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Crossing Cultural Boundaries - Star Wars II - Attack of the Clones : Questions relating to Audience Response and Audience Participation

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Before waffling on: Examples of good sci-fi film making to put in contrast to the horrible Star Wars prequels.


Star Wars II - Attack of the Clones : Questions relating to Audience Response and Audience Participation - culture based responses could differ?

(based on session: 8:45pm Monday 20th May 2002 at London Odean, Tottenham Court Road, Bloomsbury, London, England, UK (described as London session "a"). Followed by a 6:15pm Monday 27th May 2002 session at Rivercenter 9, San Antonio, Texas, USA; followed by a 7:20pm Thursday 13th June 2002 session at Boston Common 7, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Feedback from a possibly trusted source in Atlanta, Georgia, USA allowed for the Atlanta addition (two-thirds full AMC Phipps Plaza at 7.00 pm on June 9th). A highly trusted scout (under normal situations - but this might not be a normal situation! ("trusted scout" is a self confessed Star Wars addict)) in London also saw Star Wars two more times which allowed for a more London additions and better statistics (London sessions "b" and "c") - e.g., In the Anikin/Girlie Senator romance scene on Naboo where he is declaring how emotionally torn he is, did the audience break out into giggling and laughter? (YES / NO) : (London, England (b,c) - "Yes, Soft snickering. A shock reversal from opening weekend!!." However, as stated for repetative London sessions, "Discrepancy could be due to less than full cinemas" [in b) and c) London sessions].)

Update - 23rd June 2002: Arrange a rendezvous in Times Square, New York on Monday afternoon to see Star Wars II again - though this time with the Jupester (would be 4th time for me). Again the aim being to note the New York City audience response. However, it would seem the Jupster is of the opinion that he could not stomach a second viewing of Star Wars II. (I must admit having a vivid dream recently where I was seeing Star Wars II for the 4th time and threw up in some girl's big Coca Cola drink cup - In the dream I did apologise and buy a replacement Coke for her.)
No doubt a stark warning to not underestimate the power of the force - and the stomach churning effects of really woeful dialog. (This technocolour yawm dream scene happened during the Anikan/Amidala fireside woefulness.) Thus additions to the following on audience responses to Star Wars II may have to rely on people other than myself - Lachlan.

Update - 25th June 2002: The Bold Detective (ever vigilant for evil and inanity in the futile city of London (UK)) makes his submission on Star Wars II. (described as London session "d") (Highlights from new London viewing: Yes to laughter on the "Gathering Mushrooms" scene ; Yes to laughter on the "Anikan's robotic LED coloured flashing, exercising artificial arm/hand".)

Update - 30th June 2002: Grenoble, France submission for Thursday 20th of June, ~10pm - but only a small audience of around a dozen people. Described as matching the responses of San Antonio, Texas, USA except for Question 5) "just audible" and Question 22) "No".

  • "And as for the laughs, I was quite disappointed, as most answers were
    as in San Antonio. But unfortunately there where only a dozen people in
    the room and clearly there *is* a mass effect (do you mention that
    major parameter in the page ? No ! Hey, this is supposed to be
    'Science')."
    

Update - 9th July 2002: San Francisco, California, USA

  • Date: Tue, 9 Jul 2002 11:07:39 -0700 (PDT)
    From: Jeff
    Subject: Scientific report (not statistically valid)
    To: "L. Cranswick" [lzc@dl.ac.uk]
    
    Hey,
    
    I went back to see Star Wars II again. The theater was
    only about 1/3 full even though it was the prime
    viewing time. I guess it's too far past opening date.
    The audience was very quiet and generally apathetic.
    There were some barely audible giggles during the "wet
    dream" sequence and a chuckle or two when Yoda took to
    the light saber. Otherwise nothing interesting
    happened.
    
    I think it is time to close the scientific inquiry.
    Probably most of the viewers are repeat viewers and
    thus not likely to give a fresh response to the
    silliness of some scenes.
    
    Maybe you can start a new investigation in a few years
    when/if it becomes a cult film like Star Wars I where
    people start cheering when Han Solo first appears.
    


Questions to answer during Star Wars II - Attack of the Clones

(Apologies if names and spelling are incorrect - corrections appreciated)

  1. When Jar Jar Binks first appears, did the audience start hissing? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) No, b) No, c) No, d) No: San Antonio, Texas - No : Boston, Massachusetts - Yes : Atlanta, Georgia - No: San Antonio, Texas - N/A: Grenoble, France - No : San Francisco, California - No)

  2. If applicable, how widespread was the hissing of Jar Jar Binks by the audience? (Sparse, 50/50, Most, All) :
    (London, England - a) N/A, b) N/A, c) N/A, d) N/A : San Antonio, Texas - N/A : Boston, Massachusetts - Sparse : Atlanta, Georgia - N/A : Grenoble, France - N/A : San Francisco, California - N/A)

  3. In the first Anakin/Senator Amidala romance scene, did you sense a disturbance in the force - as though hundreds around you were thinking "Gag on me with a Spoon"? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) Yes, b) No, c) No, d) Yes : San Antonio, Texas - No : Boston, Massachusetts - No : Atlanta, Georgia - No : Grenoble, France - No : San Francisco, California - No)

  4. In the Anakin/Senator Amidala romance scene on Naboo where he is declaring how emotionally torn he is, did the audience break out into giggling and laughter? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) No, b) Yes, c) Yes, d) Yes : San Antonio, Texas - No : Boston, Massachusetts - Yes : Atlanta, Georgia - No : Grenoble, France - No : San Francisco, California - No)

  5. If applicable, how loud was the audience laughter in the Naboo romance scene? (Anakin: "I've been dying a little bit each day since you came back into my life." ; Amidala: "If you follow your thoughts through to a conclusion, it'll take us to a place we cannot go") (Soft snickering / General laughter / Loud laughter)
    (London, England - a) N/A, b) Soft snickering, c) Soft snickering, d) just audible : San Antonio, Texas - N/A : Boston, Massachusetts - Loud laughter : Atlanta, Georgia - N/A : Grenoble, France - just audible : San Francisco, California - N/A)

  6. In Anikan's (alledged) nightmare scene, did a wave a smutty audience laughter break out and distribute itself around the theatre, implying/inferring that the audience did not interpret this as a nightmare scene? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) Yes, b) No, c) No, d) No : San Antonio, Texas - No : Boston, Massachusetts - No : Atlanta, Georgia - No : Grenoble, France - No : San Francisco, California - No. One or two individuals quietly laughed. Not necessarily because of any sexual innuendo.)

  7. If applicable, how loud was the audience laughter in the nightmare scene? (Soft snickering / General laughter / Loud laughter)
    (London, England - a) Loud laughter, b) N/A, c) N/A, d) N/A : San Antonio, Texas - N/A : Boston, Massachusetts - N/A : Atlanta, Georgia - N/A : Grenoble, France - N/A : San Francisco, California - very quiet)

  8. If applicable, when it was revealed that Anikan was dreaming of his mother, did the audience laughter stop? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) No, b) N/A, c) N/A, d) N/A : San Antonio, Texas - N/A : Boston, Massachusetts - N/A : Atlanta, Georgia - N/A : Grenoble, France - N/A : San Francisco, California - Laughter stopped long before it was revealed that he dreamt of his mother.)

  9. If applicable, when it was revealed that Anikan was dreaming of his mother, did the audience laughter refresh itself and continue? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) Yes, b) No, c) No, d) No : San Antonio, Texas - N/A : Boston, Massachusetts - N/A : Atlanta, Georgia - N/A : Grenoble, France - N/A : San Francisco, California - N/A)

  10. If applicable, did the nightmare scene create a congenial level of smutty audience laughter throughout the remainder of the film in nearly all the Anikan romantic drama scenes? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) Yes, b) N/A, c) N/A, d) N/A : San Antonio, Texas - N/A : Boston, Massachusetts - N/A : Atlanta, Georgia - N/A : Grenoble, France - N/A : San Francisco, California - N/A)

  11. Did audience giggling occur at the point where Anikan's step-father mentioned that when taken by Sandmen, Anikan's mother was out "Gathering Mushrooms" (which "grow on the evaporators")? (YES / NO)
    (London, England - a) Yes, b) No, c) No, d) Yes : San Antonio, Texas - No : Boston, Massachusetts - No : Atlanta, Georgia - No : Grenoble, France - No : San Francisco, California - No)

  12. Did audience giggling occur at the point where Anikan's step-father got to the point of mentioning his losing of a leg? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) Yes, b) No, c) No, d) No : San Antonio, Texas - No : Boston, Massachusetts - No : Atlanta, Georgia - No : Grenoble, France - No : San Francisco, California - No)

  13. If applicable, how loud was the audience giggling in the step-father scene? (Soft snickering / General laughter / Loud laughter) :
    (London, England - a) Soft to medium snickering, b) N/A, c) N/A, d) just audible : San Antonio, Texas - N/A : Boston, Massachusetts - N/A : Atlanta, Georgia - N/A : Grenoble, France - N/A : San Francisco, California - N/A)

  14. Did audience giggling occur in the death scene of Anikan's mother? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) No, b) No, c) No, d) No : San Antonio, Texas - No : Boston, Massachusetts - Yes : Atlanta, Georgia - No : Grenoble, France - No: San Francisco, California - No)

  15. Did audience giggling occur in the funeral scene of Anikan's mother? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) Yes, b) No, c) No, d) No : San Antonio, Texas - No : Boston, Massachusetts - No : Atlanta, Georgia - No : Grenoble, France - No: San Francisco, California - No)

  16. Did Yoda's grammar, when he was directing the Clone Troopers in the final part of the movie, cause audience giggling? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) Yes, b) No, c) No, d) No : San Antonio, Texas - No : Boston, Massachusetts - No : Atlanta, Georgia - No : Grenoble, France - No: San Francisco, California - No)

  17. Did the audience laugh in the final desert battle scene when the Senator Amidala falls from the speeding flyier to her apparant death in the desert - then freshly jumped up when prompted by a Clone Trooper saying she was all right? (then starting running off with determined running strides - stage right) (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) Yes, b) Yes, c) Yes, d) yes - sort of - it was more 'tutting of disbelief' : San Antonio, Texas - Yes : Boston, Massachusetts - Yes : Atlanta, Georgia - No!: Grenoble, France - Yes : San Francisco, California - No)

    • Get a confirm about the amazing lack of audience response from the Atlanta, Georgia audience:

      Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 14:55:22 -0400
      From: Jupester
      To: Lachlan Cranswick [l.m.d.cranswick@dl.ac.uk]
      Subject: Star Wars II
      
      Hi  once again,
                            I'm almost certain that the scene you mention
      with Senator Amidala's amazing escape from the jaws of certain
       death was accepted without comment in the Lost City; I guess we
      were just too stupefied by it all, in the two-thirds full AMC Phipps
       Plaza at 7.00 pm on June 9th. I could go and see it again, such is the
      paucity of movies in the LC! Not till later this month, though, as I'm
      off to Brookhaven on Wednesday and will be away for a week, and I *do*
      draw the line at expending an evening in Manhattan on such stuff.
      Still, reproducibility is not a dirty word...
      
                             Jupester
      

  18. If applicable, how loud was the audience laughter in the "instant recovery" scene? (Soft snickering / General laughter / Loud laughter) :
    (London, England - a) General laughter, b) Loud laughter, c) Loud laughter, d) just audible : San Antonio, Texas - General laughter : Boston, Massachusetts - Soft snickering : Atlanta, Georgia - N/A : Grenoble, France - General laughter : San Francisco, California - N/A)

  19. Did the audience giggle when the name of Darth Sidious(?) was mentioned? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) No, b) No, c) No, c) No : San Antonio, Texas - No : Boston, Massachusetts - Yes : Atlanta, Georgia - No : Grenoble, France - No : San Francisco, California - No)

  20. When the name of Darth Sidious(?) was mentioned, did you sense a disturbance in the force - as though hundreds around you were thinking "Darth Insidious, Silio Saurus, Who is this Woger? . . . He sounds a notorious fellow. Biggus Dickus, He has a wife you know . . . . Intercontinentia. . . . "Intercontinentia Buttocks!"? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) N/A, b) N/A, c) N/A, d) more 'tutting of disbelief' : San Antonio, Texas - N/A : Boston, Massachusetts - Yes : Atlanta, Georgia - No : Grenoble, France - N/A : San Francisco, California - No)

