Star Wars: Episode 2 - Attack Of The Clones

Star Wars: Episode 2 - Attack Of The Clones

**1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Once upon a time in a galaxy not so very far away a man named George Lucas produced a film that became a huge box office smash and changed the face of film merchadising overnight. It was so successful that he went on to produce a sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, which set new standards in sci-fi swashbuckling, leaving a nation of youngsters - myself included - open-mouthed and gagging for more. More came, but for many both Return Of The Jedi and The Phantom Menace lacked the pace and style of the first two movies. So, the question is, does Attack Of The Clones - possibly the worst subtitled movie in cinema history - stem the tide of tedium?

When we meet with our intrepid bunch of intergalactic goodguys this time it is some 10 years since the days of Darth Maul, and little Anakin has grown into a typically sullen youth. This seems odd, however, as no one else in the cast seems to have aged a day - especially not the love interest Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman).

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Padme is now the senator for Naboo and, as ever, is trying to bring peace to the republic, which is currently locked in negotiation regarding the creation of a huge army. She re-encounters Anakin (Hayden Christensen) who is still undergoing his apprenticeship with Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) as they pledge to protect her from assassination attempts. Needless to say, an attempt is made - in the form of very creepy creepy crawlies - and the rest of the film is shaped by Obi-Wan's attempts to track down the assassin and Anakin and Padme making out like rejects from Dawson's Creek.

Obi-Wan's travels take him to a mysterious planet, where he discovers they are manufacturing a cloned army at a now-dead Jedi's request, based on the DNA of bounty hunter Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), his task now is to find out what the purpose of such an army is and what it is being set up to fight, which takes him to the heart of intrigue and corruption in the senate.

While all this is happening - very, very, very slowly - Padme and Anakin seem to be lost in a Cadbury's flake advert on Naboo - surely a left over set from Captain Correlli's Mandolin - where they agonise about love while Padme goes through a seemingly limitless number of costume changes.

All this, believe it or not, is only a very small fraction of this immense movie. It starts off briskly with some fantastic special effects and a great high-speed chase but then founders on the shores of bad script writing, meaning that it waffles off on a complete tangent for about 45 minutes before rallying quite well with another mass of effects redolent of Gladiator and the previous Star Wars movies.

Hayden Christensen, as the young Skywalker, follows in a fine line of Star Wars heroes epitomised by Mark Hammill and is beyond dreadful - his lightsaber has more acting ability. This, coupled with a lumpen script, makes it difficult for anyone but McGregor and Christopher Lee (as the malevolent Count Dooku) to turn in performances that rise above the pedestrian. Many of the jokes fall especially flat - even those from the usually reliable C3PO (Anthony Daniels) - although on the plus side, Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) has been relegated to a very minor supporting role.

This film, much like its predecessor, also leaves it far too late to introduce the villain of the piece and its insistence on making so much of the chocolate-box romance between Anakin and Padme is bound to be a real turn-off to the male teenagers in the audience. There is one picnic scene, in particular, that boasts some very dodgy CGI and which would have been far better left on the cutting room floor.

It is unfair to say that this is a dud, however, as when the pacier scenes come along they are gripping and well filmed, catching you up in the enthusiasm. The chase scenes are excellent and, by and large, the CGI effects very good, but this film is far too long at more than two hours, a length which I think will see many of the younger cinemagoers' attention wandering.

This is a perfectly OK popcorn movie, better than Episode I by a considerable margin but lacking the tension of The Empire Strikes Back. What is so frustrating is that you can see how much better a movie it could have been if only someone had had the good sense to edit it back. Perhaps Lucas should be encouraged to feel the Force of a pair of scissors next time.

Reviewed on: 15 Dec 2006
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Obi-Wan and Anakin are put in charge of protecting the Naboo senatoress after an attempt on her life.
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