Thursday, August 24, 2006

STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)

Ewan McGregor Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones Directed by George Lucas
Starring Ewan McGregor
Reviewed by Chad Wilson


THUMBS UP (4 out of 5 Rating)!
THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING (4 out of 5 Rating)!

If one hasn’t heard about the new Star Wars film, it’s certain all the cliches have been encountered. The movie Episode One should have been. Classic Star Wars returns. Lucas gets it right. While more than a few cliches might be well deserved, there’s no denying Star Wars Episode Two: Attack of the Clones escapes grim expectations...with style!

It’s now 10 years after the events in The Phantom Menace. Young Anakin Skywalker (played by Canadian actor Hayden Christensen) has grown into a powerful, young Jedi under the watchful eye of mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). The two continue their adventures in a new era of galactic unrest as thousands of star systems begin to secede from the once great Old Republic. Determined to stop the seperatists, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) sends now-Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) to aid the troubled Republic under the protection of the two Jedi Knights. What follows is a story of intrigue and epic scope as the Old Republic continues on a path towards certain collapse.

If good advice could be given about how to review Star Wars AOTC, it is this: be prepared to learn the difference between an honest review and critics with a chip on their alien protruberences. Without a doubt, Clones is an excellent Star Wars adventure. All the elements that made the original films enjoyable come to life in Episode II, complete with some tummy-pleasing humor, well composed special effects, and some true surprises. Those disappointed by the first prequel need not worry about Clones. A much more engaging, entertaining piece of space opera awaits the hungry film fan.

Acting in Clones gets a good boost over the last prequel. While lacking award material, the performances are noticably refined. McGregor truly shines as Ben Kenobi, thanks to much greater character depth and many memorable lines. Most surprising is Hayden Christensen’s performance as the Vader-to-be Anakin Skywalker. So perfect is Christensen’s combination of spoiled youth, hot temper, and pathetic confusion, it’s hard to say whether the actor is really that good or just happened to land the right role at the right time. Regardless, Christensen’s role is done so well it’s a guilty pleasure to watch young Anakin decend into darkness.

Ian McDiarmid continues to scheme and plot as the evil Darth Sidious/Chancellor Palpatine while Natalie Portman plays well the role of troubled Senator. The love story between Anakin and Padme never really takes off onscreen, but the awkwardness works for the pair rather than against. Other jewels in the cast appears from actor Temuera Morrison as the cunning bounty hunter Jango Fett and Christopher Lee of Lord of the Rings fame as the fallen Jedi Count Dooku. Unlike the miniscule role given to fan favorite Boba Fett in the original trilogy, Jango Fett appears in the film often and with style. Some of the most memorable scenes surround the armor-clad mercenary. Meanwhile, Lee’s grim Jedi Dooku fills the role of the dark, villian with a renaissance style. Like a seasoned sword-fighter, he proves a match for Ben and Anakin and holds up well when compared to more flashier Star Wars villians like Darth Maul.

Probably most amazing of Clones appeal is the director’s concentration on detail. In addition to the fantastic effects and vivid sci-fi set work, Lucas plays off the audience’s foreknowledge of what is to come in the saga. The results are incredibly entertaining and a welcome sight compared to the often weak, uninspired humor in The Phantom Menace. Effects scenes are also clearer and better composed, trading dull volume for interesting detail. The impressive costumes truly enhance the setting, helping throw the audience deeper into the Star Wars universe From robot war machines to flashy starships, the effects are always on top in this sleek adventure. A hit with fans is sure to be jedi master Yoda, who shows what a true master of the force can accomplish in the film’s finale.

Where Clones loses grip on its lightsaber is no surprise. George Lucas has never directed a Star Wars feature with the best performances available. However, he obviously learned from previous mistakes and served up a fun film in the process. Again, the special effects can at times appear overwhelming, yet can only add to veiwer delight upon repeat veiwings. The story remains intersting and focused, yet doesn’t always keep the audience on a high. In particular, the first third of the film can feel slow. Lastly, not all the humor works for the film, but luckily it avoids hurting the picture when failing to provoke a hearty laugh.

Star War Episodes II: Attack of the Clones may suffer from a few weaknesses, but it’s fortunately confined to it’s title and little of anything else. While the film is unlikely to dethrone
The Empire Strikes Back as the generally accepted king of the Star Wars films, it gives a galant effort worthy of the saga’s best. Afficinados of the series will be thrilled with Clones and movie fans looking for a fun, sci-fi adventure with some backbone are sure to enjoy this latest Lucas creation.

Good Star Wars is always a great treat to see on the big screen.


Click here for the Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones movie trailer!

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