WARNING: Spoilers for Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
This piece accompanies the most recent episode of Brett's Flix available on our YouTube channel here.
Aha! Here is where the actual Skywalker Saga starts! Here is where the characters that actually matter make decisions that affect the story. And it’s not exactly the best start either. Nor was the last one though, was it? At least we don’t have that awful start and stop nature of the last film. George has learned. Instead we have long stretches of good followed by long stretches of terrible. So, pick your poison! Hahaha.
I genuinely enjoy Obi-Wan’s story in this film. The mystery of Jango is handled rather well. Its plot is just the right amount of complicated. George learned from having a 4-part climax at the end of the last film. There are way less moving pieces here. Make it simpler, make it more emotionally charged, and make it happen from a character’s point of view. But I’ll get into the climax later. I like the whole plot to find Padme’s assassin. And I like how the discovery of Jango leads to the Separatists and the Clone Army. Palpatine’s plan is coming into view and it’s really neat seeing it start to come together. These events are what actually start affecting Anakin and his turn to the Dark Side. I also can’t talk about this movie without bringing up Christopher Lee as Count Dooku. The dude in a tour de force. Dooku is the main villain mentioned in the opening crawl, but he doesn’t show up until over an hour into the film. Between this film and the next, Lee probably has a MAXIMUM of 15 minutes of footage. And he KILLS IT. He has such a presence, such a voice. He commands every shot he is in. George knew what he was doing when he cast Lee.
But then I have to put up with long stretches of Anakin and Padme’s “love story”. It’s seriously just a series of scenes that make me want to barf. We get the famous “I hate sand” line. Genius. In the worst possible way. The problem is there is no conflict here with their romance. There is nothing keeping them apart. BORING!! And why does Anakin have to be so creepy?! Seriously in half of his scenes with Padme, she seems like she’s screaming for help. I feel so bad for Natalie Portman. The dialogue is SOOOOO HORRIBLE. George, you outdid yourself here with the terrible dialogue. How can the man who wrote one of the greatest on-screen romances ever follow it up with one of the worst!?
I think the main character is supposed to be Obi-Wan in this one. He is the one that is actively engaged in solving the plot to murder Padme. And Anakin is relegated to protecting her, which puts him right next to her to develop the emotional B story. The problem is that Anakin get about half of the screen time. So while technically it is a B story, it feels like another A story. Then Obi-Wan takes more of a back seat for a bit near the end of act two… so it’s still sloppy. This is the film where we finally get Sassy Obi and it’s wonderful. It makes me very happy seeing him have such snide responses to Hayden (partly because I don’t really like Hadyen). However, Obi-Wan still doesn’t have a whole lot of character going on here. It’s sad to say, but he’s basically relegated to making quips and asking questions in order to move the plot along. Seriously, next time you watch this movie, pay attention to how many questions Obi-Wan asks throughout this movie. It’s near constant. It’s a shame that it took a television show to properly flesh out the characters in this film and the next. Obi-Wan should be fully fleshed out as it is, I shouldn’t have to watch a tv show to get to know them first.
The CGI is better this time around, but still not great. A lot of shots still don’t look good at all, but at least there are more shots here that look better. The opening speeder chase in Coruscant is a rather fun way to start everything. The seedy city has a bit of a Blade Runner feel to it which is cool. My favorite scene in the film is the asteroid chase scene. The is this film’s Podracer scene. The sound design in that scene is perfect! And then we get to the finale. It’s fantastic. As I said earlier, George learned that a 4-part climax is too many moving pieces. So he ends this film in a coliseum sequence that breaks into a 2-part finale (lightsaber fight and ground battle). Both sections are very well staged. The clones are impressive and of course the lightsaber duel with Dooku is another stand out set piece. And that’s before Yoda shows up to wreck up the place! It’s got a great finale that leads perfectly into The Clone Wars tv show. Honestly, I think that Episodes II and III are best viewed as bookends to that show. The start and end of the war.
So overall, I'll give this film a slightly higher rating than the first film. It’s not great, but instead of lurching through good and bad moments at a rabbit’s pace, George has you sit through long stretches of bad followed by long stretches of good. So it’s kind of a toss-up between this and the first film. But I enjoy chunks of this film more, if that’s any consolation. Obi Wan’s journey is fun one to watch. And I remember yet another awesome theatrical experience from my childhood, so that’s something.