Attack of the Clones is a Star Wars movie I watched a lot of as a kid. Being a young kid when it was released, I would watch and re-watch it all the time. However, I now realize I would only watch the last forty-five minutes, as that was when the action started. Everything else was such a melodramatic mess that even six-year old me didn’t like it.
While Attack of the Clones is a very pretty movie, with some great special effects and CGI that still looks good today, the story is pretty much a mess. I think most of the hate directed towards George Lucas stems from this movie, and there’s kind of a good reason for that.
You see, it was necessary to develop Anakin as a conflicted character, one who struggles between his oath to the Jedi Order and his deep-rooted connections to friends and family. But, for some reason, Lucas decided to portray all of this through his really weird romance with Padme Amidala (who’s like, seven years older than he is).
This wouldn’t have been a problem if there was more to the first three-quarters of the movie, but there really isn’t. While Obi-Wan’s mission to track down the origin of a saberdart, which leads him to meet Jango Fett and his cloned son Boba Fett, is really fun and often exciting, it’s a side-plot that comes second to the romance between Anakin and Padme.
It’s also true that maybe the romance would be more interesting if the two actors, Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman, were better actors, but that’s not the case. While they’re not horrible, the dialogue itself is so melodramatically sentimental that even a good actor wouldn’t be able to say them without some eye-rolling involved.
Thankfully, however, everything else about this movie is much, much better than the forced romance. Ewan McGregor is still great as Obi-Wan, and adds a lot to the movie. His character is interesting and three-dimensional, and he delivers his lines really well, especially considering the infamy of Lucas’ dialogue.
And while most of the film’s first half is heavy-handed exposition on Anakin and his past, with a few exceptions, the second half picks up the pace considerably and gets a lot more enjoyable. Once the heroes reach the bug-ridden planet Geonosis, and the suspense and action comes into play, Attack of the Clones becomes a much more entertaining movie.
Attack of the Clones also introduces some new and memorable characters into the Star Wars canon. Chief among them is Count Dooku, played by Christopher Lee (who looks like he’s having a blast). Dooku is a conniving villain whose delightfully sarcastic dialogue and underlying aggression makes him a welcome addition to the franchise.
Similarly, another notable introduction here is Jango Fett, the father of famed bounty hunter Boba Fett. Wearing shiny, blue Mandalorian armor, he’s in some ways even more formidable than his son as he actually gets the chance to fly around with his jet pack and cause some mayhem. While definitely not as iconic as Boba, he’s an exciting addition to the movie, and his confrontation with Obi-Wan is especially great.
Once the film reaches its climax, and all the characters come together for one absolutely epic battle, Attack of the Clones very nearly makes you forget about the hour and a half of melodramatic romance you just watched. Taking place in a battle arena, similar to a Roman Coliseum, the film’s final act is a nerd fest for Star Wars fans. There’s nothing quite like seeing dozens of Jedi on screen at once, simultaneously taking on battle droids and ferocious beasts without breaking a sweat.
It’s in this scene that the movie really shines, as it’s an awesome combination of the film’s special effects and impressive fight choreography. With the exception of an out-of-place side-plot by C3PO, this entire set-piece is oozing with presentation greatness, and it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement.
And if that wasn’t enough, the moment the battle arena scenario ends, we’re thrust into a second climax consisting of an intense duel between Obi-Wan, Anakin and the scheming Count.
Once again the choreography of the lightsaber fights makes itself known, as this particular confrontation is fast-paced and exciting, almost making Anakin cool in the process. However, as fun as that duel is, the one that comes after is so magnificently great, that it makes every other duel in the movie look like child’s play.
Part fan service, part sheer adrenaline, the showdown between Yoda and Dooku is, simply said, stupendous. For anyone who has ever wanted to see what the little green Jedi from Dagobah could really do, I suggest you look no further than this single scene.
When you take everything into account, Attack of the Clones comes off as having a case of identity disorder. It’s first half is a eye-rolling, groan worthy love fest that even six-year old me knew was stale. But then the second half, in all it’s exciting action, almost makes you forget that you just spent eighty-minutes watching two people make heart eyes at each other.
I don’t hate this movie, not all of it anyway, but it is without a doubt my least favorite entry of the Star Wars Saga. It has its moments, but there’s not enough of them to really justify a high score. Thankfully, Episode III makes up for most of its mistakes.