Star Wars - Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones

By:  Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool, karl@whenitwascool.com)

The love story absolutely no one wanted.  darth vader in love.  with extra points for creepiness.

The love story absolutely no one wanted.  darth vader in love.  with extra points for creepiness.

I continue my review of the Star Wars movies in chronological order by taking a look at Star Wars - Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones or as I like to call it Star Wars - Darth Vader Falls in Love.  If you haven't yet done so, please lose a few moments of your life that you will never get back by reading about the abomination of Episode 1.

Again, I will not be doing a point by point plot analysis because who in their right mind would want one?  You've already seen these movies or you wouldn't be here.  For some reason, I remember the prequels getting better with each one and ending with the fairly tolerable and sometimes enjoyable Revenge of the Sith (coming soon to WhenItWasCool.com).

However, this movie didn't hold up nearly as well as I remembered, so sadly here is the good, the bad, and the ugly of Star Wars Episode 2 Attack of the Clones.

The Good

  • Ewan McGregor.  As I said in my first review, Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi is far and away the best thing about the Star Wars prequels.  Hands down.  No contest.  While virtually every single other actor gets progressively worse during these films, McGregor gets progressively better.
  • The plot.  I'm grading on a curve here.  The plot is still convoluted and hard to follow but at least it's not totally wrapped up in boring politics like The Phantom Menace.  This is more of a space mystery and by the end has decent action.
  • Special effects.  The CGI in this movie is still annoyingly significant.  By the end it is distracting.  But some of the sets and backgrounds are much improved over The Phantom Menace and the space scenes are actually pretty great.
  • Yoda.  After being completely forgettable in The Phantom Menace, Yoda comes back with a vengeance here and we get to see a side of Yoda we had never seen before.
I realize the best part of love is the thinnest slice and it don't count for much...

I realize the best part of love is the thinnest slice and it don't count for much...

The Bad

  • Jango Fett.  This movie could also have easily been titled:  Star Wars - Episode 2 - An Excuse to Make a Boba Fett Movie Sort Of.  Trying desperately to undo the terribly uncool Phantom Menace, a story about a boy and his racial stereotype friend and politics, Attack of the Clones decided to up the cool factor by making this kind of a Boba Fett movie.  The only problem is Boba Fett was a young kid at this point (not that it stopped them with Darth Vader mind you) so enter- JANGO FETT father of Boba and the person upon whom the clones are based.  Convoluted and unnecessary.  Jango, by the way, did not become an ultra-cool cult figure character like Boba Fett because of being shoved down our throats in this movie.
  • Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus.  Ok listen, I like old man Christopher Lee as much as anybody, especially when he is playing Dracula in some 1970's low budget movie.  But Count Dooku is an enormous step down from the fearsome Darth Maul.  He might have cool force lightening and all that but Darth Maul had a double bladed lightsaber and kung-fu.  Out of all the series Sith- Darth Maul, Darth Vader, even Kylo Ren, Count Dooku is far and away the least imposing.
  • Jar Jar Binks.  Yes everyone's least favorite Star Wars character is back again but thankfully in a much reduced role but he makes the list because... well he exists and "dellow fellagates".  Meesa groan.

The Ugly

  • Ani loves Padi.  The absolute dirt worst, most non-chemistry, wooden, creepy, and nonsensical love story in movie history.  "I wish we had a Darth Vader love story" said nobody ever.  Except George Lucas I guess.  This is the story that did not need told and features two of the worst people to pull it off.  Somewhere between episode 1 and 3 Natalie Portman lost 112% of her charisma or perhaps it was drained away into the black hole of acting that is...
  • Hayden Christensen.  Please name me a worse casting decision in the history of Earth itself?  Hayden Christensen is the absolute worst, most wooden, uncharismatic, wrong for the role, actor they could have chosen.  He had negative chemistry with Natalie Portman and his dialog is horrendous and somehow he manages to deliver it even worse.  Whatever happened to budding young star Hayden Christensen after these marvelous break out performances?  He's now in his mid-30's and I recently saw him in the movie 90 Minutes In Heaven where, believe it or not he was very, very good... no don't believe it he was actually even worse by significant degrees.  
  • The turn to the dark side.  The story required that Anakin Skywalker somehow get from goofy space pilot kid to dark lord of the Sith so the pivotal moment in his transformation occurs in this movie where he rescues his mother from the Sand People but she dies in his arms and he slaughters them... all of them.  Not just the men but the women and children too.  Which puts him on par with basically any biblical figure in the Old Testament.  So fearsome and disturbing was this act that his leftist politician girlfriend who nearly saw her whole planet in a state of genocide because she didn't want any weapons meets the revelation by Skywalker with a big expression of "meh." 

Next up I'm going to watch the Star Wars - Clone Wars animated series in order before resuming with Star Wars - Episode 3 - Revenge of the Sith which is the best movie of the prequel era except for that one scene.  That one... franchise ruining... childhood killing... scene...

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Probably the best character in this movie.

Probably the best character in this movie.