George Lucas is back with the second installment of his prequel trilogy and it’s not getting any better than the first. “Attack of the Clones” is set 10 years after “Phantom Menace” and brings back mostly the same cast, with the notable exception of Hayden Christiansen replacing Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker.
When the film is shot on location, it’s a beautiful landscape that serves as a nice backdrop for the story. But, when the scenes are shot in a studio to be replaced with CGI, it’s noticeable. The special effects are not holding up well 18 years after its initial release. While some scenes have to be shot in front of a screen, Lucas is becoming overly reliant on the use of special effects in this film. More on-location shooting would’ve served this movie well.
Despite the reliance on special effects, we’ve long heard of Yoda’s prowess as a swordsman and I believe Lucas nails that part of the scene. Yoda busting out the lightsaber for the battle with Count Dooku is a standout moment in the film and one instance where the special effects hold up. The problem in this scene is that it’s quite obvious the stunt double for Count Dooku is not legendary actor Christopher Lee. He was in his 80s when this movie was filmed and clearly wasn’t able to take part in a sword fight, but some more creative shots that didn’t reveal the stunt double would’ve served the movie better.
A lot is said about the dialogue in George Lucas films, but one character that he writes well in the prequels is Obi-Wan Kenobi. The quick wit of the Jedi Knight is on full display in this film and it leads to some amazing one-liners that led to outright laughter in theaters and still get me to smile years later. Ewan McGregor is an excellent actor and plays Obi-Wan incredibly well.
Despite some feel-good moments and one character being served well by the script, there are some immense flaws to this prequel. Firstly, there is no romantic chemistry between Padme and Anakin. I found it more believable that Natalie Portman would marry Jake Lloyd when he grew up than I did she would marry Hayden Christiansen. They were never on the same page and her skills as an actor clearly outshine his in this film.
While the script may have served Obi-Wan well, it failed almost everyone else. Hayden Christiansen may not be lighting the world on fire in this film, but even if he were, dialogue like the “I hate sand” speech and his angry admission to killing an entire village of Tusken Raiders can not be made to sound good. They are poorly written and there’s no way around it.
When the prequel trilogy was announced, many hoped this middle piece would serve a similar purpose as “Empire Strikes Back” where there’s so much plot development it steers the trilogy toward a logical and wonderful conclusion. After the disappointment of “Phantom Menace,” those expectations were adjusted with most hoping this film would be an improvement. Some may see it as better, but I don’t. This is the weakest link of the prequel trilogy, in my opinion, and is in the running for the worst of the “Star Wars” movies.
Ranking: 1 star out of 5
Have you seen the prequel trilogy? What did you think of “Attack of the Clones?”