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I'm sure this will stir the pot but what the hell, it's just an opinion (mine). Here is the review I wrote for Scope Entertainment on Episode II. If you haven't seen it, this will spoil the plot so don't read it. If you have, I'd love to hear what you've got to say. Emotional or logical. I won't take any offence, just don't make it personal and I think this could be really fun to discuss as I'm sure we all have different opinions about this movive. Regardless, enjoy!
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones:
I just finished watching Episode II: Attack of The Clones. Prior to watching the movie, I made certain not to read any other comments from other film critics and/or read the abundant "spoilers" available on the Internet, so I consider my opinion to be fairly unbiased. I even kept an open mind despite the hollow feeling in my soul that I felt needed to be filled from the void created by Episode I three years ago. As I waited in line and talked to other fans my age who grew up with the original Trilogy, I started to get excited, and I could feel that "Lucasfilm Magic" brewing in the air. I knew about the full scale Jedi Battle at the end of the movie and the fight between Yoda and Lord Tyranus, and I couldn't wait to see them! However, now that it's all over, I can sum up my feelings about the latest addition to the series with one simple word, "cheated". Read on!
Detailed Plot Summary:
This story is much more complex than the simple "Fly to Tatooine and walk around for 45 minutes" filler that we have become accustomed to. Episode II contains some serious character development. Queen Amidala (played by Natalie Portman) is now an official Senator in the Galactic Republic. Throughout the early stages of the film, various "mysterious" parties attempt to have her assassinated. As a result, the Jedi Council appoints none other than Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and a fairly mature Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), now Obi-Wan's apprentice, to protect her. However, sensing the growing friction between Obi-Wan and Anakin, Jedi Council chiefs Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and Yoda (Frank Oz) separate the duo. Anakin is assigned the task of remaining in Senator Amidala's presence as her personal bodyguard, while Obi-Wan leaves Coruscant (the "Planet City") to locate a Bounty Hunter who recently tried to kill her. The Bounty Hunter is none other than Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), the clone father of the young Boba Fett.
The plot continues to thicken as Obi-Wan's pursuit of Jango Fett leads him to a "hidden" watery planet. This is where we get our first glimpse of the "Clone Army". The story suggests that the army was "bought" for the Galactic Republic 10 years before, in secret, by a former member of the Jedi Council. It has since been "forgotten and stored" (the first of several plot conundrums). After a quick battle with the aforementioned Bounty Hunter, Obi-Wan leaves for yet another planet. This is where we finally meet Episode II's answer to Darth Maul: the "geriatric", but lethal Count Dooku. I'm not sure whom this name appeals too exactly, and with the addition of our favourite "Boy Band" the Backstreet Boys in the climactic battle at the films end, I'm beginning to wonder if Lucas' children aren't writing the scripts for these movies. On this new planet, Obi-Wan learns that Count Dooku is harvesting another "Droid Army" for war against the Galactic Republic.
The plot shifts as we rejoin Queen Amidala and Anakin. Not surprisingly, this part of the movie falls into the "Tatooine" trap set by Episode I. The love story is simply not well done and is best described as "awkward" and "boring". There are side stories upon side stories that take characters all over the Galaxy including the inevitable stop on Tatooine to "rescue" Anakin's mother, who dies in his arms after a 10 second screen appearance (no Oscars for Prinilla August I'm afraid). At this point in the film, things look like they are about to heat up when Anakin gives us the first glimpse of some quality “Vader like” rage. He goes on a total rampage, slaughtering the Tusken Raiders (including the women and children) who kidnapped and murdered his mother. Like every action sequence in the movie, the scene is too short and only serves to "cheat" and "stifle" the audience of the emotions that it raises in us all.
Following more twists and turns than Bill Clinton’s Presidency, the film concludes with an epic battle between Count Dooku's Trade Federation Droid Army and the Republic's newly acquired Clone Army, led by none other than Yoda. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin face off against Count Dooku, only to be cut down by his Force Lightning and Lightsaber prowess. Fortunately, Yoda comes to their rescue (and the film's) as we get to watch the 45 greatest seconds ever put to 70 mm stock. Unfortunately, as with every other great moment in this movie (there are a small handful at best), the actual Lightsaber duel (which puts the action sequences in The Matrix to shame) lasts a meager 13 seconds before Count Dooku escapes. A complete an utter rip-off! The film concludes, trying unsuccessfully to rekindle the emotional turmoil and anticipation for the final installment that we all felt at the end of the Empire Strikes Back. It falls utterly short on all fronts and you'll simply say to yourself, like everyone over 9 years of age did in the packed theater I attended, "I paid 13.50 to see that!?". Disappointing indeed.
Absent again, is a likeable character group that made the original three films successful. I can’t help but wonder if this series is doomed to pageant the drab individualistic acting that permeates this movie. My biggest problem with the acting deals with the relationship between Amidala and Anakin. This critic may not be "Johnny Casanova", but it is obvious that poor old "Uncle George" hasn't played the field for a while. Anakin and Amidala's romance is not believable in terms of twenty first century relationships. Perhaps that's my problem, not overlooking the "time" issue within the series and faulting it for its failure to portray realistic interactions between characters. One thing is for certain, there is no "chemistry" whatsoever between Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen (or any of the actors for that matter)! Their attempts to "fake" a romance for the camera achieve an authentic "unreal" look. Congratulations kids. Perhaps worse is Christensen's acting (if you can call it that). The greatest villain ever (Darth Vader) is reduced to a sniveling, lovesick puppy around his lover, and a whining brat of a teenager at all other times. Jake Lloyd was unbelievable, so is Christensen, but perhaps this is due to Lucas’ “direction”- I’m not sure, I wasn’t on set. One thing is for certain, it smells like a Bantha fart. This is compounded by Amidala's last minute acknowledgement of her feelings for Anakin before the film’s end- it’s totally out of left field! This must be seen for what it is, a last ditch effort to provide an explanation for the siring of Luke and Leia in the next film.
