Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (©and
TM Lucasfilm Ltd.)
MPAA: Rated PG for sustained sequences of sci-fi action/violence.
Review by Ernest Lilley
“That was the best Star Wars movie I’ve ever seen!” The fan in front of me exclaimed as we left the second showing of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Of course, at approximately five years of age, he doesn’t have the advantage of my keenly honed reviewer’s critical eye. From his comments in the theater, though, I have to hand it to him...wise is he in the ways of the force.
Still, with the exception of the first, or fourth depending on how you look at it, I might be inclined to agree. There’s a lot of good news in this film, which does a lot to redeem the story after the last. Obi-Won is actually starting to sound like Obi-Wan. Yoda totally rocks. When 800 years old, so good I will not fight. Padame, now through her second term as Queen (Term as queen? Duh?) still looks great, acts regal, and manages to lose another few inches of costume every fight scene to provide a Brittany Spears tribute. The sets are grand. The effects awesome. The villains mean and treacherous.
The central character however, is no Darth Vader, and that’s the movie’s great weakness.
Anikin comes off as whiny and pouty…not cool and dangerous. Lucas is trying really hard to set him up to be the pre-Vader, but I don’t think he actually understands where Vader is coming from…and Annie comes off as lame.
Who comes off well? Not Obi-Won, who holds his own for the most part, unless he’s providing Anikan the chance to rescue him and show off his power in the force.
No, the real hero of the film is Jingo Fett. Who? You know, Bobba Fett’s dad.
Jingo, it turns out, is a bounty hunter hired to knock off Senator Padmé Amidala, and he's also the clone template for the illegal army of identical proto-storm troopers commissioned by someone in the Republic ten years before. Boba, whose brief appearances in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi created a substantial fan following, turns out to be the only unmodified clone Jingo had, the clone warriors having been tweaked for easier handling. Temuera Morrison plays Jingo, and does an excellent job of it, but you have to wonder if they considered Russell Crowe, since they both seem to have the same tailor.
The Fett family has more charisma than the rest of the whole cast, and this film will add plenty of fuel to that fan base. It's easier for us to like the Fetts than everyone else actually, because they're easier to believe. No grand ambitions, no deep schemes, no sanctimonious jedi juju...just live and let die, and look after your own. The kind of guy that Han Solo could respect.
The story starts out on the capital planet, where Padmé is debarking from a trip back from her home world to attend the senate. Narrowly surviving an attempt on her life there, Obi-Wan and Anakin are tasked with her protection, and are soon leaping through the BladeRunner-esque landscape of Corsucant at night with moves that even Spider-Man would envy to track down the assassin.
From there Obi-Wan goes to unravel the roots of the treason behind the attempt while Anakin takes Padmé back to her home world for safekeeping.
It's a tough job, but perfect for an adolescent monk in training...and before long, the two of them are hiding out for protection in a romantic lakeside home complete with fireplace, an endless supply of low cut gowns, and Padmés sense of duty.
Jedi can't get romantically involved, you see, and since Padmé is a politician, I gather she's afraid of joining church and state. Or something. But they don't have to like it, and you can see that the fuse is clearly lit.
Meanwhile, Obi-Wan is scouting a mysterious planet that someone disappeared from the galactic archives, a planet known for clones. While Obi's off parlaying with alien cloners that would look at home in a flying saucer, in a base that would look at home in 2001, Anakin decides he has to go rescue his mother, left in slavery on Tattoine in the last movie. Padame insists on coming along and we get to meet the folks out at the old 'vaporator farm. Or we would if the Sand People hadn't run off with his mom. Lots of old familiar faces show up along the way, including an interesting cameo by Jack Thompson, who played "Uncle Owen" in the original movie. Here he plays Owen's father, and we meet the young Owen himself, half-brother to Anakin. Bad things happen, and Anakin's darker side deepens...and not just from the Tatooine Tan.
See, it all fits together. Sort of.
When Obi-Won stumbles on a Trade Federation world building another army of droids, he calls for reinforcements, and all the carnage you could ask for ensues. Padmé looks more and more like something out of a Pepsi-Generation commercial as her outfit disintegrates along the way.
Depending on how you look at it, Attack of the Clones is either the second, or the fifth Star Wars movie...but either way, it's the next to the last one in the series. Of course, all it would take is money to change George Lucas's mind, but though envisioned as a nine part series, there are no plans to finish the work. And just as well.
One encouraging thing is that while Phantom Menace courted pre-teens, and Attack of the Clones seeks to woo the Titanic Teen audience, the next film will no doubt be back where the whole saga started...with something for college students and twenty-somethings.
For a middle movie, it's not bad. It probably won't be the blockbuster Spider-Man or Titanic were, though feel free to prove me wrong, if you can. Still, watching it was the first time I actually thought that Lucas might pull off the entire sequence and have it make something like sense. Since the very beginning, I've hoped he'd go for a correction in the balance of dark and light sides of the force, and here for the first time he's brought it to light.
There's hope yet. This isn't the last Star Wars movie...there is yet another.
Also, see our Star Wars Attack of the Clones Novelization Review
© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu