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Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
2002 - PG - 142 Mins.
Director: George Lucas
Producer: Rick McCallum
Written By: George Lucas, Jonathan Hales
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Frank Oz
Review by: David Trier
   
Without a doubt, Episode II is far superior to Episode I… making it the second worst movie I’ve ever seen.

Ten years after the phantom menace made the galaxy queasy with indigestion, Padme “rock me Amadeus” Amidala (Natalie Portman) is a senator and the target of assassination attempts. A wise and scruffy Obi-Wan (Ewan MacGregor) and his apprentice, a talented but unruly (obnoxious little snot) Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) must protect Padme long enough for Anakin to try to get into her pants. While Anakin uses the kind of romancing techniques on Padme that you’d expect late at night on the Sunset Strip, Obi-Wan tracks down the assassins. Much to his surprise (not to ours), the assassins are separatist rebels under Count Dooku (heheh, he said dooku) (Christopher Lee), a former Jedi long since having gotten down with his funky self. While Anakin bitches and moans about his teacher holding him back and struggles with the blue balls of Jedi law prohibiting monkey love, we soon learn that the bad guys are building an army of clones. Yoda notices too. And so does Samuel Jackson. Anyway, some fighting ensues.

Where to begin? The strongest element of this film, I think, is Ewan MacGregor’s ability not only to squeeze an ounce of naturalism from the silly dialogue, but to really convey the way both Obi-Wan and Alec Guinness probably were at that age. The teenage Anakin is no doubt a better performer than the kid in Phantom Menace (who I still think was reading cue cards), but it’s unfortunately the kind of acting we see on the WB a lot – bursts of emotion followed by tight lips and furrowed eyebrows but no real appreciation for the other actors and the reality of the scene. But one shouldn’t judge Christensen too harshly because he has so little to work with. And no one ever accused Mark Hamill of being too convincing either. Natalie Portman is always nice to watch, but this is far from her best performance. She has yet to be in a film as cool as The Professional. Samuel L. Jackson is just not believable in a Star Wars movie. Again, not his fault, but the fault of the production.

Although many of the special effects are blatantly CGI, some of the sequences are very exciting. The battle scene in particular is well orchestrated. For reasons beyond comprehension, Yoda’s effects have gone downhill. As an old whatever-the-hell-he-is, the wrinkled muppet looked pretty damn convincing. But the new, younger whatever-the-hell-he-is looks too much like he’s made out of nerf (even though he’s technically made of ones and zeroes). Now everyone loves a good light-saber duel, and the ones here are as exciting as expected, but seeing Yoda bust out samurai-style is just embarrassing. It’s an audience pleaser like people slipping on bananas, suggesting the makers of this film either aren’t fans of Star Wars or they’ve just lost their minds. The other problem with Yoda’s larger presence in this film is that we are subjected to his ridiculous way of speaking. Putting the end of a sentence at the beginning when you only have a few things to say may be construed as cryptic, but whole monologues of this stuff makes it as annoying as pig latin. Annoying-ay as ig-pay atin-lay, oda-yay’s alking-tay is.

Why did the first series of Star Wars flicks work and why don’t these? Here’s some examples: Early Star Wars – A completely different world created in film unlike anything we’d ever seen before. Even if you thought it was silly, you couldn’t deny its originality in presentation. Current Star Wars – Regurgitated clips of the sci-fi section at your local video store. Early Star Wars – Jedi mind tricks tempered with sly romantic comedy. Han Solo, a man among men. And Luke Skywalker, a boy wonder about to be a hero. Current Star Wars – Jedi master this Jedi master that, blah blah blah, we take ourselves so seriously, don’t we? And Anakin Skywalker, insolent, ungrateful, inappropriate and self-centered.

What I want to know is why is there a separatist movement in the first place? Hell, Star Wars Land has a pretty low unemployment rate it seems and it’s by far the best racially integrated place in the universe. Better than Star Trek even. So why secede? Does Count Dooku want to avoid having his tax money go to inner city schools?

I just don’t get it. So much money and so much marketing that you feel you aren’t participating in pop culture if you don’t watch the movie. Mafia style intimidation, I say! Gimme $8.50 and two hours of your life or everyone will be talking about something you haven’t seen. It just isn’t fair. The movie simply isn’t very good.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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