Sci-Fi Movie Month: "Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones" Review

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
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Sci-Fi Movie Month: "Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones" Review

-- Rating: PG (violence)
Length: 142 minutes
Release Date: May 16, 2002
Directed By: George Lucas
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, Action, Fantasy

"Attack of the Clones" is the second of the "Star Wars" prequel films. It picks up the storyline ten years from where "The Phantom Menace" left off. Anakin Skywalker is now a young adult and is portrayed by Hayden Christensen. Christensen joins a cast including Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Samuel L. Jackson, all three of whom have returned to reprise the roles of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padme, and Mace Windu respectively.

In this go around, we see that Anakin has grown to be powerful in the Force. However, his headstrong manner seems to keep him from progressing. Christensen portrays Anakin's arrogance and impatience quite convincingly. From testing the patience of his Jedi master to seeking out bloody revenge on those responsible for the death of his mother, Christensen is able to cover an impressive range of emotions throughout the film.

The storyline follows Anakin and Obi-Wan as they are assigned to protect Padme, the former queen who is now Naboo's official representative in the Galactic Senate. Padme needs the protection of the Jedi because of an assassination attempt. The duo successfully thwart a subsequent assassination attempt on Padme, but the assassin is killed by those who hired her before she can answer questions. This takes Obi-Wan on an investigatory mission to the mysterious ocean planet of Kamino. In the meantime, Anakin is charged with being Padme's bodyguard and escorting her safely back to her home planet. As Obi-Wan discovers than an army of clone troopers is being created on Kamino for the Republic and that a droid army is being produced on the planet Geonosis by the separatist movement, Anakin and Padme fall in love as they are alone together.

As the film progresses, it is revealed that Count Dooku, a former Jedi Master, is the leader of the separatists and is also the mastermind behind the attempts on Padme's life. Dooku, portrayed by Christopher Lee, represents how a previously good person can allow himself to fall into the depths of evil. This sequence of events serves to help audiences understand how Anakin will one day eventually become Darth Vader. Dooku gives credence to the seductive power of the Dark Side of the Force.

The movie's climax occurs on Geonosis, where Dooku has taken Obi-Wan prisoner. Anakin and Padme are also being held there following a failed effort to rescue Obi-Wan. It is here where a culminating battle takes place, not only between the three protagonists and a collection of monsters in a gladiator-style death match, but also between the droid separatist army and an army of Jedi knights. A combination of realistic computer-generated imagery and other special effects bring the panoramic and close-up shots of this battle to life in vivid detail. As the situation looks dire for the Jedi forces, the clone army is brought into the mix led by Master Yoda himself. Their arrival seals the Republic's victory in this battle.

Because it's a prequel, the film ends with a linking montage. Darth Sidious tells Dooku how everything is going according to plan now that the Republic is at war with the separatists, Anakin and Padme secretly marry on Naboo, and legions of clone troopers are seen boarding ships that will take them to battle across different parts of the Republic. It sets the stage for the rest of the "Star Wars" franchise.

Impressive in its digitally created effects, "Attack of the Clones" is able to weave story and imagery together in such a way that fans of the franchise can feel satisfied, while newcomers to the "Star Wars" universe can also be entertained without feeling like they're missing something. The dialogue is reminiscent of "A New Hope" in that it is direct and to the point and not as trite or corny as it is in "The Phantom Menace." Those seeking answers to many aspects of the "Star Wars" canon will find them in this motion picture. Those simply seeking a sci-fi escape anchored in the classical elements of human desire, fear, and weakness wrapped in spirited thrills and action scenes will also find the film worthwhile.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars