Star Wars: Episode 2 - Attack Of The Clones

*1/2

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Star Wars: Episode 2 - Attack Of The Clones
"Narrative seeds are sown for future Episodes, but at a cost of entertainment."

George Lucas' first real failure as director, Attack Of The Clones is a wearisome adventure, full of talking, false intrigue and uninteresting mystery. The film is disturbingly overwritten, and has a slump in storytelling pace that makes even the intoxicating final hour seem like it is from a different movie.

Ten years after the events of The Phantom Menace, the galaxy is in political turmoil. An attempted political assassination of Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), opens the film, with Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Padawan apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) taking the duty of protection. Anakin and Amidala try to flush out the assassin by using herself as bait; they follow the clues to solve the mystery. All the while, Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) a charismatic leader attempts to form a force large enough to challenge the ineffectual and corrupt Republic, led by Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who has his own secret agenda. Obi-Wan and Anakin are separated, with Anakin being Padme's personal bodyguard. Their relationship grows, and eventually blossoms. During this, nightmares summon Anakin back to his home planet, Tatooine, to find his mother.

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Narrative seeds are sown for future Episodes, but at a cost of entertainment. There is precious little in Attack Of The Clones that is captivating, or in many ways anything other than pleasing to look at. George Lucas and Jonathan Hale's lacklustre screenplay joins the dots, but does not engage the viewer in anything other than cheerful ridicule. The love scenes are either dull and unconvincing, or very convincing, but still dull. There is hardly a moment in the romance that is not cliché, or poorly invested in by the supposed young lovers. The fireplace scene in particular, is a staggering miscalculation, with guffaws aplenty.

Obi-Wan's story thread is uninteresting, and laboured to the point of oblivion. He travels to the Jedi archives, to consult with Yoda, visiting a watery planet of cloners, where a long-dead member of the Jedi Council ordered a vast army of stormtroopers for purposes unknown. This uninvolving mystery eventually leads to the planet of Geonosis, where Count Dooku has forged deals with other leaders to join the Separatists. A massive droid army awaits...

Ian McDiarmid and Christopher Lee emerge unscathed from this story, however, and even for a moment, they allow us to invest. They are agreeably evil, and the classy acting lets us believe that there are at least a couple of dozen subtexts running under this hokum. They could read the ingredients off a cereal packet and make it sound interesting. The other villain, the bounty hunter Jango Fett, is uninteresting, and makes his gun slinging work seem like he is starching shirts for a living.

A feast for the pupils, but not the mind or the heart, with spectacular visual design - the worlds are changing, and not for the better - and with some very impressive visual effects battles. "The first full scale war since the formation of the Republic" does not disappoint, but it is essentially a lot of sound and fury. Without characters we care about; it amounts to many wasted pixels. Indeed, let us not delve to the fanboy-masturbatory depths of Yoda becoming Sonic the Hedgehog with a glowstick. What Attack of the Clones lacks, is a human involvement. Thin melodrama is not a substitute for style, substance or storytelling wit. I hope that Episode 3 will set the record straight.

Reviewed on: 04 May 2005
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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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