What better way to start this review of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones than with a taste of the all familiar score done by the brilliant John Williams?
I’m not going to go too much into what it was like standing in line or the atmosphere of the theater inside except to say it was the first showing at midnight in this theater and the crowd was pumped to see this flick. Instead I’m going to go straight to the point and say this is, indeed, a better film than Episode I. That’s still not saying too much. I think everyone can mostly agree Episode I was very much crap, but the story is still very important to remember. Without giving away any spoilers, let’s start with the not so good to the down right bad.
I could definitely go on and on with the bad. There was much in AOTC (Attack of the Clones). But instead of comparing this movie to other films, I’m going to compare it with other Star Wars movies. After all, all of the SW films have a good amount of flaws, but that doesn’t make them bad movies. The first thing I noticed was the picture quality. This movie was entirely shot with digital equipment and, therefore, needed to be adapted to film to be played in most theaters. It might have just been the theater I was in, but it looked bad. There was a very large amount of noise and artifacts all throughout the movie, especially in the darker sequences. It reminded me a lot of a poorly produced DVD like Batman, which is notorious for its high amount of artifacts. The noise in AOTC becomes extremely bad when you start seeing the out of focused backgrounds.
The second thing I noticed was how false the movie looked. The digital compositing was bad and the live actors (the little that were on screen) looked way out of place. The sets and backgrounds, while very creative, just never looked real. The actors seemed to just float in the picture. I mean they didn’t even bother to place them on real ground most of the time. A good example of this was any scene with sand in the final battle sequence. They made the sand and created the footprints as the actors walked about.
Another item that could have been improved was the dialog. SW movies are a great example of terrible dialog and AOTC is no different, in some ways, worse than it’s predecessors. There are far too many one-liners and a couple of references to other SW movies that Lucas seem to have put in on purpose to get a little giggle out of us, but instead got an “oh man, he didn’t just say that”. For Christ’s sake. “I have a bad feeling about this” is Han Solo’s line. Not Anakin’s.
Now acting, it was decent for the most part except for one character. Anakin Skywalker is suppose to be a stuck up whiny creep and Hayden Christensen portrays him as such, but it’s way over the top and not believable. It gets to the point where you hope he never talks. There are some GREAT parts fuelled by Christensen’s character and they all happen when he’s not talking.
Again, I could pick the movie apart the whole night, but there’s no point to that because whatever it is I could say still wont outweigh the good I’m about to say.
Back to the acting real quick. Obi-Wan is the man in this one. Unlike Episode I, Obi-Wan is no longer a trainee, but a master and it shows. Ewan McGregor is great at playing the older and wiser Obi-Wan and is even looking like the much older Sir Alec Guiness Obi-Wan from the original trilogy. Samuel L. Jackson is also good in his Jedi role. You finally get to see him handle a lightsaber and he doesn’t disappoint. Natalie Portman plays the cocky Senator Padme Amidala, but does it in a believable form, unlike Anakin. Christopher Lee is also excellent in his part and is also a natural at handling the lightsaber.
What about the story? This is probably the most important chapter in the main Star Wars story and Lucas does a great job of showing exactly why. Yes, it’s a love story, but it doesn’t get in the way of what Star War is and what it will always be: the classic battle between good and evil. The key word there is battle, and this movie brings you a lot of it. Anakin brings a lot of personal conflict with him and Lucas does a great job of showing you of how he deals with this conflict within and hints on the consequences that could befall if the wrong path is taken. This takes up a lot of the beginning a middle of the film and did get quite slow at times, but the last 40 minutes turned out to be the most unbelievable and breathtaking Star Wars experience EVER.
Of course, I speak of the physical battle. Unlike Episode I, this movie gives you a great sense of the scale when dealing with the wars that good and evil are fighting. Hundreds of thousands of troops from both sides collide in what is to be called the Clone Wars. It’s a massive war and we are shown the beginning of it all in AOTC. Throw in a large amount of Jedi and their lightsabers blazing about and you have the ultimate battle. I was speechless through all of the final sequences. These last 40 minutes ultimately redeem anything bad you can say about this film. It’s simply that good.
Before viewing this movie, I had a lot of hope that this would be the redeemer for Lucas to make up for Episode I. Even so, I mentally gave myself a lot of room for the big let down. It could easily have turned out to be another Episode I. We have to remember that this is a Star wars movie and because of that, we leave reality behind when we watch them. After all, we’re dealing with a time long long ago in a galaxy far far away.
How does it fair as a stand-alone movie? It’s a popcorn movie and a decent one at that. How does it fair as a Star Wars movie? Well, when it comes down to it, a lot of the bad can be looked over if the story makes sense. Not only did it make sense, but it’s moving it so perfectly between Episodes I and III that it actually made Episode I a better film because of it and that’s not easy to do. I sat at the end as the credits rolled teary-eyed and speechless out of pure amazement. Lucas has his redeemer with this act two.
Make no mistake about it. This is a GREAT Star Wars movie and easily shares top spot with The Empire Strikes Back as the GREATEST of all Star Wars films!
Bring on Episode III.