Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones review

:. Director: George Lucas
:. Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman
:. Running Time: 2:00
:. Year: 2002
:. Country: USA


With Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Lucas has undoubtedly invented a new genre: the intergalactic soap opera. A rose water romance, actors near emotional mummification, and laborious dialogues balance a first part that's difficult to digest. But just at the moment when the threat of a new disaster seems all too real, the film leaves its torpor to offer, in a higher bid of action scenes, a finale faithful to the spirit of the sci-fi B movies of the first trilogy.

In this second episode of the Star Wars saga, Anakin Skywalker, now an arrogant and dumb teenager, falls in love with someone he is supposed to protect—Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman)—as every bad bodyguard would do (see Kevin Costner). There's not a great a deal to say about a scenario which spends two hours to establish a love story without touching the forbidden fruit. During this time Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) carries out an investigation to the four corners of the galaxy and on his way finds bounty hunter Jango Fett, Bobba's father.

The first part of film resembles a punishment inflicted on us for not knowing to appreciate The Phantom Menace. Jedis and dignitaries tirelessly meet on the fate of the galaxy while Anakin and Padme flirt with postcard backgrounds. From Italian palaces on the lake to the picnic in front of the waterfall, Attack of the Clones looks more like a cheap drugstore romance novel than a science fiction film. The dialogues compete with silliness as witnessed by Anakin's discourse concerning sand "I do not like sand. It runs everywhere".

After the debacle of the preceding film, Lucas seems to have understood that it is to better give his public what it wants. This explains the presence of a recognizable villain looking like his son (Jango Fett) and the great final battle that recalls The Empire Strikes Back. This step certainly marks a lack of inspiration. However if Star Wars is considered a luxurious B movie, which it is, this recycling becomes less troubling. Another sign of the times, the saga that unquestionably influenced science fiction films is itself inspired by films like Blade Runner, The Fifth Element and A.I. The film also gains by targeting—awkwardly—a more adult public. The childish humor of The Phantom Menace is replaced by a certain self-mockery. At first, Yoda's combat scene looks foolish until you realize its another joke-one notices the similarity with The Lord of the Rings. It's also strangely reminiscent of the wild rabbit of The Holy Grail .

From a technical point of view, the film is not at the height of expectation. Contrary to the misinformation hawked by certain media, Attack of the Clones will not remain in the history of cinema as the pioneer of digital film like the French movie Vidocq that preceded it by a few months. Though the characters are are pretty well designed, the décor is often too artificial, as digital images cruelly lack texture and depth. In spite of his taste for being too showy, the openly stylized and unreal approach of Vidocq agrees rather well with digital. On the contrary, in Attack of the Clones, the process used "to counterfeit" reality at all costs shows its limitations.

As for the acting, Jar Jar only has to hold himself well. The stiff and wan Hayden Christensen bears more resemblance to the nice son of a good family than as the future terror of the galaxy. Often preposterous, he is a good match for Natalie Portman who heartlessly recites her lines. Ewan McGregor smiles a lot, and only Samuel L. Jackson and Christopher Lee bring a certain solemnity.

The fiery action scenes of the big finale come to the rescue of the film at just the right moment. Visually more successful and better paced than the remainder of the film, they satisfy the audience with a good dose of lasers, making them forget the first hour and the first episode. The trilogy is reinvigorated and gives us hope for the much awaited third episode. More to come

  Fred Thom

     Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
     Star wars Episode III : Revenge of the Sith
     Movie Reviews: 1998 - 2011
     Movie Reviews: 2012 - present

  .: AFI Fest
  .: Cannes Festival
  .: COL COA
  .: LA Film Festival
  .: LA Latino Festival
  .: more Festivals
  .: Cult Classic
  .: Foreign
  .: U.S. Underground
  .: Musical Films
  .: Controversial Films
  .: Silent Films
  .: Spaghetti Westerns
  .: Erotica
  .: Download Movies
  .: Movie Rentals
  .: Movie Trailer
| About Plume Noire | Contacts | Advertising | Submit for review | Help Wanted! | Privacy Policy | Questions/Comments |
| Work in Hollywood | Plume Noire en français [in French] |