“I shouldn’t have come back”
‘The Phantom Menace is a bad film, but mention of it will always be consumed by the sense of disappointment many felt after watching it. You’d think that after the negative reactions to Episode, George Lucas would try his hardest to make ‘Episode II: Attack Of The Clones’ a better film. Maybe he did try, but to no avail. ‘Attack Of The Clones’ is undoubtedly the worst Star Wars film to date. JJ Abrams could film two chimps fighting with sticks and make a more entertaining film than AOTC. Jar Jar Binks may have a reduced role, but all of the other flaws and failures of Episode I are magnified in Episode II. Silly plot developments, sillier action set pieces, wooden acting and endless talking (within a dire script) make for an excruciating experience. And did I mention the love story? One of the worst love stories in cinema history? Here we go…
Ten years after the events of Episode I, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker (now played by Hayden Christensen) are sent to protect former queen, now Senator Padme Amidala from an assassin. Padme believes the never-before-mentioned Count Dooku to be behind the assassination attempt. Why? She never really gives a reason, but that doesn’t matter. Mace Windu dismisses her out of hand, due to the fact that Dooku used to be a Jedi. Obviously, anyone who used to be a Jedi has to play by Jedi rules…wait a minute, is that logical? Errr…no! The entire film is packed with illogical character decisions, but the first half an hour of the film hurls a shedload of stupidity at the screen.
How does Anakin plan to protect Padme? By allowing her to shut herself in her room (that has a massive window for a wall!) with only R2-D2 to scan the room. Who would ever use the line “quiet as a tomb” in real life? Why doesn’t the assassin, who can change her appearance, change into another person during the terrible chase scene? The chase scene plays out in another green screen splurge of CGI cars and buildings. Obviously, Lucas thought people wanted more acting against fake backgrounds. There are too many other groan-inducing happenings to mention, and they sap any remaining hope that Episode II has learned from the mistakes of its predecessor.
“Suddenly, I’m afraid”
Sorry, but I can’t even give a synopsis of the plot without pointing out the flaws of the film! They pummel you into submission even before the risible love story comes in to play. For me, one of the main purposes of the prequel trilogy was to cement the friendship between Obi-Wan and Kenobi. In Episode IV, it’s plain to see that Obi-Wan’s friendship with Anakin meant a lot to the old hermit. The two barely got any time together in Episode I, and in Episode II they spend much of the film apart. They have a chat in an elevator at the beginning of the film, but their casual chat feels unnatural. There’s no sense that they have a history together. In fact, they seem to distrust each other. Anakin moans about Obi-Wan to Padme, and Obi-Wan thinks Anakin is too hot-headed. Surely, after ten years of being master and apprentice, there would be some affection between them? But we aren’t allowed to see that. The friendship between Anakin and Obi-Wan is pushed aside in favour of the love story between Padme and Anakin…
And what an unconvincing love story we are shown. I watched ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ earlier on in the year, and Christian Grey and Anastacia had more chemistry than Anakin and Padme possess in AOTC. That’s not a compliment, by the way: Grey and Anastacia had almost zero chemistry. But Padme and Anakin’s relationship is conjured up out of Anakin’s creepiness, the most cringe-inducing romantic dialogue ever (“I’m haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me”), and Hayden’s wooden acting. He is a terrible actor, but the script he is given is even worse. Just look for what he has to say about sand on Youtube. I can understand why Anakin loves/obsesses over Padme; he’s been infatuated with her for a decade. But why does Padme fall in love with (truly, deeply…) Anakin? There’s no on-screen reason for it. At one point, she tells him not to look at her in a particular way because “it makes her uncomfortable.” For a contrived reason, Anakin has to protect Padme on his own, as Obi-Wan is sent to find her assassin. Even then, their time together does not reap romantic rewards. They laugh, rolls about together in grass, share a kiss, but it’s all so unconvincing and forced.
Did I mention that Anakin, as a Jedi, cannot fall in love? And Padmen, as a Senator, cannot fall in love? We aren’t given the rationale behind the ban on love, but it’s only put in place to make their love forbidden. Then again, there isn’t much rationale behind much of the film. As the love story is the main crux of Episode II (and doesn’t work), every other plot is given to us in short snippets. They suffer as a result. Take Count Dooku, the main villain of Episode II. He doesn’t appear until well into an hour of the film, and then he is talking around a round table, much like the Jedi simply talk and don’t do anything. Nothing suggests that he is a bad guy. That doesn’t change throughout the rest of the film. He even tries to reason with Obi-Wan after the latter is captured (even though Dooku is working with Darth Sidious, the Count tells Obi-Wan that there is a Dark Lord on the Senate…why would he do that? It’s so stupid!!!)! It’s as if Lucas plucked the name out of thin air and shoved Dooku into the film without any thought.
“This isn’t how it’s supposed to be”
So much wrong with this film there is. I could ramble on about why Yoda should never have fought in a lightsabre battle, or about the other lightsabre battles (Anakin gets two lightsabres! It’s going to be so cool! Oh wait, he’s already lost one…) that feel obligatory and dull. The Jed Council finally decide to stop talking about stuff and do something, but it’s a bunch of actors swinging their lightsabres at CG’d images. A group of Jedi should be a highlight of the film, but it’s not entertaining at all. Hayden Christensen simply cannot act, and the other actors and actresses are given such turgid dialogue that their acting suffers immeasurably. Every scene is packed full of CGI that it’s hard to focus on anything in particular.
Are there any positives in the film? Perhaps the end, but Episode II feels like Lucas is multiplying the flaws of Episode I out of spite, purely because the majority of people hated Episode I. I feel like I should maul AOTC more, but I don’t have it in me. There’s nothing positive to say about it. It contains one of the worst love stories in cinema history, even though the love story is vital to Anakin’s descent into darkness. The plot lurches from ludicrous scenario to ludicrous scenario, as reason is edited out of the story. People talk, endlessly, in chunks of dull exposition. Episode I was bad, no doubt about it. But Episode II is truly one of the worst ‘blockbuster’ films ever made.
VERDICT: 2/10. A terrible, terrible film. Lucas learned nothing from Episode I and gave us more CG, an even worse script, and Hayden Christensen. I’d rather have Jar Jar Binks!
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(Click here for my review of Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace)
(Click here for my review of Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope)
(Click here for my review of Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back)
(Click here for my review of Star Wars: Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi)