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Film Review: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
In 2002, George Lucas released Attack of the Clones, the fifth film in the Star Wars franchise and second in the prequel trilogy. Starring Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Ahmed Best, Pernilla August, Silas Carson, Andy Secombe, and Oliver Ford Davies, the film grossed $649.4 million at the box office. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and the Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Supporting Actress, Worst Screen Couple, and Worst Remake or Sequel, it won the Razzies for Worst Screenplay and Worst Supporting Actor as well as the MTV Movie Award for Best Fight.
Following events from the previous film, a group of separatists have formed their own government backed by galactic corporations and former Jedi Master Count Dooku which make them able to handle the approaching full scale war. Meanwhile, Senator Amidala survives an assassination attempt, leading Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to protect her, while she and the latter struggle with their growing attraction to each other.
Like the film before it, Attack of the Clones tries to produce similarities to and connect with the films in the original trilogy. However, it continues to fail in the same way as rather than continuing a grand story revolving around the struggle of good vs. evil between an evil Empire and the rebel forces fighting against it, this film turns Star Wars into a murder mystery/political thriller. Granted, the original trilogy had elements of the two, but considered them parts of a whole when including them. There are also other elements that would never have even been considered for the original trilogy, such as the amount of puns during the arena battle, where Obi Wan notices that Padme has climbed onto a pillar and remarks that she “seems to be on top of things.” This film continues to demonstrate that while Lucas may be good at building worlds and starting empires, he desperately needs the work of others to sustain them.
What’s more is that none of the events in the entire film would have ever happened had the characters not been so obliviously stupid. For one, there’s the entire Jedi council who refuse to believe that Count Dooku is involved in evil deeds primarily because he’s a former Jedi Master and therefore it wouldn’t be in his character. However, this ignores the fact that the Jedi have spent a large amount of time making sure that members of the order are not corrupted by the Dark Side, which is exactly why they recruit infants in the first place. Instead, they see his leaving the Jedi after a long career in the order and his current involvement in a movement meant to break up the republic as being a political idealist. There’s also everything surrounding Padme’s assassination attempt. Jango Fett is hired but he micromanages the job to a less skilled assassin; Padme insists on sleeping by a window with security cameras off; the assassin droid decides to kill Padme through an incredibly roundabout way through the use of poisonous creatures rather than blowing up the entire room (it makes no sense because the art of subtlety no longer matters as blowing up a ship was already tried); Obi-Wan then acts completely out of character and jumps out a high-rise window without thinking that the droid he’s after could attack him; Zam decides to shoot the droid instead of Obi-Wan; Jango then kills Zam with a traceable dart that points to where he lives. Nothing about this assassination attempt shows that Jango is even a remotely competent bounty hunter. Rather, the audience is continually told of his prowess, which is one of the many examples of the film failing to “show, not tell.”
None of that is even going into the missed opportunities that abound throughout. As the previous film could have been all about the life of Anakin Skywalker and the rise of Darth Vader, this film presents a missed opportunity to detail the rise of someone as popular as Boba Fett. In this hastily put together plot that shows the beginning of the Clone Wars (a plot point that’s only referred to once in the original trilogy), we do get his backstory, but it’s an incredibly rushed part of the story that only details that Boba was an unaltered clone of Jango who decided to take up his father’s mantle after being downed by Mace Windu. It’s practically nothing and a perfect waste of a plot. Zam is another missed opportunity. Or to be more precise, the fact that the Star Wars universe has an entire species that can change their appearance at will. It raises a lot of unanswered questions and provides a lot of speculation about this species and how they fit into the greater Star Wars mythos. But all that’s presented here is an escaping bounty hunter who escapes into a nightclub but instead of shapeshifting as a means to hide, exposes herself in attacking Obi-Wan.
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