Star Wars Episode Two: Attack Of The Clones

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Now, be careful… this rest of this review has been given the seal of disapproval from FoxNews.com.

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away…

There is unrest in the Galactic Senate. Several hundred solar systems under the leadership of the rebel leader, Count
Dooku, have decalred their intentions to secede from the Republic. This separatist movement has made it difficult for the limited number of Jedi Kights to maintain peace and order in the galaxy. Senator Amidala, the former Queen of Naboo, is returning to Coruscant to vote on the critical issue of creating an army to assist the overwhelmed Jedi…

We open above the city planet of Coruscant, as a Royal Cruiser escorted by several Naboo fighters come out of light speed and land on one of the many platforms. As Amidala and several of her handmaidens and guards exit her Cruiser, there is a large explosion which destroys the starship. One of the fighter pilots rushes over to the carnage, removing their mask to reveal the true Amidala. The assassination attempt did not hit its intended target. At the urging of Chancellor Palpatine, Amidala is assigned two Jedi bodyguards: Obi-Wan Kenobi and his padawan, Anakin Skywalker. Another assassination attempt is made that evening, and after an extended chase through the “streets” of Coruscant, the murder of the would-be killer brings knowlege of a secret planet in the Outer Rim which holds a mysterious secret that will bring forth many changes to the galaxy.

The Jedi Council, led by Yoda and Mace Windu, decide it is best for Anakin to accompany Amidala back to Naboo for safe keeping, while Obi-Wan is sent to investigate Kamino, the previously unknown planet. On Naboo, Anakin announces his love for Amidala, who at first tries to push the young Jedi away, knowing he would be expelled from the Jedi Order should she allow him to pursue a relationship. On Kamino, Kenobi discovers a clone army allegedly ordered by a long dead Jedi Sifo-Dyas, all of whom share the genetic code of a bounty hunter named Jango Fett. Kenobi sets up a meeting with Fett, who lives in Kamino with his cloned son Boba. Kenobi believes Fett was responsible for killing Amidala’s second assassin back on Coruscant. Kenobi tries to get closer to the Fetts later, where a spectacular battle ensues during a major storm on one of Kamino’s landing platforms. The Fetts escape, but not before Ben is able to attach a tracking device about Fett’s ship. Fett heads to the planet Geonosis, with Obi-Wan hot on his tail, where Obi-Wan discovers a plot by the mysterious Count Dooku to bring the Trade Federations together with the Commerce Guild and the Techno Union, whose combined forces should be able to quash any expected seperatist uprising. As Obi-Wan tries to contact Anakin with his discoveries, he is captured by Dooku’s men and placed in solitary confinement.

Anakin, who has taken Amidala to Tattooine in search of his mother, receives the transmission from Obi-Wan, and with the encouragement of Amidala, heads to Geonosis to save his friend and mentor. Shortly after arriving on Geonosis, the two are captured. As they await their public execution in a large Colosseum, Amidala shares her true feelings with Anakin. They kiss as they are led into the arena, where Obi-Wan is already waiting.

And that’s all I’m going to cover on the plot. Because what happens in the final half hour should be experienced totally cold. It is, as I stated earlier, the most intense thirty minutes we have yet to see in the series. You will be blown away, mesmerized and totally cheering by the end of the film.

Now, this is not to say the film is totally perfect, because it is not. Hayden Christensen must have studied for his role by focusing solely on Mark Hamill’s performance in Return of the Jedi His portrayal of Anakin is even more annoying than Jake Lloyd was in Phantom Menace. This new kid just does not have the range or the balls to effectively play the character who will become the baddest dude in the galaxy. One expects any actor would understand the difference between simmering anger and plain whining. As much of the blame should be placed on Lucas. Perhaps he was desperate at that stage of casting but if this kid was the best unknown he could come up with, he should have just dealt with the GFB anger for a while and cast DiCaprio.

The film could have also used some judicious cutting during the extended middle section when Anakin and Amidala court. I know these scenes need to be in the film for continuity’s sake, but they slow the film down just when it should be moving forward.

Thankfully, the list of complaints for Clones is short, and any faults the film does have are wiped off the slate because of that mind blowing finale.

As for the rest of the film… The cinematography is crisp and beautiful, and the transfer of the digitally shot feature onto traditional film stock is exquisite. John Williams adds another impressive score to his long list of accomplishments. You will be relieved to know Jar Jar is hardly in the film, and what little we do see of him shows a rethink of the character was made to make him less annoying. Yoda becoming an all CG character adds that missing element that makes the Jedi Master an essential character to the series. And Natalie Portman will make all the GFB’s forget about Kirsten Dunst and her wet shirt in the other major summer blockbuster.

Before the screening began, I was blase about the film’s chances to succeed as a part of the saga. It seemed that Lucas was tied down with neeedng to have certain plot points be in the film because that is what the fans are expecting. By the time the screening ended, Episode Three couldn’t get here quickly enough for me.

I give Attack of the Clones an A- for effort and an A- for execution. This is the film Star Wars fans have been waiting for since 1980.

Rating: A-
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