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Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones
References to "Star Wars" in Pixar's "Toy Story" trilogy
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
Director: George Lucas
Writers: George Lucas, Jonathan Hales
Cast: Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Ian McDiarmid, Pernilla August, Temuera Morrison, Daniel Logan, Jimmy Smits, Jack Thompson, Leeanna Walsman, Rose Byrne, Jay Laga'aia
Voice Cast: Frank Oz, Ahmed Best, Andrew Secombe, Anthony Phelan, Rena Owen
Synopsis: Ten years later, Anakin Skywalker shares a forbidden romance with Padmé, while Obi-Wan investigates an assassination attempt on the Princess and discovers a secret clone army crafted for the Jedi.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for sustained sequences of sci-fi action/violence
Lucas' Response to Clerks and the Death Star Contractors
Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker, and Yoda vs. Count Dooku (Warning: Possible Spoiler if you haven't seen this movie)
The sense a disturbance in the force...
As the infamously wise Master Yoda would say, "Bastardize the franchise, you must." Well, that's exactly what George Lucas does with this film. Not only does he bastardize and destroy almost all things about "Star Wars" in this latest prequel, but he does it in the good old name of capitalism... Yay! Capitalism! Not really...
For those that remember my last hub called "Star Wars 3-D", which depicted my exact thoughts on George Lucas, then you should already know how much I despise this movie. Not only is this film an insult to all Star Wars fans out there, but it's an insult to all of science fiction as well. Look if you're one of these people that love these dreadful prequel films for god knows whatever reasons, then more power to you.
However, I'm not going to give this film a freaking pass just because it's "Star Wars" because the reality is this is a piece of crap. The only reason why you have so many people who defend it is because they'll say, "But it's Star Wars!" Yes, I know it's part of "Star Wars", but that doesn't mean that we should give it a free pass. Hell, you don't see any die hard Trekkie fans giving pieces of crap like "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" or even "Star Trek Nemesis" a free pass for being piles of crap do you? Therefore, it doesn't matter if it's Star Wars or not, the reality is this film failed to deliver on so many levels that it's not even funny.
LIke the first one, I wanted to like this film so freaking badly. Sure, "Star Wars: Episode I- Phantom Menace" was a huge letdown of epic proportions, but I still so badly wanted to see George redeem the franchise. In fact, I even ignored ALL the flaws about "Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones" just for the sake of wanting to see one of my most beloved film franchises to get redeemed. I was in denial back in 2002, when this film was originally released. I lied to myself saying how "Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones" was a good film, and how it wasn't as bad as haters made it out to be. However, you want to know what happened? Reality set in about a week or two later, after I saw it. And the more I tried to convince myself it was a good film, the more I found myself hating it.
After I had time to let the film sink into my brain, I came to realize something... An epiphany if you will. That realization was...that this film was for lack of a better word really sucked. I know that sounds juvenile for me to say, but that's the honest truth. Now before all you George Lucas fans bash my review for this movie, I would like you all to hear me out first.
Before I start this review, I should make it perfectly clear that I won't be referencing anything from the expanded "Star Wars" universe, as Lucas himself doesn't acknowledge it's existence. Therefore, I'm basing this entire review on the film itself, so don't expect me to compare this to anything that might've been explored already in any "Star Wars" novel, game or whatever.
The story takes place over ten years after the events of the first prequel, where the Republic and the Trade Federation are on the verge of war. Queen Amidala has moved up to being a senator for her planet; along with Jar Jar Binks. I would make a comment about how stupid these voters must've been to elect Jar Jar for any position of power. But then again, we normally elect dumb candidates in real life as well, so I guess I shouldn't say anything. Moving on.
Anakin finally grows up. No longer is he some whiny little kid with no personality. Now, he's a full grown man that whines and complains all the freaking time. Not only that, but he's also downright reckless too. If I'm forced to believe these prequels are canon in the Star Wars storyline (which I don't), then I truly have to believe Obi Wan was lying to Luke Skywalker in episode four.
