Star Wars Revisited 2: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

A long time ago… I discovered Star Wars. It would define my life. It’s time to rediscover it.

1: The Phantom Menace

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10 years after the events of Phantom Menace, The Galaxy is being torn apart by thousands of Star Systems who are seceding from the Republic. Their leader is Count Dooku, former Jedi Knight, former Master of Qui Gon Jinn, who left to lead the Separatists. An assassination attempt on Senator Padme Amidala causes her to cross paths with Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi. Anakin takes Padme back to Naboo to protect her from further attempts on her life. As they journey, the fall in love, and ride giant ticks.

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Anakin is haunted by dreams of his mother and interprets these as prophecy and travels with Padme to Tatooine to find her. He finds his way to the Lars homestead and is reunited with C-3PO, and asks about his mother. He discovers that she has been kidnapped by Tusken Raiders. He sneaks into the camp but she dies after being rescued. Anakin takes a dark turn and slaughters the entire Sandperson village, sending a shock wave through the force.

Obi Wan tracks down the trail of assassins to the planet Kamino- the best cloners in the galaxy. There he discovers a clone army is being grown to defend the Republic. They used Bounty Hunter Jango Fett as the clone template. Knowing that things are off, Kenobi warns the Jedi of what is happening and Jango makes an escape to the planet Geonosis. There, Count Dooku is leading the Seperatists and plotting war with the Republic. Kenobi i captured.

Anakin and Padme travel to Geonosis to save Kenobi, but are themselves captured. The face off against monstrous creatures in an arena as execution. As things look most dire, the Jedi arrive with the Clone Army and the first battle of the Clone Wars commence.

Dooku fights the heroes, and escapes. Coruscant mobilizes for war. Anakin and Padme are secretly married.

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Ewan McGregor returns as Obi Wan. He fits into the role well, and is the bright spot in these prequels.

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Natalie Portman tries so damn hard to rise above the writing, but fails miserably.

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Hayden Christensen. An actor highly regarded for his portrayal of emotional young men. He displays none of that here. In later examinations of the character, we discover that the approach to Skywalker was that he was damaged goods. He was raised a slave and joined an order that repressed feelings, causing some sort of twisted Aspbergers’s syndrome in Anakin. He has no idea how to relate to other people and thus the wooden acting. Young Anakin was a weak character, but at least he was friendly and social. This makes no damn sense. Anakin needed to be someone we liked. The later Clone Wars cartoon series got him 100% right.

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Sam Jackson returns as bad-ass Mace Windu- Jedi Master. He is a great actor, and that they underutilized him is a great tragedy in this series.

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Christopher Lee appears as Count Dooku. Another missed opportunity. At one point in the film, it appears as if Dooku might not be evil, he claims that the Sith have infiltrated the Republic and that he is fighting against them. Imagine if THAT was the angle they took. The Jedi rebel against the Republic and fight the Sith, whom the public has no idea about. It would make the Jedi purge all the more palatable. Anyway, Lee is magnificent.

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Ian McDiarmid turns in another good performance as Palpatine, now leader of the Republic nearing the end of his term of office. He uses the crisis to create the Stormtrooper Clone Army- setting up the Empire for #3.

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Yoda takes center stage in an epic light-saber battle with Dooku. It is both awesome and very sad at the same time. Yoda was always about “wars not make one great”, yet here he is jumping around like a maniac.

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This film sees R2D2 and C-3PO teamed up again- forever this time. They were onscreen fairly little in the first, but here they return to their classic comedic relief roles in the action scenes.

Oh my. Where to begin?

This is the weakest of the Star Wars films. There were so many bad decisions made on this film. The dialogue was amongst the worst of the series, and that’s saying something. They brought in other writers to fix the romantic scenes as Lucas was not happy with the initial drafts. What on earth did Lucas write where “You are in my very soul…tormenting me!” is pillow talk. Padme keeps pushing him away but dresses in S&M gear and actually mounts him during the tick scene. He remarks that she turned the cameras off in her bedroom because she does not want Anakin watching her. She tells him that he makes her feel uncomfortable when he makes “googly eyes” at her. He smiles and somehow finds this amusing. Goddamn Stalker. He admits to slaughtering a whole village of Tusken Raiders, including women and children, and she hugs and then marries him. Seriously, he slaughters innocent people, like animals as he says in his rant, and she tells him it’s cool, I still love your murdering ass. WTF. This “love story” comes closer to single handedly destroying the movie than anything else.

So, what worked?

They pretty much got rid of Jar Jar, he was beyond saving at this point.

The Jango/Obi Wan stuff was pretty good, but little Boba definitely raises some questions. The battle/chase scenes were well designed and executed excellently. Basically, everything when Anakin and Padme aren’t romancing. That’s the most infuriating thing about the film…it is SO COOL. The imagery and basic story are awesome, they just botched the delivery.

It is a major misstep in the series, and it is unfortunate that it had to happen in this crucial stage in the Saga. Luckily, they are able to turn it around in Episode III, but before we see that, we need to take a detour into one of the best animated series (2 actually) made of the last 10 years.

NEXT

3: Clone Wars season 1 and 2

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