  21. Did the audience laugh/cheer when Yoda took to the light saber? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) Yes, b) Yes, c) Yes, d) Yes : San Antonio, Texas - Yes : Boston, Massachusetts - Not really/Maybe/Possibly : Atlanta, Georgia - Yes : Grenoble, France - Yes : San Francisco, California - No)

  22. When Yoda took to the light saber, did you sense a disturbance in the force - as though hundreds around you were thinking "this is minorly to majorly rediculous and inconsistent with the character"? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) Yes, b) Not stated, c) Not stated, d) No, : San Antonio, Texas - Not sure : Boston, Massachusetts - N/A : Atlanta, Georgia - No : Grenoble, France - No : San Francisco, California - No)

  23. Was there a minor wave of smutty audience laughter in the marriage scene when the camera panned on to Anikan's robotic LED coloured flashing, exercising artificial arm/hand? (YES / NO) :
    (London, England - a) Yes, b) No, c) No, d) Yes : San Antonio, Texas - No : Boston, Massachusetts - No : Atlanta, Georgia - No : Grenoble, France - No : San Francisco, California - No)


Questions to answer after Star Wars II - Attack of the Clones

(Apologies if names and spelling are incorrect)

  • If applicable, how many potential toilet breaks did you sense during Star Wars II - Attack of the Clones (One, Two, Three, Many, Too Many) : (Author's note: the Boston, Massachusetts session gave the impression there may have been repeat viewers who knew exactly when toilet breaks were possible)

  • If applicable, did you believe the main entertainment value of Star Wars II - Attack of the Clones was the unpredicted and unpredictable scoffing audience response? (YES / NO)

  • Was there an impression people were taking toilet breaks based on prior knowledge obtained from seeing Star Wars II previously? (YES / NO)


From those who don't internalise their feelings - heard on the way out of a movieplex theatre in Boston, MA, USA - Thursday June 13th 2002

  • "I was enjoying it but they were laughing"

  • "Acting was horrible"

  • "Not as bad as expected"

  • "Dialogue was unspeakable"


Star Wars the Phantom Edit


Reviews of Star Wars on the web

  • No butts please, we're Star Wars - http://film.guardian.co.uk/censorship/news/0,11729,712608,00.html

    Guardian Unlimited staff - Thursday May 9, 2002

    A whopping one-second cut has been made to Star Wars Episode II to secure a child-friendly PG certificate on its release next Thursday.

    An unusually late announcement by the British Board of Film Classification says that a 12 certificate was offered, but 20th Century Fox removed an offending head-butt to secure the PG classification.

    The head-butt occurs during a hand-to-hand fight sequence between Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Jango Fett (Kiwi actor Temuera Robinson).

    Happily, the cut won't mean that Episode II is as sqeaky clean as its predecessor. Attack of the Clones features illicit sex (well, a quick snog), inter-species violence, war crimes, constitutional sleight of hand, apostasy and more Oedipal angst than you could shake a stick at. A stick big enough to kill your father with.

    Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones opens worldwide on Thursday May 16.


  • Movie review, 'Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones' by the Mark Caro

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=1&rid=313604 and http://metromix.com/top/1,1419,M-Metromix-Movies-moviefrontcaroreview!ArticleDetail-16611,00.html

    • "Yes, "Episode II" is livelier and more visually and aurally impressive than "Episode I," and if that's all you're looking for, pop those corks.

      But for those of us who respond more strongly to storytelling than computer-generated effects, the new "Star Wars" installment hasn't escaped the rut dug by the last one. If you've ever wondered about the difference between plot and story, here's Exhibit A."

    • "For such a visually oriented filmmaker, Lucas commits an unpardonable sin: He tells instead of shows. We don't see Anakin falling for Padme; we just hear him proclaiming his love over and over. We know Padme has succumbed not because we've been seduced along with her but because she finally tells him so.

      Lucas' tin ear for dialogue doesn't help. Padme to Anakin: "I've been dying a little bit each day since you came back into my life." Oh, ick.!!!!!!! "

    • "Anakin's promised transition to the dark side will carry little dramatic weight if we have so little feel for him. Imagine if Anakin had been more of a Han Solo type - swaggering, self-destructive, brash and undeniably charming. We'd be invested in the struggle for his soul, especially if he were played with as much verve as Harrison Ford did Han.

      Or consider Al Pacino's Michael Corleone in "The Godfather," made by Lucas's former mentor, Francis Ford Coppola. Michael goes from saintly to murderous over the course of three hours without needing to verbalize his struggles, and we're with him for every step of his tragic descent. Coppola accomplished in one movie what Lucas likely can't do in three. (And Coppola still had enough to fill one great sequel.)

      Granted, movies inspired by "Flash Gordon" serials aren't designed for character depth, but then Lucas always has had more on his mind than sheer escapism. The first trilogy explored myths and political intrigue, and in this one Lucas is making sharp observations about how a republic, like a person, can turn evil. "Episode II" is at its most provocative as it makes you unsure about who the bad guys really are. "


  • So Clone-ly I Could Die : Lucas' latest is no Star Wars. Heck, it's no Phantom Menace. : SEAN BURNS (sburns@philadelphiaweekly.com)

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=2&rid=319002 and http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/archives/article.asp?ArtID=2269

    • "I spent half an hour after the screening chattering away in an embarrassing spasm of denial--breathlessly fixating on the stuff that worked, hoping that maybe sheer willpower would carry me over the finish line into the bliss I had so dearly anticipated. But the long drive home was a solitary, unpleasant one, and I eventually mustered enough gumption to admit the ugly truth--my precious new Star Wars movie is a lumbering, wheezy drag. "

    • "This film is a mess. It's dour, unpleasant, badly acted and revolting to look at. Most frustrating is that every 20 minutes or so something wonderful occurs. Whether Master Yoda is instructing a classroom of Jedi toddlers in light-saber techniques, or a lunatic gladiatorial ceremony--cheered on by what seem to be giant moths--serves up our heroes like lunchmeat for a pack of slobbering, toothy monsters, Lucas occasionally pulls his shit together for rare, giddy glimpses at the awesome breadth of imagination that turned his toy franchise into American iconography.

      Then the rest of the time it sucks. "

    • "Set 10 years after The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones finds Obi-Wan Kenobi (still Ewan McGregor, now bearded and crabby) and young Anakin Skywalker (newcomer Hayden Christensen--picture Mark Hamill, only whinier and more effeminate) dispatched to investigate assassination attempts on Senator Padmé Amidala (again Natalie Portman, a gifted actress who for some ungodly reason insists on playing this role in a monotone).

      There's some skullduggery afoot in the Republic, and the picture actually begins quite well. Obi-Wan embarks on a scuzzy detective saga, offering a hint as to what would have happened if Raymond Chandler sent Phillip Marlowe to a galaxy far, far away. And straight off it's easy to be impressed by the moody, noir-ish sense of unease.

      But then there's that fucking love story. "

    • "Alas, these are faint glimmers of genius poking their heads out from two and a half hours of glum, ugly joylessness. My heart is broken and my spirit crushed. I'm not sure if I should cry, or just hole up watching The Empire Strikes Back a thousand more times to remember how things used to be."


  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) - Review by Harvey O'Brien PhD

    • http://indigo.ie/~obrienh/aotc.htm

    • "Dreadful sequel to Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace which accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of making its predecessor look like a model of balanced narrative and in-depth characterisation. "

    • "Howard Hawks once said that a movie needs three good scenes and no bad scenes to be successful. To its credit, Attack of the Clones has three entertaining moments. The first involves Obi-Wan's battle with the no-nonsense bounty hunter Jango Fett on a wind and rain-swept set. It is not a brilliant scene, but it is one of the few in which two human beings interact physically, and it is a pretty good punch-up. The second scene involves the same pair involved in a chase through an asteroid field, although this one does raise the age-old Saturday Matinee question of just how the baddie became so fearsome being such a lousy shot. The third scene comes near the end of what is on the whole a very painful experience for any long-time fan of the series. Having riddled and backwards-spoken his way through four of the five films, Jedi Master Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz, but no longer a puppet) finally gets to wield a lightsabre, which he does with tremendous dexterity: he leaps, spins, and somersaults around the screen like a gremlin on speed. It's a big moment for those with memories which go further back than 1996."

      The problem is that these three moments are the highlights in a film otherwise comprising primarily of dull set pieces badly arranged in a narrative which has nothing to sustain interest in itself. The film on the whole presents a plot which continues to be a tease for an interesting story which is supposed to happen sometime later, manages to be weaker than its predecessor in basic characterisation, features an even worse performance by its central character, and yet again lavishes so much time and attention on creating digital creatures and landscapes that it loses touch with the human desire for adventure and imagination which is supposed to be the heart of the saga. Our imaginations are stimulated most by dreams of who we might otherwise be, not just by the landscape, flora, fauna, and technology which might surround us. There are no characters in this film that we admire, none that we fear, none that we find interesting, or funny, or that we could project our image of ourselves onto: these are digital simulacra responding to the mechanical button pushing of a man who has long ago lost touch with human values. And he will make billions of dollars for doing it. Bravo.

      Attack of the Clones has three major defects. First of all the script itself is extremely episodic. The film careens furiously from mindless chases to pointless platform-leaping like a low-rent videogame adaptation of itself. It is not so much a tribute to the cliffhanger adventure as it is an attempt to connect with the entertainment experience of a target audience raised on videogames. The story is of no interest: like cut-scenes in a game, it is intended simply to bridge the gaps between the set pieces and requires no real empathy or connection with the characters. Once again a backstory thought up for research purposes when drafting the screenplay for the original trilogy has been unwisely offered up as a complete narrative. Each scene in the film seems like a flashback being had by the characters in a much more interesting movie that never got made. None of it hangs together except by contrivance, and the attempt to fashion the disconnection into suspense and portent is merely an ill-advised tease. Like its predecessor, the film is an advertisement for the next one in which we are again promised that something interesting is around the corner."

    • "This brings us to the film's second major problem: the character of Anakin Skywalker, who once again fails to excite interest or empathy. Last time he was an annoying moppet who didn't deserve our attention. This time he's a petulant adolescent who needs a good smack in the head a lot more than he needs to be treated as the saviour of the world. Of the movie's two narrative strains, by far the most interesting is Obi-Wan's star trek from digitised location to digitised location. Though derivative and unsurprising, this plot thread offers at least two relatively enjoyable scenes and McGregor is not bad (although his character is still not fully realised yet). Anakin, by contrast, is here beginning his path to the dark side as a whining teenager with the serious hots for his alien babe squeeze. What is supposed to be professed love and devotion comes across more like simple sexual infatuation, and we are not surprised that their relationship will inevitably not survive a whole lot longer.

      The problem is that in giving weight to Anakin as the centre of the narrative, Lucas has stranded the film on not one, but numerous occasions throughout the film. Every time we return to him, we are treated to a variant on the same theme. The same is true in the Obi-Wan plot, but at least there we are given action to distract us. Every Anakin scene states and restates his teenage frustration with the world around him and his undying lust for Amidala. An attempt to revisit the locations of the original Star Wars and bring in some series continuity falls completely flat, and is soon followed by frankly pathetic attempts at slapstick and pun humour involving C-3PO and R2D2 which make you want to cry. The deficiency is primarily one of writing and direction, but matters are not helped by Christansen's performance, which is bland. Portman, likewise, having had her character stripped of social grounding by ridiculous contrivance (her "term of office" as Queen (!) has come to an end, but the current Queen has made her the official Naboo senator), is adrift. The character of Amidala has gone from having regal dignity and inner strength to being nothing more than a clothes horse for the costume designer and an object for Anakin to fixate on. For a woman supposedly trying to put off the advances of an unwelcome suitor, she certainly wears a hell of a lot of loose-fitting, low-hanging clothing. Fetching she looks: but acting she is not (as Yoda might say). Portman is understandably unable to do much with this character: she mostly reacts. Given what she's reacting to, it is no surprise that the romantic scenes are tedious and lacking in chemistry. Therefore the central relationship by which the film is grounded is not convincing and quickly becomes boring. The centre of the film is therefore inevitably flat and the movie on the whole dies on its feet."

    • "The film's major failings aside, there are numerous continuity problems, issues with characters (minor ones who come and go too quickly, including Lee's Count Doccu), unwise pacing decisions and dialogue which alternates between irrelevancy and flippancy far too frequently. The movie tries hard for atmosphere, but fails to generate any. Arguably the film's most important moment, representing Anakin's first tangible step towards the dark side, is badly handled. After a poorly acted scene between Anakin and his mother which is derived from a hundred westerns, he sets about slaughtering a settlement of Tusken Raiders in hatred and revenge. To avoid upsetting anyone (and, God forbid, showing evil in its true form), Lucas draws a veil over the action, then gives us Anakin's pouty 'no one understands me' reaction to his atrocity.