For those that don't remember what he told Luke about his father, he said he was a great friend and a cunning warrior. Pfft, I guess if these prequels prove anything, then it only goes to show just how wrong he was about that. Not only is Anakin a complete a**hole to Obi Wan most of the time, but he's not even that cunning either. If anything, he recklessly attacks Count Dooku with no plan of attack whatsoever, and Dooku takes him out easily with the force. Oh yeah..really cunning. But don't worry my fellow readers, I'll delve more into Anakin's character later. For now, lets focus on the rest of the picture.
Anyway, Amidala is being attacked by the Trade Federation again. Yet, we still have zero clues on why they want her dead specifically. After her latest assassination attempt, the Jedi order sends Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Christian Haydenson) to protect her. Anakin still has puppy dog eyes for the hot young senator, yet she still sees him as that lovable little kid from the first movie. Aw why do women have to resist during these types of films? We all know they're going to fall in love eventually anyway, so why prolong the inevitable? But then again, we wouldn't have much of a story if they did that.
After a series of events, the Trade Federation hires Jango Fett (Boba Fett's father) to kill the senator in her sleep, who in turn hires another assassin to kill her for him. Wait..assassins can hire assassins? Hmm I guess you learn something new everyday.
Needless to say, this prompts Obi Wan and Anakin to go on their two separate adventures. Obi Wan elects to find out who sent the assassin to kill Amidala to begin with, while Anakin agrees to stay with the Senator. Oh yeah, there's also some villain named Count Dooku, whose essentially an ex Jedi master turned Sith Lord, that's leading the Trade Federation. Of course, we don't meet him until around the middle of the picture, so he never comes off as much of a villain; which is a real shame considering Christopher Lee probably would've been a great antagonist had he been given more screen time, or if his part had been written better instead being used as nothing more than another plot device to move the story along.
As for Ewan McGregor, he tries to make the most out of his role, but since he's forced to read off George's poorly written script, he rarely has his moments to shine. If anything, it seems like Lucas wanted Obi Wan to come off as an overly strict father figure to Anakin, while portraying Anakin as a recklessly rebellious young teenager. Fair enough, but it's executed poorly to where it's hard to really identify with either one of them.
For starters, most of the character development between these characters happens off screen, as they talk about all their good times together before seeing Amidala for the first time in years. Therefore, we're never given a chance to really see these characters ever have this alleged father and son type of relationship. And whenever we do see them together most of the time, Obi Wan is either chewing out Anakin over every little freaking thing, or Anakin just flat tells him off even in front of Padme Amidala no less. Yet, we're really supposed to believe they have a bond with each other?
Another flaw about this is when they do go on their own separate journeys (ala "Lord of the Rings" style), the sad reality is that both of the stories that are taking place simultaneously happen be not only very uninteresting, but none of them ever have any connection with the other. If anything, you'd swear you were watching two different movies by this point.
Don't get me wrong, I can see what George Lucas was trying to do, as it's fairly obvious he was trying to mimic the same narrative storytelling that "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" did; which isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, it's executed poorly here.
The reason why it worked so well in the "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers", and why it doesn't work here, is because even though both stories are taking place separately, they still feel like they're apart of one big epic journey. Whereas "Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones" you can't help but feel like the two stories aren't even related to each other.
And to make matters worse, the tone and pacing of the two stories don't sync up that well either. At least in "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers", the two individual stories following Frodo and Aragorn felt like they had a very similar tone, and maintained the same level of pacing, so it never felt out of place whenever the audience was forced to switch back and forth between the two characters.
Whereas "Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones", it always seemed like the plot had to slow down to a crawl whenever it had to deal with Lucas' half baked love story. And speaking of love stories, I have to say this is probably one of the worst love stories that I've ever seen in my life.