Worse is the reappearance of Jar Jar Binks. Fortunatly his role is limited and his comedy mild. C3PO and R2D2 provide some comic relief in the script, but you get the feeling that they’re part of the movie simply because Lucas felt he had to put them in; as observed via the delivery of C3PO’s “lines”, which feel completely contrived.
Notwithstanding, Ewan Mc Gregor's reprisal of his role as Obi Wan Kenobi proves once again that his acting talents are worth much more than the price his professionalism carries with it. His character has matured from the headstrong and somewhat reckless Jedi Padawan of Episode I to a full-fledged powerful Jedi Knight. Simply put, he's awesome and totally cool. He's destined for “Action Figure” greatness for years to come. Christopher Lee is truly ferocious as the malevolent Darth Tyranus and carries off the dual role as the manipulative and sinister alter ego Count Dooku with identical perfection. Samuel Jackson brings his usual unmistakable sly coolness to Mace Windu's character. Think of him as “Jules” from Pulp Fiction with a Lightsaber and you'll know what I mean. It's a true shame (once again) that he doesn't play a major role in the film. Frank Oz provides the “voice” for our favourite CGI character, adding some special wit and charm to Yoda's personality that only he can deliver.
To quote my friend and Director Rick Rose, it would be incorrect to call this film a “story” with special effects; it's more of a “special effects film” with something of a story. As I've already mentioned, there is a lot of jumping around from world to world, which seems to serve no other purpose than to showcase the talents of the ILM Staff and plug the holes into a messy, convoluted tale. The use of their customized CGI dominates every single scene in the film. Don't get me wrong, "watching" the movie is a breathtaking experience and most of the sets real and/or digital are quite fantastic. However, you can easily pick out the "airbrushed" backdrops that inhabit many of the ocean scenes on the “Clone Planet” and the interior rooms on Coruscant. To say that they look terrible against the ILM CGI is an understatement. I cringed in horror at one point watching Anakin ride a mutant "Space-sheep" across a stagnant background, and later, a "Swoop-bike" across a linear CGI background. Flashbacks of Jar Jar Binks diving into the lake near Otoh Gunga during Episode I rang through my mind like gunfire through a Nam Vet's worst nightmares. The horror!
Lets get to the point. We're really here as Star Wars fans for the action sequences. Needless to say, Lucas delivers on every level, when the small handfuls of them occur. The film opens with a rampage through the streets of Coruscant on a Skycar as Anakin and Obi Wan exchange some humorous dialogue. It's reminiscent of the Pod Race scene only a lot faster, but not nearly as cool. The film climaxes with a battle, actually its more of a small war between Jedi Knights (yes....the Backstreet Boys are there), Clone Soldiers and the Battle Droids. You won't be disappointed by this part of the film.
I don't want to spoil too much of a surprise, but since it's already a legend, I'll have to discuss it a bit. The Yoda Lightsaber duel is the greatest scene that has come out of the 5 movies so far. It's funny, intense and brilliant. It begins with Darth Tyranus hurling "Force-lightning" at the miniscule Yoda. You're bracing yourself for the cute little guy to take a beating that would make Mike Tyson spit out Evander Holyfield's missing outer ear, but it doesn't happen. Yoda catches the lightning in an awesome "Force Ball" and hurls it back at Tyranus. From this moment on you'll need to pick your jaw up off the floor and plug your ears as the audience absolutely looses it screaming and cheering for our favourite alien Jedi Master. It's worth the price of a thousand tickets to watch this segment alone. Unfortunately, like everything else that is good in this movie, the scene lasts but a few seconds. You’ll feel totally "cheated" by the whole affair. As this is the final segment of the picture, it’s difficult not to walk away with an overall sensation of disappointment. Likewise, the truly cognitive fan quickly realizes that Yoda could easily do away with Tyranus and dispose of Palpatine in the later episodes of the series. Ooops!
Most of Episode II feels like it's simply trying to make up for Episode I while filing in the gaps so we aren't disappointed or completely lost when 2005's Episode III arrives. I'm still not sure how it will be done, even though Episode II lasts an epic 2 1/2 hours. Anakin Skywalker still has to turn into the most evil villain in history and become completely disfigured in a fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi; Queen Amidala must consumate her relationship with Anakin, give birth to Luke and Leia, send each twin to the corners of the galaxy, and have Leia become the Princess of a planet still not introduced in the series; more importantly, Yoda and Obi-Wan have to become complete recluses, forsaking their Jedi training and the Republic. Episode III is either going to be one of the longest, most incredible epic movies of all time or a complete and utter disaster.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is a generally enjoyable experience if you're a small child, teenager or adult new to the series. Yes the script has holes big enough to fly a Death Star through, yes, someone forgot to hit the delete key when they imported Jar Jar Binks back into the plot (he’s “smart” now by the way) and yes, you might fall asleep during some of the slower parts. Nonetheless, the action is incredible when it happens, the storyline is consistent with the series, and the effects are godly.
My final word is this: if you're a Star Wars fan, you will not like this movie. You'll feel completely betrayed by the terrible acting, cheesy dialogue, choppy script, and lack of a likeable character "group". While it's much better than Episode I, it's still got nothing on the original three films. If Star Wars isn't you're thing, and you are looking for a really fun action movie with an excellent story, void of holes, that delivers on every single front (including the CGI and effects) see Spiderman. I give this a B- at best.
- Chris Gorczynski/Neo