STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES review – Star Wars Special

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STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI (2017) is just around the corner. But why wait to review Star Wars movies? Until its inevitable release, I’m going to review all the core films in celebration! There may not be a lot of them, but there’s a lot to say about them. Everybody’s got their own opinion of the order in which the movies should be viewed: by release (IV through VI, then I through III) or in chronological order (I through VI). But others, like myself, think there’s a better way to view them. I’m going to review the core films in the following order, subsequently how I also believe they should be viewed:

  1. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)
  2. EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977)
  3. EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)
  4. EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)
  5. EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
  6. EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
  7. EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)

In addition, I’ll try and do a fresh review of my FORCE AWAKENS (2015) review. This is going to be so much fun, yo! This is my “LAST JEDI Celebration Until Release” special!

After the release of PHANTOM (1999), it actually took quite awhile before legit negativity finally surrounded it. Of course, that didn’t stop public interest in seeing the sequel. Anakin was older, Obi-Wan was an official Jedi training Anakin, there was the promise of seeing a ton of Jedi fighting, including Mace Windu and Yoda, the origins of fan-favorite Boba Fett, as well as the rise of the clone troopers that would eventually become the Empire’s stormtroopers, and we were finally going to get an answer to what “The Clone Wars” were when Luke Skywalker referenced them in A NEW HOPE (1977). We were finally heading in the direction the lead to the original trilogy’s timeline, so there was a lot of hype. And as you can imagine, I was totally stoked. I think what I remember most about the advertisements was the character-specific TV spots.

For whatever reason, I loved that these characters were being showcased in their own mini-trailers, which got me all the more excited. Though one does have to ask regarding Mace Windu’s TV spot, half his descriptions make no sense. “Hologram Projector?” “Clone Gunship?” Sure, “Electrum Lightsaber” and “Profession: Jedi Master” make enough sense but both the Clone Gunship and hologram projector were pretty universally used by the Jedi. Why did Mace get specific dibs on those? Whatever, PURPLE LIGHTSABER!!!

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Hayden Christensen (JUMPER [2008], AWAKE [2007], THE VIRGIN SUICIDES [1999], and the upcoming LITTLE ITALY [2018]), Ewan McGregor (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST [2017], CASSANDRA’S DREAM [2007], A LIFE LESS ORDINARY [1997], and upcoming films ZOE [2018] and CHRISTOPHER ROBIN [2018]), Natalie Portman (SONG TO SONG [2017], THE DARJEELING LIMITED [2007], MARS ATTACKS! [1997], and the upcoming ANNIHILATION [2018]), and Ian McDiarmid (THE LOST CITY OF Z [2017], SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999], and DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS [1988]). In support, we have Samuel L. Jackson (THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD [2017], 1408 [2007], JACKIE BROWN [1997], and upcoming films THE LAST FULL MEASURE [2018] and INCREDIBLES II [2018]), Frank Oz (INSIDE OUT [2015], ZATHURA [2005], MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND [1996], LABYRINTH [1986], and THE MUPPET MOVIE [1979]), the late and great Christopher Lee (THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES [2014], THE GOLDEN COMPASS [2007], SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999], GREMLINS 2: THE NEXT BATCH [1990], 007 THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN [1974], DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS [1966], and THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN [1957]), Temuera Morrison (VERTICAL LIMIT [2000], SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL [1997], video game STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT II [2017], and upcoming films OCCUPATION [2018] and AQUAMAN [2018]), and Jimmy Smits (STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE, TV show NYPD BLUE [1993 – 2005], and TV mini-series THE TOMMYKNOCKERS [1993]).

Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing is George Lucas, known for AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973). Lucas’ partner-in-pen is Jonathan Hales (a lot of Young Indiana Jones stuff). Composing the score is, of course, John Williams, known for THE BFG (2016), WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005), SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET (1997), EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1987), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977), and upcoming films THE POST (2018) and Star Wars Episode IX (2019). Finally, the cinematographer is David Tattersall, known for THE FOREIGNER (2017), THE HUNTING PARTY (2007), and CON AIR (1997).

