Film Review: Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002)

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Part two of the prequel trilogy is cluttered and over-produced like part one, but it’s a moderate improvement overall, thanks in large part to a solid final act. Hayden Christensen takes over the role of the teenaged Anakin Skywalker while Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor reprise their roles as Padme and Obi-Wan. Attack of the Clones is a split narrative — half of it is about Anakin and Padme falling in love, and the other half is about Obi-Wan getting to the bottom of a political conspiracy. The later works better than the former.

It’s hard to believe that even with the help of co-screenwriter Jonathan Hales, Lucas can’t muster half-way decent dialogue. I know its intentionally stilted, allegedly as a point of style. But that excuse only goes so far. Poor Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen can’t make it work, and their love scenes flounder because of it. And what the hell is up with the scene where Anakin rides that fat-assed creature through the field? Did Lucas really want something so ridiculous to punctuate his ‘love story’?

Obi-Wan’s story thread brings us to better aspects of the movie. The ocean world and its lanky denizens are pretty neat to look at, and it’s fun to see Boba Fett as a little boy. Once Obi-Wan is captured by Count Dooku (Christopher Lee, a welcome addition to the cast), the movie finally concludes its meandering middle half and gets down to business. Composer John Williams gives the film its single most compelling moment when he swells the love theme against a visual of Anakin and Padme kissing in bondage before they are carted out into a gladiator-type arena full of people cheering the lovers’ imminent demise. This leads our heroes, now reunited with Obi-Wan, into a battle with three spectacular-looking monsters, and that scene is followed by all-out war between the Jedi and a conglomerate of baddies. If that’s not cool enough, we finally get to see Yoda in a lightsaber battle with Count Dooku… how this didn’t turn out ridiculous is a feat in itself.

So, yeah. Last act, cool. Rest of the movie, meh.

Rating: 3/5 ★★★☆☆ 

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About Scott_S

Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit www.scottschirmer.com. Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)

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