THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!
By: Akram Shaban
Years have passed since the Phantom Menace was concluded and we get to meet 18-year-old Anakin Skywalker played by Hayden Christensen. Continuing the plot of how Anakin slowly came to be enthralled by the dark side, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of The Clones tries and fails to deliver on that promise. But I did not hate it.
The story mostly revolves around Anakin and Padmé’s (Natalie Portman) developing, romantic relationship, with a bunch of stuff going on in the background. There is the separatist group led by a former Jedi named Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), who wants to split up the Galactic Empire headed by Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). The Jedi council, who are in charge of maintaining the peace, are struggling to figure out what’s up. Things get really messed up when there is an assassination attempt on Padmé, a pivotal figure in the senate, in the beginning of the movie. She had been advocating for some anti-military creation act, or something to that extent (I wasn’t paying that much attention to be honest), and Count Dooku didn’t like that. The council reasons that it may have in fact been Dooku who made the attempt on her life, which prompts Palpatine to place Padmé in protective custody. Who is given the assignment? It is Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his padawan apprentice (is it redundant to say padawan apprentice?) Anakin. Anakin had apparently been in love with Padmé for some reason. He is ordered by Obi-Wan (or was it Palpatine, or some other Jedi?) to take Padmé to her home planet, Naboo, to guarantee her protection. And that’s when the most effed up, forced, weird, cringe-worthy, romance in film history (well maybe not the entire history of film, just recent history I guess), is spawned.
Aside from the romance (some refer to it as a romantic comedy since it’s so laughable), the film also explores the politics and war that is nearing. Obi-Wan, who in my opinion is the best part of the movie, is running around trying to figure out who is trying to kill Padmé. When he and Anakin are posted outside of Padmé’s bedroom as a part of their security contract…uhh, I mean mission… they argue about discipline or some crap like that. Meanwhile Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), badass, legendary bounty hunter, is telling some assassin to go kill Padmé. Later on, you learn the Jango Fett was probably an idiot because upon handing her (the assassin) the tool she is supposed to use to perform the assassination, he says something along the lines of “no mistakes this time.” I don’t know why he doesn’t do the assassination himself. Instead, he gives the job to someone he knows to be incompetent, to do something which requires as little risk as possible. Whatever his reasons were, they were needlessly risky, and they cost him. Why? Because while the two bodyguards are arguing, they sense that Padmé is in great danger. The assassin had sent some flying robot thing over to the window of Padmé’s bedroom to cut a small hole in it. It then squeezes through these weird assassination worm things that are totally lame. When they got close to Padmé, Anakin was like “k, this is easy” and heroically jumps on top of her bed and lightsaber slashes the worms away. Hurray, STAR WARS, yeah!
After that Padmé and Anakin retreat to Naboo on orders of, now that I think of it, Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan and Anakin had chased after the assassin in a relatively fun chase scene. They catch her but right as she is about to reveal who her boss was, Jango Fett kills her with a dart. So Obi-Wan takes the dart to some chef alien guy who’s into dart stuff. He traces the dart back to a planet he had never heard of. In order to pursue the lead more, CSI Obi-Wan escorts Anakin and Padmé to Naboo. Oh yes! It was Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) who makes the order, not Obi-Wan.
Throughout the movie, you get the impression that the “relationship” between Anakin and Padmé is largely uninspired. It’s supposed to be a love story. But most of Anakin’s behaviour comprises of creeper face, whining and complaining (which is hardly attractive), and just strange dialogue. Sand! He hates Sand! And Padmé’s body language is inconsistent with her behaviour as well. She’s repeatedly put off by Anakin’s awkwardness, at one pointing outright saying, “You’re making me uncomfortable.” Whenever there is a close up of her looking at Anakin she looks somewhat annoyed or perplexed. But somehow she dresses in ways that would suggest she’s more interested in Anakin than her behaviour may indicate. When they kiss it looks forced and unnatural. When they confess their love for each other it’s unrealistic and strange. So yeah, there is that.
When it comes to Obi-Wan, it’s tempting to dismiss him in the same way, you would dismiss boring side quests in a video game. “Go here to get this, go there to get that, then go there to this and that.” Somehow I didn’t find Obi Wan’s investigation that boring. I guess I really wanted to know what he was trying to figure out. Then when he gets caught by Dooku he says: “I will never join the likes of you” or something to the extent. I thought that was cool. The fight between him and Jango Fett was also pretty cool. Obi-Wan is just awesome. In one scene, he Jedi mind tricks some guy to stop trying to sell him death sticks (whatever those are) and makes him go rethink his life. He made the movie more enjoyable for me.
Then there are the other things which people point out, which are the alleged social injustices committed by the movie. This includes some racial stereotypes and the devious act of including certain actors to appeal to a larger demographic. While those may be legitimate issues to explore, I’m not going into that, but simply acknowledging their existence. I haven’t done the proper research to explore the issue.
And there is much more to criticize, like how the clone wars part is one event which occurs in the end of the movie. Another is how the great and powerful Jedi Master Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz), does not even hesitate to abandon his old teachings of relying on and using the force and starts doing flips with his lightsaber like an acrobat. The excessive use of CGI to the point that the movie looks like a cartoon at times is off-putting. These complaints are commonplace when speaking of the prequels, and while I agree with many of them, I cannot express the same level of hatred that I have grown accustomed to hearing over the years. I kind of enjoyed it actually.
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones is a movie to be left on in the background and gets a passable C grade.