“Why do I get the feeling that you’re going to be the death of me?” Oh, Obi-Wan.
Seven Days of Star Wars continues! Day 2 is proud to present, live-streamed from Coruscant and in conjunction with the Jedi Council, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones!
Where the Phantom Menace had enormous shoes to fill, Attack of the Clones had a simpler task: be better than the Phantom Menace. Decades worth of hype had brought the biggest franchise ever crashing down, and once again, Obi-Wan was the galaxy’s only hope.
Set ten years after the Phantom Menace, young Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is now a Jedi Padawan, and after several attempts are made on Senator Amidala’s (Natalie Portman) life, he is assigned as her guard, while his master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) tracks down her assassin. Meanwhile, as a growing separatist movement threatens to undermine the Republic, the Dark Side of the Force grows stronger, as the Jedi Council struggle to maintain peace in the Republic.
With certainly a much stronger story than its predecessor, Attack of the Clones starts off quite slowly, all lush palaces and clinical factories, as its characters once again fall into the heavy political expository trap of Episode I. At least here it is necessary, as the galaxy must fall apart to be put back together again in the original trilogy, and these ploys to gain control of the Republic are much more interesting and closer to what the series is about (much more so than taxation disputes). However, the love story between Anakin and Padme that is so fundamental to the family drama of the story (and was so iconic as a part of my childhood) barely manages to captivate audiences, despite its tragic nature. Anakin’s whiny arrogance, and his possessive, stalker-like gaze over Padme is far from endearing, and it clashes heavily against Padme’s driven, empowered sense of duty, overpowering any chemistry and making it tough to see sparks. She can do so much better.
Though this meant that the film relies heavily on Obi-Wan’s discovery of the Clone Army and Jango Fett to succeed, this wasn’t a bad thing at all; it gave the film much-needed mystery and action and allowed it to become more enjoyable as it continued, culminating in the spectacular showdown in the arena which finally allowed us to see the true potential of the Jedi at the height of their powers. The film’s CGI is barely improved from Episode I, but it still manages to keep the scenes grounded, and in some ways is preferable to the swirling CGI masses we see in blockbusters today. The tense battle between Count Dooku and Yoda is also thrilling: it’s such an important moment for Yoda, showcasing his vast power, but it’s also our first look at the battle between the Dark Side and the Light, signalling the battle of wills to come. The action overall in Episode II is far better than the Phantom Menace, and many scenes are up there even with Return of the Jedi’s scale, and even the starship chase at the beginning is fun, albeit pulled down by Anakin’s cocky quipping.
Because Anakin is, unfortunately, the worst part of this film (even worse than Jar Jar Binks – yes, I said it). Though his attitude is meant as a more roguish cockiness, Han Solo he is not, and it only serves to make him more unlikeable and barely redeems him at all, weighed down by a cringe-worthy performance from Christensen and George Lucas’ dialogue. But Obi-Wan Kenobi is, again, one of the greatest parts of this film, more reserved than his Padawan days, but still badass, and it is interesting to see the Jedi Council, Mace Windu and Yoda expanded upon. Christopher Lee’s Count Dooku is an imposing force, and our first glimpses of Chancellor Palpatine’s shift towards the Dark Side are chilling.
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones is far from a perfect movie; it works in part, not whole. The parts it focuses on most are where it problems lie – Anakin and Padme’s love story fails to enchant, and Anakin has yet to prove himself a worthy character – but when the film shifts tone to Obi-Wan and his clone army, Attack of the Clones really gets into gear, giving us the epic clash we were waiting for. It’s not perfect, but it’s better. And at least there’s less Jar Jar.
Do you think that Attack of the Clones is a step up from the Phantom Menace? Or will nothing compare to originals? Let me know in the comments!
Photos taken from IMDb.com: