May 16, 2002
Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman,
Hayden Christiansen, Christopher Lee, Ian McDiarmid, and Samuel
George Lucas and Rick McCallum
George Lucas and Jonathan Hales
21st Century Fox
Older children and adult
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Star Wars II: Attack of the
By Movieguide Magazine
- Set ten years after The Phantom Menace, Star Wars II: Attack of
the Clones begins with the former Queen Padme Amidala, now Senator Amidala
(played by Natalie Portman), traveling to a crucial political convention on
the homeworld of the Galactic Republic. She and the other senators are scheduled
to vote on whether to create a huge army to confront a growing separatist
movement among the planets in the Republic. Someone tries to assassinate her,
but a clever stand-in takes the hit instead.
Soon Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Ewan McGregor) and his Padawan
(knight-in-training) Anakin Skywalker (played by newcomer Hayden Christensen)
are called in to protect Padme and discover the identity of her assassin.
Meanwhile, a rogue Jedi named Count Dooku leads the separatists to rebel against
the Senate. The Supreme Chancellor of the Senate, Senator Palpatine, moves
for a vote of emergency powers so he can establish a large army to protect
the Republic, which has not had a full-scale war for a thousand years.
As Obi-Wans investigations lead him to an intentionally elusive planet called
Kamino, he finds a 200,000-member clone army being produced, with a bounty
hunter named Jango Fett as the master clone. During a pulse-pounding intergalactic
chase, Jango leads Obi Wan to Geonosis, where he meets Count Dooku and finds
out a disturbing revelation about the former Jedi.
Left behind to protect Padme, Anakin's childhood feelings for her continue
to progress from friendship to romance. Understanding the crucial nature of
each of their very different callings, however, the two leaders are conflicted
in their willingness to let themselves become romantically attached. A Jedi
Knight is supposed to withdraw from personal attachments, and Padme has her
role as Senator to fulfill. When a tragedy threatens Anakins mother, Anakin
pairs up with Padme as a warrior, instead of a love interest.
After some shocking and disturbing finds, deep bitterness of heart soon threatens
both the love relationship between Anakin and Padme, and the kingdom as a
whole. A strategic battle must be fought where odds are against the good guys,
and clear-headed, unified decisions must be made with split-second precision.
Some crucial questions remain: Will the important and beloved Senator live,
or will her own decision to endanger her life spoil the protection once afforded
her? Does young Anakin possess the stuff of a true and loyal Jedi warrior,
or will his rash actions, immaturity and personal wounds overshadow his good
judgment? Are the clones truly fighting for the Republic, or might there be
some mixed alliances foreshadowed? Will there be enough Jedi power to resist
the growing enemy coalition with its mixed bag of compromisers? Will the Republic
survive such a Civil War?
Attack of the Clones has most of the fun elements true Star Wars
fans look for, especially in the movies more exciting, more dynamic second
half. There are incredible fight scenes, fast and fun spacecrafts swirling
about, clever intergalactic battles, and every special effect in the book.
In typical George Lucas style, this movie brings us numerous imaginative new
creatures, several futuristic bar scenes, and incredibly detailed and realistic
backgrounds for every scene all with the help of computer-generated images.
Teenage boys will love the fight scenes, battle sequences and space races
in the spaceships that look like sports cars, and adults will marvel at the
cities in the sky, which look a lot like Times Square on steroids. The costuming
and audio effects are unbeatable.
Regrettably, the first half of this movie is not very convincing. A couple
of the stunts during the movies first chase scene, for instance, are unbelievable,
much like the early scenes in the worst of the Indiana Jones movies that George
Lucas did, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The acting by Hayden
Christensen as Anakin/Darth Vader and Natalie Portman as Padme and the scripting
of their characters dialogue are also unbelievable and poorly done. This
second item is, perhaps, the movies fatal flaw and doesnt bode well for
Star Wars III. It doesnt help, however, that the story in the first
half of the movie is weak in that it consists mainly of Anakin and Obi-wan
Kenobi protecting Padmes life and tracking down two mysterious villains,
who dont really engage the audience until much later, if at all. Heroic actions
like the kind on which the Star Wars movies thrive require a definite
villain and a positive goal of some kind. Eventually, this does happen when
Obi-wan meets up with the bounty hunter behind the assassination attempts
on Padme and when the movie introduces Count Dooku, the man behind the separatist
movement. The movies climactic battle scenes are, collectively speaking,
among the best that have ever been done.
