Star Wars: Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones

Reviewed By Brian McKay
Posted 05/25/02 16:23:56

"Okay, I've seen it - Obligation fulfilled."
3 stars (Average)

Whether you love it or hate it, you know you're going to end up seeing the goddamn thing eventually. It is STAR WARS, after all, the biggest movie phenomenon of the past 25 years. So if you've had any kind of passing familiarity with the franchise in the past quarter-century, you will most likely end up sitting through the latest installment - even if the series has become a shadow of its former self.

I know it's almost blasphemy to say this, and I may be chased down and beaten over the head with plastic lightsabers by a rabid pack of virgin uber-geeks -- but this movie, for the most part, is fucking dull. Even during the action (with a few exceptions)it is an exercise in tedium. The first action scene, a wild speeder chase through the miles-high towers of a massive city, should have been breathtaking. Visually, it was very impressive. But emotionally, it held none of the excitment of, say, the speeder bike chase on Endor. Part of the problem is that it just felt "done" already, with too many overtones of "The Fifth Element", and the film which that movie partially copied, "Blade Runner". It wasn't a bad start, but it just didn't grab me by the cajones they way it should have.

And it's downhill from there.

The rambling and stilted dialouge is bad enough, but Jesus, could these characters be any more wooden? Nobody has any charisma! Sorely missed is the rough-around-the-edges charm of Han Solo, the bitchy-haughty sexiness of princess Leia, the farm-boy eagerness and excitement of Luke Skywalker. Everyone is so deathly dull, even Sam "badmotherfucker" Jackson. Oddly enough, the only character that has any kind of charisma or emotes anything genuine with his facial expressions is Yoda, the goddamn muppet. He's also the only one that looks "real", as the rest of the CGI created characters look hokey. The monsters seemed to look more real back in the days of giant puppets and animatronics.

Unfortunately, this aura of dullness that surrounds everyone else is not helped by a plodding love story, in which the Senator (formerly Queen) Amidalia (Natalie Portman) adamantly declares to the Young Jedi Anakin (Hayden Christiansen) that they cannot allow themselves to fall in love, while she is wearing some of the sexiest dresses on the planet (at least the costume department did things right). Way to make a young man work to keep that vow of Jedi Celibacy, Senator! Most laughable of all is the contrivance used to get her into a nice belly-shirt at the end. Yes folks, it's the old "girl gets chased by monster and has part of her clothes ripped off" trick that we haven't seen since the cheesiest horror flicks of the 60's and 70's.

Not that I'm complaining about Natalie Portman in a belly shirt, mind you.

But this relationship between Amidalia and Anikin doesn't have an ounce of chemistry, and by the time we finally get to some fucking action, the film has fallen into too deep of a black hole to ever fully dig itself out again. The action sequences, especially most of the lightsaber fighting, are fairly limp. The fight between Obi-wan and one of the minor baddies is fairly cool, but by the time we get to the big epic battles, most of the Jedi extras look like they're just going through the motions that they've done in rehearsal a hundred times. They look like they're using their lightsabers to trim hedges, not battling for their lives. The visual effects are fine and dandy, but for the most part it's just a bunch of pretty laser lights flashing around. Put on some Led Zeppelin, and you're at a planetarium show. Whoop de shit. And while it's nice to see Yoda go apeshit with his lightsaber at the end, like some pigmy cranked up on crystal meth waving a glowstick around at a rave, the final battle is rather anti-climactic and unsatisfying, and both Obi Wan and Anikin end up being pretty fucking useless when the chips are down. At least Mace Windu (Jackson) finally gets to kick a little ass with the Funky Lightsaber o' Purple Death, but he still seems to have far too little screen time. They may have killed Darth Maul in the last movie, but they should have kept Ray Parks on as the fight coreographer. The final Jedi showdown in Phantom Menace (and the only part of that movie worth remembering) was much more exciting than anything here.

Obviously, Lucas was going for a cliffhanger ending with this one, ala' "Empire Strikes Back". But where is there to go from here? We already know that the Jedi are wiped out and evil prevails in the next film, so it seems that the end result of this cliffhanger is to be smashed on the rocks at the bottom.

At least that fucking Jar-Jar only has a few minutes of screen time, but Jesus, those few minutes are still too much. Every time I hear that "Me-sa so glad to sees you" pig-latin bullshit accent of his, I just wish someone would cram a lightsaber up his ass. And another thing - remember when R2D2 and C3PO used to be cute and funny? Maybe it's because I was a kid when I first saw them, or maybe it's because they were better written, but 3PO is just fucking annoying now, and R2 just doesn't bring that little smile to my face anymore. And since when can he fucking FLY??

So, in summation: Acting, bad. Writing, bad to mediocre. Action, mostly dull but occasionally groovy. Love story, tedious. Natalie Portman in sexy costumes, very good. Yoda opening a can of whoop ass - fantastic while it lasts, which unfortunately is not long. Oh, and one more thing - can someone explain what the FUCK Jimmy Smits is doing in the movie, and why he's dressed like William Shakespeare?

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