On the Way to Episode VII: Attack of the Clones

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Check out the others in this series:
- The Phantom Menace

When the name of the film was announced. fans roared in disapproval. It was my first experience watching geekdom turn on its own. After the disappointing (at least to many fans) Episode I, fans were looking for something to pounce on, and the name gave them that.

I don't have any problem with the name of Episode II. George Lucas originally conceived Star Wars as a homage to his beloved sci-fi serials like Flash Gordon. "Attack of the Clones" mirrored the cheesy titles of those films, and it actually described the movie pretty well. And that's the least of the movie's problems.

This is my least favorite of the prequels, and easily the worst film in Lucas' six. While there are many things to dislike, there is some awesomeness in there too.

What Didn't Go Wrong But Everyone Says It Did

  • Whiny Anakin. Anakin comes off as a whiny teen. So what? Don't you remember how whiny Luke was in Episode IV? It's genetic. Now, I'm not defending Hayden Christensen's acting, just pointing out that a whiny character is fine.
  • Too many lightsabers makes it less special. I've heard this one many times and I think it's bunk. Didn't we all want to see the Clone War described briefly in the original? Didn't we want to see Jedi in battle action? Now we're going to complain about it? Who's whiny again?

What Went Wrong

  • The love story. We don't understand why Padme ever falls for Anakin. It's just a terrible love story from almost any angle. And the only scene where you get a good flavor for this was cut from the movie, a scene where Anakin meets Padme's family. It's not a great scene, but would have provided necessary context. It was replaced so Anakin and Padme could clear level 7 of the droid factory video game.
  • Too much CGI. The CGI hasn't aged well, but even at the time we knew it was wrong. We get a lot of looks at the Jedi Temple, but instead of it coming off as majestic, it looks generic and cheesy.
  • Not enough character development. I love action. I love lightsaber fights. But this movie struggled to tell a cohesive story because every other scene was a video game level. Just think back to "Empire Strikes Back." Think of all the wonderful moments we get of character building with Luke and Yoda, with Han and Leia. Instead we get plastic dialogue with characters walking through uninteresting backgrounds.

What Went Right

  • Jango and Bobba. I realize a lot of people hated this part of the story, but I thought it was cool. Bobba is clone brothers with the clone troopers? Cool. And watching Jango getting killed by a Jedi Master? Rock on.
  • Chancellor Palpatine. The most underrated aspect of the prequels is the development of Palpatine. Ian McDiarmid does an excellent job adding depth to a character we already know is going bad. Maybe because he played the character in "Return of the Jedi", Ian got it and delivered a great performance.
  • Jedi in battle. I know many don't like the arena fight and subsequent battle, but I do. We get to see the superiority of clones over droids. We get to see Jedi leading and kicking butt. What's wrong with it again?
  • Yoda vs. Count Dooku. After Dooku dispatches with Obi-Wan and Anakin, here comes Yoda, the aged master. When I first saw it in the theater, the crowd roared when they battled. He can catch Force lightning? He was a a freaking acrobat lightsaber fighter? Awesome. The fight still brings chills. But it also humanizes (wrong word?) Yoda. He let Dooku go to save Obi-Wan and Anakin. So when he tells Luke in "Empire" that sometimes you can't save you friends and win the battle, he speaks from experience.

This is the least of the films, but it's not terrible, just a flawed mediocre film.