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|STAR WARS: Episode II
THE TRILOGY | A NEW HOPE | THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK | RETURN OF THE JEDI | INTERVIEWS
THE PREQUELS | THE PHANTOM MENACE | ATTACK OF THE CLONES | REVENGE OF THE SITH | GALLERIES
Attack of the Clones
After an early round of scene-setting dialog, the film kicks off with an action chase scene that puts everything in Episode I to shame--energetic, freewheeling and, most importantly, integral to the plot. And it barely pauses for breath after that, careening from planet to planet as we not only tie up loose ends from the previous installment, but continue setting up events that lead to 1977's Episode IV. The action is astonishing, the scenes are beautifully designed (and perhaps a bit too animated--this sometimes feels like a Roger Rabbit-like blend of live action and cartoons), and the romance even works despite the lame lovey-dovey dialog. The political intrigue is as impenetrable as ever, but adds to the general dark tone.
Christensen shines at the centre; at first he seems arrogant and mean-spirited, but both his performance and the script deepen considerably until we can understand why Padme falls for him. Portman and McGregor settle brilliantly into their roles, complex people caught up in increasingly portentous events. Other returning cast members get the chance to broaden their characters as well. And new characters are fascinating, each bringing a saga-defining revelation (Lee's role is perhaps a bit too reminiscent of his work in The Lord of the Rings, but he's still great). There are even surprises in store for fans of Threepio, Artoo and most of all Yoda, who's computer generated for the first time (and it shows). Best of all, the film has that Star Wars atmosphere fully in place, complete with a thematic resonance and a reliance on strong personalities interacting to drive the events forward. It's going to be a long three years' wait for Episode III.
dir George Lucas
scr George Lucas, Jonathan Hales
with Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Christopher Lee, Samuel L Jackson, Temuera Morrison, Ian McDiarmid, Jimmy Smits, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Ahmed Best, Pernilla August, Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse, Ayesha Dharker, Leeanna Walsman, Daniel Logan, Jack Thompson, Rose Byrne
release US/UK 16.May.02
Three sabres are better than one. Anakin flights...
Gawain McLachlan Filmnet, Melbourne: "Much better than the Episode I kiddie flick. Slow start but gets into some decent action although some scenes a little more than videogame fodder and there is too much CGI. The acting by the young Darth Vader is wooden and probably what you would expect from a soap star. Having the very talented McGregor merely highlight's the poor acting. Still, wooden acting does seem to fit reasonably well with the whole the series. However when added to excessive amounts of corny dialogue mixed with unimaginative cinematography (retire please George!) the result is rather ordinary. It's great to see some local talent and it's a bit of a shock when you first see Joel Edgerton appear on the mythical Tatooine. Everyone had a good laugh when Jack Thompson popped out of the mud hut on his air scooter. Despite the usual American propaganda hidden away (anti-slavery, anti-monarchy and pro-military - if only the Republic had a strong standing army in the first place and not 80 wimpy Jedi!), the backplate to this episode is well thought out and will confuse many adults on their first viewing. The sinister scheme of an authoritarian leader using a war that he has himself brought about as an excuse to gain draconian powers is amazingly relevant. And of course the big reason for wanting to see it is simple curiousity for all of us who grew up with the original and just want to complete the set. (15.May.02)
Tom Drake-Lee, Brighton UK: "I was fortunate enough to go to the London Premiere and I'm still ambivalent about parts of it. It will require a second viewing because all Star Wars films do and in this one there is so much to take in; it is a visual feast. BAD POINTS: Some of the acting is appalling. Some of the dialogue is truly awful too, but it was in the first trilogy. I think Lucas has jetisoned the kiddie elements and created a spectacular visual experience, but has forgotten to direct his actors, particularly Natalie Portman, who is bland and wooden. I accept that she and Anakin have to fall in love to move the plot along, and that some of the lines will be cheesy, but there is no snap to them. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher had some pretty bad lines to deliver, but they were able to inflect them with irony and wit. Natalie and Hayden Christensen's exchanges become more leaden as their love grows. It's as if they are rehearsing a school play love-scene and are embarrassed by the it. Hayden tries his best, but Natalie slows the film down. One other bad point was the scene in the droid foundry on Geonosis. Threepio was infuriating with his head/body mix up, Artoo has never been able to fly before, and Anakin and Padme's run through the production line is overlong and predictable, with no dramatic tension whatsoever. GOOD POINTS: As for the plot, it's great. The intrigue is all there. Ewan McGregor is much more comfortable as Obi-Wan and Samuel Jackson and Christopher Lee are as watchable as always. I would liked to have seen more of Palpatine being duplicitous. He's a great baddie. The film looks brilliant and the CGI is breathtaking. The chase through the asteroid belt was the second best part of the film, with the best effect being the seismic charges that Jango fires at Obi-Wan's Jedi starfighter (the coolest ship in the whole saga!). BRILLIANT BIT: The star of the film is Yoda. Yoda fighting Dooku is the best scene in any Star Wars film. He is exactly what he should be - calm, authoritative, confident, aware of all around him, perfectly at one with the Force and an amazing master with his short light sabre. All in all, this is a worthy addition to the saga and rates third behind Empire and A New Hope. But if George takes on board the comments about this film and gets a decent scriptwriter and dialogue coach, Episode III will be a masterpiece." (16.May.02)
Jason Lee Kramer, Indiana: "What an extraordinary film. The acting is far from wooden, especially Christensen's performance. I thought his skeptical ways were portrayed phenomenally on screen, and let's just be frank: he has an awesome 'pissed-off' face! I thought that McGregor really has settled into the role of Kenobi quite well. He's really becoming the Alec Guiness of today. I also think that the majority of critics are being way too harsh about dialogue and the romance scenes. Firstly, although some of the lines are a little cheesy, the chemistry is definitely there. And when Amidala kisses Anakin on the cheek after jumping on his 'horse' in the arena, it definitely reminded me of Leia with Luke/Han Solo. I thought the story was very well conveyed, and most of the dialogue was pretty sound. What struck me the most was the sense of adventure that we have gotten back. Phantom Menace, in my opinion, was very dry. This really had the feel of the original three films. There was a sense of drama, humor, darkness and real danger. The characters are a lot more colorful and the dialogue is a lot more entertaining. On a scale of 1-10, this is a 9 or so. I think in the scheme of things, Empire is the best of the bunch, but this is No 2 in my book. Yoda's fight scene kicks so much ass." (16.May.02)
Laurie T, Minneapolis: "My son and his girlfriend, both in their early 20s and BIG Star Wars fans, said, 'Boring the first hour, kinda cool after that.' My husband, who likes movies but is not necessarily a big fan of Star Wars, commented that all the characters got a bit confusing, and who was who anyway? I suggested we need to re-watch the movies again. I gotta say that if this were the first Star Wars movie I saw, I would be confused. Some people like all the intrigue and plotting - but to be honest, I got a bit confused with the Republic, Federation, the whole Senate thing and why the Storm Troopers were good guys when I have always associated them with the bad guys. It is a Star Wars episode - there is lots of action, the costumes and characters were well done, and it satisfied another chunk of the prequel story - told a little more of how Darth Vader became evil. I liked the movie, lots of cool stuff - but I will always consider the original to be a classic, and this to be just another chapter. Just because you CAN do all the special effects, should you? I gotta say, however, I loved the sequence where C-3PO lost his head. That made me laugh out loud - I felt it added the right comedic touch when things were getting a bit too much. I definitely want to watch the originals again - with Han Solo ... gee, too bad he is not in one of these." (19.May.02)
Dan Shelley, Colorado Springs: "Had to do it. It left me wanting more, and did not contain enough things wrong to bother me much. I hung up my detective coat at the door and had a good time. Now, I don't want to wait three more years!" (24.May.02)
Al Rodriguez, Whittier CA: "OK, this one was better than Episode I, but Christensen's tormented Anakin tormented me. And then there's the stale love story - zzz. I'm not expecting Y Tu Mama Tambien material, but please, someone make it interesting. Then again, what do I know? Years from now we'll probably see Christensen on Inside The Actors Studio where James Lipton will praise his brilliant performance and then ask for his favorite curse word. I did manage to see Episode II in a Digital Projection Theater, though. That was very cool. Images, backgrounds and especially the light sabers were much brighter. Even that scene with Count Dooku riding the speeder bike, which looked ridiculous, was better. Anakin aside, I did enjoy much of the movie. McGregor is great, the whole C-3P0 mixed up head/body thing was hilarious, Mace Windu's Shaft-like 'The party's over' line was perfect, and Yoda's light saber duel was, no doubt, one of the best Star Wars moments ever. That little guy is one bad mutha (shut your mouth)." (4.Jun.02)
Robert, New York: "I thought this was an absolutely horrible film. Vapid, sloppy and truly corny. Christensen and Portman have proved to be talented actors before (like in Shattered Glass and Garden State) but they are both completely lifeless and artifical in this film. It doesn't help that George Lucas's script is less interesting than a blank screen. Oh, well. At least the special effects were okay." (20.Oct.04)
© 2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall