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Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)

July 2, 2010

VERDICT:
6/10 Pity Parties

Hayden Christensen, this is why people hate you. George Lucas, thanks for not listening to your kids this time.

Attack of the Clones takes place ten years down the road from Episode I, Anakin – now a full-fledged, hotshot Jedi padawan under Obi-Wan’s tutelage – is tasked with protecting Queen Amidala (or Padme, as Ani likes to call her while rubbing her soft, smooth back, that dog) after a failed assassination attempt while the Galactic Republic and Jedi council try to prevent an all-out war from a separatist movement with the help of a clone army.

So, after getting all my Jake Lloyd and Jar-Jar hate out of the way and being nothing short of shocked at how generally abysmal Episode I was, I was pretty skeptical going into Episode II again even though I was pretty sure it couldn’t get any worse. Was expecting to come out of it with something along the lines of a 3 or a 4 ready to go, but to my surprise, this one actually kinda feels like a Star Wars movie. Granted, a lot of the same problems that screwed the pooch in Episode I are still awfully apparent here, but the fact that this isn’t a movie crafted for all the Dora and Spongebob fans in the crowd sure does go a long way.

The most prominent example of this overhaul being Jar-Jar’s comfortable new spot on the backburner. Not quite sure why he doesn’t just get a blaster to the brain – because I’m pretty sure that would have garnered this movie a 10 – but now that he’s not at the forefront of things, it’s a little easier to forget how shitty Lucas’ sense of humor has become. Amazing how much of a difference that one little change makes, even if it’s still totally absurd that he’s now Padme’s senatorial representative.

But like I said, there are still two issues that hold Episode II back in a big ol’ way.

The first snafu was casting Hayden Christensen as Anakin. Everyone warned me that he was worse than Jake Lloyd, and everyone was absolutely right. It’s one thing to suck at acting when you’re ten, it’s another thing to be 19 and still suck harder than the fourth-grader you nabbed the part from. God, Christensen is just such a whiny bitch and it’s twice as bad since this is the kid who’s supposed to become Darth Vader, the ultimate ruthless badass of the Star Wars universe. Honestly, no one would give a shit about Vader to begin with if all his dialogue in the original trilogy fell along the lines of:

“I hate Obi-Wan! Why won’t he let me do the Jedi trials!”
“I miss my mommy. I think I’m gonna cry again.”
“I hate sand! It gets everywhere!”
“Mommy, don’t die!”
“I’ll show that Obi-Wan! Someday I’m gonna be the most powerful Jedi ever!”
MOMMYYYYY!
“Fuck your well thought-out plan of attack, Obi-Wan! I’m gonna kick Dooku’s ass by myself, leave you out to dry and announce my attack as I run over to him. He’ll never see it coming! Okay, here I go…GYAAAAHHHHHDAMMIIIIT!!!!!  WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME ABOUT FORCE LIGHTNING!

Worst. Padawan. Ever.

Such terrible, terrible acting that’s beyond forced the whole damn time, I have no idea why they kept him around and I don’t think I’ve seen an individual bitch and moan this much since Greenberg. If Anakin were anywhere near as cool as he was in the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated micro series from Cartoon Network that came out a couple years after the fact, this complaint would be null and void. Man, Lucas could have taken a lot of pointers from that series.

The other big hiccup is Lucas’ shitty script. Just like with Episode I, it’s very cool to see the whole story unfold in regards to the intergalactic politics leading up to the Clone Wars and knowing how it all eventually plays out in the original trilogy, it’s awesome to see the Star Wars universe expanded from a visual standpoint and it’s good to see that things are much more Anakin-focused now. But also like Episode I, the dialogue, humor and character development are still crap.

I mean, honestly, what the hell was with Padme and Anakin’s relationship? Why is it that she falls for him further after he drops it on her that he single-handedly massacred an entire population of Tusken Raiders? That’s like those crazy chicks who sent marriage proposals to Jeffrey Dahmer after he got locked up for turning hobos into makeshift zombies. What in the hell does she see in this guy that would eventually lead her to marry him?

Ridiculous.

And I don’t know if we were just supposed to forget about little Ani or what, but why the fuck does Anakin look just as old as Padme now? Damn, puberty must hit those Tattooine folk like a bastard.

Also, forgot to mention itin the Episode I review, but aren’t those battle droids the most pathetic things you’ve ever seen? They’re terrible shots, they look dumb as hell, they’re voices suck and unless the odds are 200 – 1, they’re pretty much fish in a barrel. Hard to believe that those were the best designs that Lucas and his creative gaggle of apes could come up with.

But the one aspect where Episode I has the upper-hand is the action. For the most part, the action here is pretty meh and while the CG quality has been improved a smidge, it definitely doesn’t hold up to the pod racing or Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan/Darth Maul fight scenes. The opening chase through Coruscant felt like Lucas had been taking notes like gangbusters during The Fifth Element, the only thing relatively cool about the final showdown was Yoda and his mini-flips against Dooku’s limp-dick lightsaber, and am I the only one who thought that the fight in the dark between Anakin and Dooku just looked like two guys stuck in rave party? What was that about?

Then again, the chase through the astroid field with Obi-Wan and Jango Fett was great (also glad that the Fetts play such a significant role in this since Boba only had so much going for him in the original trilogy despite how effing boss he was).

But as much as I can shit on Episode II, it’s still a big step forward from Episode I. The overall tone is a lot darker and a lot more serious, Obi-Wan‘s getting to be the shit even though Anakin is clearly not heading down that road, it’s cool to see how the Clone Wars started both on and off the battlefield and, again, it’s a movie that can be appreciated by nerds young and old. Yeah, it’s still the second-worst in the series, but I’m pleasantly surprised by how much better it was than I remember it being. Extra screen time for Yoda and Mace always helps, too.

All the same, I really can’t believe how big of a pussy that Anakin is.

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36 Comments leave one →
  1. July 2, 2010 12:43 am

    Agreed! Christensen singlehandedly brings down what would be an ok STAR WARS movie. I actually thought the action here was pretty good. I thought the final battle between the clones and droids was awesome! It made good use of modern day special effects.

    Also, you mention you wanted to see Jar Jar shot in the head. That never happens, but I think you’ll like what does happen. You may already know about this, since you’re big into video games, but, in THE FORCE UNLEASHED, there’s an easter egg in the last level. As you run down the hall, slicing stormtroopers in half, you see a very pretty wall decoration. It’s Jar Jar, frozen in carbonite! And this level takes place on the Death Star, so, I’m led to believe that, when it blew up, it took Jar Jar with it. So, Luke not only saved the Rebel Alliance in New Hope; he also killed Jar Jar. He should’ve gotten two medals!

    • July 2, 2010 8:59 am

      Yeah, the last scene after the Jedi get flown in and the Clone Wars start up was pretty cool, just wish there had been more of it. And I had no idea about that easter egg! That is AWESOME! My roommates played that game like crazy but since I heard mixed things I never got into it. Very very cool though. Glad someone out there was thinking along the same lines.

  2. July 2, 2010 1:02 am

    Some of the scenes involving Christensen were so cringe worthy I wanted to walk out of the theater multiple times. I usually think Natalie Portman is a relatively solid actress but it’s like Christensen infected her with the virus because she often was brought down to his level. The two had negative chemistry if there was such thing. Anyways, 6/10 sounds about right as if you ever make it through some of those terribly acted sequence, the movie as a whole is still somewhat entertaining.

    • July 2, 2010 9:00 am

      Yeah, the kid’s an epidemic. Portman was definitely better than she was in the first, it’s just the combo of such shitty dialogue and horrible character development for both her and Anakin that ruined what could have been really good. Serenity now.

  3. Branden permalink
    July 2, 2010 1:14 am

    I thought that the movie was so wooden. The love story was awful. Bleech!

  4. July 2, 2010 6:08 am

    You’ve got it in your review Aiden – which I agree with – but then the 6/10 is a little too high! 🙂

    It is a better film than The Phantom Menace and there’s a lot more to point to and say – “well, this wasn’t shit”. But then, the dialogue is cringeworthy throughout – I’ve rarely heard such nonsense, and I don’t like Christensen (just as I hate Jamie Bell) – a young upstart with no range and no real talent. And,only George Lucas can turn Natalie Portman into a bad actress with his unsure direction and cheese upon cheese romantic sub-plot. I’d be inclined to give this film a 4/10 rating – but that’s if I’m in a particularly good mood!

    • July 2, 2010 9:03 am

      Not a Billy Elliot fan I take it?

      And even I was surprised by the 6 out of 10 I gave it. Agree entirely with all your points, but against Episode I where I could point at 98% of it and go “This is a hot steaming pile of gorilla shit”, Episode II felt a hell of a lot better than it probably was.

    • July 2, 2010 12:56 pm

      If you don’t like Hayden or Jamie Bell. Stay the hell away from “Jumper”. Your head would explode. Then again, I guess everyone should stay away from Jumper…

      • July 2, 2010 2:25 pm

        The fact that Jumper 2 is in preproduction surprises the hell out of me everytime.

      • July 2, 2010 3:52 pm

        Didn’t hear about that. What are the qualifications to getting your shit greenlit these days?

      • July 5, 2010 9:53 am

        Jumper made me want to eat my own feet, just for a distraction from the horror of it all.

      • July 6, 2010 8:48 am

        Man, that’s quite the reaction.

    • July 4, 2010 3:27 am

      Wow, you must’ve loooooved Jumper. 😉

      • July 6, 2010 9:01 am

        Man, I just have to see this movie now to see how bad it is. I remember the trailers looking pretty sweet way back when, but the reviews said otherwise in a most serious fashion. All the same, I’m due for a shitty movie marathon.

  5. July 2, 2010 11:15 am

    Surprised you dug this more than Phantom Menace. This is the worst one in my book.

    Though, Jar Jar’s reduced role does call for rejoice. I’ll give you that, brotha.

    Side note: I successfully convinced my mom to write my seventh grade self a “doctor’s note” to leave school a half an hour early to go see this.

    I heart this blog.

    • July 2, 2010 11:16 am

      hahahahahahaha. that’s freakin’ great. best mom ever!

  6. July 2, 2010 7:33 pm

    “The opening chase through Coruscant felt like Lucas had been taking notes like gangbusters during The Fifth Element” – FUCKING CLASSIC! Should be on the DVD!
    This really riled something inside of you, man! Like your longest post ever!
    I’ll say this… I love Star Wars and it was worth it just to see Yoda kick ass and hear the audience applaud and scream… but, yeah, a lackluster film!
    I also love that Christiansen looks nothing like that Ricky Schroeder look-a-like from Phantom Menace!

    • July 6, 2010 9:09 am

      hahahaha, psyched to hear I’m not the only one who saw the Schroeder resemblance. Yeah, since these are part of the Star Wars gamut, they definitely garner some long-ass reviews. Just so much to hate…

  7. Ryan permalink
    July 3, 2010 10:40 am

    Dude. I freaking hate this movie.

    Couple things you missed mentioning:

    1) Anakin’s stupid robot hand after Dooku cuts it off. This is the Galaxy Far Far Away George, give the guy something a bit better than a C-3PO knock off. Use the Jedi Council’s AmEx card and get him a new fist!

    2) While the Jango scenes were great, the movie does a horrible job of linking the cloning project to the bigger story arc. Kamino comes out of know where and no one really hesitates about a clone army falling into the Republic’s lap. Dumb.

    3) Speaking of the Fetts, the Lil’ Boba actor is quite possibly worse than Jake Lloyd. He had the worst dialogue, is one of the ugliest children I have ever seen, and is a pathetic young depiction of the infamous Boba Fett of 20 years down the road.

    4) Finally, the clones are AWESOME. The movies never really explain how the clonetroopers are so much more badass than the stormtroopers of the empire (it is explained in the expanded universe of books and comics), but I think it’s totally awesome to see an army led by Jedi Generals. I wish the movies delved a bit deeper of the irony / hypocrisy of that statement, but it is awesome to watch nonetheless

    • July 6, 2010 9:14 am

      1) That hand was dumb as hell. Completely agree.
      2) Yeah, they really just kinda go with the flow in regards to the clone army don’t they? Pretty suspect find and not a whole lot of questions follow it up. You’re right, should have been more fleshed out and tied into the main storyline than it was.
      3) “FIYAHHH!” Yeah, that kid sucked. Super ugly.
      4) You can sorta tell during the whole Jedi General rescue scene that those guys are no joke, but you’re right, should have been explored more than it was.

  8. July 3, 2010 11:34 pm

    I don’t see this as much of a step up from Episode I. The acting is even worse, the writing is just as dumb (if not poorer) and the character development is even more confusing and nonsensical. And we abide all that for a couple of decent action scenes? I’d think Episode II would be hard-pressed to surpass the podracing action setpiece, or even that final duel.

    And the love story…ugg. So bad. It’s hard to believe this was the same man who wrote Empire Strikes Back, which had a fantastic love story (then again, he had two other people working on the script with him).

