Ten years after initially meeting, Anakin Skywalker shares a forbidden romance with Padmé Amidala, while Obi-Wan Kenobi investigates an assassination attempt on the senator and discovers a s... Read allTen years after initially meeting, Anakin Skywalker shares a forbidden romance with Padmé Amidala, while Obi-Wan Kenobi investigates an assassination attempt on the senator and discovers a secret clone army crafted for the Jedi.Ten years after initially meeting, Anakin Skywalker shares a forbidden romance with Padmé Amidala, while Obi-Wan Kenobi investigates an assassination attempt on the senator and discovers a secret clone army crafted for the Jedi.
Here's Your Cheat Sheet for the 'Star Wars' Saga
Of course, "Attack of the Clones" also has troubles of its own. Although it is quite the grandiose visual effects spectacle – more so than any of its predecessors – it is the smaller, character- driven parts of the story that George Lucas absolutely botches, to almost comical effect.
Central to the entire prequel trilogy is the story of how Darth Vader becomes Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire rises to power, which means Lucas has a trajectory he must follow. It's clear in many ways that the story and screenplay is slave to this. Everything must add up to fit with the original "Star Wars" trilogy and Lucas must connect the dots, even if they don't all want to connect.
The dots that are most critical to the story are the ones that trace Anakin Skywalker's (Hayden Christensen) path to the dark side and becoming the father of Luke and Leia. Therefore, he must turn evil – and fall in love – at the same time.
Because "The Phantom Menace" does very little legwork for Anakin's turn to the dark side, everything falls on "Attack of the Clones" to put it in motion. Right away, we are presented with a cocky, reckless young padowan of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) who is nothing like little "Ani" in "Episode I." He is also extremely forward with Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), because, well, they have to fall in love and there just isn't much time for them to do so in a believable way.
Before ripping into this unfortunate romantic subplot, it's worth noting that most else about "Clones" is entertaining. Running through the film is a pretty solid mystery thread: As a dangerous separatist movement gains steam in the Republic, now-Senator Amidala finds her life threatened and Obi-Wan and Anakin are assigned to protect her, and if possible, identify her would-be assassin. Obi- Wan traces a poison dart to a mysterious planet called Kamino, where he uncovers a big secret and a conspiracy unfolds.
Ever since Alec Guinness' Ben Kenobi mentioned fighting with Luke's father in the Clone Wars in "A New Hope," "Star Wars" die-hards have been itching to see the Clone Wars and find out just what they were all about. "Attack of the Clones" sets this up an exciting way and introduces some exciting villains to boot in Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison) and Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). For the first time, fans can piece together how the Galactic Empire came into power, and that's exciting.
Interspersed with this unraveling mystery, however, is the Anakin- Padme romance, a subplot that reveals the most hideous weaknesses of Lucas' storytelling ability, namely that he cannot write good dialogue and he most certainly cannot create a genuine romance.
The feistiness of the Leia-Han backward romance accidentally worked out really well for Lucas because of Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford's repartee. This romance, however, is way more dramatic, serious and creepy. For one, the age gap between the two is uncomfortable, and largely because Padme says that she still sees him as a little boy. For another, he comes on to her aggressively and with a stalker-like anger that she apparently doesn't mind after he's persistent enough. And amidst it all, Anakin is having nightmares about his mother and is dealing with feelings of revenge that don't seem to bother Padme. There's just no way it had to be this ugly, but again, Anakin is Luke and Leia's father, and that has to happen somehow.
In a film without "Star Wars" in the title, "Attack of the Clones" would've warranted more scathing backlash, but the romance failure is somehow more acceptable in this instance because "Clones" is part of a story and a universe bigger than itself. You just have to brush it off. At least, unlike "Phantom Menace," the film feels more connected to that universe in other ways (and there's exceptionally less Jar Jar Binks in it).
With an iconic lightsaber duel at the end to top it all off, "Clones" skates by on adventure even though it does make it clear that no matter what happens in "Episode III," the prequels won't have the same heart and same lovable nature as the original films do.
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- Dec 11, 2015