Thursday Night Movie Club
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
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Release Date: 16 May 2002

Director: George Lucas
Ewan McGregor
Natalie Portman
Hayden Christensen
Christopher Lee
Samuel L. Jackson
Frank Oz
Ian McDiarmid
Pernilla August
Temuera Morrison
Daniel Logan
Jimmy Smits
Jack Thompson
Leeanna Walsman
Ahmed Best
Rose Byrne
Obi-Wan Kenobi
Anakin Skywalker
Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Mace Windu
Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Shmi Skywalker
Jango Fett
Boba Fett
Senator Bail Organa
Cliegg Lars
Zam Wesell
Jar Jar Binks/Achk Med-Beq
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones movie poster Star Wars: Attack of the Clones movie poster Star Wars: Attack of the Clones movie poster
Obi-Wan Kenobi chases bounty hunter Jango Fett into an asteroid field in Star Wars: Attack of the ClonesStar Wars: Attack of the Clones is better than The Phantom Menace only because Christopher Lee has been added to the cast. Lee acts acts better with only his baritone voice than the rest of the cast put together. In one crucial scene, Lee as Count Dooku tells Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan MacGregor) the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Lee is so good in his vocalizations that he comes off as fisherman telling "a whopper of a tale". Kenobi doesn't believe a word of it.

Ruining the movie is the addition of Heyden Christensen as the teenage Anakin Skywalker. Lucas either insists, or is too distracted elsewhere to stop Christensen from acting like a whining little baby. Jar-Jar Binks took the steam out of Episode I. Here, Christensen sinks the Star Destroyer!

Ewan MacGregor and Heyden Christensen in Star Wars: Attack of the ClonesOn the plus side, Attack of the Clones is a simpler, more intersting story. The film is much easier to follow than the prior film. Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) is summoned to the capital on Coruscant. The Republic is facing a new crisis. A separatist faction led by a former Jedi Knight Count Dooku is threatening the peace. Amidala is going to vote against the formation of a grand Army of the Repulic.

Upon arrival on Coruscant, Amidala is attacked. Her bodyguard and body double is killed instead. Later, Amidala is again attacked by an assassin. When the second assassination attempt fails, the assassin is assassinated by another assassin. Obviously, Amidala carries some weight in the Senate and someone is out to stop her from voting at all costs.

After this opening, Attack of the Clones splits into two movies. Obi-Wan Kenobi is tasked by the Jedi Council to track down the mysterious assassin. This is the better half of the movie. Meanwhile, the Jedi Council has ordered Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Heyden Christensen) with protection detail of Senator Amidala. Young Skywalker has had an unquenchable "crush" on Padme Amidala since they first met ten years ago. Kenobi advises Skywalker to keep his emotions in check. This plot line derails the movie.

Christopher Lee as former Jedi Knight Count Dooku in Star Wars: Attack of the ClonesThere are several reasons for this predicament. Regarding Kenobi, Ewan MacGregor is developing into a first-rate actor. As Obi-Wan Kenobi, MacGregor must start developing the same character traits actor Alec Guinness created in the original trilogy. Kenobi is also working on a good, old fashioned "whodunnit". MacGregor keeps the mystery and intrigue growing with each new clue he discovers. Clearly there is a much larger plot in the works than a simple assassination.

The second storyline involves teenage Anakin Skywalker. The apprentice's physical and mental skills as a Jedi are growing exponentially. As far as maturity, Skywalker is still a ten-year old boy. His incessant whining is enough to drive anyone nuts. What he really needs is a father figure to slap him upside the head and yell, "Grow up already ya big baby!" Writer/director George Lucas may be taking a page out of good friend Stephen Spielberg's directing manual regarding broken homes. Then again, Lucas may be completely ignorant of this idea. Acting frustrated is one thing. Christensen's acting approach to frustration is to behave as if Skywalker is about to break down into unstoppable fits of hysteria and sobbing. Christensen's rantings become grating on the audience after only a few minutes. How many members of the audience started looking at their watches thinking, "an hour and a half more of this?"

Heyden Christensen and Natalie Portman in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Similar to The Phantom Menace, Lucas has with three concurrent story lines in Attack of the Clones. Here, there is less confusion mainly due to the current events are begining to overlap with information the audience already knows from the first trilogy. Since the audience knows how things will turn out for the Republic, is it necessary to show the intrigues taking shape behind the scenes?

The special effects are spectacular. Lucas outdoes the asteroid sequence from The Empire Strikes Back. Obi-Wan Kenobi goes from chasing after the fleeing Jango Fett to being hunted by him. Both men use cunning and stealth while zooming crazily through the asteroids. The arena light saber battle is also fantastic. The final huge battle pits clone warriors of the Republic squaring off against the droid army of the Separatists in a C.G. "battle royale".

Yoda gets ready for battle in Star Wars: Attack of the ClonesBut the drop-dead funniest scene involves Jedi Master Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz). Although Yoda is much younger than he was in the original trilogy, he still walks with slow gait and the use of a cane. Yoda walks into a cave looking every bit an old geezer. He promptly pulls out his light saber and leaps and flies into action. At the end of the encounter, Yoda leans on his cane and looks like the old geezer again. Histerical. Come to think of it, this might be the only joke in the entire film. Comic relief is sorely lacking in the first two films in this trilogy.

Crucial to Lucas' tale is the growing relationship between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala. Skywalker is ordered to escort Amidala back to her home world of Naboo until Kenobi can find who is plotting to kill her. Due to the amount of time the two spend together, they slowly fall in love, something that is frowned upon by the Jedi Council. They must keep their relationship a secret. Portman and Christensen go through the motions but there is absolutely no chemistry between the two. Neither actor can act the part of being in love.

Clone Warriors prepare to board a newly constructed Star Destroyer in Star Wars: Attack of the ClonesAn unintentionally funny scene occurs when Amidala and Skywalker make their way back to Naboo. They are supposed to be traveling incognito except for the flambouyant outfits Amidala wears. She stands out in a crowd no matter where she goes. She must change her outfits three-times a day. Amidala must be traveling with a dozen suit cases. Portman looks fantastic in a backless gown and even better in her white, mid-riff-baring, skin-tight pants outfit. She has a nicely toned physique.

Heyden Christensen isn't the only annoyance in the film. Jar-Jar Binks is back and as irritating as possible. The series sinks so low that even robot C3-PO is annoying. He is meant to be comic relief but someone needs plug up his mouth. What was once cute has grown long-in-the-tooth. Borrowing another bit from The Empire Strikes Back, C3-PO loses his head. This time around, his head is mistakenly placed on the body of a drone fighter. "Eat lead Jedi!" Ha, Ha.

The special effects in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones are spectacular, as one has come to expect from George Lucas, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Industrial Light and Magic. However, grand spectacle do not an epic make. This is an enjoyable action flick. Unfortunately, Lucas went for plenty of schmaultz but forgot to add lots of heart. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is worth seeing... once! The saying must be true: You can't win them all!