'Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones' Review By John M
The Journey of Obi-Wan Kenobi
The plot of the film follows the events of the Phantom Menace except that ten years have passed. The former queen Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) turned galactic senator arrives at Coruscant where there is an assassination attempt on her life. That brings in the Jedi council and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) who are charged with her protection and routing out the assassin. During this time Anakin has what I call more of a sick obsession with Padme then love, but I'll get to that later. Anakin and Obi-Wan manage to get the assassin, but is killed before she can reveal anything. That leads to the two Jedi to separate with Anakin accompanying Padme back to Naboo as her personal body guard while Obi-Wan goes to track down the assassins employer's. I have no idea what Padme saw in Anakin, but I'll get to their relationship later. Obi-Wan heads to Kamino discovering a very large clone army and runs into the bounty hunter Jango Fett the father of Boba Fett (Though technically since their clones their brothers, but it doesn't really matter.). After their fight Jango escapes with Obi-Wan following him. While Obi-Wan is following him Anakin gets a vision of his mother in pain, and heads to Tatooine with Padme. Arriving Anakin learns he is too late to save his mother and he boils over in rage killing all of the Tusken Raiders tribe that killed his mother. On Geonosis Obi-Wan learns that Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) was the man behind the assassination attempts on Padme's life, and that he is creating a new droid army, but before he can leave Obi-Wan is captured. Anakin and Padme disobey orders from the Jedi Council and go to save him followed by the Jedi Knights and the clone army. As you would suspect Anakin and Padme get captured and put in a gladiator arena with Obi-Wan. The fight to free themselves, but are outnumber and that's when Mace Windu and the rest of the Jedi Knights followed by Yoda and the clone army show up. A battle begins and rages on culminating in a fight between Anakin, Obi-Wan and Count Dooku, and then between Yoda and Count Dooku. Count Dooku manages to escape leaving a wounded Obi-Wan and Anakin.
The plot was pretty good. The problem I had was with the characters. First Anakin is annoying and unlikeable character. I guess it works if you want to know where Luke gets it from, but he's even worse than Luke. Then there is Padme what is wrong with her. I know people will say love is blind, but does anyone believe an intelligent woman like her would fall for a petulant childlike Anakin who has a borderline dangerous obsession with Padme. I mean every other part of the film she's a strong woman and a good representative for her people, but when she's around Anakin she loses any semblance of intelligence. George could have written their romance much better including the chemistry between the characters which was nonexistent. All right let's move onto Count Dooku who wasn't in my opinion real threatening. I know Yoda says there can be only one master Sith and apprentice, but I truly believe George could have fit both Darth Maul and Count Dooku into the film, and I think it would have worked better. All right that's now that I harped on what I didn't like let's move onto what I did. Obi-Wan Kenobi for one. The character shows he's growth as a leader and a Jedi, and just like I said that the previous trilogy was really about Han Solo the prequels in my opinion are really about Obi-Wans journey. Then there is the expanding role of Yoda which I thought was great and much needed. I think everyone wanted to see Yoda in action at least once. Also again how awesome is Mace Windu? I love the character. The battles were intense especially the one Geonosis. Overall the story was really good; it's just that the character and the chemistry between them didn't live up to the story.
Can Hayden Christensen act? That's what I've been asking myself before writing this review and during it. He does at best a serviceable job as Anakin, but from the films I've seen him in that include the Star Wars prequel films, Takers, Awake, Jumper and Vanishing on 7th Street he's an average actor at best. Apparently he's been nominated for some awards for Life as a House, but I don't see what they see. I would call this bad acting, but more of miscast in the name of Christopher Lee. The man is a good actor from roles in The Lord of the Rings trilogy to his great role as Dracula and the rest of his horror films. He did pretty good job with the role, but he just didn't seem like a good fit. Outside of those two major complaints with the acting and casting I was happy. Ewan McGregor was again outstanding as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Natalie Portman was good in all her scenes except for her romantic ones with Hayden. She definitely didn't seem into it, and wasn't believable. What can you say about Samuel L. Jackson except he was awesome and seems to have truly enjoyed his role as Mace Windu. Ian McDiarmid does a great job exuding intelligence and sinisterness in his limited role as Chancellor Palpatine, and so does Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett. Do I wish they could have expanded his role into The Revenge of the Sith yes, but I understand why Lucas decided not to.
The special effects by ILM were outstanding again including the climax Geonosis. The battle and effects there were great. The only problem with the action I had was the climactic lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan, Anakin and Count Dooku. It wasn't very good and isn't nearly as good as the ones in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace or Revenge of Sith. The cool little battle between Yoda and Dooku did help make up for it a little. The directing by Lucas was again pretty good, but again he could have done a better job especially with the acting of Hayden, and the scenes between Hayden and Natalie. The music by John Williams was good, but is the worst of all the prequels. It just didn't have the same feel of his other films.
While Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones is a flawed film that includes some bad acting, miscasting, and bad chemistry between characters it is overall all a really good film with a great story, pretty good acting, excellent special effects, really good action, above average directing and music. Attack of the Clones is the fourth best of the six Star Wars films.