Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones arrived in theaters with the usual hyper-drive hype and fanatical following. This George Lucas film delivers a decent character driven story compounded with an epic cluster of fast paced action sequences near the end that should satisfy even the most discriminating action genre fans.
Padme Amidala, played by Natalie Portman, returns, and encounters Anakin Skywalker, played by Hayden Christensen (Life as a House) ten years after Episode 1’s timeline. Skywalker struggles with his limited Jedi status and his impulsive emotions. “I can’t wish away my feelings,” says Anakin. This couple progresses together through romance and several important life decisions.
Ewan McGregor, returns as Obi-Won Kenobi, Anakin’s master and an important leader among the Jedi. Returning Jedis Mace Windu, played by Samuel L. Jackson, and an entirely computer generated Yoda get to show off their battle skills in this installment. The famous partnership between R2-D2 and C-3P0 is further solidified, especially during an action sequence in a droid factory (though R2-D2’s push may puzzle some viewers).
Temuera Morrison (Vertical Limit) and the legendary Christopher Lee (Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring) have very prominent roles. Ian McDiarmid returns as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Watto and Jar Jar Binks, the much maligned gungan who also returns in short scenes. Jimmy Smitts has a limited role as Bail Organa, but plays a very important role in Padme’s life later in the series. You can also look for two important characters that later play an important role in Luke Skywalker’s life.
These characters connect a lot of dots in this plots and the overall movie series. The classic slanted opening background text initializes the beginning of the end of the Republic as various areas and cultures form the Confederacy of Independent Systems. War seems inevitable. It’s scary to see an adjective like “limited” and “overwhelmed” attached to “Jedi”, but you could never tell they were in crisis by their calm demeanor.
The eye candy is, of course, amazing and can not be digested in one viewing, but too many close-up shots of characters posing and talking and various spacecraft landing and flying inhibit a faster paced story for the audience. At least Lucas uses excellent direction to follow the action, except during an urban chase scene on foot between Anakin and an unknown assassin. Here, Lucas zips back and forth between each character running through bystanders which irritates instead of providing more thrills.
The amazing action sequences include a type of extreme skydiving (without the parachute) and space chase through an asteroid field. The huge war scenes work very well. Common sense battle tactics such as not using the unreliable droids, again, maybe would’ve made for better strategy. Another suggestion, equip those transports with bombs so you can hit ‘em hard as you leave. Politics, changlings, secret alliances, assassins all make a potent mix of sci-fi and action with amusing tidbits thrown in for fun.
Enjoy this movie for the high entertainment value, colorful settings (especially the urban sprawl so dense it pierces the clouds), and likable characters, but don’t look for any deep messages or character development. Recommended with a few reservations (**1/2) and rated PG for violence. You may wonder how is Lucas going to tie up all the loose ends with the remaining Jedi and rogue Jedi (Sith) out there and one installment left? Lucas leaves plenty of loose ends for the final installment of the film trilogy.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler