STAR WARS 2
ATTACK OF THE
A couple of other viewpoints.
As a major movie event for 2002, the second Star Wars episode, 'Attack of
the Clones' attracted a lot of interest, and some interesting viewpoints. I
thought I might like to share a couple of these with you, in addition to the
piece that I already did for this issue of Alive!
CiH- May '02
As a service to the general public and at great personal sacrifice, two of
your trusty Movies.com editors attended a Tuesday screening of Star Wars
Episode II Attack of the Clones.
Uncharacteristically, they found themselves in heated disagreement about the
quality of the film. Here, then, are their opinions. (Note: The likelihood
of potential spoilers below is high, so if you want to keep your mind
unsullied by foreknowledge of absolutely every plot point, read no further.)
George Lucas Comes Back From the Dark Side
By Mike Standish
After subjecting us to The Phantom Menace and trampling over the childhood
memories of millions, George Lucas delivers 142 minutes of Clones, a good
90 minutes of which are a return to what got us to love Star Wars in the
first place. Let's first acknowledge, though, the 52 minutes of bad romantic
dialog and forced exposition you'll have to sit through to get to the good
stuff. There are wince-inducing moments throughout. If you've seen the
"Forbidden Love" teaser, you know what I'm talking about. Lines like "So
have you grown more beautiful, I mean" tumble embarrassingly out of Hayden
Christensen's mouth and inspire unintentional laughter. Whereas Obi-Wan,
whom Ewan McGregor fleshes out wonderfully, spends an inordinate amount of
time investigating and relaying plot points to the clueless Jedi. Only when
the script gives McGregor juicy stuff like a one-liner that references Obi-
Wan's future fate are you reminded of the snappy humor that made the
original films so fun. You worry, at least initially, that all of Clones
will be disappointing, awkward, and boring. But it's not.
For starters, Christensen, though he will be disparaged for his love scenes
and trademark Skywalker whining, can act. Quite well, in fact. The thrust of
Clones traces the slow revelation of Anakin's anger and jealousy, and both
the script and Christensen handle this skillfully. The real impact of a
prequel is in foreshadowing, and it's satisfying to see hints of what lies
ahead for the major characters.
Another thing missing from Menace that Clones has in spades is big, exciting
action scenes. You don't just get a pod race, you get a thrilling, high
speed chase though a beautifully rendered cityscape (there's enough eye
candy to justify 100 repeated viewings). You don't just get one fight with
Darth Maul, you get a power struggle between three badass Jedi. You don't
ust get a bunch of lame droids undone by dunderheaded Gungans, you get a
full-scale war that actually looks believable due to CGI that's far superior
to anything in Menace. To top it off, well, let's just say that nobody in
his or her right mind would ever mess with Yoda. He's worth the price of
admission all by himself.
Attack of the Yawns
By Patrick Enright
Boy, George Lucas knows savvy marketing and cross-promotion, the experience
of watching Episode II is like sitting through one made-for-PlayStation
scene after another. Ooo, a spaceship chase! Ooo, a wild run through a robot
factory! Ooo, a heated Lightsaber battle! Ooo, Hayden Christensen drooling
over a leather-clad Natalie Portman!
In truth, the video-game-esque quality of Clones isn't really the problem;
the action scenes are where the movie actually comes somewhat alive. But the
abundance of CGI you'd be hard-pressed to find more than a few scenes
without some sort of computer effect) certainly distracts.
What really bogs the film down and makes it only marginally bearable (though
it's still a vast improvement over the cutesy, nausea-inducing Episode I) is
he poorly handled love story between Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen)
and Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman). The dialog Lucas and Jonathan Hales
have come up with is so stilted, so hackneyed, so ludicrously horrible ("I
die a little bit each day," Padme tells Anakin), that you don't know what to
cringe at more: Christensen's alternately wooden and petulant delivery or
the words he's saying. And that's another thing: Hayden Christensen can't
act. Take Luke Skywalker's whining and add a vaguely lascivious post-
adolescent sneer that's supposed to evoke a sense of evil, and you've got
his MO. This snooty, sullen teen becomes the ominous, imposing Darth Vader?
Uh-huh. And Jar-Jar deserves a Oscar.
