The collective fever that characterized the countdown to The Phantom Menace had long since dissipated by the time the first sequel prequel rolled off the ILM production line. Casual spectators, once stung, had decamped en masse to the newly discovered Middle-Earth, leaving George Lucas with just the few million hardcore fans - true believers who, with all the apprehension of parents at a nativity play, willed their defrocked hero back towards respectability. There are certainly stretches in the patchy Attack Of The Clones when Lucas’ flat-packed dialogue struggles to keep the hecklers quiet – Anakin’s seduction of the former Queen has all the charm of a teenage lunge behind the bike-sheds and none of the feeling – but by the time climactic ‘reel six’ cranks into high gear the saga’s reputation as the godfather of modern sci-fi spectacle is more or less restored. Indeed, when Yoda finally unsheathes his mini-saber and kicks Sith ass the faithful can reliably be found standing on seats hollering as if the outcome was never in doubt. But, as the little Jedi might say, in doubt it was. Where Episode V fairly zipped around the galaxy with all the breezy confidence of youth, unafraid to travel anywhere, even dark places, the second middle child of the saga is saddled with an altogether heavier burden from which it struggles to escape. Empire hits the ground running on ice planet Hoth, Clones however, has a truly cold start to contend with, aware perhaps that the movie’s most pressing task is to simply atone for the more egregious sins of Episode I. Thus, Jar Jar is quickly sidelined, the upgraded CGI Yoda gets a showcase and those damn Amidala-clones are killed off on page one. On Coruscant we also meet the grown-up ‘Ani’ - okay so he’s a whiny teenager but that’s still a vast improvement on the bowl-haired moppet the world was asked to root for in 1999. Also more powerful than when last we met is Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan, the Jedi who was simply wan in Menace is a much more forceful presence as a full-bearded Master, struggling manfully with the endless exposition and even landing the odd punchline. As with Empire, the protagonists are separated for the second act: while Obi-Wan is busy uncovering the conspiracy of the Clones, Anakin and Padme turn into colourless clones of Han and Leia in the romance stakes. There are pleasures (Obi-Wan squares off against Jango Fett) and pitfalls (Anakin and Padme have a picnic) in roughly equal measure throughout this flabby middle act but as with Episode I mostly you get a sense of drama that is willed into being, a necessary bridge to Episode III that requires Lucas to traverse territory – romance, politics – he is simply not comfortable in. Matters improve greatly in the final forty minutes: Christopher Lee’s Count Dooku arrives to provide some much needed gravitas, C-3PO turns up to do his C-3PO thing and Padme puts on a skin-tight white leotard. Best of all, Lucas finally cuts loose. The classic trilogy bristled with seat-of-your-pants filmmaking, our heroes bouncing from cliffhanger to cliffhanger, and in the final section of Episode II – almost four hours into this prequel enterprise - Lucas at last cranks up to this Saturday morning serial pace: from the Tex Avery goofiness of the droid factory, to the Cecil B. De Mille grandeur of the gladiator arena, the action never lets up. Also in the last reel we finally get to divine something of Lucas’ grand design, with ironic pay-offs for the fans still paying close attention - it is the witless Jar Jar who makes the creation of a clone army possible and Yoda who first leads what will become Stormtroopers into battle. In its own way, the end of Episode II is every bit as dark as the famous end of Episode V. Unsurprisingly, the least anticipated movie of the saga suffered at the box office – Episode IV raked in more money at the US box office back in 1977 – and remains largely unloved by the fanbase for its emphasis on the central love story but despite no real improvement in dialogue or acting it functions perfectly well as an old fashioned romantic epic, complete with standalone set-pieces, rich political intrigue and a painters’ pallette. Indeed, so indebted is Lucas to David O. Selznick here, ultimately he may have been better served abandoning his own trilogy structure and boiling both Episodes I and II down to a 3-hour Gone With The Wind style classic – an approach that would have at least halved all that damn anticipation. Verdict - The middle episode that can make a virtue of its bridging role is rare indeed. And where The Empire Strikes Back dazzled with vertiginous cliffhangers, Clones is more typical of the breed, necessary but not vital. However, as we make the awkward journey through Anakin’s teenage trials a sparkling digital print ensures there is still much to marvel at, not least a little green fella who is surprisingly quick on the draw. 3/5 - Colin Kennedy, Empire Magazine
