johnlink ranks STAR WARS: EPISODE II – ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)

Continuing through the STAR WARS films in chronological order – not release order – in anticipation of the newest film. THE PHANTOM MENACE is memorably bad. I hadn’t seen ATTACK OF THE CLONES since 2002 when it was in theaters. My memory of it recalled a terrible scene of banter in a field. But, otherwise, it wasn’t overwhelmingly terrible. Thirteen years after its initial release, how has it held up?

Star-Wars-Attack-of-the-Clones-mace-windu-11897689-1600-680

I watched STAR WARS: EPISODE II – ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002) on 12.3.15. It was my second viewing of the film, and first since its theatrical release.

Ten years have passed between the events of PHANTOM MENACE and this second film in the prequel trilogy. Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is a little older, more brash, and somewhat dark. He is serving as the apprentice to Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). The movie begins with former Queen of Naboo – and now important Senator – Padmé (Natalie Portman) surviving an assassination attempt. Her safety is entrusted to Anakin and Obi-Wan, though it soon becomes Anakin and Padmé finding their way back to her home planet where he continually confesses his love and she continually bites her lip.

Obi-Wan, meanwhile, investigates the assassination attempt and inadvertently unearths a major universal conspiracy. He gets himself trapped on a far off planet. Soon, Padmé and Obi-Wan try to come rescue him. All end up in trouble and a major final battle soon comes. There is political intrigue abounding as well, though the slow burn of it all feels a little much since we all know where the series goes thanks to the original trilogy.

darth-shadow

The action in this film is pretty good, though it suffers greatly from CGI that has not aged well. The movie once again features long scenes of actors ducking imaginary objects added in post production or fake clone troopers shooting at fake enemies. The adventure feels inspired by video games. A few in particular: an opening flying-car scene feels like it takes place entirely in an artificial TRON like environment. A scene of Padmé, Anakin, C-3PO, and R2-D2 getting stuck in a conveyer belt is very much like a level from a side scrolling SNES game. It could be said that the late battle between Jedi and robot troops predicts the soon-to-arrive MMO experience. Either way, watching in 2015, it is hard not to see ATTACK OF THE CLONES as a giant video game.

That isn’t all bad. The movie has merit. We want Obi-Wan to do well, and seeing Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) fight is still a very cool thing. The movie zips along at a fast pace when the action is going. It’s when the action stops that this movie feels sluggish. The love stuff between Anakin and Padmé is particularly painful. Hayden Christensen will forever be thought of as a wooden actor. But that may not be fair, because even the most seasoned actors (like Christopher Lee as Count Dooku) come across as flat when trying to make sense of some terrible dialogue. In fact, Samuel L. Jackson may be the only one in this entire film that rises above the material, and that’s because he often doesn’t try and make it sound so annoyingly important. Nobody in this film says anything  but EXACTLY how they feel. Christensen may not be a great actor, but it is hard to tell what is his fault when he has to deliver dialogue which sounds like it comes from one of those cheesy three-page plays in an elementary school textbook.

The experience of ATTACK OF THE CLONES is superior to that of PHANTOM MENACE, but nowhere near the power of the original trilogy. Some of the improvement over MENACE has to do with action, and some of that has to do with George Lucas infusing the film with a few cool images. The above pictured moment in which Anakin (perhaps subconsciously) decides to let darkness take him over is shot in a way that puts his shadow on a wall in the shape of Darth Vader.

Young_Fett

And, above here, we see a young Boba Fett pick up the decapitated head of his father (in a PG movie mind you) in the aftermath of a major battle. Yoda jumping and juking his way through a lightsaber fight – while bordering on cheesy – manages to work. There are some cool moments in ATTACK OF THE CLONES, just not as many as there need to be, or nearly as many as there were in the original trilogy.

Looking forward to getting to REVENGE OF THE SITH, but even more so looking forward to rehitting the original trilogy.

SCORES

FILM: 5; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 4; WRITING: 3; BONUS: -1

The world creation is bad. I mean, the CGI in general is bad, but the worlds feel particularly artificial in this film.

5+8+4+3-1=19

FINAL SCORE: 4.75 out of 10

 

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~ by johnlink00 on December 4, 2015.

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