Star Wars rewind: Attack of the Clones

After The Phantom Menace left audiences conflicted over the direction of the prequels, people wondered how the next film would turn out. What we got was Attack of the Clones, a movie that is very much in the same vein as the previous film.

The Republic is in turmoil as Anakin Skywalker, who is now grown up, is assigned to protect Senator Padme Amidala after a couple of assassinataion attempts. The two end up spending time together and eventually fall in love. This, as it turns out, is against the Jedi code as Jedi are forbidden to form romantic connections. While this is going on, Obi-Wan tracks down the hunters who are after Amidala, which leads him to Kamino. There he discovers alien cloners who have secretly made a clone army to protect the Republic. Obi-Wan looks further into the situation until he comes across Sith lord, Count Dooku, along with other renegade star systems who plan to attack the Republic with their own droid army. In the end its Clones vs. Droids, Jedi vs. Sith, Good vs. Evil, in what leads to one of the biggest conflicts in galactic history, The Clone Wars.

Knowing what will become of Anakin in the future, we knew that this film would explore his descent into the dark path that will lead him to becoming Darth Vader. So it made sense to explore his relationship with Padme. The downside of it is that, since it’s a prequel we know what’s inevitably going to happen. Anakin and Padme are going to get together, Luke and Leia have to be born. So there’s not much at stake for the viewer. One of the things that people have gone on and on about is the dialogue between these two. It must have been difficult for the actors as these are hard lines to read acting in front of a green screen. Like we said about The Phantom Menace, as you would expect for this franchise, the actors were working with new technology with which they were inexperienced.  If you were told to act out and say how much you hate sand with no visual, you have to do your best with what you are given. The one thing that really stands out in this part of the movie is when Anakin goes looking for his lost mother. When he finds out what happens, things take a dark turn. The anger and fury that follows leads to a deeper, gritier story. So much of it is told through the visuals, something Lucas does really well. Though we felt it ended too quickly and could have been explored more.

One positive that everyone can get behind is easily Ewan McGreggor as Obi-Wan. It was at this point that this actor really started to impress people with his take on the character. You compare his performance with Alec Guiness’s from the first Star Wars and you feel like both actors are the same person in different time periods. Even though his side mission in the film goes on for a while, we don’t mind following this actor because he gives such a good performance. It’s easy to see why people want to see more of him, and much like everyone else we’re waiting for his Disney plus series, too. In addition, Christopher Lee is enjoyable as the villain, even though we wish he got more screen time. It’s also great to see Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine manipulate and deceive people.  

Much like with The Phantom Menace, we get to witness the senatorial meetings on whether or not they should create an army to stop the Separatist threat. Only this time Jar Jar is directly involved. With so many people pushing for a short term solution that will cause multiple problems in the future, this leads to the biggest Jar Jar blunder in the films. Every fan has pointed out that if Jar Jar hadn’t given Palpatine the emergency powers to use the clone army, the Republic wouldn’t have fallen and the Empire wouldn’t have taken over. So every horrible thing that happens in the following movies you can totally blame on Jar Jar. We understand. This is a difficult choice and feels like a realistic decision. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that this decision leads to a lot of pain in the future.

The action scenes in this movie are less frequent than the previous film. Despite that, some of these setups are engaging. The sound design is the biggest standout. The best of the bunch is Jango Fett detonating bombs in an asteroid field. These set pieces overall looked visually interesting. They involve sequences such as a speeder chase on Coruscant and a gladiatorial pit with monsters on Geonosis. We especially love that this is the first time we see an entire army of Jedi finally take action. As kids we’ve always heard stories about the Jedi in their prime, so you can imagine our reactions when we saw it on screen for the first time. This may be why there was less action leading up to this momentous climax.

The one scene that everyone remembers in the climax is the lightsaber fight with Yoda. People are divided on this and we can see both sides of the argument. On one hand it is more than satisfying to see the smallest, most powerful Jedi wield a lightsaber and perform all these lightning-fast moves. But on the other hand, we also like the idea that all he had to do was lift a finger and throw a massive object, like maybe a Star Destroyer, at his opponent. He could block lightning with his bare hands. He was that powerful with the Force. We understand and enjoy that the writers included both types of powers in the scene. While we do prefer Yoda to be practical over CG, it doesn’t bother us because it’s still Frank Oz doing that incredible voice. We understand why they went this route, as it would have been nearly impossible to have a puppet physically show all these moves. While a little goofy at times, after the anticipation as to what Yoda might do, we’re glad this scene gave us something we weren’t expecting. 

Aside from that, the film mainly follows the same steps as The Phantom Menace. While it is a slower movie, there are some strong elements to be found here. Its main purpose was to build up the shark, which would be the next movie. Knowing the dark path the prequels were leading toward, fans were curious to see what the next film had in store for them.


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