Tuesday, October 16, 2012

If You Padme Amidala, I'll Pad Yours: "Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones" (2002)



George Lucas returns, ready to milk more money from a frothing science fiction cult that still takes his lousy writing like the sadomasochists we have become.

My plot summary will be spotty, since the politics here are more complicated than "All the President's Men." On her way to an important senate vote, someone tries to kill cutie Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman). Protection is called in in the form of wiser Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and brooding hunky Annakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen). After another attempt, and a fantastic chase scene in flying vehicles, Obi-Wan investigates whomever is behind the assassination plots as Annakin takes Padme to her home planet to hide out. Meanwhile, Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) sit around in lotus positions and wring their respective appendages as civil war appears imminent in the galaxy.

Obi-Wan traces his investigations to a far off planet, where he finds a bounty hunter named Jengo Fett and a massive army of his clones, all created for the use of the good guys...I think. Obi and Fett fight, in another impressive battle on the watery planet. In the meantime, Padme and Annakin are making like Lady and the Tramp, full of goo-goo eyes and light petting. Annakin goes searching for his mother, finds her dying, and goes berserk, killing all of those responsible for her kidnapping, men, women, and children (off screen).

Obi-Wan is captured by the evil minions run by Dooku (Christopher Lee), our villain for the film. Padme and Annakin try a rescue, are captured after getting trapped in a massive droid factory, and the reunited trio must fight off assorted execution monsters. As Yoda, Mace, and all those clones come in to save the day, the final half hour is a dazzling display of technical marvel, readying us for the next film.

After sitting through "Episode I," this film was the first installment of "Star Wars" I chose not to see in the theaters. The scenes with Ewan McGregor crack and pop with tension, he does a fantastic Alec Guinness impression without slowing down physically. Christensen and Portman are both young, smart, and good looking performers who are given stilted dialogue to try and work with. Their scenes are the silliest love scenes since Ben and Liv in "Armageddon." The normally superb Samuel L. Jackson is as stiff as his costume.

The blame must fall squarely on the shoulders of Master Lucas. His actors seem so overwhelmed to be in a "Star Wars" film that they treat their lines with a reverence that sucks all the fun out of it. Lucas tries to hit on so many plot points and ideas, he spreads himself too thin. The first three films in the series were great fun, but these prequels are not working! Why didn't George go the "The Godfather Part II" route and move his story forward while showing us what happened to get us there in the first place? The fact that we know Annakin is going to turn into Darth Vader takes the solar winds out of his sails, and he tries to cover by dazzling us with pretty lights and shiny objects.

I remember the hoopla that sprung up with each release of the first three films. It was good guys versus bad guys, and we loved the good guys. In the new films, our brains are overrun with hints of those films, and I, for one, miss them.

The special effects are brilliant, McGregor is excellent, but watching this film is like reading the recipe for a cake you just ate- there is no point to it, you have already consumed the payoff. I am disappointed with "Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones." (* *) out of five stars. Watch this movie now!: Star Wars: Attack of the Clones