Not only is it unconvincing, but the romance between Anakin and Padme feels downright forced throughout most of the film. Granted, we all know that Anakin had a huge crush on Padme, since the first prequel, but why does Padme fall for Anakin? They never give us any conceivable reason why she would fall for him. Other than for the sake of plot convenience.
Throughout most of the film, Anakin is always whining and complaining, in front of Padme about Obi Wan, that he often comes off sounding like a spoiled brat crying about not getting his way. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind it if his complaints were about something legitimate such as Obi Wan never allowing him to save his own mother, or feeling like he was forced by Obi Wan to abandon his mom on Tatooine. If Lucas had made that the main catalyst as to why there's some hostility between Obi Wan and Anakin, then I could understand. If anything, I wish that would've been the catalyst because I would've been able to sympathize with him more.
However, that's not what Lucas wanted. No, no, no, that would be too obvious and perfect. Nah, George has a much better idea in his mind. What's that idea you may ask? You remember that old Jedi bulls*** prophecy that was brought up in "Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace?" Well it turns out that whole prophecy nonsense has gone to Anakin's head to where he firmly believes that he's destined to be the most powerful Jedi that's ever lived, and feels like Obi Wan is merely holding him back. Oh it gets better. He even feels that he's surpassed Obi Wan in many ways, and often treats Obi Wan like crap throughout most of the film; even in front of Padme. I guess you can say Anakin suffers from an inferiority complex as well. Although if Anakin was as powerful as he thinks he is, then he sure didn't prove it when he got his a** kicked quite easily by Count Dooku. And, that's all I'm going to say about that.
Speaking of which, why did it take Anakin so damn long to want to save his mom? It's been ten years since he last saw her, and he waits until after he gets one bad nightmare about her dying to want to rescue her? Is Lucas seriously trying to say that Anakin has never once thought about saving his own mother before this point? Nonsense! At no point in the films do they ever explain why he never bothered to save his mom before, so it makes no sense in context to his character.
If Lucas really wanted to tell a great story, then he should've written it to where it can be explained that maybe he couldn't save his mom because Obi Wan didn't let him; via flashback sequence. Yes, I'm aware that flashback scenes aren't common in "Star Wars" films, but I'm pretty sure fans would've made an exception in this particular case.
In this flashback scene, a young boy version of Anakin would leave being upset that Obi Wan won't go back to save his mom, but after he runs off, it can show Yoda explaining how saving his mother could potentially escalate a war with the Hutt family on Tatooine; hence setting up Obi Wan as a sympathetic father figure that he was supposed to be all along. If this would've happened, then both characters would've been very relatable and sympathetic on a lot of levels. However, Lucas botched up that opportunity quite easily, and this is what we got.
If that wasn't enough, there was even a scene after he whines about Obi Wan never listening to him. In that scene, he stares at Padme with his puppy dog eyes, and she tells him not to because it it creeps her out. Look, I'm no expert when it comes to women, so please take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt. However, I do know when a girl tells you it freaks her out when you stare at her lovingly, while giving you an utter look of disgust, then that's not a good sign. If anything, you'll be lucky to be in the "friend zone" by that point with a girl once she says something like that.
Plus, they even have conflicting political ideals. Padme obviously believes in democracy, while Anakin even tells her that he believes in a fascist dictatorship style government. Granted, it's common for some couples to not always see eye to eye on everything, but most independent women that believe this strongly in democracy don't fall for guys that have that much of a radical viewpoint on politics.
And to make matters worse, Anakin tells Padme how he killed women and children of the sand people because they killed his mom. Hmm..this leads me to some possible theories on why Padme might've fallen for Anakin now that I think about it. Either she has a thing for psychopaths (similar to how Harley Quinn has a thing for the Joker), or she's the type of girl that loves a project when it comes to men, and only wants to date him out of sympathy. Or, maybe it's because Lucas wrote a badly written love story that makes no sense. You know...I think I'll go with that latter the more I think about this...
