‘STAR WARS: EPISODE II – ATTACK OF THE CLONES’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Across The Stars
“Begun, the clone war has!”
‘Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones’ is the second film in the ‘Star Wars’ movie saga, though it was the fifth made in the series. It’s the second ‘Star Wars’ prequel film and was released in 2002. Co-written with Jonathan Hales, the movie was again directed by ‘Star Wars’ creator, George Lucas.
I purchased the 2-disc DVD of ‘Attack of the Clones’ after Christmas 2005. It was from enjoying ‘The Phantom Menace’ on DVD. I did see some of the movie with one of my cousins over Christmas 2002, but it was from my copy of the DVD that I got to enjoy the movie in its entirety from start to finish.
Again, I was aware of ‘Attack of the Clones’ being promoted at cinemas when I was going to high school in 2002. But like with ‘The Phantom Menace’, I didn’t take an interest and I wasn’t into ‘Star Wars’ at that time. It was after seeing ‘Revenge of the Sith’ in 2005 that I took these films seriously.
I enjoyed seeing ‘Attack of the Clones’ when I purchased the film on DVD after Christmas 2005. I liked the love story between Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala. But after re-watching the movie for this review, I did find there was a lot going on and it was a challenge to keep track of everything.
Many debate about whether ‘Attack of the Clones’ is better than ‘The Phantom Menace’. Some say it’s an improvement, some say it’s the weakest entry in the ‘Star Wars’ saga. Understandably, I see where they’re coming from as I’m struggling to decide whether ‘Attack of the Clones’ is good or not.
‘Attack of the Clones’ is better in some respects to ‘The Phantom Menace’. But like the first film, it still has its problems in terms of plot structure and character development. It’s also a film that feels very busy in terms of its impressive visuals and trying to grip on what’s actually going on in the story.
I can’t say that I don’t like this movie, but then again I can’t say it’s great either. Like what I’ve done with ‘The Phantom Menace’, I hope I’ll be able to identify what’s good and bad about this movie throughout this review. It won’t be on the same level as ‘The Phantom Menace’, but it will be intriguing.
The film takes place 10 years after ‘The Phantom Menace’ ended. It features Padmé Amidala, who is now a senator of Naboo. Uh…wasn’t she the Queen in the previous movie? It seems in this universe of ‘Star Wars’, the role of Queen is like a President of the United States of America by George Lucas.
Something I didn’t mention in my review for ‘The Phantom Menace’ is that the politics featured in these ‘Star Wars’ prequels are utterly baffling. It’s probably one of the contributing factors as to why the ‘Star Wars’ prequels are despised by the fans and why the films don’t work well as they should.
But then again, this is a series of movies set in a galaxy far, far away. Therefore the politics of a fictional fantasy universe like ‘Star Wars’ isn’t always going to be the same as applied in our reality. It’s a shame that George Lucas doesn’t explain it clearly when depicting the movies to his audience.
Anyway, in the movie, someone seems to be trying to assassinate Padmé Amidala on her visit to the planet Coruscant. Concerned for her safety, Chancellor Palpatine suggests to have the protection of the Jedi on her. Padmé soon has two Jedi turn up – Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.
The reason for Padmé’s visit to Coruscant is to vote on a motion to create a new army for the Galactic Republic to help the Jedi in their fight against the Separatist movement. Obi-Wan and Anakin protect Padmé as she stays in Coruscant, before discovering an assassin who tries to kill her.
Ewan McGregor returns as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the movie. Obi-Wan is older since the last time we saw him. He’s now a Jedi Master and a mentor for Anakin Skywalker to become a Jedi. He’s become like a father to him, but Obi-Wan still doubts Anakin’s skills as a Jedi, saying he’s become arrogant.
I like Ewan McGregor’s performance in this movie and it’s interesting how he plays a younger Obi-Wan in the prequels, although at this stage he’s become wiser and resourceful. Obi-Wan goes off on his own to find out who Padmé’s assassin is before he finds out there’s this clone army being created.
Natalie Portman returns as Padmé Amidala in the movie. I got to say, I found Natalie Portman’s performance in this movie more appealing than in ‘The Phantom Menace’. She also gets to show her sexiness in this movie, especially when she’s with Anakin and has this love story with him in the film.
Padmé gets to wear some nice dresses in the movie that make her look beautiful. She even wears a white outfit that makes her look like Princess Leia in the later ‘Star Wars’ movies. Padmé struggles with her feelings when she and Anakin fall in love with each other, before she admits she loves him.
Anakin Skywalker, now 10 years older, is now played by Hayden Christensen. I got to say, I like Hayden’s performance as Anakin. Okay, I know it’s not perfect and I know people criticise Hayden’s performance. But honestly, I found Anakin 10 years later very compelling through Hayden’s performance.
