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Alive 5


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 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
from mediocrity.

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.

Jar Jar Binks pilots the controls of the first ship.

"Meesa gotta important message for Senator Amidala."

Jango  Fett pilots the second ship.  He positions Jar Jar's ship in his
targeting sights and fires.

The blast hits Jar Jar's ship. A fire starts.

"Meesa melting!"
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 
can't refuse."

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!

Alive 5