The reality is that the love story between Anakin and Padme is nothing more than a badly written soap opera piece. Both actors have zero chemistry together, and their love story feels forced, to where it gives the audience very little reason to ever buy into it. Plus, it doesn't help that both Natalie Portman and Christian Haydensen overacted in this movie; particularly during the scenes where they had to argue about whether or not they should date each other.
As for the other story involving Obi Wan's adventure, I'll admit it was kind of interesting seeing the events unravel through his character. Plus, it was very nice world building to expand upon the "Star Wars" universe. However, even that got f***ed up by George Lucas. Through Obi Wan, we find out that somewhere in the galaxy someone from the Republic has ordered the creation of a clone army. The clones are all created from the DNA of Jango Fett, who's only consolation for his genetics was just to have clone son of his own.
However, Obi Wan's story gets ruined though when we see the confrontation between Jango and Obi Wan. Yes, I know all you Star Wars fanboys out there love that scene because it shows how cool Jango is. Plus, we get to see the epic fight between the bounty hunter and a Jedi that we never saw in episode six.
But before you fanboys start to hammer me for bashing that scene, I would like to ask you all a question. In terms of story wise, what does the fight between Jango and Obi Wan prove exactly? Does it add any emotional impact to the story the same way Obi Wan's death did in "Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope?" Does it add anything meaningful to the story the same way Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker's fight did in "Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back?" The quick answers to all these is no. The reality is that no matter how cool that fight scene was between Obi Wan and Jango it was still a pointless scene.
George Lucas even admitted that himself in a behind the scenes interview once. In fact, he said that the only reason he wanted that fight to be in the film to begin with was because he felt the audience didn't get a good enough look at Jango Fett's suit. And it's from here, George stops caring about telling a good story. Hell, why should he? I mean the man obviously proved that he can produce pieces of crap, and people will still buy it. Wasn't "Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace" proof of that?
Anyway, it's from here the film literally becomes a giant toy commercial for Lucasarts, with the colorful array of lightsaber battles and whatnot. Sure, Lucas tries to shove in some conspiracy theory subplots here and there to add drama, but that's not the focus here. No, Lucas wanted to show off the special effects throughout most of this flick, and he certainly does. In fact, one of Lucas' own workers even said that every single frame of the film was shot in front of a blue screen, which would explain the actors' wooden performances on screen; particularly during the lightsaber battles.
And in a way, that's exactly what's wrong with the prequels. Everything in the prequels is so artificial because of the overabundance of CGI that it no longer feels real anymore. Sure, the original "Star Wars" trilogy had great CGI as well, but it never overshadowed the actors that were in it. Whereas the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy is concerned, the CGI not only overshadows the actors half the time, but it even borders on the line of distracting, to where it feels more like a long a** cutscene for a video game rather than a full length feature film. And, it shouldn't be that way. But, I digress.
Unfortunately, the Jedi are still portrayed as being downright indestructible, as they seemingly take out the droid army quite easily along with the clone army to help them out. As for the Yoda fight scene that most fans love, I'll admit that I did like it too when I first saw this movie back in 2002. However, over the years, I tend to dislike the concept of Yoda fighting in this movie the more I think about it. Like the Jango fight scene, the Yoda lightsaber battle doesn't add anything to the story, nor was it even remotely necessary; hence making it another pointless scene that was only there to promote more toys and games for Lucasarts.
I would say that this movie features lousy editing considering how many pointless scenes there are in this one, but that would be stating the ridiculously obvious. Not to mention that the poorly written dialogue doesn't help either.
As for the visual and sound effects, they're still quite impressive even by today's standards. Unfortunately, that's about the only thing positive I can say about this movie.
Overall, unless you're just a die hard "Star Wars" fan that'll blindly accept whatever the heck George Lucas spoon feeds you, then chances are you won't like this film. In the end, I'd have to give this film a one out of four. Great visuals, sound effects and interesting character designs were enough to earn this prequel a point, but that's about all it's worth...
© 2013 Steven Escareno