Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones is not much of anything the more we sit through it and dig at its soul. It’s the middle slot of a trilogy, tying two ends together through what George Lucas hopes is a dramatically superior connector. I tell you, it is not. Attack Of The Clones contains romance that’s about as romantic as talking about football on your anniversary night. It is overloaded with visual effects to the point of embarrassment (you know something’s wrong when C3PO, the franchise’s most humanoid robot, has to be animated by computers to be funny). It is clunky in its storytelling and utterly perplexing in its plot, which deals with Republics and Separatists and fallen Jedi and two sets of armies that do battle in a desert. If you can confidently tell me exactly what this movie is about, without doing your homework, I will bestow upon you the rank of Jedi Master. May that mean to you what it will.
I am convinced Attack Of The Clones was conceived as a marketing tool for the Jedi and the company that manufactures lightsabers. I see lightsabers as novelty items, given only to those worthy enough to wield one. The young Anakin Skywalker knew what a lightsaber was in The Phantom Menace (1999), but Qui-Gon was not about to let him run to his neighbour’s house with it.
In Attack Of The Clones, there are probably a hundred lightsabers whizzing and whirring around. It becomes much of a muchness. Red ones. Green ones. Blue ones. There’s even a purple one (doesn’t the colour purple come with a stigma when attached to men? No matter. I like the colour). All these bright colours are put on display in the movie’s climactic battle, which, by the time it arrives, swallows itself in its scenery. I didn’t know who was fighting whom, or why.
I might have been excited at the prospect of seeing so many Jedi in one place back in 2002 when Attack Of The Clones premiered and I was no older than 14. I also remember pumping myself up for Yoda’s much anticipated sparring duel with Count Dooku, whose name, till this day, sounds like a bad joke. But none of this has aged well over the years. The Jedi overcrowd, and Yoda’s fight seems shorter and shorter the more times I see it. It’s like that age-old illusion where the return journey always appears to be quicker than the departure.
And then, someone save me, there is the blossom of love between the now teenage Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and the once queen Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman). We know this love has to be fulfilled. It is written in the stars by Lucas. But does it have to be fulfilled over meaningless table conversations about “aggressive negotiations” and tumbles in the fields where Anakin feigns death only to worry a fragile Padmé? Why has Lucas forsaken their humanity?
Christensen doesn’t help his cause by playing Anakin as a snivelling crybaby who might have gotten further in his career as a guardian of the universe if he had just understood the concept of patience. But he must become Darth Vader, I hear you argue. Ah yes, but I don’t recall Vader whining when the Millennium Falcon warp sped out of his clutches. For this matter, Obi-Wan Kenobi, played again by Ewan McGregor, is the movie’s most patient character. I wonder if at any point he wishes he had never made that promise to Qui-Gon.
Attack Of The Clones is, at the end of the day, a rather dull affair. There is very little to chew on. Yes, maybe the battle scenes with all the Jedi, but for how long can one chew on that before realising one doesn’t eat Jedi?
Lucas continues where The Phantom Menace left off by endorsing Industrial Light & Magic with technological prowess. There are great sights and kinetic action sequences. There are a bunch of new alien races to relish, the best being a race of cloners who look like the squiggly wax bubbles in your lava lamp. Credit must go to all the actors who have to act next to nothing and look happy, surprised, angry, disheartened, because it’s no secret that whenever Lucas can save on physical cost by making something virtual, physical cost will be saved. And that’s the creative plan for all mega blockbusters in this digital age of ours.
Best Moment | Anakin fighting Dooku with two lightsabers. Swordsmanship and ballet rolled nicely into one.
Worst Moment | Every other scene with Anakin, especially all the ones he shares with Padmé.