This is my honest opinion of: STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES

(SUMMARY)

Set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Ten years after the Trade Federation was driven from Naboo, former Queen Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), now a respected Senator of the Republic has just survived an assassination attempt just as plans are put into motion to try and unite the galaxy that is about to be divided. Believing her life is still in danger, Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) requests that the Jedi protect her, specifically Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his Padawan apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), whom still holds a torch for Padmé. As the mystery of who is trying to kill Padmé becomes clearer, a looming threat of galactic war and the dark side of the Force clouding the vision of the Jedi Masters begins to take form.

(REVIEW)

Oh boy… yeah, this movie really didn’t age well. In fact, I think it’s worse than PHANTOM.

The first problem, which is consistent throughout the entire film, is sadly Anakin. If there was ever a horribly written character for a protagonist, this is the poster child. He’s whiny, he’s a brat, he’s creepy, he’s downright unlikable. Look, the Star Wars films have a nasty history of having whiny main characters. Anakin from PHANTOM, Anakin later on in REVENGE (2005), Luke in both HOPE (1977) and EMPIRE (1980), and Kylo Ren in AWAKENS (2015). Literally, the only movies that didn’t were JEDI (1983) and ROGUE ONE. Out of eight films, only two didn’t have annoying protagonists. That’s not good. But you know something, even at their worst, you can make arguments as to why they were whiny. Anakin was ten years old in PHANTOM. Ten year olds can get whiny. Kylo’s temper tantrums were only two scenes, and Luke’s whininess was only a few scenes as well. But nothing compares to the bitching and moaning that was Anakin in this movie.

The first scene with him almost runs the full gambit of his problems. If it’s been ten years since he’s seen Padmé, how has he carried such a torch for her all these years later? How in hell has he not moved on and only gotten worse as time went by? “I’ve thought about her every day since we’ve parted and… she’s forgotten me completely.” Oh my god, here’s paper shredder, please insert your man-card inside. She’s a damned Republic Senator up to her funky hair in problems that need resolving, NOT TO MENTION an assassination attempt that happened just hours ago, and he’s upset that she isn’t swooning over him right there in full view of an audience, including his own Jedi Master on his right, not just a few inches away? “You’ll always be that little boy I knew on Tatooine.” NO KIDDING!!! And that’s just the first scene with him. It gets so much worse!

When Padmé is fast asleep and Anakin and Obi-Wan are talking as the icky space centipedes are making their way to her, Anakin hasn’t been sleeping well because he’s been dreaming about his mother. Then outright says, “I’d much rather dream about Padmé.” OUR HERO, EVERYBODY!!! Never mind the woman that gave birth to him, raised him as a single mother, loved him, cared for him, provided for him, on whatever a salary is for a slave, and LEFT HER BEHIND TO BECOME A JEDI, FULLY SUPPORTING HIS DREAM, AND REMAINING A SLAVE A DECADE LATER!!! No no no, he would rather think about aggressively negotiating between the sheets. Straightened priorities, y’all!

And none of this does any favors for his creepiness. Before the space centipedes, he says, “She covered the cameras. I don’t think she liked me watching her.” No woman would, you pervert. And in her bedroom as Padmé us packing to leave for Naboo with Anakin, she says to him, “Don’t try to grow up too fast.” First of all, woman, he’s nineteen years old. He’s a grown-ass adult… supposedly. Second, “But am grown up. You said it yourself.” The look Anakin gives her is such a creeper stare that it made me feel like making a bee line to human resources. “Please don’t look at me like that.” “Why not?” “It makes me feel uncomfortable.” “I’m sorry my lady.” That smile he gives her as she storms away, gyech!! I’m cringing and trying to back away in my seat just thinking about it. What the hell, dude?! Was he seriously getting a chubby off of making her creeped out?!

