The Citizen Kane of Awful: Star Wars – Attack of the Clones

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After the mediocrity of The Phantom Menace it’s time for the probable medicority of Attack of the Clones. Empire’s Chris Hewitt famously gave it five stars on release, a review that was later excised from their records (sorry Chris). Somehow I doubt I’ll be feeling the same way in two hours’ time…

In this episode, Anakin and Padmé fall in love and Darth Sidious’s evil plans creep ever further into sight. That’s about it. Yawn.

The Good

The foreshadowing

Cook those buns yourself Lei-I mean, Padmé?

Cook those buns yourself Lei-I mean, Padmé?

Obi-Wan to Anakin: “Why do I get the feeling you’ll be the death of me?”

I see what you did there.

Beyond the knowing lines like that there are plenty of fan-pleasing touches that take every opportunity to cash-in on the goodwill and mythology of the original trilogy. For example seeing the blueprints for the Death Star is a genuinely ominous moment, as is witnessing the Stormtroopers in their original incarnation as defenders of the Republic.

The assassin chase sequence

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After foiling an assassination attempt on Padmé, Anakin and Obi-Wan take to the skies in a thrilling pod chase. The Coruscant cityscape they hurtle through is cribbed straight from Blade Runner so obviously that it may as well have a Ridley Scott watermark, but the action is engaging and demonstrates the dynamic between the two Jedi far more clearly than their weak and formal arguments beforehand.

Count Dooku

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Christopher Lee is supremely duplicitous as the traitorous Sith lord, strutting around in his maroon cape like he’s on his way home from a failed Magneto audition. It’s a shame he gets so little screen-time to make an impression, but he still manages to be a dangerous and sinister enemy.

The battle of Geonosis

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This is the only time in the whole damn series this happens…and it’s beautiful. A battalion of Jedi Knights charging into battle, lightsabers at the ready. It’s a thrilling sight. More than anything it makes me hope that Episode VII is set in a world where the Jedi thrive and they are called to fight en masse.

The preceding sequence is strong too, with Obi-Wan, Anakin and Padmé proving strongest in gladiatorial combat to fight their way to freedom. And then that bad motherfucker Mace Windu rocks up with his purple lightsaber and all hell breaks loose.

Yoda

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The moment Yoda became more than just an ancient and syntactically-challenged green ball of wrinkles. The moment Yoda became cool. He drops the walking stick; he pulls out his lightsaber. He springs into battle, a whirling dervish of flips and spins and for a few brief moments he has the beating of Count Dooku. It’s a short fight, but it’s powerful – just like Yoda himself.

The Bad

Title Sequence

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“There is unrest in the Galactic Senate”.

No one cares.

“I guess I was wrong. I guess there’s no danger at all.”

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Padme’s pilot utters these immortal lines and half a second later her ship explodes. I mean you can see what they’re going for but it just fails miserably. Still, I laughed, so they win some brownie points in the sick and twisted game that is the Citizen Kane of Awful.

The dialogue

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“We will not exceed our mandate my young Padawan learner” Oh yeah Obi-Wan, talk dirty to me. I wonder if he knows how condescending he sounds when he tags “my young Padawan” onto the end of everything he says to Anakin. No wonder the kid’s such an angsty twat.

That line from Obi-Wan was incredibly dull but it’s nothing compared to this example of ‘flirting’ between Anakin and Padmé:

Padmé: “We used to lie out on the sand and let the sun dry us. And try to guess the names of the birds singing.”

Anakin: “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse, and rough, and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft. And smooth.”

Ladies and gentlemen you have just witnessed the worst chat-up line of the century.

Last of all, I don’t have space to give this line an individual section but it’s so brilliant/awful it almost deserves it. C3PO has been body-swapped with a droid and as he realises he’s being sent into battle he says: “There must be some kind of mistake. I’m programmed for etiquette not destruction!”

Anakin

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God, Anakin is such a whiny little brat. Going on about how Obi-Wan won’t treat him like an adult, while he swans around behaving like an overgrown child. Connect the dots, Sherlock. And his relationship with Padmé is just disturbing. They last met when he was 11 and now they’re starting a romance? I say they’re starting a romance, but really Anakin is just stalking her. Frankly I question her judgment more than anything. I mean he uses the above sand-based chat-up line then pulls the above creepy smirk and seconds later she kisses him? What are you thinking woman? You’ve been in Naboo for about half an hour. Are you that bored already?

A few minutes later Anakin literally advocates a dictatorship as the best form of government – those words actually leave his mouth – and somehow that doesn’t set the alarm bells ringing? Padme’s beyond help. The two of them are perfect for each other.

The Awful

Jar Jar Binks

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I’m sorry to keep ragging on Jar Jar – it’s not his fault after all – but every time he opens his mouth I wince. His presence is made even more ridiculous compared to The Phantom Menace by the fact he’s now a senator in the Republic. A SENATOR. It’s like filling the House of Lords with Pokémon.

Conclusion

Star Rating: 3/5

Kane Rating: 2/5

Attack of the Clones is marginally better than The Phantom Menace, but not enough to earn it four stars. There are some strong sequences showing that Lucas is still a dab hand at sci-fi action if nothing else, but he really isn’t up to telling the complex story he’s aiming for. Hayden Christensen is woefully unconvincing as Anakin and Ewan McGregor doesn’t help matters much as the deathly formal Obi-Wan, hamstrung by the dire catchphrases tagged onto the end of every line. At the very least, Attack of the Clones is more entertainingly awful with some of its dialogue, earning it a few stars on my Kane rating.

 

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