Despite the weak acting by Christensen and Portman, Ewan McGregor is great
as Obi-Wan Kenobi. The first part of the movie should have concentrated more
on Obi-Wan and Anakin working together to defeat the villains; the petulant
attitude from Anakin during much of the movies first half was continually
grating, with not much explanation on why Anakin was being so surly so much
of the time. Once the story kicks into overdrive, this problem mostly vanishes.
Also wonderful is Christopher Lee as Count Dooku. Lee does a marvelous job
of being earnestly menacing and cryptic at the same time. Viewers wont know
until the ending just which side Dooku is really supporting. As for Samuel
L. Jackson, viewers may want to see more of his character, who seems to show
only two emotions quiet pensiveness or slightly angry. Lucas needs to give
this character much more depth.
Finally, the movie would not be half as fun were it not for the very funny
events and dialogue that happen when C3PO, the talkative droid, gets involved
in the action at the end of the movie. Much credit should go to Anthony Daniels
marvelous delivery of some really humorous lines.
Some of the spiritual parallels in Star Wars II are also wonderful.
Obi-Wan tells Anakin, "Be mindful of your thoughts. Dont focus on the
dark side." At another point, a friend reminds Obi-Wan, "Jedis should
know the difference between knowledge and wisdom." One of the villains
tells Anakin something like, "Trust your feelings . . . eventually youll
become more powerful than the highest of Jedis." This comment undercuts
the regrettable, Romantic elements in the first trilogy, because it shows
that emotions are something that Anakin must be "mindful" of, as
Obi-Wan is wont to say.
Though conflicted at times, Anakin also comes out with some real wisdom.
He tells Padme, "Jedis are to have no attachments or possessions, but
compassion and unconditional love are essential for a warriors life. We are
encouraged to love." Padme encourages decisions to be made by first following
each thought to its logical and pragmatic conclusion. If the decision is not
good, the decision is not a wise one.
Anakin often speaks like a teenager as he says, "Im ready for lifes
trials . . . . Obi-Wan is over-critical of me! He just doesnt understand!"
Padme answers him, "Mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than
we like. Its how we grow up." Later, Anakin states, "I will be
the most powerful Jedi ever!" Regrettably, his motivation stems from
bitterness and anger, and some of his subsequent actions prove to be disastrous.
This is the point of the story, however, which is supposed to describe why
Anakin becomes Darth Vader and why Obi-Wan Kenobi becomes Anakins sworn enemy.
Star Wars II continues the first episodes appropriate warnings about
the corruption of power and the dangers of creating a totalitarian dictatorship.
These warnings sometimes sound very conservative, if not biblical. This time,
however, this positive element is diluted by brief, mild politically correct
elements, including shallow references to "democracy" and a joke
about campaign contributions.
Worst of all, however, Star Wars II seems to have abandoned the positive,
theistic orientation that the first episode seemed to be moving toward. Apparently,
George Lucas has decided to slightly reinforce the Buddhist leanings of the
saga, where the heroes (and villains) engage an impersonal, illogical, spiritual,
and transcendent "Force" in a mystical, partially occult way. Happily,
Lucas has decided to downplay these elements in favor of the sagas epic,
action-oriented struggle between good and evil, with evil represented by a
corrupt Empire manipulated by corrupt villains who have sin in their hearts.
The other negative elements are there, nevertheless. They, and the movies
strong action violence, merit a caution for older children and young teenagers
and make the movie unacceptable for younger children.
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