Yeah, the battle scenes are kind of neat. Yeah, Ewan MacGregor's pretty
good. Yeah, Natalie Portman is fine. Yeah, the fight scene with Yoda that
you've heard so much about is entertaining (though it calls to mind an
athletic Keebler elf on speed). But that's just not enough to save Clones
You might not actually fall asleep (the noise and commotion on-screen deter
that), but you'll likely have to stifle more than a few yawns.
Star Wars Episode II:
Attack of the Clones :
Mr. Cranky Rates the Movies :
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
When was the last time anyone said "no" to George Lucas?
I can dream:
A small, unobtrusive ship speeds across the screen, followed by
another, more menacing ship, which fires on the first ship, missing.
INT. JAR JAR BINKS SHIP
Jar Jar Binks pilots the controls of the first ship.
"Meesa gotta important message for Senator Amidala."
INT. JANGO FETT SHIP
Jango Fett pilots the second ship. He positions Jar Jar's ship in his
targeting sights and fires.
INT. JAR JAR BINKS SHIP
The blast hits Jar Jar's ship. A fire starts.
In a fit of special effects wizardry, Jar Jar begins to melt, revealing
his skeleton and his organs, which explode as they heat up.
Jar Jar's ship explodes. Jango Fett's ship flies off.
(Writer's note: no further mention of Jar Jar or what happened to him
will be mentioned at any time in the script. Characters will happily
continue on as if Jar Jar never existed.)
I read in the Time magazine advertorial for this movie that it came as
a complete surprise to George Lucas that theatergoers found Jar Jar
Binks to be the most annoying thing since fiberglass enemas. Exactly
how often does Lucas venture beyond the borders of Skywalker Ranch? And
when was the last time anyone said "no" to George Lucas? 1976? A good
creative process necessarily involves some creative tension, a give-
and-take between creative forces -- writers, editors, designers,
directors, what have you -- to weed out the good ideas from the bad.
But backed by a self-perpetuating firestorm of biannual guaranteed
grosses, Lucas has been able to build himself a creative empire free
from such rebellious annoyances as "input" or "audience reaction."
Although to his credit, it did take him a mere 25 years to get around
to installing females among the ranks of the Jedi.
Like "The Phantom Menace," "Attack of the Clones" reeks of a Lucas
script that George kept under wraps because he didn't want any of it
exposed to criticism. Lucas reminds me of the conceited elementary
school kid who doesn't want anybody to read his poetry. When the
mysterious words are finally dragged into the light, breathless
anticipation turns into peals of laughter, then uncontrollable
vomiting. Unfortunately, nobody wants to tell George that his skills as
a screenwriter rival Anna Nicole Smith's.
Fortunately, the satisfaction of seeing a "Star Wars" movie (even a bad
one) in advance tends to mitigate the pain. You stroll by pathetic
losers who've been camped out since Christmas, wave your secret pass,
and laugh a villainous laugh. They look worried, but don't quite know
why until you emerge from the theater and saunter their way, casually
relaying such tidbits as "Yoda dies" or "Amidala's a man."
The Harlequin-rejected love story is enough to make any hard-core
romance fan start skewering kittens with knitting needles. Anakin
Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) spends much of the movie rubbing himself
and lustfully glowering at Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman),
then throwing tantrums when she views this approach as less than
romantic. Eventually, however, she wears down, apparently finding
pheromonal bliss in his incessant bitching and whining.
Natalie Portman plays her half of this love connection like a lithium
patient who's wandered onto the set of "Elimidate." Such mastery of the
art of staring straight ahead hasn't been seen since Cindy Crawford in
"Fair Game." Hayden Christensen isn't much better. The only reason you
know these characters aren't computer-generated is that they don't have
the expressiveness or range Lucas affords his digital creations.
By now, everybody in the world knows that Yoda kicks ass in this film
and that he's more of a badass than the rest of the sorry Jedi,
including Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson), put together. You just know
the little green guy is hung like a bull, which sheds some light on
what inspired the design for the first light saber.
