Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones is a 2002 American epic space opera film and the second film in the Star Wars Skywalker saga and the series' prequel trilogy. It was written and directed by George Lucas and co-written by Johnathan Hales, and opened in cinemas on May 16, 2002. The sequel, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, was released on May 19, 2005.
Ten years after the events of The Phantom Menace, a separatist movement led by Count Dooku poses new threats to the peace of the galaxy. Senator Padmé Amidala returns to the Senate to vote on the creation of a clone army to assist the Jedi. Anakin Skywalker, along with his master Obi-Wan Kenobi, must find answers, while at the same time, he begins a relationship with Padmé.
- Most of the characters are rather boring and wooden; some characters, most notably Count Dooku, simply appear in the story without any attempt to establish precisely who they are or what their deal is.
- The film lazily uses reversed shots in specific scenes.
- The computer-generated imagery, though a good effort for its time, has not aged well, and is used in situations where this isn't needed, notably the clone troopers and as a substitute for actual sets (though some effects are practical instead).
- The lightsaber combat is still very floaty and feels like the characters are having a dance-off than actually trying to kill each other.
- While fans had many theories as to what the "Clone Wars" mentioned in A New Hope were all about, the truth (in which they involved millions of clones of Boba Fett's father fighting bug-created robots) was far more ridiculous than anyone had ever imagined.
- Stiff acting throughout, with the computer-animated characters being more expressive than the real actors, and Hayden Christensen's performance as Anakin being rather cringe-worthy at times.
- On the topic of the acting, the excessive use of green-screen severely hampers the actors, who often clearly have no idea what the location they are in is supposed to look like.
- Laughable dialogue, particularly Anakin's infamous line regarding his dislike for sand.
- Instead of showing the bond between Obi-Wan and Anakin, considering how this is supposed to be the height of their friendship, they simply talk about things they've done together off-screen; on-screen, they seem to barely tolerate each other at best, with Anakin complaining about Obi-Wan behind his back. This was shown in The Clone Wars, but this should not have to be required in order for the film itself to make sense.
- There is a rather convoluted sequence involving an assassin hiring another assassin to put a canister in a drone that contains centipede-like creatures (known as kouhuns) that are going to do the actual assassination; although this would make sense in real life, from a story-telling perspective it is, again, convoluted and thus a bit confusing.
- The latter assassin, Zam Wesell, is also mentioned as having shape-shifting abilities — which she never actually uses until she dies and reverts back to her default form; apparently, she was planned to shift to a different form for her attempt to kill Obi-Wan in the bar, but problems with visual effects caused this to be scrapped, meaning that, for some bizarre reason, she refuses to use what would be an incredibly useful skill when it comes to evading capture by two Jedi.
- Instead of killing Zam with a blaster, Jango Fett instead uses a poison dart; this frames Jango as an idiot who cannot be taken seriously as a threat, as poison darts can be used to track down their user, similar to bullets in real life.
- Obi-Wan leaping straight through a window to grab the drone is completely out-of-character (Anakin is supposed to be the impulsive one, not Obi-Wan) and baffling from a logical perspective; quite aside from whether or not he could catch the drone and it could carry him, he had no way of knowing where it was going. He also abandons his actual mission of guarding Padmé to do this.
- The scene in the 1950s-style diner feels really mundane for a Star Wars movie; it is just a little too' obvious that Lucas wanted to pay homage to American Graffiti, the film he worked on immediately before A New Hope. It also leads to some questions as to why the best candidate of a Jedi for identifying the origin of a poison dart would be... a diner owner whom he is friends with.
- The creation of the clone army creates a series of questions as well as things randomly happening for seemingly no apparent reason:
- It is never clear as to how the army was paid for by a single Jedi, or why Kamino never contacted the Jedi and asked them if they wanted to check up on their order or where they wanted it delivered.
- The Jedi and the Senate use the clone army anyway without doing any further checking for any abnormalities for some reason.
- Various bits of dialogue scattered throughout the film seem to be trying to imply that Count Dooku purchased the army (under the name of a deceased Jedi) some time after the events of the previous movie, and that Chancellor Palpatine paid for it, but it requires huge leaps in logic to put these clues together.
- The romance scenes between Anakin and Padmé are mediocre, as the set-up to get them together is contrived, the dialogue is clunky and bizarre, their actions contradict their own motives, and Padmé decides to fall for Anakin... despite him raving about wanting to become omnipotent and revealing that he slaughtered an entire Tusken community, especially "the women and children."
- The film did not exactly help defuse the notion that Watto is an offensive stereotype of Jews by having him grow a scraggly beard in-between films; Watto was also given a hat, as if growing a beard was not enough.
- The climax has virtually no stakes, as it is just armies of insects and robots fighting armies of disposable people for control of a factory that creates the armies of robots used by the insects; it is also never particularly clear as to who won the Battle of Geonosis.
- R2-D2 is revealed to have the ability to fly, as shown in the sequence in the factory on Geonosis; this creates plot holes since, for example, R2 would've flown out of the swamp in The Empire Strikes Back, but chose not to do so for some reason.
- Epic action scenes and impressive visuals for its time; in particular, the fact that all of the clone troopers were computer-animated is a rather impressive feat for its time.
- The soundtrack, composed by John Williams, is great as always, especially "The Arena".
- Several good performances. Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious, Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala, and Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett and the voice for the clone troopers stand out in particular. Although so little about Count Dooku is established, Christopher Lee's performance is still one of the highlights.
- While Hayden Christensen's performance as Anakin was rather mediocre, he was still a decent casting choice.
- Those who despised the character in The Phantom Menace derived more than a little amusement at the fact that the character most directly responsible for the Emperor's rise to power is Jar Jar Binks, who has an otherwise minor role compared to the previous film.
- Obi-Wan's subplot is much better than the subplot between Anakin and Padmé, despite a few plot holes, showing him to have good detective skills and be capable of holding his own in a fight.
- An IMAX 70mm cut was released. Because IMAX could only hold two hours of film, many of the worst scenes were removed or trimmed. However, the only way to access it is via purchasing a print or finding the reconstruction released by originaltrilogy.com user The Aluminum Falcon.
- Interesting political aspects despite much of it being boring.
- The world-building is excellent, especially when it comes to Kamino, Geonosis, and Coruscant.
- When he is talking to Padmé in front of the Lars homestead, Anakin's shadow resembles Darth Vader, which is an interesting touch.
- The death of Anakin's mom is emotional.
- Just like Phantom Menace, the battle scenes were still cool like the chase in Coruscant and the battle of Geonosis.
- It was nice to see the dark side of Anakin Skywalker when he kills the sand people and later gets angry.
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones received mixed reviews, with some critics hailing it as an improvement over its predecessor The Phantom Menace and others considering it the worst installment of the franchise. It was praised for an increased emphasis on action, visual effects, musical score, and costume design, but criticized for the screenplay, dialogue, Christensen's performance, romantic scenes, and underdeveloped characters. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 65% based on 253 reviews, with an average rating of 6.59/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones benefits from an increased emphasis on thrilling action, although they're once again undercut by ponderous plot points and underdeveloped characters.". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 54 out of 100, based on 39 critics, which indicates "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, the same score as the previous film.
As with The Phantom Menace, in the years since its initial release, and especially since the release of the even more controversial sequel trilogy, consisting of The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, many fans have re-evaluated the movie more positively. However, it is still considered to be one of the weaker live-action entries in the series, if not the weakest.
- It was the first movie to be shot entirely on high-definition video instead of on film.