      The nitpicking could go on forever, but there is no point. Attack of the Clones is trash on every level. It is poorly crafted, badly written, badly acted, heartless and manipulative garbage which condescends to everyone who cares to watch it. I have no doubt that it will make plenty of money and that Lucas will round out the trilogy with a film which is an equally appalling failure on every level but on the one it counts: commercial. If the 'second' Star Wars trilogy is about anything, it is about Lucas' descent to the dark side of his own universe: he has taken the quick and easy path to success, failing to develop a decent script or allow more talented directors than himself to take centre stage and helm the movies. It is a deeply saddening assertion that all that is wrongheaded about American cinema will continue to prevail as long as people are willing to allow it. We are all equally culpable of course, because we're all paying for our tickets and will probably buy the DVD, but we are sowing the seeds of our own intellectual lobotomising. If we allow our expectations to be continually lowered like this, then we cannot but extinguish the fire of human imagination which Lucas once sought to rekindle. "


  • Reproductive Rites by Michael Atkinson

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=1&rid=313687 and http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0220/atkinson.php

    • "Lucas has in fact come closer than anyone could desire to the cheap, graceless, hackneyed sci-fi serials of the '30s and '40s. Predictably, the screenplay would make Buster Crabbe call for a rewrite. "Toxic dart!" exclaims Obi (Ewan MacGregor, cashing that check) after picking a dart out of a dead person's neck. "I don't like sand . . . " is how the agonizing Ani-Amidala romantic patter begins. Figuring out where the Republic, the Federation, the Corporate Alliance, and the Trade Guilds begin and end is more than Lucas himself manages to do, and the endless exposition is such irritating gibberish that you're prone to ignore it and look out the windows as the digital planes sail by. When I was a kid in school, we called this "tedium." Today, it's a secular theophany."

    • "Taken as five films - or six, in a year or so - this is hardly an epic (a word that implies moral, human, and social weight). It's a marathon of irrelevant preadolescent dreaming. One could maintain that Lucas's ongoing opus will eventually juice more consumers than any other cultural manifestation in the history of the race besides the Bible. At the very least, if a Jedi emissary were to examine mankind through its most widely perused texts, Lucas's massive fantasy would surely stand in the top five—stop the planet, I want to get off. As the nationwide sidewalk camp-outs come to their climax, the maniacal wwwooooooos siren through the theater (even at the Lucasfilm Ltd. logo), and virtually every adult I know admits to a publicity-hammered submission, it's easy to feel like 1984's Winston Smith struggling with 2 + 2 = 5. Why should this invasion of self-ratifying, trans-marketed mythopoeia—so electrifying and meaningful to so many—be so inarguably empty and inconsequential? Attack of the Clones is a golden calf, worshiped not out of primitive fear but populist groupthink. Contemplate, if you will, the huge contribution Lucas makes to keeping the world's people obsessively distracted from the verities of political and corporate enterprise. But is he to blame? To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: There's no power on earth or in heaven that can loosen the grip a culture has on its own throat."


  • STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002) : 1/2* (out of four) - Walter Chaw, FILM FREAK CENTRAL

    • http://filmfreakcentral.net/screenreviews/episodeii.htm

    • "George Lucas and Jonathan Hales' screenplay for Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones is very close to the most inept piece of hubristic garbage I've ever had the alarming misfortune to see realized. The resultant film is 140 minutes of pure treacle: such words as "awkward swill" or "excrescence" do not begin to suggest the stink of it. While Lucas has always been a poor filmmaker (though THX 1138 at least displays directorial competence), his army of yes-men and his years of hermitage have led him to believe that his are the hands best-suited to guide the last three films of his Star Wars franchise--and that miscalculation will sadly only cost him the last lingering vestiges of his already miniscule credibility. In a way, though, I'm grateful to Lucas for making my job easier: Episode II is so atrocious that its screenplay--with lines like, "This is a nightmare! I want to go home!" and "You obviously have a great deal to learn about human behaviour"--serves as auto-critique, and its clumsiness as its own most damning censure."

    • "Sufficed to say that Episode II is lifeless and listless in equal measure, a curiously impotent saga that has not a single moment as stirring as the dullest moment of the original trilogy. It is an exercise in spectatorship in which the special effects are clearly the backbone and heart of the film, to the extent that even the characters stop to gawp at the digital pyrotechnics. The movie grinds to a halt each time its sterile effects are moved off centre-stage--something that happens quite a lot in a lugubrious film well over two hours that features a mere three action sequences. For as little as I like Episode II's video game feel and look (see especially a conveyer belt bit that plays just like the SNES Star Wars game), it's still preferable to Lucas' unspeakable dialogue and the performances of Christensen and Portman, which are so stilted and unnatural that I actually felt sorry for them--when I wasn't checking my watch and eyeing the exits wistfully."

    • "Episode II was executed in a vacuum, having no relationship to anything save itself and displaying peculiarly misanthropic agoraphobia in the script's impossible language (Lucas may be the only screenwriter incapable of writing in iambic pentameter), lack of connection with true emotions, and total inability to tell an interesting story (or any story) with a basic level of competence. It is a crippled, hamstrung thing that is more pathetic than truly offensive."

    • "There is an abstract bit so sly I wonder if it was slipped in unbeknownst to Lucas: the bounty hunter Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), possibly (but probably not) named after guitar legend Django Reinhardt, drops "seismic charges" in an all-too familiar asteroid field that explode with a D-minor twang! Aside from that discordant (and most likely accidental) grace note, Episode II actually borders on the aggressive in its open disdain for structure, performance, and its audience--the film knows that it will take in a great deal of money no matter the critical or popular reception and thus proceeds to be the worst it possibly can be."

    • "Episode II: a rambling behemoth without a pilot; a sucking black hole that continues to fecklessly sully the memories of an entire generation of folks (like myself) who grew up playing with the action figures while considering the "big" polarities of good vs. evil, light vs. dark, and what it means to be a friend, a brother, and a son. Though in retrospect, the only film of real artistic value of the initial trilogy is The Empire Strikes Back, the original Star Wars trilogy was possessed of an energy and passion that forgives a multitude of sins. A lot of the wonder and hope and magic of my childhood died in Episode II upon Yoda throwing back his robe like a gunslinger, striking a kung fu pose, and launching into a lightsaber attack like a crazed green Muppet incarnation of the Tasmanian Devil. "Pain, suffering, death: I feel," Yoda intones. I feel it, too, man."


