Oh God, where do I start?
Attack of the Clones…
I have been given the delightful job of re-watching Attack of the Clones and finding 5 good points… thanks, Lewis.
I don’t hide the fact that this is my least favourite Star Wars film, and I honestly hate it; but, for the sake of fairness, I cleared my head of all negativity I hold towards this monstrosity and sat down to watch it… all 135 minutes of it.
- The whole “clear my head of all negativity” thing lasted about ten minutes before I realised just how dull and unevenly paced this film is. This is going to be a long point, sorry. Nothing happens in the first hour of the film. I can almost hear people shouting that there are two attempts on Padme’s life, and there’s a chase scene, but were they actually any good? No. “No” is the answer you are looking for. The attempts to kill Padme are infuriatingly futile. While blowing up the Senator’s transport is a strong attempt, and sends a message at the same time, it doesn’t work. That’s fair enough, everyone has an off day, but what does Jango Fett try next? He gives his assassin-counterpart a droid that transports poisonous worms. What!? The worms are clearly a plot device to build tension, and as Obi-Wan and Anakin debate politics we see the worms get closer and closer to their target. Unfortunately, it doesn’t build tension because the idea is so bloody stupid. There are a million ways to kill someone in this universe, and they choose poisonous worms. So, after the worms get cut in half we follow a chase sequence through the city. This sequence is fine, it is a bit too long for my liking (and essentially a crappy version of Blade Runner- Lewis), and why the assassin doesn’t just shoot Obi-Wan rather than her returning droid is beyond me… the dialogue is another matter (I will come back to this). It is a further 45 minutes before we see any more action, and by that time we still haven’t seen the villain of the film.
- Throughout the film we are force-fed more of the crap that made The Phantom Menace so dull; committee meetings, council meetings, people walking and talking, sitting and talking, one person sitting while another person talks. It is like George Lucas forgot how to show the viewer what is happening, without endless exposition. This is partially due to the overcomplicated plot, but he seems to need characters to talk to each other constantly in order to fill the viewer in. This all accumulates to make the most dull Star Wars film ever.
- The script and direction is just God-awful. Lucas has become very good at writing dialogue that no normal person would actually say. I know Hayden Christiansen has a bit of a tough time off the back of these films, but I can’t blame him entirely. At the end of the day the buck has to stop with the director and writer, both of which happen to be George Lucas. The infamous ‘sand sequence’ on Naboo is just… I think the best actors in the world would have had issue with those lines, but what was Lucas thinking when he okayed Christiansen’s creepy demeanour in this film? I suppose this is linked to the yes-men mentioned yesterday. While I am here we may as well make mention of the Anakin/Padme relationship. It is creepy, poorly written, poorly acted and it makes such uncomfortable watching; if you have seen the film you know what I mean, and I can’t bear to think about it anymore so I will leave it there.
- The CGI. Yeah, I am going to open this can of worms. I have recently read that the sets were only real up to eye-level, and beyond that the CG sets take over, and you can really tell. While the large set pieces such as the chase scene look solid, when you look at the detail of the smaller sets such as Palpatine’s office, the doors look like they were painted by a five year old in 5 minutes… poor CGI can be seen everywhere throughout the film; Dex’s Diner, the Jedi temple, out of place animals on Naboo. This may seem like I am being picky, and to a certain degree I am, but why is CGI used for an office set? What happened to making a practical set that the actors can actually see and act against?
- Yoda with a lightsaber. Yoda shouldn’t have a lightsaber; he is supposed to be able to connect to the force with such strength that he could kill you by just raising his hand. He doesn’t do this though because he is a Jedi. Giving him a lightsaber nullifies that, and makes him a generic, boring Jedi. Coupled with the wrongness of giving Yoda a lightsaber is the awfully clunky dialogue that precedes the fight with Dooku, and the horrible jumpy-CGI choreography. What makes lightsaber duels brilliant is the emotional weight behind them, not twirling them about like glowsticks.
Because there is so much wrong with this film, I am going to do a dishonourable mentions list. I had to watch it so I am going to get this all off my chest:
• The front door Hayden Christiansen acting (because he is so wooden… get it?).
• The return of Jar Jar and his ‘dellow felegates’ speech.
• The production line action-scene.
• The disposable Clone and Droid Armies that you are meant to care about but can’t because they are all just throw-away characters.
• The underdevelopment of so many characters, like Dooku and Jango.
There are plenty more, but I need to get onto the good things. I will be honest and say I found it difficult to find many good things about this film, and the good things I did recognise often have downsides, but here we go:
- The “deathsticks” scene. This is literally a 30 second scene, mixed in with the tracking down of Padme’s would be assassin, but it is a nice bit of foreshadowing as Obi-Wan uses his trade mark Jedi mind trick in order to dissuade a local “deathstick” dealer from selling the Jedi his merchandise… I told you I was struggling to find good things.
- Following on from an Obi-Wan scene, the second good point from Attack of the Clones is Ewan McGregor. The Scotsman is one of the few shining lights from the prequel trilogy; he is able to bring some much needed emotion to the wooden dialogue. McGregor puts in a solid performance against clunky CGI and Hayden Christiansen.
- I think Ian Mcdiarmid has some real fun with these films. In the original trilogy, the Emperor is painted as an evil character and that is it, no background, he is just a bad guy. In the prequels, Palpatine is a much more developed character, showing that he isn’t just evil; he is manipulative and cunning and intelligent. This is mostly lost within the overly-complex plot of the prequel films, but it is there, and now I have mentioned it hopefully you will see it too.
- Jango Fett is pretty cool, and is much more of a badass than Boba. Please wait, before you kill me, if we look at Boba Fett in the original films (the films not the non-cannon expanded universe) he doesn’t really do much. He follows The Millennium Falcon to cloud city, he ties Luke up with some rope, and then he falls into the Sarlac Pit… brilliant. Jango, on the other hand, fights Obi-Wan and fairs pretty well, kills another Jedi, kills the weird Space Rhino and then fights Mace Windu, where he does finally die. The only issue is, again, that Jango is underdeveloped and dies way too easily. I wanted to see a bit more of a fight between Jango and Windu, that would be far more interesting than unnamed Jedi destroying endless waves of disposable droids.
- Right the last one, and you can tell I am scraping the bottom of the barrel right now… George Lucas reduced the amount of Jar Jar in the film, yeah I am really struggling. Following the backlash of The Phantom Menace, Lucas heard the criticism and cut down the Jar Jar scenes. Yeah he is still in it, and is still pretty pivotal to the overall story, but rather than being a constant irritant Jar Jar is reduced to a minor role only on screen for about 10 minutes.
Right, that is it. Hopefully I wasn’t too biased, and if I have brought up something new which has made you see this film in a slightly more positive light, I guess I can only apologise.