A Hyperspace Ride Through The Star Wars Saga: Attack Of The Clones (2002)
Building on the faults of ‘The Phantom Menace’ was easy, but with expectations so low and disappointment fresh in many fans and critics minds, this was a difficult episode to present. It features slightly more grown-up tones and themes, but still is full of comical moments that may sour mature audiences. The story also is dragged on through yet more political debates and long investigations full of talking and little else. It’s only when the lightsabers and blasters are unleashed through a mid-way battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and bounty hunter Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison) that excitement returns, before it soon goes again.
For such an important story that was teased as far back as 1977 in a fleeting conversation between Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker, it fails to be convincing at all. It presents Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in a troubled relationship and the feelings they have for each other, be it amidst some truly awful dialogue and wooden performances bordering on the damn right creepy. Obi-Wan crosses planets to track down the shadowy Separatists out to insight war, and the discoveries he makes are fan pleasing at best, with another solid performance from McGregor in front of many green screen sets and CG actors.
With stellar support from the late Christopher Lee as Count Dooku Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Palpatine and the most bad-ass Jedi Master, Samuel L Jackson, as Mace Windu, there are plenty of characters on screen more than ‘The Phantom Menace’ and all aspects of this film feel like they are part of the building blocks to the spectacular finale we are all waiting for, but it seems to take so long to get there. With so many CGI worlds and characters that we flit to between Obi-Wan and Anakin, almost in two films, it’s very detracting and full of talk, talk and more talk about forbidden love, cloning, secret meetings and kisses becoming scars. This is when you miss the zesty, five minute verbal war of words between Harrison Ford and the late, great Carrie Fisher as Han and Leia when romance was far more convincing and fun to watch blossom.
It’s only 1 hour and 47 minutes into the film when we actually get to see the attack of the clones we were promised so much when the Clone Wars finally erupt. We see starfighters! Jedi! Lightsabers! Clonetroopers…be them all CGI and lacking any humanity, but it’s a start! It’s brilliant, soulless CGI fun, and the scale and style of the war really does look good on screen and makes up for the slow start. It’s just a shame the film ends as we start to really get into the events put into place by the evil Sith Lord Darth Sidious and the wonderful foreshadowing of the Galactic Empire.
Overall many of the worst traits from George Lucas and his 1999 offering are still here. It’s like nobody had the courage to shout him down from a bad idea. It’s frustrating stuff, as it could have been far more exciting and engaging to win back fans. John Williams and Ben Burtt are the only veterans you can count on with their music and sound editing respectively that we all know and love.
This second prequel is hard to like. It’s just wedged between two very different styles of Star Wars films and so is seen as the most lacklustre of efforts.