Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Ten years have passed since the invasion of Naboo, and the Galactic Republic is experiencing a crisis. Former Jedi Master Count Dooku has organized a Separatist movement against the Republic, making it difficult for the Jedi to maintain the peace. The Republic contemplates creating an army to assist the Jedi, prompting Senator Padmé Amidala, former Queen of Naboo, to return to Coruscant to vote on the matter. Upon her arrival, she narrowly escapes an assassination attempt. Shaken by the close call, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine assigns Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice Anakin Skywalker to protect her. That night, another attempt on the Senator’s life is made, though Obi-Wan and Anakin foil the plot and subdue the assassin, who is permanently silenced by her mysterious employer when the Jedi force her to reveal vital information. Returning to the Jedi Temple, Obi-Wan is assigned to investigate the identity of the assassin’s killer, while Anakin is assigned to escort and accompany Senator Amidala to her homeplanet of Naboo. Anakin, who has grown infatuated with Padmé, relishes the opportunity to spend time with her, though Padmé resists her feelings toward him, as that would go against the moral codes of their careers as a Jedi and a senator, respectively.
Obi-Wan’s investigation leads him to the remote planet of Kamino, where he discovers that an army of clones is being secretly produced for the Republic. Obi-Wan deduces the clones’ template, a bounty hunter named Jango Fett, is the killer he’s looking for. After unsuccessfully trying to capture him, Obi-Wan tracks him down to the planet Geonosis. Anakin, meanwhile, has grown troubled with recurring nightmares about his mother, whom he had left behind on Tatooine when he set off to become a Jedi, in grave danger. In defiance of his orders to remain on Naboo, Anakin convinces Padmé to accompany him to Tatooine to save his mother. There he finds her abducted and beaten by Tusken Raiders, and she dies in his arms. Anakin succumbs to his grief and rage, slaughtering the entire Tusken community.
On Geonosis, Obi-Wan learns it was Nute Gunray who authorized the assassination attempt on Senator Amidala, and that the Separatists are in development of a new droid army. Obi-Wan relays this information via hologram to Anakin, who transmits it to the Jedi Council, though Obi-Wan is captured mid-transmission. While Anakin and Padmé head to Geonosis to rescue Obi-Wan, Chancellor Palpatine is granted emergency powers to organize the clone army and send them into battle. Shortly after arriving on Geonosis, Anakin and Padmé are captured and sentenced to death along with Obi-Wan. Preparing for what could be their final moments, Padmé finally reveals her feelings for Anakin. The three are pitted against savage beasts, though they manage to hold their own before Jedi Master Mace Windu arrives with a team of Jedi to assist them, engaging and decapitating Jango Fett in the brief battle. After a heated struggle, Jedi Master Yoda arrives with the clone army and collects the surviving Jedi.
As a large battle erupts between the Republic’s clone army and the Separatist’s droid forces, Count Dooku attempts to escape. Obi-Wan and Anakin corner him in a hangar and engage him in a lightsaber duel, but he outmatches and defeats them with his mastery of the dark side of the Force, cutting off Anakin’s arm in the process. Yoda engages Dooku in a fierce duel, though Dooku manages to escape once more, taking the plans for a new “ultimate weapon” to his Sith master on Coruscant. The Jedi are now uncertain of what will become of the Republic, now that the Clone Wars have begun. Chancellor Palpatine oversees the launching of massive clone trooper forces. Meanwhile, Anakin, with a new cybernetic arm, secretly marries Padmé on Naboo, with C-3PO and R2-D2 as witnesses.
I’ve noticed that a trend in trilogies is for the second film to be the best of the 3. Attack of the Clonesfits that stereotype perfectly.
As good as Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menacewas, it was rooted more in drama, rather than action. Having said that, critics of the first film said there was no romance. To this day, I don’t understand why there just needed to be a romance, but they got their wish with this film as Anakin and Padme share a forbidden love. Aside from the love story, we get lots more action and more wondrous, vintage Star Wars creatures and locales, such as Kamino, a watery planet inhabited by tall, white creatures with very long necks (and 6 pack abs).
Critics have panned the acting in this film, especially Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin. I find it hard to disagree with them. Christensen, though, is like Keanu Reeves and Ryan Philippe, devoid of emotion and depth. Having seen Hayden in other works outside of these films, I know that it his talent that is lacking, and not the character or script. Still, he doesn’t totally suck in the role. After all, Anakin is slowly but surely turning to the dark side. The one spark of emotion we get is in his most emotional scene following the death of his mother, and even that is barely a tilt one way or another from normal.
Natalie Portman returns as Padme Amidala, who is now a Senator, rather than queen. It must be some kind of weird custom on Naboo for the women to have those weird hairdos, because her hair, although tones down from the first film, is still constantly being mutated into weird shapes. She obviously has some real acting talent, and as the film goes on, we start to feel as if she’s human and not a droid like R2-D2 and C-3PO. It seems as if she was uncomfortable in the early scenes, but as she gained confidence with her character, her acting gets better. This could also have something to do, or not, with her wardrobe that shows her bare midriff.
Ewan McGregor comes into this film with a full beard as an attempt to put the fans more in the mind of Alec Guiness’ Obi-Wan. I’d say this was a mistake, but it actually makes him look older and more believable than he was in the first film.
The highlight of the film for me, has to be the lightsaber/force battle between Yoda and Count Dooku. Longtime Star Wars fans know Yoda best as a feeble old muppet creature who is very wise. This battle with Dooku, albeit short, is impressive, because we really get to see that he can use the skills he teaches young Jedi. Also, we get to see the other Jedi knights in action, including Mace Windu.
Yoda has a line in Return of the Jedi, I believe that says, “action, adventure…a jedi craves not these things.” Well, if you’re watching this film, then you crave action, adventure, a little romance and a little comedy. That’s a nice little mixture, isn’t it? No wonder this is the best of the prequel trilogy.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars