Attack of the Clones! I’m doing a series of reviews leading up to The Force Awakens in chronological order. Last week, I reviewed the Phantom Menace. In the end, TPM is a pretty good film, but AotC just falls short of it in my opinion. I think it’s the weakest of the movies, due to a few small low points. The high points soar pretty high, balancing it out to make overall a decent film. Although it’s my least favorite, it’s still Star Wars and still a fun time, and still has some excellent moments.
The Low Points
Some of the Yoda shots seem weak. Weaker than the BluRay version of TPM at least. Some of the close up shots just seem flat and a little too fluid at the same time. Just doesn’t come across as a physical object. Other shots look very good. When Yoda is seen at a distance, the detail is spot-on, and he looks like the puppet from ESB, but there are just those few scenes. In particular toward the beginning when Yoda says “Impossible to see the future is…”. Great line, but the CGI animation work just doesn’t pan out for me.
Obi Wan’s laugh in the elevator with Anakin just doesn’t seem real. I’m sorry, and I love Ewan McGregor’s performance for the most part and he carries most of the film, but that laugh just didn’t come off as genuine.
I don’t like the sound design for Zam Wesell’s speeder. It just sounds jarring to me and takes me out of the moment. Maybe that was the effect they are going for, but for me it just is kind of irksome. There are some parts of the whole speeder chase through Coruscant that bother me or just don’t seem right. The sound design, some of the dialogue. Even some of the CGI doesn’t work as well as it should.
Theres a point when Padme and Anakin are sitting in the grass talking, and they both let out a really fake laugh after Anakin says “I like two or three [politicians], but I’m not really sure about one of them”. It just jumps out at me. It is sort of a sigh crossed with a laugh. It gives the impression that the two of them are already sick of making the movie, which is not the impression you want to have.
The frustrated love scene. This is the one where Padme wears the black dress that has a choker built in. I think the design of this dress was made by George Lucas, and it is made to be symbolic of choking, in the sense that the neck part of the dress looks like Vader’s hand. All that stuff is excellent and downright brilliant. The part that gets me is when Anakin says “I wish I could just wish away my feelings, but I can’t” and squints his eyes. It just doesn’t feel right or real. Also, when Anakin says “I’m in agony” just doesn’t feel like it is suitable. Maybe it’s because Hayden doesn’t convey the necessary gravitas to use a word like “agony” instead of “I’m pissed!” or something else. I don’t know. I know I’m not the only one that feels this scene falls a little short in places.
“I am a slow learner”. Sounds weird, doesn’t come out right. Feels lame. Nuff said.
I think that is about it. Just those couple of scenes. I feel like my issues with the movie are pretty minor, but the problem is that a lot of these little moments tend to have a ripple effect and take down entire scenes with them. That’s unfortunate because to me they stick out like a sore thumb. I’m not saying I could do a better job. I’m sure if I were to write and direct Attack of the Clones it would be much, much worse. However, it’s just frustrating because so much of the film works. It’s just these little scenes that should have been rejected and replaced in reshoots or something, or rewritten and reworked. But again, that’s easy for me to say.
The High Points
I think Hayden Christiansen for the most part plays the part pefectly, apart from the couple scenes I mention above. Yeah, at times he comes across as a bit of a whiny, angsty teenager, but I think that was the point. I think that was exactly what he was supposed to be. I actually like the scene where he confesses to Padme that he killed the Sand people. I think he hits every note right. I know some people don’t like that, but it works for me. In short, I think this is a very tough part and I think he nailed it for the most part.
I love the scene where Palpatine manipulates Jar Jar. The expression on Jar Jar’s face is just perfect when he is sitting there contemplating the situation what Mas Amedda says “If only Senator Amidala were here”. As if little gears are turning. In fact, it is this scene, and how well it works that makes me reject the Darth Jar Jar theory. I discussed this theory a little bit in my last review of TPM, and I did a little excursion into the Darth Jar Jar theory. Although I do think the early concept art Indie Revolver posted of Snoke does look like it has the same shape as Jar Jar, in the end, I think that the theory has been taken too far by the internet. Although I think it is possible that Jar Jar, on account of him being so damned lucky, might be unwittingly tapping into the Force, I think he is still an idiot. If anything, I think he was manipulated by Darth SIdious and was never in control. Even if the whole part about Jar Jar using the Force is true, and even if the idea of Jar Jar manipulating some people is true, I think at best he was a pawn of Darth Sidious.
All the scenes with Jango Fett and Obi Wan are great. These two just went well with each other. The chemistry was there. I love their few interactions and wish there was more. In general, Temura Morrison is excellent, as is Ewan; therefore, putting them together is superb.
The encounter of Dooku and Obi Wan holds up nicely. I especially love the moment when Dooku says “It may be difficult to secure your release”. That look on his face…This scene is in many ways the “I am your father moment” of AotC in the ring composition. Not because Dooku says “I am your master’s master” in so many words, because that was given such a matter-of-fact way that it wasn’t even that interesting. It was because Dooku asks Obi Wan to join him to destroy the Sith, just as Vader asked Luke to join him to defeat the Emperor in ESB. Does it compare to ESB in any way in terms of quality? Of course not. But it’s still a decent scene nonetheless and holds up.
The last thirty minutes of this movie are fantastic. From basically the the point at which Mace Windu walks out into the arena the the end is great. In fact the cinematography and directing of Mace Windu entering the arena and ultimately taking out Jango is almost perfect. I certainly couldn’t imagine what could be improved. I’m in the camp that the Yoda fight scene was awesome. Yeah, it isn’t as cool as it was in 2002 when I saw this movie countless times, shelling out for the awesome projector at the Metreon in San Francisco, viewing after viewing, but it still is exciting for me despite how jading the past 13 years have been.
For me, the Phantom Menace flowed quite nicely, with no scenes for me that kind of fall flat and stand out as jarring. That’s why it ranks higher on my list than AotC. There are just a couple of minor points of AotC that I trip on, but for the most part, it’s pretty entertaining.