Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones
Finally... the whiny, petulant Jedi we've always wanted! There's a lot of things wrong with this new installment of George Lucas's ongoing attempt to become the richest man in the world (and remember, I even liked Episode I
!). Foremost among these faults is the characterizations, or lack thereof. Lucas has never been a very good writer (or, for that matter, a very good director of actors), but here he short-circuits almost completely. Everyone has exactly one personality trait to play off (Anakin's frustrated, Obi-Wan's concerned, Mace Windu's grave, Padme's dull, etc.) and, apart from Ewan Macgregor, who still does a marvelous impersonation of Alec Guinness, no one in the cast is given the opportunity to break free of their one-dimensional constructs. The dialogue, too, is particularly tin-eared this time 'round, even by Lucas's rather generous standards -- I chuckled rather openly on several occasions, and I wasn't alone. These two shortcomings converge in what will go down in blockbuster history as one of the most simperingly inane "love" subplots ever recorded. A word of advice: Whenever Padme and Anakin appear onscreen alone, grit your teeth and resist the urge to hurl your large Coke at the screen, no matter how actively painful you may find the craptacular proceedings. The ushers don't much care for that sort of thing. To be fair, there are a couple nice instances of foreshadowing. But even there, Lucas falters -- for every effective moment (say, the introduction of a young couple who will grow up to be Luke's aunt and uncle), there's one that falls to earth with a thud. Especially bothersome to me was a last-minute parallel to The Empire Strikes Back
that smacked of absolute desperation. And as for R2's-heretofore-unknown little trick he shows off here... I call bullshit.
But it's not all shit in a handbag, people -- Lucas can still direct an action scene, and the last 45 minutes of this movie damn near make up for the junk that precedes it. It's got cool-looking nasty sharp-pointy-teeth things, it's got blood, it's got Samuel L. Jackson in full-on badass mode, it's got Christopher Lee being evil-Jedi-dude effective, it's got near-death escapes and explosions and light sabers and C-3PO mincing around... AND, of course, it's got everybody's favorite little green guy Yoda showing us all exactly why he's regarded as an exceptional Jedi in the first place. That last bit there is pretty much worth a matinee ticket all on its lonesome. Paying more than a matinee, though, would be a sucker's bet -- the film still kinda sucks, even if the Backwards-Talking-Man suddenly opens up a large can of whupass. If you do see it (which you probably will or already have), watch for the moment about an hour in where Padme and Anakin are running up a grassy hill, and see if you're not compelled to sing out loud, "The hiiiiiills are alive, with the soooooooound of muuuuuuuuusic...."