The Star Wars recap week leading up to The Force Awakens continues here on Brentwatchesmovies, today with Episode II: Attack of the Clones. I forgot how much of an improvement this movie is over Phantom Menace, in many ways. Sure, it still isn’t a great movie by any means, but boy is it better than its predecessor. Gone are the wacky, childish hijinks of Binks (not entirely, there was more of him than I remembered) and a lot of the political mumbo jumbo that plagued the first movie. There is still a good amount of political maneuvering here, but it’s more clear what each characters motivations are, and how that will affect the future stories. With ‘Attack of the Clones’, Lucas still stumbles through his prequel trilogy, but this time with a hell of a lot more fun, and sadly, romance.
I forgot just how much of a romance movie this is, which is a real bummer because Anakin (Hayden Christenson) and Padme (Natalie Portman) have the chemistry of a couple of rocks in a tube sock. The fascinating thing about these prequel movies is how such great actors and actresses were so underused. I really believe that the blame for bad acting much of the time, especially when it comes to talented actors, is a mishandling on the writer/directors part. I mean, Natalie Portman is an Oscar winner! But when you have to make lines like “I like water”, and “I hate sand” feel natural and authentic, it’s really going to be an uphill battle. While Episode II improves in terms of the dialogue, it’s still one of it’s weakest areas.
Another thing I thought during Attack of the Clones, is how many great ideas are in it. Not even just it, but all of the prequels. The general narrative arc is fascinating, taking what is a story that people think they knew before the movies even released, and putting a lot of interesting spins on it. All of the stuff with the clones, and Kamino’s cloning facility were really great ideas. The Stormtroopers that we all know as elements of the evil Empire initially began on the good side; or so we thought. Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine beginning his rise to power is such a great idea, on paper. It was all there in Lucas’s head, but his execution on the details is where it fell apart.
The best improvement in Attack of the Clones over Phantom Menace in my mind, is how much more fun it is to watch. The pacing is WAY better in this movie, and there is simply a lot more going on in it than Episode I. The set pieces are much more cohesive and put-together (although there are probably one or two too many). This is likely a result of fan reactions to Phantom Menace. Where before Lucas was surrounded by yes-men, I HIGHLY doubt that was the case going forward, as everyone came to terms with the fact that yes, George Lucas, creator of STAR WARS, was a human being after all. One who was more than capable of making mistakes and in need of checks and balances, which almost always lead to a stronger product or artistic endeavor.
That’s probably going to do it for ‘Attack of the Clones’. I know I didn’t get too specific about the details of the movie, but only because (unless you’re one of ‘those’ people who hasn’t seen these flicks) you’re all probably aware of the beats these movies hit. I’m trying to be a little more general about them and look at the big picture. If you have any questions, suggestions, or are re-watching the series as well, let me know and we can talk about them! Again, thanks for reading and check back tomorrow for Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. May the force be with you.