  • Movie review, 'Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones' by Newsday : By John Anderson

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=1&rid=313582 and http://metromix.com/top/1,1419,M-Metromix-Movies-moviefrontnyreview!ArticleDetail-16595,00.html

    • "That Binks is back at all -- eliciting hisses at one preview screening -- sort of says it all about this much-anticipated and ultimately lackluster movie: It's overriding tenor is arrogance, a haughty disregard for any criticism at all. Evidence? The oh-so-easily mocked title, the high school Marlowe Society recitation of Lucasian dialogue, and the series' recurring half-fly/half- Faginesque slave trader, whose elephantine nose and Lower East Side inflections make him at least as offensive as another Jar Jar Binks."

    • ""Attack of the Clones" -- yes there are clones, yes there's an epic battle -- does attempt to recapture the offhanded humor of the original films and redeem the series from "Phantom Menace." The action is freer; the characters are fuller, and some familiar faces, if you want to call them faces, are back -- including C3PO, R2D2 and Yoda, the unquestioned star of the film, whose 20 or so minutes of screen time may or may not save the universe, but can't quite save the movie. "



  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones : By David Thomson : 08 May 2002

    • http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/film/reviews/story.jsp?story=292954

    • "So what's the verdict? Well, I go back to a few days ago to a playing field where some parents were watching their 12-year-olds play lacrosse. I reported I was set to see the new Stars Wars and the general reckoning was, "Hope it's not as bad as the last one.""

    • "They might be the loyalists for the new film, just as their kids ought to be the fresh army desperate to see it but, out there in the sunshine, I felt suspicion. Episode I is said to have grossed over $431m (£290m) at the North American box office but it surely left a sour taste with those who endured it.

      The characters in that film were so leaden, the story so confused and the special effects so streamlined and supercilious. Why use that word?"

      Because there's a difference, I think, in how effects feel: in Gladiator, for instance, the effects feel inspired, hard-won and triumphant – somehow you identify them with the heroism of Russell Crowe's Maximus. But in this new Star Wars era, the effects are so glossy as to be cold and superior: the film has the technology, but no heart or mind. You can feel how rapidly the film maker is grasping the connection between the screen's callous masquerade and the bounty of merchandising that will go with it.

      What's missing? A movie, characters, a story. Just those antique elements.

    • "There are some action scenes to remind you of the first three films, though the climactic arena fight seems painfully derived from Gladiator. And there is a pleasing final showdown between the villain (Christopher Lee) and – well, let's just say a short fellow with weird sentence construction."

      Lee is an asset. His grave face comes from a lifetime of taking horror seriously. He speaks beautifully and you feel him reaching out for evil to gather beneath his hooded eyes. But there are glum moments when he has to wait and pretend he's looking at special effects – a glassy look comes over his Dracula face as if he were wondering whether there is honey still for tea.

      Will it work at the box office? The habit we have may be as massive as the promotion. But sooner or later Mr Lucas has to face the fact you can't keep disappointing the faithful."


  • The Big Picture: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (PG) : The nightmare continues : Reviewed by Anthony Quinn : 16 May 2002

    • http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/film/reviews/story.jsp?story=295784

    • "Here we go again. If anything to do with the Star Wars franchise can be called good news then it's that this latest prequel is at least an improvement on The Phantom Menace (1999). How exactly could it have been worse? Well, they could have given a starring role to Jar Jar Binks, one of the most lavishly unamusing creatures ever to pass across a movie screen, but I can't see how anything short of doubling its length could make Episode II as intolerable as Episode I. True, Jar Jar is back, but he's been kicked upstairs, and so too is that bat-faced troll Yoda, whose cutely inverted sentences merit a kicking, period."

    • "Attack of the Clones, as thinly dramatised as it is, does not move with quite the torturing leadenness of the previous film, its effects seem less tinny and there is one acting performance that manages to carry some small authority and weight. Step forward Christopher Lee as the renegade Jedi knight Dooku, turning his chilly composure to advantage and creating ripples of danger on the film's otherwise placid surface. It's a role not so different from his evil Saruman in The Lord of The Rings, but in a movie where the acting remains strictly one-emotion-at-a-time Lee becomes a positive beacon of relief from the central performers."

    • "Poor old Hayden Christensen, playing Anakin Skywalker - and Amidala's suitor - has been dealt a cruel twin blow by having not just a ponytail but a sad little braid curling over his shoulder. Hard to know what sort of character to project with a hairstyle like that, and Christensen struggles with what ought to be the pivotal role: this, remember, is the youth destined to become Darth Vader, and we are meant to detect in him warning signs of his later conversion to evil. Not so far. Christensen can't manage anything stronger than a teenage strop as he rails against his mentor, Obi-Wan: "He never listens. He just doesn't understand. It's not fair." Were Kevin and Perry not available?"


  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (U) : I'm Going Home (PG) What planet are you on, George? : By Jonathan Romney : 19 May 2002


  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones : "George, hire a real director and good writers for the next installment, please." - movie review by Laura Clifford, Reeling Reviews
    • At this long web address

    • "Lucas' directs by lining up his actors and having them make monotone expository announcements. It is noteworthy that the most colorful character in Episode II is the CGI created Yoda. Even Jar Jar Binks is made somewhat interesting this time around by most amusingly being left in charge of Padme's vote when she's whisked off to Naboo. While McGregor fills out his Jedi robes with more confidence this time around, Lucas allows him no fun - even his tossed off "You'll be the death of me" to Ani is played more for portent than playfulness. All too frequently, there is an awareness that McGregor is acting to a bluescreen. Portman is a little less stiff in her second portrayal of Padme, allowed some action this time around, but is more effective fighting off creatures in a coliseum than being half of what should be the all important love match. Hayden Christensen is a huge disappointment as Ani, a role that seems to belong to James Earl Jones only. He may be handsome, but he comes off as a petulant spoiled brat. Christopher Lee proves himself once again as a mythical villain. Samuel L. Jackson is stranded once again as Mace Windu. Jimmy Smits' Senator Bail Organa is apparently a Shakespearean extra. "


  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones : "All...Lucas appears to be capable of these days is producing enough fireworks in his last act to elicit hope in his audience that his next installment will be better" - reviewed by Jill Cozzi
  • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=all&sortby=default&page=7&rid=318360 and http://www.cozzifantutti.com/movies/2002/sw2clones/sw2clones_j.htm

    • "It's not as bad as they've led you to believe. Truly, it's not.

