is over. Also, if the word got out that Padme' and Anakin were together, what would've happened as a result?
I also hated how Obi-Wan of whom came off as a gentle and understanding guy in Episode IV is frequently being strict, aloof, and pushy with Ani. Why is he acting like a drill sergeant towards him all the time? Obi-Wan is somewhat hard to like as a result.
Overall, what this movie has to offer is lots of action of all kinds comprising of blasters, light sabre duels and fights, telekinetic force powers, visually stunning special effects, Natalie Portman making for some sensational eye-candy, getting to see more of the storyline leading up to Anakin slowly becoming Darth Vader, the clone factory, the aliens that make the clones, an intro to Boba Fett as a child, also meeting his vicious father Jango Fett, getting to see Yoda be a part of the action, beautiful and well designed costumes, the use of gorgeous colors for the costumes, shots of nature, the furniture, and any decorations in the rooms. John Williams's spectacular score and the further agenda's of the villains being more developed. While this movie does have its flaws to say nothing of elements that were barely tolerable it's still a very entertaining movie once you look past all of that.
on January 23, 2003
Before I incur the wrath of the hordes of Star Wars deadheads who seem to reflexively rate any negative review of this woeful movie "Unhelpful", consider this: I am a lifelong fan of the original Star Wars Trilogy and had as much hopeful investment as anyone in the success of the second trilogy. The sad fact is that Attack of the Clones - despite what you've heard - is even worse than The Phantom Menace (if you can bring yourself to believe that something so ghastly could actually exist). Willing this to be a better movie than it actually is (which seems to have been the response of most US critics and - it has to be said - Star Wars fans) is a pointless exercise in delusion. The sad reality is that even the weakest of the original trilogy - Return of the Jedi - is infinitely superior to anything we've seen since. The amount of times I found myself asking "Who wrote this [stuff]?" is matched only by the amount of times I had to hold back laughing aloud at the infantile dialogue and plotting of this utterly charmless movie. This is quite possibly the worst writing EVER in a major Hollywood production and should fast find its natural place in screenwriting classes as a case study in how NOT to write a script. The completely unmoving, unconvincing romance between a wooden Hayden Christensen and an uncharacteristically bland Natalie Portman is only the most obvious clumsiness. The [weak] fortune cookie dialogue given to Ewan McGregor finds appropriate expression in a disinterested performance (how else can any self-respecting actor work with wannabe banter that amounts to exchanges of "Yes Master"; "No Master"; "I try Master" ad infinitum?) Such puerile gems as "The day we take democracy for granted is the day we lose it" simply cry out for ridicule. The deterministic, completely unconvincing and unsympathetic movement of the Anakin character towards the "Dark Side" - a process underpinned by a cynical array of contrived situations and the worst depiction of teenage angst ever put to screen - only further raises the rubbish factor. Anakin scowls around saying things like: "You're like a father to me master"; "He doesn't understand me"; "It's all his fault!"; "He's holding me back!" It's like the last teen movie George Lucas has seen was in 1955 (doubly strange for someone who was the director of the superior, textured teen movie, American Graffiti) - come back John Hughes, all is forgiven. It also has to be said that - in a series never characterised by great acting anyway - Hayden Christensen gives the worst-ever performance in a Star Wars movie. Possibly the most untalented actor of his generation by this evidence - his charisma-free range appears to be pouting and... pouting. When Christensen says "I have a bad feeling about this!" - a line most familiar to series fans courtesy of Luke and Han at various points in the original Star Wars - he only prompts reminders of the rugged charisma and naive charm of the actors - and characters - that preceded him. The comparison is fatal! As for the much vaunted digital effects - well! If the miserable CGI creations menacing our heroes in the stadium execution scene are a standard, then give me Ray Harryhausen anyday. Hopefully these will look better on the Playstation 2 - where they probably best belong. In this regard, Star Wars has aways been a commercial exercise but the ... plugging of possible videogame content is distracting (most obviously when Anakin applies platform-game timing and strategy in avoiding a series of blades and hazards). So it appears, unfortunately, that the best thing techno-merchandiser George Lucas can do for the final instalment of this truly pitiful second trilogy is hand over the directorial reigns (as he did with The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) to a journeyman director (where are you Irving Kershner?) unpressured by the burden of pop culture expectation. The man is clearly no longer capable of telling a decent, well-paced story. Lucas recently said he welcomed the competition provided by Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings series. Don't kid yourself George! There's no competition. Peter Jackson is an infinitely better director - and Attack of the Clones against Lord of the Rings is like a shopping trolley against a Ferrari. And these - fellow Star Wars fans - are the sad truths we should stop denying!