In this film, Anakin has been training to become a Jedi under Obi-Wan’s guidance. But Anakin struggles to be at peace with his emotions and seems to want more with his position as a Jedi. This isn’t helped when Anakin reunites with Padmé again and he’s struggling by falling in love with her.
Okay, this is the best time to address my thoughts on the love story between Anakin and Padmé in this movie. In all honesty, I actually like the love story between them. I’m a sloppy guy and any sci-fi fantasy film that has romance between a man and a woman always appeals to me when I watch it.
It’s interesting how it’s developed in this ‘Star Wars’ movie. Anakin can’t fall in love with Padmé, since he’s a Jedi and Jedi aren’t allowed to fall in love. This is a hard struggle for Anakin as it is for Padmé, since he mustn’t let his feelings for her get in the way of his Jedi duties as well as in general.
I would’ve liked to have seen the romantic interaction between Anakin and Padmé developed more if this was a proper love story. However, this gets hampered by everything else that goes on in the film with Obi-Wan’s story; the clone army being built and the bounty hunter Jango Fett in the mix.
Like I said before, this movie is pretty busy with its visual effects sequences on Coruscant as well as the climactic battle scenes at the end. As much as those visual effects sequences are impressive, I do feel that there’s too much CGI in this movie since this distracts the audience with following the story.
Ian McDiarmid returns as Palpatine, now Chancellor of the Galactic Republic on Coruscant. Again, Palpatine seems to be a genuinely pleasant, open-hearted politician who shows concern for the Jedi in their fight against the Separatists. He even decrees the order for the clone army to assist the Jedi.
But does this mean that Palpatine is sincere in his duty as Chancellor of the Republic? There’s a scene between Palpatine and Anakin where he tells him that he considers him to become ‘the greatest of all Jedi’. Does it mean something? Is Palaptine more than he appears as he takes control?
Samuel L. Jackson returns as Mace Windu, a Jedi Master on the Jedi Council. Mace Windu has an extended role in this movie compared to his first appearance in ‘The Phantom Menace’. He gets an opportunity to wield a lightsaber when he and other Jedi are rescuing Obi-Wan, Anakin and Padmé.
I have to admit, I don’t find Mace Windu interesting as a character in the ‘Star Wars’ movies. That’s not really to do with Samuel L. Jackson’s performance (even though some say it is). I just don’t get excited when I see him in some scenes as he seems to be boring and bland throughout. Just saying!
There’s also…oh my goodness! Is that Christopher Lee as Count Dooku?! It is! Christopher Lee is in ‘Star Wars’! Um…WOW!!! Having seen him as Saruman in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, I was delighted to see him in this movie. And he’s playing a villain as well. Chris does so well as the villains!
Count Dooku is the leader of the Separatist movement and is now Darth Sidious’ new Sith apprentice. It was interesting to see the scene where Count Dooku attempts to persuade Obi-Wan to ‘destroy the Sith’. He also reveals to Obi-Wan that the Galactic Republic is being controlled by the Sith.
‘Attack of the Clones’ also features the second chronological appearance of Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Kenny Baker as R2-D2. C-3PO has a grey metallic covering to his body compared to the last time we saw him. I enjoyed it when C-3PO and R2-D2 accompanied Anakin and Padmé to Geonosis.
The conveyer belt scene with ‘machines building machines’ on Geonosis was funny as well as intense. Seeing Anakin, Padmé, C-3PO and R2-D2 was exciting as well as hilarious. I enjoyed it when C-3PO’s head and body got mixed up with a battle droid’s. R2-D2 was good to put C-3PO back together.
Yoda, voiced by Frank Oz, makes his second chronological appearance in the ‘Star Wars’ series and he looks more CGI than usual. George Lucas wanted to give Yoda a CGI makeover for his ‘Star Wars’ prequels instead of the ‘Muppet’ puppet. I actually prefer Yoda as a puppet instead of a CGI character.
However, Yoda’s fight with a lightsaber against Count Dooku is pretty awesome. I can see why George Lucas would want to do CGI Yoda rather than have him as a puppet in a lightsaber duel, since using a puppet would be tricky and CGI works better. But somehow, Yoda as a CGI character didn’t look real.
The film also features the return of Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker, Anakin’s mom. In the film, Anakin has a dream of his mother suffering and he and Padmé go to Tatooine to check how she is. But when they arrive, Shmi has been captured. Anakin goes out to rescue her before she sadly dies.