      Sure, the dialogue is awful, and the acting is uneven, and George Lucas is so bad a screenwriter he makes James Cameron look like Shakespeare. And if you're one of those people willing to admit that you've been waiting for STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES since conception, yes, you will be disappointed. If you're looking for a Transcendent Spiritual Experience, yes, you will be disappointed. If you're looking for great filmmaking, yes, you will be disappointed. But if you're looking for a reasonably diverting summer popcorn flick, and you limit yourself to one cup of coffee so you don't find yourself bargaining with God to just get you through the Great Climactic Fight before your bladder explodes, well, you could do worse.

      In the current environment, I suppose this qualifies as a positive review.

      ATTACK OF THE CLONES comes weighted with an amount of baggage virtually unprecedented in cinema. The original STAR WARS was a fun, smart, escapist summer entertainment, made by a reasonably talented filmmaker. Then an army of people who resemble Comic Book Guy on THE SIMPSONS but didn't find that STAR TREK spoke to them spiritually began to obsess on the Deeper Meaning Of The Force."

    • "So here it is, the first summer of George-George Bush's ("Meesa gonna smoke out dat Osama!") Permanent War on Terror, and in case the real world doesn't have enough crises for ya, here we are again, watching the Republic cope with political problems. This time it's a separatist movement, perhaps caused by "disgruntled spice miners," who are off in the hills harvesting plot elements from DUNE. A vote is needed to ensure that the Republic stays intact; and said vote belongs to the Junior Senator from Naboo, former Queen Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman). In the Republic, even queens have term limits, which is something you'll never see in the Yew Ess of Ay, now that George-George has set himself up as Dictator-for-Life. But I digress. Padme's past powers, combined with her potential status as Disrupter of the Status Quo puts her in a situation very similar to that of the current junior Senator from New York. As a result, a bunch of sexually frustrated old hack politicians, led by Trent Lott in a fright mask, want Padme dead so that she can't vote. The Enron/Halliburton/Bush Family/Bin Laden Family/Carlyle Group/Caspian oil pipeline web is less complex than the politics in this movie, so let's move on.

      The rest of the film has to do ostensibly with the beginnings of young Anakin Skywalker's journey from cute teenaged heartthrob to Darth Vader, with lots of action and light saber fights along the way. And herein lies the fundamental problem with ATTACK OF THE CLONES. It's risky at best to build a movie around a sulky teenager, no matter how important he is to the story. And when said sulky teenager is portrayed by a pretty cipher like Hayden Christensen, and is completely overmatched by Ewan McGregor's swashbuckling Obi-Wan Kenobi, and his love interest is the lovely but wooden Natalie Portman, the film has to rely on the effects and visuals to make an impact.

      It may not be all the fault of Hayden "Ryan Phillippe is Too Old So They Hired Me" Christensen, that Anakin spends nearly the entire film throwing tantrums and sulking. This may make him a normal teenager, but it hardly makes him credible as an unusually gifted Jedi. Occasionally, Lucas will shoot Christensen glowering from under his eyebrows in an effort to show his malevolent potential, but we are left to decide, variously, that Anakin becomes Darth Vader either a) because Amidala keeps showing up during their idyll on the bucolic Naboo in these filmy, skin-revealing Pre-Raphaelite gowns but won't put out; b) he's really hung up on his mother and has some serious unresolved Oedipal problems; or c) has massacred an entire tribe of Afghanis -- I mean Tusken Sand Raiders-- including women and children, has tasted blood, and likes it. If George Lucas has wanted to portray Anakin as James Dean, he should have hired James Franco and been done with it (except that Franco was busy doing Spider-Man at the time...)"

    • "George Lucas has to film this back story, but he doesn't have sufficient feel for character development to handle the emotional complexity of this particular creation. In this film, with his need to tell this character's story, he bites off more than he can chew. The frustration of the lack of Anakin's character development is exacerbated by the fact that the film tragically underutilizes two extraordinarily dynamic actors in Ewan McGregor and Samuel L. Jackson. Even Frank Oz' vocalized Yoda, who has become a much more fully-realized character now that he's virtual and not constrained by the limits of Muppetry, warrants more screen time than he has, despite his much-hyped slight saber fight with Christopher Lee's debonair Cound Dooku. When a Zen-like CGI character who can't construct a sentence in the proper order and looks like an extremely wizened Sphinx cat with the voice of Fozzie Bear is a more compelling character than the pretty young stars, you've got a serious problem on your hands."


  • Guardian Unlimited Film - Star Wars II - Star Wars II - Hit me Obi one more time - Peter Bradshaw
    • http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Critic_Review/Guardian_Film_of_the_week/0,4267,712803,00.html

    • First, the bad news, and what devastatingly bad news it is. Jar Jar Binks has been brought back for Episode II, presumably in a last-ditch attempt to shift millions of tons of dolls. Unrepentant, producer-director George Lucas has declared that Jar Jar stays in the picture, but pointedly gives him a more high-status role: speaking in the senate, even proposing historic changes to the constitution. Even worse news is that Tattooine's insidious Faginesque slave-trader is back too, hook-nose and all, shruggingly revealing that he has sold Anakin Skywalker's mother. He actually says the words: "Business is business." Oy.

      The dialogue is every bit as clunky as we come to have to expect from the great man (despite a co-writing credit for Jonathan Hales), and however state-of-the-art his effects are, when it comes to nouns, adjectives, conjunctions and the like, Mr Lucas has got out his trusty crayon. Sadly many of the performances marry up to this writing style in an ecstatic merger of form and content. Natalie Portman, a mere bud of dullness in Phantom Menace, has blossomed into a fully-formed flower of bad acting here, her head and ears winsomely framed in a different outlandish post-Leia hairstyle in every scene.

