We’ve already sat through episode 1, and now here comes ‘Attack of the Clones’. I will be honest and say this is my least favourite ‘Star Wars’ film for a number of reasons that I will explain below. Because if there’s one thing the internet isn’t full of, its angry nerds ranting about the ‘Star Wars’ prequels.
Though anticipation wasn’t as high as ‘Phantom Menace’ the fact that this was after it made its reaction even worse as ultimately many were hoping that Lucas had learned from his earlier mistakes, listened to what worked and what didn’t work and do his best to repair the damage by making a film that was just as good, if not better, than the original trilogy. Unfortunately none of what I just said actually happened.
When most people point to ‘Attack of the Clones’ they point to that dialogue, that damn dialogue. A number of things made it as cringe worthy as it was. I will maintain that the writing could have been half believable, or altered slightly in the hands of a competent actor, because that’s what a good actor is supposed to do, find the best way in which a line (however awkward) should be delivered and if they can’t, alter it a bit so they can. A number of iconic lines in the original trilogy spanned from the actors tweaking the dialogue a bit, finding an alternative wording that was easier to convey but ultimately meant the same message. Under Hayden Christianson though, and a Natalie Portman that doesn’t seem to care in the slightest (even though she’s worked on films of a similar nature like ‘Thor’) just didn’t do that.
Once again CGI is in excess and now it really is ruining any hope of having a genuinely intense action set piece. Chases through the city of Coruscant look like a video game that you’re not allowed to play and massive battles on Geonosis just look fake, they simply do. When Mace Windu talks to Clone Troopers and walks amongst them at no point do I believe or even suspect that anything I’m seeing was really there.
Once again there are needless henchmen that I’m not sure are supposed to be feared as the main villain or are just there for the sake of it. Ok there’s that assassin they sent after Padme, but then she dies and then there’s Jango Fett (not played by Jaimie Foxx, there’s a D in that one) who also does very little as far as the main plot goes. He’s just a giant reference to a poorly acted and underwritten Boba Fett (I mean if you want to include the galaxy’s most deadly mercenary then show him being a mercenary, not just some whiny kid) and then there’s Count Dooku who does little apart from stand around and look evil, but that was supposed to be Darth Sidious’ job anyway so the whole process is useless. Who am I supposed to fear in this movie, which character is the one that I want to see the hero defeat, there’s no clear antagonist.
In theory this movie needed to show Anakin being morally challenged and harbouring a deep unrest. But no, instead Hayden Christianson comes off as whingey and pretentious. He doesn’t really get angry or troubled, he just seems to throw tantrums. He also mistakes the look of infatuated love for borderline stalking whenever he’s in a scene with Padme. It’s just plain weird. There’s also the frankly terrible judgement of the Jedi Council as they, after emphasising how it is forbidden for Jedi to love, send a clearly infatuated teenager on the most romantic mission ever with Natalie Portman. What did they think would happen?
There are hints to a deep rooted conspiracy but the execution of it means that there’s virtually no tension in it. When Dooku tells Obi Wan that the Republic is under the control of the Sith we, the audience should feel threatened by this. There’s also the galring question of, if the Jedi knew someone forged a Clone army in their name without their knowledge, why would they just go ‘Oh well I guess we’ll never know who secretly ordered the creation of this massive army and then gave them to us without any charge or repercussions of any kind. We might as well use them without any suspicion at all now.’ You’re supposed to be smart and wise, but based on this decision clearly you’re not.
If there are any specific parts of ‘Attack of the Clones’ that I like it has to be Obi Wan chasing Jango down across the galaxy. They have a decent fight on Kamino that’s peppered with humour and a decent flight battle in space through an asteroid field. But it does pale in comparison to the asteroid scene from ‘Empire Strikes Back’. Another good moment is the scene in which Anakin witnesses his mother dying and his subsequent rage, with the music and lighting and expression of the actors involved it actually lives up to what the rest of this film should have been. But then the scene is cut far too quickly and we’re left to savour this one moment of genius.
Yet again this is far from a terrible movie, but ‘Attack of the Clones’ failed to learn from the mistakes made in ‘Phantom Menace’ and doesn’t live up to the ‘Star Wars’ name.