And for a character who is supposed to be more of an adult right now at nineteen years of age, Anakin comes across as more of a child. In that same scene before he creeps out Padmé, he’s makes the claims that he’s ready for the Jedi trials and that Obi-Wan is is as wise as Yoda (Frank Oz) and powerful as Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson), being “truly thankful to be his apprentice.” But then in probably the biggest mood swing that you’d swear to God that women on their periods would be calmer and more collected than this, he starts bitching by saying, “[Obi-Wan] thinks I’m too unpredictable and won’t let me move on!” and “He’s overly critical, he never listens, he doesn’t understand! It’s not fair!” A couple lines ago, Padmé said that he’d grown up. Boy was that a load of bantha poodoo mere seconds later.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

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Look, I’m sure that’s what Lucas was going for when writing the character and that it was one of the factors that ultimately led him to the dark side, but when you look at the imposing figure that is Darth Vader, the very guy that crushed a man’s throat with his bare hands, Force-choked an Imperial officer via a vid-screen, and practically took on a small squadron of Rebel soldiers after the Death Star plans were stolen right out from under the Empire’s noses, would you have ever at any point looked at that person and thought, yes… Darth Vader was an immature brat in his early adulthood. That’s what I wanted to see. No, if anything, Anakin should more or less have blossoming ideas about the limitations of the Jedi, but still remain loyal to the Order and considerate friend to Obi-Wan. It would have been vastly more interesting than a, “It’s not fair!” while undressing Padmé with his eyes.

 

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***END SPOILERS***

How about that relationship between Anakin and Padmé in general? It’s completely unjustified. Okay, Anakin had a crush on her when he was a kid. Cool, sweet, no problems whatsoever. Every little boy develops a crush on an older lady at least once in his childhood. That’s natural. What doesn’t add up is Anakin’s romantic feelings. What does Padmé do to warrant those feelings? What about her character makes him compromise his training and position in the Jedi Order, his passion-dream since he was a kid? Okay, she was the Queen of Naboo, led and coordinated an attack that caused the Trade Federation to leave her planet. But that’s listing her video game stats, that’s not character. What are her feelings? What are her passions? What can the audience relate to about Padmé? Hell, if anything, you can make the very real argument that she’s just as whiny as Anakin, believing that after her royal ship just got blown up and the threat on her life isn’t that serious, doesn’t need more protection, and when she’s ordered to hide out on Naboo, she doesn’t like the idea of hiding. In that respect, maybe she and Anakin are perfect for each other. But at least you can kind of understand why she has her problems. She created the bill that would give the Republic an army to use if they need it, and because of these failed assassination attempts, she won’t be around to see what will happen to it. So that’s perfectly understandable. But how does that warrant romantic feelings? She shows no attraction to him, is only interested in making the galaxy a better place, and all Anakin does is disrupt that. There’s no build-up to their attraction. It also doesn’t help that both actors are give atrocious dialog that even Tim McGraw would make fun of.

In fact, if anything, Padmé is given all the reason in the world not to want to be with him. She already had to cover cameras so that he wouldn’t watch her, asked him to to keep his eyes to himself due to her discomfort. Even in that pivotal scene when the two are sitting in the dark with Portman’s cleavage all over the place, Anakin just keeps pushing for her to admit her feelings and even when she’s completely shut him out, refusing to admit feelings she does or doesn’t have, he’s all like, “We can keep it a secret.” Shut up, you dumb horny kid! This lack of respect should have been enough for her to consider him a lost cause.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

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The crowning moment for them to never be together was when Anakin goes on that killing spree of his after finding his mother. Look, I actually don’t blame the guy for it. In fact, I think as far as a gut reaction is concerned, it’s not the worst idea and we finally see that hint of the future Darth Vader. Here’s what I do have a problem with: when Anakin tells Padmé that he didn’t just kill the warrior men, but the Tusken Raider women and children too.

 

Hey, I fancy myself a Star Wars fan. I’ve played a few extended universe games. I know the Raiders are just fairly savage and uncivilized people, but they’re still people. I can believe that the women aren’t above putting up a fight, but I have a strong feeling that the children don’t put up great fights. Meaning, killing them was senseless. Children, dude. That’s an incredibly long list of screwed up, I wouldn’t even know where to begin with that. Well, maybe I can satisfyingly just say that Anakin murdering Tusken children should be enough for Padmé to not want to be with him. Fine, he’s hurting, he has baggage, women occasionally go for guys that they want to fix, but not like this. And not mere hours later after the fact to admit feelings.

