Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Revisiting Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

I am going to revisit all the Star Wars movies over the next while.  I have been a Star Wars fan since I was a kid and have seen most of the movies a number of times.  This is just based on the current series rewatch I have decided to undertake.  I will start with Attack of the Clones.
I’m going to try to give these prequels a fair shake.  AotC is often considered the worst of the bunch (apart from that awful, awful Clone Wars movie), which is probably justified.  Its hard for me to completely divorce my nostalgia from these movies at the same time, but I do recognize this is probably the weakest of the films.
 
Highlights:
  •  The sound design for this movie is incredible.  Especially during that chase sequence.  The movie wasn’t even nominated for Sound at the Oscars, which it probably should have been.
  •  I really like the seismic charges, and really the whole asteroid belt dog fight.  It’s a great action scene, and very Star Wars-like.
  • Honestly, the basic story isn’t that bad.  The idea of a civil war brewing and the Jedi investigating various actions around this is a good one.  There are some major problems I will highlight below though.
  • Apart from the excessive digital composition of the film, there are some really nice-looking visuals and some well-composed shots throughout.
Downfalls:
  • Let’s get the obvious out of the way first.  The dialogue here is atrocious, and by extension much of the acting is really bad as well.  This is something that comes up a lot in criticism of  Clones, and is the primary reason its often considered the worst SW film.  But I mean… it is really bad.  Ewan McGregor mostly deals with it okay, but not always.  Hayden Christenson gets the brunt of this, as many of his lines are truly awful, and he really doesn’t hit his beats right.  Natalie Portman does her best also, but nope.  I think the acting direction here is really awkward also, resulting in an all-around scripted nightmare.
  • This leads directly into my second point, which is the romance.  This is an entirely unbelievable romantic connection between the two leads.  Anakin unabashedly acts like a creep during the first half of the movie, and there is no way you believe a character as self-reliant as Padme would ever fall for him.  The sand line gets joked about a lot, but its really bad.  Most of the scenes that are supposed to be part of the patchwork of their love connection are just glaringly clumsy and awful.  For example: Anakin tries surfing on a Naboo cow.  And lets not even get started on how awkward the fireplace scene is.
  • While I said that most of the story outline works, the romance obviously doesn’t, nor does the ridiculous plot point of Anakin’s prescient dreams. I agree that he needed to get back to Tattooine and I like the idea of failing his mother as being a driving force for his turn.  But this is a very inelegant way of doing so.
  • The CGI is highly pervasive in the movie, and it doesn’t hold up well.  It really gives the film a plastic look.  For example, the scene where Dooku meets with the council of separatists, there are aliens with animatronic costumes and aliens that are fully CGI, and they are very heavily contrasted.  It doesn’t blend well.
  • Going off of this point, the scene in the droid factory could have been a really cool action set piece.  There was a lot of potential there.  But the CGI, and the way the actors react to it, really make it bad.  You can almost see the green screen and treadmills.
  •  I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t like the way the Jedi as a whole are handled by the prequels.  In the OT, I had this concept of the Jedi as being these wandering, mythical warriors; figures of legend.  Both Obi-Wan and Yoda helped to build this idea in my head, as did the general way that people would talk about them.  Then the prequels come along and suddenly the Jedi are a bureaucratic body of government…  What a disappointment.  Oh, and they die really easily.
  • Going off of this point, Yoda in particular doesn’t really feel like the Yoda we know from the Dagobah swamp.  Yes we all cheered when he got out his light-saber, but looking back it doesn’t really seem like a Yoda move.  Having him sit around talking with politicians and taking part in board meetings doesn’t seem like him either.
That’s all I can think to talk about right now.  I’m sure there’s more, but they will likely come up with later movies.
Current Re-ranking List:
1.  Attack of the Clones
Current Dismemberment tally: 1 (Anakin)

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