Since everyone else is doing it, here’s my review of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. George Lucas can’t write. Nor can he direct. His dialogue is as hackneyed and wooden as a bad romance novels. In speaking of romance, the relationship between Haydn Christenson’s Anakin Skywalker and Natalie Portman’s Senator Amidala makes little sense. Some parts are bogged down by excessive exposition.
Yet by the end of the film, it all won’t matter that much.
The last 45 minutes of Clones has some of the most energetic battle sequences ever filmed. The battle scenes on the planet Genosis put just about every battle sequence filmed to shame. Those fan-boys (and girls) who wanted scenes of hundres of Jedi Knights in a mass lightsaber battle and lots of big explosions will need a change of pants by the end of the movie. Yes, Yoda fights. Yes, there’s lots of Force powers being used. Yes, we get more CGI fights than you can shake a stick at.
Does that excuse the previous hour and a half of bad writing and aimless direction? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re into space opera, you probably won’t mind. The beginning opens with some nice pieces including an aerial chase through the planet Coruscant that may make you wish you took some Dramamine before entering the theatre. Still, there’s a lot of exposition and scheming that slow down what should be nothing more than a popcorn adventure movie.
Another problem with Clones is that Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader is well, a whiny little bitch. He’s constantly telling us how powerful he is, using the mystical Force for parlor tricks, and complaining about how his master is quot;holding him back". It appears as though Anakin isn’t channeling the Dark Side of the Force, he’s tapping into the Petulant Side of the Force.
Natalie Portman does a better job with what little good dialog she has. She’s far more human and less wooden than in Episode I, but Lucas fails to make her relationship with Anakin click. Why in the world she would end up with Anakin after all his whining and the fact that he’s clearly not the most stable person in the world is never sufficiently explained. If I were in the Senator’s shoes, I’d be putting out a galactic restraining order on the stalker-like Skywalker.
Ewan McGregor does a good job at breathing some life into Obi-Wan Kenobi, and has managed to pick up the look and mannerisms of Alec Guinness almost eerily well. Samuel L. Jackson is at his best not when giving loads of exposition but when allowed to pick up his lightsaber and kick some ass. As always, Christopher Lee makes a great villian with his baritone voice and imposing presence.
The best actor in this movie is Yoda, whose CGI animated face and body is often more expressive than the human actors. In Clones we see Yoda walk, emote, fight, and generally kick some serious ass. The fact that this movie is mostly digital allows the CGI Yoda to be a convincing part of the action, and the job the animation team did on bringing the muppet to life is most certainly worthy of an Oscar. The advances in CGI mean that animators can now create characters that are as lifelike as a real person while allowing them to create some fantastic characters.
So, is Star Wars worth seeing? Well, it’s a deeply flawed movie, but it has some redeeming features that make it worth catching in a very large theatre with booming sound and a good print. Don’t expect Shakespeare, but do expect the kind of cheesy space opera and over-the-top battles that Star Wars fans will love.