Star Wars: Episode Two—Attack of the Clones (2002)
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman
Director: George Lucas
A decade after the events that occurred in the Phantom Menace, there is unrest in the Galactic Senate. Several thousand Solar Systems have declared their desire to leave the Republic. A Separatist movement, under the leadership of malicious former Jedi Master, Count Dooku has made it difficult for the limited Jedi Knights to maintain peace in the Republic. With Count Dooku threatening the peace, the Galactic Senate debates whether to enact the Military Creation Act, allowing the formation of an army for the protection of the Republic. Senator Padmè Amidala, former Queen of Naboo returns to Coruscant to cast her vote against the act. A failed assassination attempt upon her arrival, prompts Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to request Jedi Knights, Obi-Wan and his apprentice, Anakin to protect her. Under Anakin’s protection, love blossoms between the pair.
After the long awaited release of Episode One–The Phantom Menace, was met with mixed reviews, George Lucas came back with Episode II—Attack of the Clones. With two storylines intertwined, this movie is packed with action and romance. Also, thanks to technological advancements Lucas is able to depict the beauty of outer space, including detailed space stations and planets in a way that was impossible in 1977.
Attempting to follow the storyline pattern of the The Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones splits up its leading cast to pursue separate adventures before reuniting them for the final battle against evil. Unfortunately, this time the intertwined storylines did not flow, and instead made it difficult to follow along. The plot was well thought out, but poor direction and dreadful acting failed to let the storyline shine. Newcomer, Hayden Christensen was an unsuitable choice to fill the illustrious role of Anakin Skywalker. Even his attractiveness could not disguise his dreadful acting. Likewise, the romance between Anakin and Padmè was overall a cringe-worthy moment. The stiff and flat dialogue between the pair was not a convincing portrayal of love. Furthermore, the brief reappearance of the most despised sidekick in all of history, Jar Jar Binks, is completely irrelevant to the overall plot.
Consequently, the phenomenal special effects and features allowed the film to redeem itself. The final battle scene really puts the “Wars” back in Star Wars. I never thought Yoda in a lightsaber duel would ever look amazing, but it does. Similarly, Obi-Wan’s duel with Jango Fett in the rain is superb. There is a great mixture of hand-on-hand combat and lightsaber vs. blasters. Also, the mystery of who is trying to assassinate Padmè leads the film in a highly enjoyable suspense thrill reminiscent of an old private detective film.
All in all, middle episodes in trilogies have the potential to be dissatisfying. Unlike, The Empire Strikes Back which dazzled us with action and romance while bridging the gap between the films, Attack of the Clones unfortunately left us disappointed. The overall, sub par acting and ill-portrayed romance overshadowed the rest of the plot. Despite the exceptional special effects and grand lightsaber duels, this movie deserves only 2.5 stars.