Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker
Natalie Portman as Senator Padme Amidala
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku
Frank Oz as Yoda
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
I wasn’t as harsh on The Phantom Menace as some have been. While it had its problems, I find it to be an enjoyable film overall.
Does that mean I like everything Star Wars? Not at all. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is not something I consider to be a remotely good movie. Dialogue is awful (not that it was ever this series’ strong suit), plotting is shallow and lousy, and nothing seems to matter but the climactic laser shootouts and sword fights at the end. In short, Star Wars meets Steven Seagal.
It’s been a number of years since our heroes liberated planet Naboo. Anakin is now a teenager and jedi-in-training under Obi-Wan Kenobi. They are tasked as bodyguards to Senator Padme Amidala. After an attempt on Padme’s life is made, Obi-Wan spirits her away to a hidden place with Anakin protecting her, while Obi-Wan investigates who was behind the attack. Through a series of deus ex machina, er, plot twists, all three people end up where some separatists, including a new sith (and renowned ex-jedi) named Count Dooku, are hiding.
The first thing I want to bring up is Hayden Christensen’s performance. It’s nothing less than atrocious. His voice is both forced and over the top. Doesn’t have much variety in his facial expressions, either. And yet, he’s called on to show tremendous emotion at times. Needless to say, it ain’t pretty.
Speaking of things that aren’t pretty, there’s the romantic dialogue between Christensen and Portman. It’s horrible. I mean horrible because nobody ever talks like this. For instance, when Padme explains that their careers make a relationship impossible, Anakin says, “You’re asking me to be rational.” This is meant to show that Anakin can’t control his feelings for Padme, but instead makes the former come off as a raving lunatic.
(However, I must take issue with a popular critique of Anakin. They say that he’s too whiny. And I agree. He is. However, the same will be true of his son. Don’t believe me? Rewatch his scenes with Yoda in Empire Strikes Back and see how Luke complains about everything he can. “We’re wasting our time!” “You want the impossible!” And on and on. That Luke’s father is a crybaby actually makes perfect sense.)
The plot isn’t constructed in the best of ways either. It’s almost randomness that somehow gets to a climatic finish. That’s why I made the comparison to Steven Seagal.
This movie does deliver in terms of action, though. The blaster and lightsaber combat is executed extremely well. It’s the kind of epic, fast paced combat that the originals never could have managed. Samuel L. Jackson is a particularly convincing jedi, however much the mostly dispassionate character he plays does not work to his strengths as an actor.
But in terms of substance, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is by far the worst movie in the series (note that I have not seen any of the sequel trilogy as of this writing). We really do all make mistakes.
Overall: 3 out of 10