 

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***END SPOILERS***

Beyond Anakin and Padmé, what else is wrong with the movie? Mostly a bunch of little things. When Obi-Wan starts looking for the missing planet Kamino, he talks to Yoda about advice while he’s teaching a class of younglings. Why is it that it’s an eight year old kid is the one who tells him that someone erased from the archive memory? How is this supposed impossibility not registered as a possibility for the adults? The humor that C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) belts out is really bad and desperate. “This is such a drag.” “Oh, I’m quite beside myself.” Ugh, give me a break. By the way, is a protocol droid’s body even remotely compatible with a battle droid’s? How can he kind of control their bodies when his head is attached to one? Why does Zam Wesell’s blaster pistol sound like a TIE fighter’s guns? A 60’s diner? Really? In the Star Wars universe?! Come on, guys! More than that, it’s just a horrible script with lines of dialog that make zero sense.

OBI-WAN
It’s too risky. Besides, your senses aren’t as attuned
as mine.

ANAKIN
And yours are?

OBI-WAN
Possibly.

Um… what?

Alright, alright. I once said that I don’t hate the prequels. While certainly I will polish my words in the future having revisited them, there must be something in this movie to like, right? Well… yes. As a matter of fact, there is a few things that I like, even within this movie.

The film is still visually pleasing to look at. Coruscant still looks awesome, Naboo still looks beautiful, Tatooine is still great, and Geonosis looks cool too. Visually, the film is still wonderful.

And ironically, the best part of the romance between Anakin and Padmé was not their romance itself, but rather John Williams’ score for it. Again, how much of a testament is it to Williams’ brilliance that his score “Across the Stars” is the what stood out about that relationship?

As far in between as the action is this time around, I do really like it. That fight scene with Obi-Wan and Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison) still really stands out. Seriously, why is Boba Fett a fan favorite again? I know, I know! Extended universe and all, but in the movies, he does nothing. Jango fought off a Jedi Knight and defeated him. Twice! I read that the whole point of that scene was to showcase a more hand-to-hand fight, which I did appreciate. I wish that the fight scene featured more of it, as it seemed like most of the struggle was Obi-Wan trying to get his saber back, rather than putting up a legit melee fight. I mean, really, Jedi may be married to their sabers, but stuff happens. They have to have their melee styles of fighting should they ever get separated from their sabers. Still, I enjoyed that scene immensely.

Also, death sticks.

Yes. Just… a thousand yeses and laughs from me. Love that bit.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

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But what absolutely saves the film from being wholly bad, in my opinion, is the ending. Specifically the moment when Mace Windu and the army of Jedi show up to save Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Padmé. When those lightsabers lit up, I got the chills dude. I squirmed in my seat with excitement. And when that army of battle droids came charging toward a charging army of Jedi, I nerdgasmed SOOOOOO hard, you have no idea. I’ve loved the Jedi so much, but this was everything that I wanted and more. And then when they’re all huddled together about the be executed, I nerdgasmed again when the Clones arrived with Yoda! I screamed with pleasure at how many droid bits were flying all over the place. Armies en mass just charging toward each other with the Jedi in the lead. And Dooku (Christopher Lee) versus Anakin and Obi-Wan… and then Dooku versus A JUMPING AND FLIPPING LIGHTSABER WIELDING YODA!!! Oh my god, I still can’t get over how awesome that was! Shut up, I’m not asking why he needs that walking stick of his, YODA HAS A LIGHTSABER AND IS JUMPING AND FLIPPING AROUND!!! SHHHH SHHHHH SHHHHHHHH I AM IMMUNE TO YOUR LOGICAL QUESTIONS!!!

 

Ehem… bottom line, the final twenty some odd minutes made the movie worthwhile. I’m in love with those scenes quite passionately.

 

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***END SPOILERS***

On the whole, no, the movie’s not very good. I have some huge problems with the Anakin as the protagonist and the relationship between him and Padmé. It’s a mess of a film and I find it impossible to defend for the most part. But really, if it weren’t for the last twenty minutes of the movie, I’d consider this a straight-up bad film. Instead, it’s simply… not good. Of all the Star Wars films, this one makes me the most upset and I have the most problems with. I think the last act of the film is worth watching, but the two hours it takes for me to get to that point is… debatable if it’s worth the journey. The saga sure did continue, but it continued with an epic stumble.

My honest rating for STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES: a weak 3/5

clones

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