Let's face it: Everyone with a brain knows what's going to happen in
the next episode. Senator Amidala is going to have twins and then she's
going to be killed. She can't be killed by any of the Sith because then
Anakin wouldn't really be compelled to join them. She's going to be
killed in some freak accident and then Anakin is going to brood for a
really long time until he feels like becoming Darth Vader. Since
Episode III will be the last chance to avoid classifying the entire
trilogy as a colossal waste of time, it's time for somebody with more
talent than Lucas to take the helm. Lucas can continue working on the
special effects. Considering this, Mr. Cranky has taken it upon himself
to solicit the input of today's top directors. Here's how they replied
to the question of how they'd wrap up the series:
Christopher Nolan:"The third film would start right after Anakin has
become Darth Vader. However, he will have no memory of how he became
Vader. He'll have some neat 3-D images of Obi-Wan and Amidala, but
won't remember who they are. Gradually, as he begins conducting the war
to wipe out the Republic, his memory will slowly come back to him. In
this way will we learn how he became Vader, but by the time he
remembers everything, he will already be a prisoner of the Dark Side."
Francis Ford Coppola:"The third film will not focus on Anakin at all,
but on the family history of the Sith lords. We follow their entire
history as they've emigrated across the galaxy from one planet to
another. At the very end, Darth Sidious simply makes Anakin an offer he
Bryan Singer:"Who is Darth Sidious? Anakin will become incredibly
absorbed in this question as the film goes along. After Amidala is
murdered, clues point to Senator Palpatine's complicity. The Jedi
assign Anakin to investigate. Since Palpatine is old and feeble and has
developed a limp, Anakin never suspects him, but becomes enthralled
with Palpatine's stories of the notorious Darth Sidious. Anakin's
curiosity turns him to the Dark Side as Senator Palpatine limps off and
we realize that he's Darth Sidious."
David Fincher:"The Sith lords will hatch an evil plan. When Anakin is
out conducting one of his Jedi missions, they will kidnap Senator
Amidala and decapitate her. Darth Sidious will then turn himself over
to Obi-Wan and Anakin, but demand to be taken to the mysterious planet
of Gonchar. When they arrive, the three Jedi will take a land speeder
to a remote section of the planet where supposedly nobody has ever
been. There will be a box sitting there. Anakin will ask over and over
again: 'What's in the box?' Anakin will open the box, find Amidala's
head, then kill Darth Sidious. His hatred will then turn him into
Ron Howard:"The Jedi will take Anakin to a doctor at the very
beginning of the film after one of Anakin's many bouts of aggressive
and disobedient behavior. The doctor will diagnose him with a strange
Jedi form of schizophrenia. Though the Jedi will try to help him
throughout the film, Anakin will gradually lose his battle with the
disease. Thus, the film will end with Anakin believing that he is the
evil, all-powerful ruler of the entire galaxy. If this doesn't win the
Best Picture Oscar, then it damn well should."
Michael Bay: (Editor's note: No official request was made of Michael
Bay, but his agent got a hold of us, and cut us a check so that we'd
include him among this list of directors and suggest that he makes
great films.) The Jedi will group together and walk in slow motion
toward the Sith lords, who will walk in slow motion toward the Jedi.
There will be a big fight followed by several huge explosions. It will
all be accompanied by really loud music.
Kevin Smith:"At the beginning of the film, Obi-Wan is kidnapped by the
Sith lords. Anakin, dejected because he thinks his mentor is dead,
takes to hanging out in front of a local galactic Quick Stop, where he
meets two other banished Jedi masters, Jay and Silent Bob. Jay
convinces Anakin that he should threaten to join the dark side unless
Amidala allows him to have intercourse with her in 'an uncomfortable
place.' She doesn't and he becomes Darth Vader, ass pirate."
David Lynch:"After Amidala has the twins, Anakin will quit the Jedi
and devote himself to domestic chores. While he is cleaning the
kitchen, Anakin will have a dream about a midget who talks backwards
and tells him that he should kill his wife and take over the galaxy and
call himself Wally the Slug, King Cheese, or Darth Vader. After a scene
featuring Anakin and Amidala running butt naked through a Gungun forest
(including full frontal nudity), he kills her and chooses the name King
Cheese, but is told by his master that "King Cheese" will get him
laughed out of the Sith lords' Thursday poker night.
And here's an end to it!