A Retrospective on Star Wars – Episode 2 Attack of The Clones review
We go for round two with the historic Sci-Fi franchise
Set 10 years after the Phantom Menace, we pick up this instalment with…wait…10 years… Ok, we pick up the franchise a whole decade after its prequel, which is more than a little dizzying. Our young former slave boy Anakin is now a Jedi in-training under the watchful eye of the Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi. Tasked, once again, with the protection of Padme Amidala, the two Jedi quickly become entwined in a greater mystery as the Sith’s grand plan begins to unfold. With assassination attempts, mysterious armies, corrupt Jedi and the beginning of a war which will have huge consequences on the galaxy for many films to come, this instalment certainly has more to offer than its predecessor.
However, there are some flaws. Knowing that he is the driving force behind the development of the six films, I really want to like Anakin, but his personality makes it simply impossible. The young Jedi has changed a lot over the years, he retains his trademark cockiness but now sports a morbid delivery of lines and an extreme excess of testosterone. From petulant to downright creepy, Hayden Christensen’s Anakin is straight up unlikable. This also means that the already unconvincing and forced relationship with Padme is even more difficult to enjoy and I found myself willing the intimate sequences between the two to end so I could be relieved from the monotony. When we aren’t being subjected to Anakin, we also follow Obi-Wan as he tracks down the culprit for the assassination attempts on Padme. Thankfully, Ewan McGregor is far more likable as an actor and his plotline is infinitely more intriguing. He even manages to make a mullet look cool, but then when most of the characters sport tendrils instead of hair this is hardly surprising.
Among the supporting cast we see a more active role being played by characters established in the first film. This includes some welcome battle sequences with several Jedi, which are just downright cool. We also see some new villains established, including Darth Maul’s replacement as the Sith apprentice. Played by Christopher Lee, Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus is a formidable force who, when revealed, is established quickly as a huge threat to our protagonists. That said, Dooku does come across as somewhat one-dimensional despite being quite interesting under the surface.
Mirroring Maul’s untimely fate in the prequel, Dooku’s film interpretation leads me to my main problem with the prequels, and George Lucas in general. The ideas are competent enough but rarely fleshed out. Instead, they rely on the extensive universe of books, TV shows and graphic novels to make us more invested in the story and characters. This, is also shown by the character of Jango Fett. A skilled and deadly bounty hunter, Jango had a lot of potential as a recurring villain, yet he is struck down long before being given the attention he deserves.
All in all, this film works well at establishing events to come and sports a welcome CGI boost, along with some impressive action sequences. However it is weighed down by dull side-storylines, unlikable characters and far too much wasted potential.
Up next: Episode 3 Revenge of the Sith