I'm not a diehard _Star Wars_ fan. I've seen all the movies, seen them all more than once even, and I have my opinions, but when I see the way people talk about _Star Wars_ online, I can't really find myself behaving the way that "true fans" or whathaveyou do. That being said, I think that the majority of the _Star Wars_ films have been pretty good. The notable exception to this, for me at least, is the prequels. And yes you can include the animated _Clone Wars_ movie that they made in that era too. These four movies, again, for me, are all bad. But even amongst them, there is still a ranking in my mind, and in that list, at the very bottom sits _Attack of the Clones_. Yes it is this movie which holds the title, of the very worst Star Wars theatrical release of all time. _Final rating:★½: - Boring/disappointing. Avoid where possible._
Better than <em>'Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace'</em>, though <em>'Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones'</em> is again rather underwhelming - if still good on its own merits. Liam Neeson is missed, with the likes of Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen and Christopher Lee failing to set the world alight. McGregor does give the best performance of that quartet; Christensen possibly the weakest, though his character's story is probably the most interesting - or its overall arc, at least. Those onscreen aren't helped by the dialogue, which is very basic and run-of-the-mill. I found the score a little forgettable, even if it's still fun to hear the key pieces of it. The plot is watchable, but I did expect greater storytelling from these two follow-up releases to the original trilogy. The CGI is, marginally, an improvement on this film's predecessor.
Manuel São Bento
MORE REVIEWS @ https://www.msbreviews.com/ Rewatching before OBI-WAN KENOBI. I don't know if I dislike THE PHANTOM MENACE more or ATTACK OF THE CLONES less, but I didn't feel the (endless) problems of episode II as much as I - Jar Jar being left aside helps tremendously, thank God. Still, the issues are so many that I can't fit them in a single paragraph. The dialogue is even worse in this one, mostly due to the cringeworthy romantic storyline between Anakin and Padmé. Some of the worst writing the big screen has ever witnessed. I'm usually quite defensive of acting performances, but Christensen is truly, deeply terrible here. There are more lightsaber fights, but none come even close to Maul's sequence in TPM. Once again, the overreliance on CGI elements/characters doesn't help the action set pieces, despite the visuals overall improvement. The score makes most scenes "look" better than they are. The screenplay is packed with logical inconsistencies, but it's the poor treatment of the all-powerful, wise Jedi that disappoints me. From their lack of awareness to the made-up, nonsensical rules about their ideology, I really don't know what Lucas had on his mind. Finally, the editing yet again. ATTACK OF THE CLONES is longer than it should. Captivating, important sequences are cut too short, while dull, exposition-heavy scenes are carried on for too long. There's a good movie in here somewhere. I just can't find it. However... Its positives somehow land better this time around. I find most of the action pretty solid. Anakin rescuing his mother is arguably one of the best scenes of the prequels. And again, less Jar Jar. I genuinely think it switches with THE PHANTOM MENACE ... at the bottom of my ranking, though. Rating: D+
Romance really does know how to suck the fizz out of an adventure film! Here, with the complicit contribution of John Williams' string accompaniment we have to endure the nauseating love story between Hayden Christensen ("Anakin") and Natalie Portman ("Padmé"). Couldn't they just have got a room? "Palpatine" has seen to it that Ewan McGregor ("Obi Wan") has now been charged with guiding his young pupil to fulfil his potential with the "Force" but without being elevated to the status of Jedi master, so he is naturally a tad narked about that. Luckily for us, though, he discovers that there is a secret army of clones ("Jango Fett" lookalikes dressed a lot like Stormtroopers and just as useless in a gun fight) and so with the help of "Yoda" et al, he rallies the Jedi order against the evil "Count Dooku" (Christopher Lee). Away from the slush, it's a good action fantasy and the last half hour redeems it somewhat. Worth watching if you like the series, but a very poor relation of it's older cousins.
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