    • July 4, 2010 3:31 am

      Yeah, I think this one’s the weakest of the whole series. It’s not saying much, considering how bad TPM is, but it had Neeson, it didn’t have Hayden, Portman was much better, and I’ve always hated – hated! – the Frogger sequence that Portman is forced through towards the end of this one. Friggin’ retarded. The whole third act of this bothers me, though. Decent first act, though…

      • July 6, 2010 9:01 am

        By the Frogger sequence are you talking about her and Ani trying to avoid death on the assembly line? Yeah, that was lame and unnecessary. Hard to say which Act I like most considering they’ve all got their glaring weaknesses, but for some reason I’m going with the the third if only for the start of the clone wars and Mace lopping off Jango’s head. Still, Christensen doesn’t exactly improve from the first Act to the last either.

    • July 6, 2010 9:05 am

      Yeah, that really was an atrocious love story, unforgivably atrocious on so many levels. And II definitely doesn’t surpass I in the action category whatsoever, which was pretty much the only thing I had going for it outside of Neeson and Maul. Really looking forward to getting to the original trilogy just so I can remember that Lucas didn’t always suck to high heavens.

    • July 7, 2010 11:05 am

      The love story was the biggest disappointment. No chemistry between Portman or Christensen whatsoever, I don’t care how good the writing was or wasn’t, with that lacking so much of the rest of the film doesn’t work. I don’t think either of them were right for the roles.

      • July 8, 2010 10:44 am

        Yeah, Portman really didn’t cut it. Just got through writing my review for Episode III and I pretty much entirely agree with every point you made. What a hackjob that was.

  9. July 4, 2010 10:31 pm

    This is my favorite of the prequels, but it’s still awful and I hope I never see this crap again. There’s some promise here when the mystery and adventure gets going, but Christensen is so awful that it ruins any built up momentum. Lucas needed someone to stand up to him and say, “Dude, WTF?” I refuse to believe that anyone other than Lucas that worked on the film thought they were doing quality work.

    If only he had done what he said he was gonna do and pass off the writing/directing duties to other people for Episodes 2 & 3. They would have been much better I’m sure.

    • July 6, 2010 8:57 am

      If there were a guy who had the balls to curse out Lucas and slap some sense into him, he would have been carried off Skywalker Ranch on the shoulders of his peers like Rudy and gone down in geekdom history. III is definitely my favorite of the bunch, wish he had passed the bar to someone else for the first two instead. What a train wreck.

  10. July 5, 2010 5:36 pm

    Like everyone else has said, Christensen was bloody awful. The rest of the movie wasn’t horrible, but damn, the casting for these movies were a mjor letdown (aside from Ewan, Jackson, and Portman when she isn’t standing next to Christensen).

    • July 6, 2010 8:43 am

      Well said, at least it’s got those three going for ’em. Just started re-watching Episode III this morning, and while Christensen definitely still sucks, he’s a whole lot better than he is here. All the same, I’m itching to get to the original trilogy already.

  11. July 7, 2010 11:02 am

    I liked this movie, but instead of getting into that let me just bring this up as food for thought.

    Wasn’t Luke the whiniest bitch in the galaxy? Does anyone remember him crying to Obi Wan in A New Hope or complaining to Yoda in Empire? By Jedi he grows up a bit, but I felt Anakin was a mirror image of Luke (though Hamill was a considerably better actor than Christensen) and their lives mirroring each other, except Anakin eventually goes to the dark side and Luke wants to hump his sister. I can’t stand the whining, I’m just saying the logic of it being there is completely rational.

    Worst line ever for me is about the sand. I quote it endlessly.

    What saved this movie for me was the focus on Obi Wan. McGregor was stellar and perfectly cast. The action was great and who can argue with the Jedi vs. Bad dude battle realized at the end? Christopher Lee was a welcome villain as well. So good stuff, here. I understand your feelings, but I kinda dug this one, even if Christensen is a nightmare of an actor.

    • July 8, 2010 10:49 am

      I think it all goes back to Hamill being such a better actor than Christensen. Yeah, he was a whiny bitch, especially when he started bawling about Vader being his dad, but he’s a hell of a lot cooler and more mature by Jedi and the same definitely can’t be said for Anakin. Good point though, the similarities are definitely there.

      And even though I liked McGregor as Obi-Wan it wasn’t until Episode III that he really brought it home for me with his “You were the chosen one!” tirade. Man, McGregor is such a badass.

      And I keep forgetting to mention Christopher Lee, he was pretty boss as Dooku, even if is lightsaber is lame as hell.

  12. July 8, 2010 11:38 am

    Christensen was absolutely shockingly bad in this movie, but he was so pretty, that I happily forgave him 😀

    • July 8, 2010 11:40 am

      Ugh, I’m afraid I can’ let the pretty boy excuse slide on this one. Looks only go so far, especially when youv’e got a Jedi rat tail.

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