Review: Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

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Let me begin by saying I thought this latest installment of Star Wars was (pardon the bad space humor) light years better than Episode I. Episode I was not one of those movies where I could plant my butt on the sofa one Sunday afternoon and just feel the need to watch it. It takes a mood. Episode I was not a “stand-alone” movie - if you hadn’t seen any other Star Wars movie, it would probably not make a lot of sense because it requires the context of the original trilogy.

Episode II, on the other hand, stood alone pretty well. While it helped a lot to know where things were going a la the original trilogy, if you just sat down and watched it, you wouldn’t be disappointed. There was good action, good special effects, and a pretty decent story.

Now, all of that said, Episode II in no way compared to any of the original three; even Return of the Jedi, which I felt was probably the weakest of the bunch, would show up on my list before this one. And here’s why:

In the original three, sure, there was a political battle going on and that’s the whole reason everyone was fighting against the Death Star and all that jazz. But the politics, for the most part, were secondary to the overall general “good-versus-evil” story. A very simple plot, good characters, good script, and everything falls neatly into place. With these recent installments, Lucas seems to be focusing heavily on the politics of things. There’s a lot of discussion about/around/in the Senate, and while that’s interesting for a while, I guess when I come into a Star Wars movie, I wanna see the equivalent of a space-age Western movie, which is exactly what the original three were. These latest seem more like.. like the extended version of Dune. I liked Dune, but I liked it for what it was - I went in expecting politics, and that’s what it was about. Star Wars, that’s not what I expect, but that’s what I’m getting.

It doesn’t help things that, in general, the dialogue was pretty bad and Hayden Christiansen as Anakin was the most wooden acting I’ve seen since Pinocchio. I don’t know if that’s the script’s fault, the director’s fault, or Christiansen’s, but I blame Lucas (seeing as how he’s writer and director).

That was the bad stuff.

The good stuff: Natalie Portman, always a pleasure to watch onscreen, finally starts taking on a Leia-like presence. We start to see the relationship development between Amidala and Anakin, which is cool. We get to see Anakin getting arrogant and impatient, getting his hate on and taking on his Darth Vader airs. We get to see how Boba Fett came about, which I thought was very cool. Samuel L. Jackson - ‘nuff said on that. I think his lightsaber was the one that said “Bad Mother Fucker” on it. And last, but very certainly not least (in fact, probably best in my mind), we get to see Yoda really throw down and show us what being a Jedi Master is all about. I could probably watch the Yoda scene over and over and never get tired of it.

Oh, and Episode II moves along way faster than Episode I, which is an exceptionally good thing.

Does the good outweigh the bad? Mostly. I think they could have done way better with it, especially given that almost every actor in the world would love to be in a Star Wars movie and they pick this Christiansen kid I’ve never heard of. I mean, for example, the kid they chose to play Harry Potter looks like Harry should look, sounds like Harry should sound and acts like Harry should act. Christiansen did none of those things for Anakin. But this one does fill in a lot of gaps in the Star Wars saga and you do get to see a lot of the cool Jedi stuff that we haven’t seen before, and it did move along fairly well and keep me entertained.

So I’d say, uh, 7.5 out of 10. I liked it, but given the choice between seeing this one or Spider-Man again, I’d probably go Spider-Man.