Star Wars Episode 2 Attack of the Clones
Starring:
Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid
Directed By:
George Lucas
Grade
B-

WARNING: This review contains spoilers of plot events. No surprise twists will be revealed, but if you don't want to know anything about the plot of the story, hit the back button on your browser.

The Star Wars series has a long-running tradition of a dedicated fan base who flock to see each new release of the well-respected space adventure based on the old serial adventures, like Flash Gordon. In Episode 2, the story picks up roughly ten years after the last film, where Amidala (Portman) is now a Senator of the Republic. After an assassination attempt on her life, she is reunited with Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Christensen), who are given the duty to protect her. It doesn't take the two jedi long to discover that a bounty hunter has been hired to take her out. Further investigation reveals two seemingly separate parts of a hidden plot that results in the first conflict of what would become the Clone Wars. During this time, Anakin and Amidala renew their acquaintance and fall in love, despite the jedi code against such emotional attachments.

All the pretty pictures...
Visually, Episode 2 is a masterpiece. This is, of course, no surprise. Considering how much of a perfectionist George Lucas is, every aspect of the movie is packed and presented the way he wants. There are numerous locales that are wonderfully designed and presented. Special effects are used liberally and there are scores of digitally rendered aliens and locations packing every scene. Every area is full of life and you may need to watch the film a few times over to catch everything. The only flaw I saw in the visual presentation of the movie was the rare occasion when an area that was obviously created digitally and just didn't look "real" enough. A few of the monsters felt the same way. With so many shots filmed on live locations with a high degree of detail, most of the areas that were created digitally looked wonderful and were highly active, but there is the one or two scenes where the location just looks too "clean".

A love story and one heck of a fight...
Episode 2 tries to balance between the love story between Anakin and Amidala and the events that unfold into the Clone War between the Republic and the Separatists. All the while, Lucas tries to either include or wrap up side stories along the way, obviously bridging the gap between Episode 1 and Episode 3. The base story and script are well done, but I'll be honest in stating that Episode 2 felt too erratic. As soon as the characters were through with what little they had to accomplish in one location, they seemed to rush off to another, causing the whole movie to feel like a bullet ride in a pinball machine. The only time it seemed to slow down was to try and establish the relationship between Anakin and Amidala and to give reason for his upcoming change. Where the movie shines is the intense battles, which fills the last half of the film. You will feel the charge of the jedi battles and the awesomely presented battle with the Clone Troopers.

It's all about chemistry...
What made the original Star Wars trilogy so special was the chemistry and on-screen presence between the characters. You cared about what happened to them and events played out in a good pace. Episode 2 tries to force the chemistry on you in hopes that you'll believe that these people care about each other. At times, they almost get to a point where you might believe they feel these things, but for the most part, everything feels a little hollow and rushed. In fact, there is only a few times where I actually felt Anakin had any deep emotions. Plain and simple, the movie lacks camaraderie.

Is this film for you?
If you're a huge Star Wars fan - yes. That goes without saying. It does more than enough things right to make fans happen. In fact, there's a lot of things thrown in just for the fans, and the film makes up for the weak showing of Episode 1. If you enjoy good sci-fi - yes, but don't inconvenience yourself. Go see it at a matinee a week or two after the release. If you've never been a big fan or are very picky - no. Wait until it hits video or DVD and rent it. Episode 2 is very much a way station that paves the way between Episode 1 and 3, but has enough good going for it that Star Wars fans will go away happy.

- - Vane

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