Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones review by The Grim Ringler

Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones Or, In Defense of Star Wars.

So I have to preface this by saying I am a Star Wars fan. A pretty big one truth be told, from the old school. Which means that I have liked the film series from the Episode Four on. I collected the figures, the ships, acted out the movies, and generally have been a nerd about them. But being a nerd about them does not lessen my opinion. But it does color my opinion, so I tell you all of that first because you need to know where I am coming from. Me being a fan, to me, does not make me blinded to what the films can and cannot do, just makes me see them as they are. Which I think is the important point here. So keep that in mind.

For some reason I cant quite fathom, the Star Wars movies are suddenly reviled and hated, despite making cash hand over fist at the box office. I even read that Episode II was considered a disappointment because it only made three hundred million dollars. And atop that is a sudden and deep hatred of all things George Lucas (which is not to say that yes, dorks like me still like the man and watch his stuff, and there are a lot of us, but I mean in the mainstream media and from a lot of film nerds in particular) that is so black-hearted it really bothers me. I think the greatest part of that comes from him messing with the original trilogy, which I am divided on. I totally see where the original fans are mad that he did because it is much their movie as his now, but it also is HIS movie in the end. Had he been smarter he should have released them on DVD in the different versions AND with the originals intact. But he didnt. Hopefully he will rectify that when he does release the first trilogy on DVD and all will be right with the world. So I can see where a lot of the anger began he messed with movies considered holy by the fans. But the I Hate Lucas fan club has only grown with the release of Episodes One and Two and I think that is what boggles my mind cause I cant help but feel if the movies were both perfect, which they both obviously are not, that theyd STILL be hated just because. Kind of how you hated some kid in school for something they did or said and never ceased hating them despite what decent thing they might do later on. They are a jerk. Enough said. Which is sad because, love the man or hate him, love the first or hate it, Episode II, Attack of the Clones is a hell of a fun movie.

I wont go on and on about the plot of Episode II because either you know what it is space soap-opera with robots, stilted acting, and some Jedi shenanigans or you dont care. So I will get to the meat of this review Taken as a movie, as a pure popcorn space opera, it is a pretty damned good movie. Only second to The Empire Strikes Back in my humble opinion. Why do I even DARE say such a thing? Because its true. Episode II is the most intriguing and action packed of any of the films and creates two more great villains one, Jango Fett, who is more human than a baddie has ever been since Vader and another Dooku, who is so badass that even Yoda had to break out some smacked-down on him. As of Clones, I really think the solid vision Lucas always talks about is finally coming into shape. It feels like the movies are getting better. Substantially so. This is Star Wars. Episode I, while I like it, was awkward and showed it at every turn (and I too have a hard time believing that some of the racist characters in it were wholly accidents and werent his way of just doing whatever the hell he pleases, despite what people think), but Episode II really shows his vision finally melding well with the technology and seems less like a technological masturbation fest than a melding of the tech and the story. He still has a bit to go before that really comes to complete fruition, but he is close.

So is this a great film? No, of course not. Its a movie, a silly summer sci-fi soap-opera that was made and intended as a long-form homage to the old serials from the thirties and forties that inspired Lucas in the first place. He even says flat out in the documentary stuff the acting, the writing, all of it is to reflect on those serials. He knowsthere is more than a dollop of cheese in the movies, and he likes that. And I sort of agree. There is no way you can take the Star Wars films with a completely straight face. You cant. But they are meant as fun diversions and nothing more, and I think thats what too many people miss. Hell, I hate the one Adam Sandler movie I saw (Happy Gilmore), but that doesnt mean that a lot of people find his funny as hell. So be it. Dorks like me have our Star Wars to giggle over. And yes, Hayden Christensen is not so great as an actoryet. I will hold judgment until the next film since he claims to be trying to find a middle-ground between young Ani and Vader, so I will give him another movie to show what he has. And Natalie Portman has never really been that believable, but she is stunning as Amidala, giving her a tough beauty and strength that does remind one of Lea, and is I am sure why she was cast. Lucas casts a lot of his actors on look and not so much on acting, which is a problem a lot of the time, but one that can generally be gotten through. Is the story any good? I think it is. Its a mystery masked as a space actioner, and McGregor does a wonderful job of fleshing out Obi Wan and really making you love that character. I honestly think that the biggest two knocks on the film are that a lot of the acting and truly the romance, are just not that great. And that is true. The romance is wooden, unromantic, and feels terribly forced. I think thats as much a limit of Lucas as director and writer as it is that these movies werent really made for romance, they were made, like sharks, to continually move forward. Which I can see as the other major knock that the movie moves too fast. Its action scene after action scene and you get little chance to care for anything that is not happening right in front of you. But again, thats these movies, for good or ill.

As a DVD release, it is at least as good as the first film, and probably better overall, as the documentaries and commentary are really top-notch stuff and you really cant ask for a better looking or sounding film on DVD. I think the biggest gripe is that he NEVER gets into the deeper ideas in the films as a whole. The grand scale things he is trying to say, which may be because he isnt done with them yet, but I think maybe too because he still may not grasp it all, like Chris Carter with The X-Files. He made this great universe but doesnt really see that deeply into it. Or perhaps sees too deeply. Who can say? But the film looks spectacular and sounds amazing, go fig. And there are all sorts of things to go through, the most interesting being the documentaries about the filming of the film. And if you delve deep enough you actually see some of the weird humor of Lucas and those involved via an odd pseudo-documentary about R2-D2 and some kooky promo art they made for college campuses to generate interest in the movie. Few movies are going to look and sound this good on DVD, its just a fact, whatever else you think about old George, the brother makes sure his stuff LOOKS good at least.

I love this movie, I loved it in the theater, and I love it still. It has its faults, and those are not that easy to always look past, but this was not meant to be an art film, it was meant to be a fun popcorn movie, a STAR WARS movie, and as such, its a neato movie. Purists that insist that the original trilogy is all gold and the new ones more akin to gristle, well, they need to re-watch those then and look really hard (Mark Hamill, great in those as he may be, was not a good actor until he gave up being more than a voice actor, and the first trilogy HINGES on his character!) and see if they are still so flawless. Sure, Lucas seems like a megalomaniac with an enormous ego, I wont deny that, but I also wont let that get in the way of a fun film series I still find I enjoy, warts and all. It is what it is kids, nothing more, nothing less. If you dont like it, which I am sure we shall all find out down below what with the new response forms popping up, then cool, go watch something you enjoy, and leave us dorks to revel in our Star Wars and giggle over our nerdiness. c


8 out of 10 Jackasses

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