Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Stars:   Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, Frank Oz
Director:   George Lucas
Writers:    George Lucas, Jonathan Hales

The digital film making in this latest of the Star Wars saga is far superior to the fuzzy last episode, The Phantom Menace. Production designs of the alternate universes are stunning, the costumes beautiful and the visual effects can be eye-popping. Where Attack of the Clones fails miserably is in the story, the dialogue and in its inconsistencies.

It’s now ten years later and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is an accomplished Jedi apprentice to Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). The two of them have been ordered to protect Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), whose life is endangered by separatists who want her dead. Last time around, she was a Queen and Anakin was a mere obnoxious boy of nine. Now he’s a whiny obnoxious teenager and, as if by magic, he appears to be around the same age as Amidala who had to have had at least five or more years on him previously, even if she were just a teen queen. We’re supposed to believe that a woman who has had such high political standing would fall in love with this whiny dork. The scenes between them are the dullest of the film. Listening to him speak words of love to her is beyond laughable. She insists they shouldn’t be getting involved and the next scene places them in a meadow at a picnic, flirting. In fact, they flirt every chance they get and it hurts to watch them. As for Hayden Christensen, the young Anakin dork … he really couldn’t have been the best they could find, could he?

As much as I liked the costuming, seeing Amidala in a new outfit in every scene was a bit much. She had on more outfits than Cher during a concert.

Yoda deserves special mention. He was more affectionate when he was a plain puppet rather than Lucas’ new digital creation. His backward speech pattern grates mercilessly. Additionally, you may remember that Yoda walks infirmly, with a cane or hovers around in a chair. But give that little guy a light saber and suddenly he’s jumping and spinning like Bruce Lee on amphetamines. It’s ludicrous.

There is an unusual stiffness in almost all of the characters. The dialogue is stilted as much as their body language. This results in our lack of emotional investment in the fate of these people. Faring the best are Christopher Lee as the menacing Count Dooku and Ewan Mcgregor who seems more comfortable this time around. Samuel L. Jackson is pretty much wasted here, as he was before. And you may notice that Jimmy Smits is in the film … for a split second or so. They may as well have used an extra than cast him in this nonexistent part. Then, there’s that miserable and annoying Jar Jar Binks character. Thankfully, he doesn’t talk too much this time.

Lotta says it’s worth seeing for the effects and design; most will love the action sequences, all done well, although the battles are beginning to look the same. I think this franchise is waning with each new release. If only they could bring back Luke, Han and Leia.

Reviewed 5/17/02