Classic Film Review: Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Directed by: George Lucas

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz

 

Imagine the single kid in a group of people, listening to his friends eagerly await and discuss the Star Wars franchise and the latest film. Deciding he wants to be a part of their discussions in the future he goes home and watches all the films in episodic order. The first, The Phantom Menace, he allows for being poor as a franchise can have a poor film, but then he watches this. Five hours into the franchise and there’s still nothing overly positive to say about them. Attack of the Clones is set ten years after The Phantom Menace, with Anakin (now played by Hayden Christensen, Revenge of the Sith) an apprentice to Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor, The Phantom Menace), and the duo are tasked with protecting a now-senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman, Mars Attacks) and the galaxy is on the brink of a civil war. Obi-Wan soon wonders off to investigate the assassination attempt on Padme’s life and Anakin and Padme fall in love. And there’s a clone army.

Much like the first one, the music score is decent. The iconic sounds mixed in beautifully with the right music at the right time as is in an opera, and the visuals, for the most part, are impressive. Much like The Phantom Menace, the CGI and the world they live in is fleshed out, and we see a lot of that in a rather lengthy chase scene. There’s less of Jar Jar Binks, that’s major, major bonus for this film (and the only real reason I rate this film higher than its predecessor). And some of the acting is pretty decent, Ewan McGregor, for example, isn’t terrible. Neither is Samuel L. Jackson. I mean, they’re not exactly brilliant, but they’re not terrible. Who is terrible, though, is Hayden Christensen. I was warned by people prior to this film that his acting was bad, but I wasn’t expecting the monotone, emotionless and borderline-lifeless performance he delivers. His romance with Padme comes out of nowhere and I never bought into it because of his poor deliverance.

Much like the first there’s a lot of talking and disputes and political ramblings without much threat or action early on, and is just as boring at times as the first film. None of the characters are really given much development, except for Anakin, whose turn to the dark side is actually quite nicely set up, but Hayden Christensen’s poor performance takes away any of that development. And the final fight scene, while impressive to look at, is it a necessity that Jedi must dance and hop and jump and spin during a fight? Surely winning the fight should be more pleasing than spinning. And do the clones attack anyone? And why isn’t anything made of Anakin’s chopped off arm, surely that’s a big event in his life, but it’s just brushed aside like another day in the life of a Jedi.

I feel like between The Phantom Menace’s review and this one I’ve criticised Star Wars a lot, so let’s throw some praise at it: it’s funnier than the first. I actually found myself laughing at some of the interactions between R2D2 and C3PO (although they did milk it for all it’s worth . . . I can’t praise anything in this film without a criticism hiding around the corner!) The finale is a lot better, too, with all the droids and clones and Jedi in a mini war, although the clones and the droids are so disposable and weak and non-threatening that I never once cared or worried that the characters may die or be hurt or struggle to win over.

And the wipes. So. Many. Wipes. I know they’re a staple of the franchise but they look pathetic and it’ll probably be mentioned in every Star Wars review.

Here’s hoping Revenge of the Sith is better (I’ve given up hoping one of these films is good, for now, and simply hoping that they’re better).

 

Plot: * *

Acting: * *

Writing: * *

Presentation: * * *

Overall Rating: * * ¼

 

Other films in the Star Wars series:

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