Anakin is enraged as he slaughters the Tusken Raiders who kidnapped and tortured his mom. He returns to Padmé and Shmi’s new family with his mother’s body. Anakin reveals to Padmé that he killed the Tusken Raiders, saying he ‘hates them’. This leads Anakin to his deadly road of darkness.
The film also features Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett, a bounty hunter who attempts to assassinate Padmé on the orders of Count Dooku. He’s also the template for the clone army being built for the Galactic Republic. There’s also Daniel Logan as Boba, Jango’s son who accompanies him to Geonosis.
There’s also Jack Thompson as Cliegg Lars who become Shmi Skywalker’s new husband on Tatooine. And there’s Joel Edgerton as Owen Lars and Bonnie Piesse as Beru Lars. The latter two become very significant in the ‘Star Wars’ history connected to Anakin Skywalker. But you’ll have to find out another time.
And there’s also…Jar Jar Binks (ARGH!!!), played by Ahmed Best. Fortunately though, Jar Jar doesn’t have a massive role to play in this movie. He’s mostly Padmé’s representative on Coruscant. Due to the ‘Star Wars’ fans’ hatred of Jar Jar Binks, George Lucas had him appear less for the second movie.
The climax of the movie features a lot of battle scenes on Geonosis, including a battle arena scene where Obi-Wan, Anakin and Padmé are about to be executed and the clone army turn up to fight against the battle droids. This is where things get really busy and I found it a struggle to follow here.
The issue I have with this is the establishment of the clone army as the ‘army for the Republic’. It’s not clear to me in terms of how it got established. Chancellor Palpatine seems to establish it in his address to the governing bodies of Coruscant, but I’m not certain how he had obtained the clone army.
I assume it’s from information given to the Jedi Council by Obi-Wan on his mission to the remote ocean planet of Kamino where he found the clone army. The Jedi Council could have told Palpatine about this information to summon the clone army. I’m assuming this as it’s not very clear in the film.
This is the problem I have with ‘Attack of the Clones’ as a film. It starts off well in the first two thirds with a conspiracy and a mystery going on as well as Anakin and Padmé’s romance. But by the time we get to end of the movie; everything seems so confusing and hard to keep track of with what’s going on.
The music by John Williams is impressive as ever. For this ‘Star Wars’ movie, John Williams composes a romantic love theme for Anakin and Padmé that becomes the signature music for ‘Attack of the Clones’. The theme is called ‘Across the Stars’ and is so melodic and sweet to listen to.
The DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a commentary with director/co-writer George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, film editor Ben Burtt, animation director Rob Coleman, visual effects supervisor Pablo Helman, visual effects supervisor John Knoll and visual effects supervisor Ben Snow.
On Disc 2, there are trailers and TV spots for ‘Attack of the Clones’. These include three teasers and one theatrical trailer for the film as well as an ‘Across the Stars’ music video. There are twelve TV spots for ‘Attack of the Clones’, including eight ‘Character Campaign’ spots and four ‘Action’ spots. There’s a ‘Documentaries’ section including two documentaries. This includes ‘From Puppets to Pixels: Digital Characters in Episode II’ which looks at how Yoda was turned into a CGI character. There’s also the ‘State of the Art: The Previsualisation of Episode II’ documentary which looks into how the movie was visualised. There’s also a ‘Deleted Scenes’ section, which includes eight exclusive deleted scenes that were cut from the film. These scenes include introductions from director/co-writer George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum and film editor Ben Burtt. The deleted scenes can be played all at once or separately. There’s a ‘Featurettes’ section. The ‘Featurettes’ are three short video featurettes that chronicles the making of the movie. There’s also a ‘Web Documentaries’ section. The ‘Web Documentaries’ is a twelve-part set of behind-the-scenes documentaries on ‘Attack of the Clones’. And there’s ‘Dex’s Kitchen and Still Galleries’. The ‘Still Galleries’ has ‘Exclusive Production Photos’, ‘One-Sheet Posters’ and an ‘International Outdoor Campaign’. ‘Dex’s Kitchen’ has ‘Films Are Not Released; They Escape’, the ‘Episode II Visual Effects Breakdown Montage’ and ‘R2-D2: Beneath the Dome’.
‘Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones’…is not a great film. It’s more or less on the same level as ‘The Phantom Menace’, but it does set things up with connecting the dots as to what will happen later on in the ‘Star Wars’ saga. I enjoyed the film when I saw it on DVD and still do to this very day.
There are problems with the movie and there’s no getting away from that. The thing that stands out for me from this movie is the romance between Anakin and Padmé. That won’t agree with everyone and I wish it was developed further in the movie, but it’s something for me to remember from the film.
It seems Anakin and Padmé’s romance is allowed to be blossom at the end? Will it be good or bad?
‘Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones’ rating – 7/10
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