After a wait of three years, "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" is a disappointment, to say the least. What has Lucas been doing all this time? The sequel to "The Phantom Menace", and the prequel to "A New Hope", is simply vapid, sloppy and truly corny.Set 10 years after "The Phantom Menace", Anakin Skywalker is now grown-up, and sharing a scandalous love affair with Padme Amidala. Anakin's friend and mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), is worried by his pupil's growing arrogance and nonchalance, and fears that he may be slipping towards the Empire. Meanwhile, a dark figure is instigating a massive war between the Rebellion and the Empire. The Clone Wars are about to begin.
"'Revenge of the Sith' had better be good..."
The "Star Wars" films were once respected. Heck, "A New Hope" was even nominated for Best Picture, "Empire Strikes Back" is still considered one of the best films ever made, and "Return of the Jedi" is as successful a sequel as anyone could have asked for. Now, they have turned into a funhouse where almost NOTHING that you see is real. The characters, acting, writing, and backgrounds are as false as the universe in which they reside.
Instead of focusing on CGI (albeit, quality CGI), I wish that more time was spent on the story and the dialogue. Speaking of which, Lucas is in desperate need of a screenwriter. Here, he pens some of the most ridiculous lines ever uttered by any actor. In one scene with Padme, Anakin says: "I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth." Grrr... While the original films were filled with fun, wisdom, and heart, Lucas's latest script is less interesting than a blank screen.
Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman have proved to be talented actors before. For proof, check out "Shattered Glass" and "Garden State". However, they are both completely lifeless and artifical in this film. It doesn't seem like they have any idea who their character are, nor how important they are to the entire story. Where does Luke Skywalker get his passion from? From which parent did Princess Leia get her trademark spunk? No answers are presented here. In another scene, Padme turns to Anakin, and says: "Don't look at me like that... it makes me feel uncomfortable." I don't believe anyone would be comfortable with the blank expression on Christensen's face. Some of Chirstenen's line deliveries actually made me chuckle. Even Samuel L. Jackson, who gave one of the most memorable performances of the 90s in "Pulp Fiction", is given next to nothing to do. Here's hoping he's got a meaty role in "Episode III".
In each of the original "Star Wars" episodes, there was always a climactic fight that practically got the audience on their feet. Even in "The Phantom Menace", the Duel of the Fates was unbearably intense. Here we get not one, not two, but three lightsaber duels. One of them is not so much a duel, as it is a long-winded battle between live actors and computer generated Imperial warriors. In this scene, I felt nothing for any of the characters, whether they be Anakin or some random extra in the background. Nor did I feel any sense of excitement, but this was mainly because the screen was so cluttered, I did not know where to look. Chronologically speaking, I also couldn't get over the fact that Padme and Anakin seemed so close in age, when in "Phantom Menace", she was at least 10 years older than him.
One element I'm still not quite sure what to do with is Yoda. In the first trilogy, Yoda was a wise figure that the audience took seriously, even though it was a puppet (brilliantly voiced by Frank Oz). In this, Yoda serves as a cog in the funniest (and oddest) part of the whole movie. I won't give anything away, but it was a climactic scene involving Yoda and Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). The rest of the audience applauded, but the whole scene just seemed out of place to me. It was too little, too late.There are several essentials that keep "Attack of the Clones" from being a complete disaster. Ewan McGregor, with his authority, warmth, and dead-on Alec Guinness mannerisms, delivers the best performance on display here. Also, the special effects were okay, and distracted me from the dialogue problems for a total of 3 minutes. Other than that, I am very scared. With "Episode III" only a short time away, one could only hope that Lucas has gotten his act (and his actors) straightened out. I'm not expecting "Gone with the Wind", here; just something that I can chew on. After losing $20 in tickets to the first two prequels (not to mention the 5 hours of my life that I will never get back), "Revenge of the Sith" had better be a masterpiece.
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originally posted: 12/12/04 19:29:16