I’ve long thought that Attack of the Clones is the weakest Star Wars movie of the two trilogies. Sure, the entire prequel trilogy is weak compared to the original trilogy, but it is still enjoyable to me. Mostly.
I popped Episode I into the DVD player the other day and watched it, and still the only thing that annoys me about that movie is Jar Jar Binks. That character’s purpose could have been served with a less annoying character who wasn’t a complete imbecile. Then I popped in Episode II last night, and it really hit home how lame this movie is. There are still some parts worth watching, mostly the special effects and fighting scenes, but what a horrible, horrible movie otherwise.
Lets start with the name: Attack of the Clones. That right there gives the impression that the movie is a cheesy, horribly acted, low-budget, SyFy original movie piece of shit. That sounds like the name of a movie released in the 1960’s. If he had just called it The Clone Wars, that would have been light years (parsecs?) better. That gets the movie off on the wrong foot there.
Then there’s the “love story” (I have that in quotations because it’s the most terribly written, most unbelievable love story ever written). It starts with Anakin getting nervous before meeting Padme for the first time in ten years, telling Obi-Wan that he’s thought about her every day since they last saw each other. I suppose that’s plausible, although somewhat creepy and obsessive. Most of the movie Padme appears to be repulsed by Anakin. He repeatedly looks at her as a stalker or rapist would look at their prey, at one point prompting Padme to tell Anakin to stop looking at her like that because it makes her uncomfortable. They frolic around the plains of Naboo (while Obi-Wan does all the hard work). All the while Anakin is dropping hints about the person he will become. He blasts democracy while advocating totalitarianism. Later, when he confesses to killing an entire tribe of tusken raiders in cold blood, Padme sits down next to him and comforts him. I’m no expert on the opposite sex, but most women don’t stick with serial killers. Then, right before they are to be executed, she finally confesses that she loves him, despite being seemingly annoyed by him for most of the film.
During the Battle of Geonosis, there is a purely comedic routine going between C-3PO and R2-D2 which, while funny, is completely pointless and has no place in a Star Wars movie. Sure comedy is acceptable, but this was more slapstick comedy. How likely is it that 3PO would inadvertently get his head switched with that of a battle droid? And while I’m thinking of R2, where were those little rocket thrusters in the original trilogy? Were they removed between Episode III and IV? If so, how did he lose them? Giving R2 those thrusters added an inconsistency between the two trilogies that didn’t need to be there.
The writing in the movie is extremely sophomoric and intellectually sterile. And it shows on the actors’ faces when saying their lines. Watch the faces of Natalie Portman and Samuel L Jackson. Even Hayden Christiansen (it’s harder to tell with him because he’s a terrible actor). The dialogue in the lightsaber duels at the end of the movie is atrocious. “Surely you can do better,” Count Dooku (stupid name, by the way) says to Obi-Wan. “It is obvious that this contest cannot be decided by our knowledge of the force, but by our skill with a lightsaber,” Dooku says, quite pathetically, to Yoda. Who talks like that? And who wrote that shit? Well, George Lucas did. Man, how the mighty have fallen.
Then there’s the ligthsaber duels themselves. When Obi-Wan fights Dooku, it’s over pretty quick. Obi-Wan, who handled Darth Maul and Darth Vader, couldn’t handle Dooku? And he lost with the quickness, to boot. Then, there’s the duel between Anakin and Dooku. You don’t even get to see this fight. The scenes of this fight are zoomed in on Dooku’s and Anakin’s faces for the majority of the duel. This might be considered artistic, but it’s extremely lame and boring to watch. The duel between Yoda and Dooku is pretty epic, but at the end Dooku uses the force to knock over a pillar onto Anakin and Obi-Wan as they lay on the ground, writhing in pain. Yoda drops his lightsaber and uses the force to stop the pillar. Dooku was standing right next to Yoda. Does he strike him down while his attention is otherwise diverted? No, he runs like a little bitch into his ship and takes off. That makes sense, right?
Another issue is Samuel L Jackson playing a Jedi. He is just not convincing at all wielding a lightsaber. He swings it around slowly in broad, clumsy arcs. Even when deflecting blaster bolts. He’s also not very convincing when spewing Jedi philosophy. It just feels wrong that Samuel L Jackson is promoting peace and pacifism. It’s Samuel-mothafuckin-Jackson, dammit! I’m talking ’bout Shaft! I am a huge fan of Samuel L, but he is just not right for this part.
Lastly, the casting of Hayden Christianson as Anakin is arguably the biggest mistake in the entire trilogy (it’s a toss-up between him and Jar Jar). While Christiansen does a great job with the action scenes and the lightsaber duels, that’s only a fraction of his part in the movie. Watching him act is just painful. He can’t emote, and his lines are mostly in monotone. Think Ben Stein, Jedi Knight. Oh, there is one other thing he does well in the movie: look pissed. After his mom dies the look of pure hatred is genuine. Overall, though, he does a lousy job in this movie.
Ultimately, Attack of the Clones is poorly written, poorly acted, poorly cast, and poorly conceived. The only thing that works in this movie are the special effects (the only thing Lucas is really good at) and the battle scenes. The battle on Geonosis is pretty fun to watch, but not much else in this movie is.
What’s your least favorite Star Wars movie and why?