Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Directed by George Lucas
WTF Hayden Christianson?? The heartthrob’s take on Anakin Skywalker remains one of the worst cinematic performances ever. EVER. He’s full of angsty, irritating complaints. His soap opera-worthy romantic subplot with Senator Padme (Natalie Portman) is filled with rigid acting and uncomfortable hesitation. The film gets exciting when Anakin reaches the breaking point, but the minor excitement of the second half is muted by the horrible immaturity of Anakin. Christianson hasn’t been around much since his “Star Wars” prequel days, with “Jumper” being his only other appearance in a movie with any popularity.
Anyway, the story is simply an exhausting set-up for Episode III. There’s a separatist movement across the galaxy, with hundreds of planets trying to leave the Republic. The Jedis can’t keep the peace, so a clone army is created. But the motive behind the creation of this Republic army is in question. Yoda senses Sith in his presence. Who could it be? Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) separates from Anakin to check out this clone army, modeled after a bounty hunter called Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), while Anakin protects Padme in her homeland. But when the pair realizes that Obi-Wan is in trouble, they attempt a nearly impossible rescue.
Where “The Phantom Menace” used CGI mostly to its advantage, “Attack of the Clones” inundated us with useless effects. Many scenes are almost entirely CGI, and much of it looks close to cartoonish. Yoda, as well as many of the clones and troopers, look animated. It takes you out of the story and doesn’t let you buy into the realism of what is happening. There’s no escape. And “Attack of the Clones” also lacks the action-packed excitement that “The Phantom Menace” had. Only the gladiator scene comes close to genuine excitement. There’s no lightsaber fight as epic as Qui-Gon vs. Darth Maul. And there’s no clear singular villain. No one to constantly fear. No one as memorable as the phantom menace.
The bright side? John Williams’s score beams brighter than ever, a crutch to the drama the story tries unsuccessfully to build. And Portman and McGregor both seem more comfortable in their roles. As franchises progress, actors and actresses become their characters more and more.
“Attack of the Clones” is a sad follow-up to “The Phantom Menace,” which was far from perfect but closer to real entertainment than this CGI-filled blunder.