      Hayden Christensen is the actor who has been chosen to play Anakin Skywalker, and on his shoulders rests the burden of showing the moral complexity of the entire epic: how this profoundly gifted Jedi warrior should have turned to the dark side. Unfortunately, Christensen's armoury of facial expressions is modestly stocked. Moreover, Anakin not only has a ponytail, but also a thin length of braided hair trailing winsomely over his shoulder. As the mighty Yoda would say: "Like a wussy 12-year-old girl he looks."

    • Where this movie comes alive is in its final act, the closing hour or so of this slightly stately two-hour-23-minute film. And it comes to life when the forces of Good and Evil unveil themselves, unambiguously, for a big showdown. Specifically, the excitement kicks in with the appearance of Christopher Lee as the sinister renegade Jedi Count Dooku - a character uncannily similar in function to Saruman in The Lord of the Rings, even down to the thrilling mano-a-mano contest he has with Yoda, like the Gandalf confrontation. When Lee comes on, the film's IQ seems to treble, and it's a pleasure and a relief to see an actor who both enjoys what he is doing and is old enough to shave.

    • The rest of Lucas's storyline is very involved. The "clones" of the title are a genetically engineered army secretly commissioned for the Republic's defence, but whose existence is covered up a sinister convocation of plotters. Obi-Wan gets a rainswept fight scene with bounty hunter Jango Fett, during which everyone around me in the auditorium was stifling yawns.

    • This movie is an improvement on the execrable Phantom Menace: never less than a watchable, entertaining spectacle. Its attempt at complexity and ambiguity is engaging, even admirable, although this is partly still the contrived "prequel" effect of creating storylines which have to look startling and unexpected, even though we all know where they're heading.

      Everything now hinges on Episode III, which will be boxed in by the films either side. Can the callow Christensen make Ani's Luciferian conversion to evil look convincing? Does Lucas have the courage to make this temporary triumph of evil look as resounding as it needs to be? Realistically, Episode III is where the great epic will end in the public mind - with the victory of the Dark Force. Will Lucas have the nerve not to insist on some cop-out way of sugaring this pill? I fear the worst, but Episode II is enjoyable stuff, and a new, if short-lived, hope.


    Star Wars II - Them clones, them clones... George Lucas - master or magpie? The latest episode of Star Wars offers few clues - Philip French
    • http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Critic_Review/Observer_review/0,4267,714042,00.html

    • "He can also paint, with the broad strokes of a billposter, the development of the petulant, impatient, but essentially decent Anakin into a potential authoritarian. Topical stuff this. It may well be that a scene where the princess and Anakin frolic in an Alpine meadow, closely resembling the opening of The Sound of Music, is intended to evoke Austria and nascent fascism. There's no question about a later scene, modelled on John Ford's The Searchers, in which Anakin finds his ravaged mother in a rebel camp and massacres every member of the tribe that abducted her. It's intended to show the political direction his anger is taking him and suggest a connection with the authoritarian attitudes of John Wayne.

      The twin narrative strands come together on the sandy planet of Geonosis, where another army of clones is being created by the wicked ex-Jedi knight, Count Dooku, played by Christopher Lee. Lee's emblematic presence echoes the role of his Hammer Horror comrade Peter Cushing as the icy Grand Moff Tarkin in the first Star Wars. Equally, it links Lucas's world directly to that of Tolkien through Lee's performance as the evil wizard Saruman in Lord of the Rings.

      Here Lucas pays homage to Roman epics with an adroitly staged engagement between assorted monsters and the human trio. The film's neatest comic touch emerges when the android C-P30 quite literally loses his head and has it restored to him by his dumpy, squeaking android chum, R2-D2. This precedes a series of climactic light-sabre fights, the final one featuring the 2ft tall Yoda and the 6ft 6in Count Dooku, which elicited something close to a standing ovation from the audience I saw it with.

      With five down and one to go, it's possible to say of the Star Wars cycle that this is brightly packaged cinematic junk food disguised as spiritual sustenance for a secular age. The special effects are remarkable, yet somehow numbing, and the film only partly lives up to the promise in the title of Lucas's company, Industrial Light and Magic. His dialogue is, except when wisecracking in James Bond/Batman mode, still open to the charge made by Harrison Ford during the shooting of the first Star Wars: 'You can type this shit, George, but you can't speak it.'


  • Star Wars - Phantom Menace
    • http://film.guardian.co.uk/Star_Wars/Front/0,4052,44276,00.html

    • May the farce be with you : The most hyped film ever limped into London last night for a premiere which could only muster a gathering of C-list celebrities.
    • Over hyped and over here : The latest news as the Phantom Menace is met with a mixed critical reaction, and a distinctly muted public response
    • Star Wars opening leaves Londoners distinctly unimpressed : A meandering crowd of 30 or so, several of whom were journalists, many others just curious passers-by, were in London's Leicester Square for the public performance of The Phantom Menace



  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones - Ed Gonzalez slant magazine, 2002
    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=all&sortby=default&page=11&rid=311818 and http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/archive/attackoftheclones.html

    • Amidala is on the run from a mysterious bounty hunter, delegates her Senate position to Jar Jar and goes hog-wild for Anakin on her not-so-little house on the intergalactic prairie. What with all the hokey declarations of love ("I'm haunted by the kiss" and "You are my very soul trembling") and a harlequin John Williams score, teen romance plays out like a high school stage production of The Red Shoe Diaries. Before lush fields of grass and gently rolling waves, Christensen and Portman efficiently recite their love-struck, prepubescent blatherings as if they've come to terms with the fact that every actor-cum-pop-figure in Lucas's franchise must fend for themselves on the director's digital stage. Even Pernilla August is no match for Lucas's soapy plot points and loopy narrative pacing; Tuscan raiders kidnap her mushroom-hunting Shmi, who holds on to dear life just long enough give Ani a half-assed goodbye (not to mention a reason to turn to the dark side).

    • A suspicious Kenobi keeps watch over Jango Fett (Temuera Morrisson), dodges a few meteors on his way to Geonosis and finds himself inside a gladiator ring with Anakin and Amidala, who gives way to love in the face of death ("I've been dying a little each day every since you came back into my life").

    • As wise men, Kenobi and Yoda are still low men on the guru totem pole. Kenobi demands restraint yet he shows none himself, risking death by throwing himself off Amidala's penthouse suite and holding on to the bounty hunter's flying robot messenger. Anakin smothers his muse with "yes, master" respect as if Kenobi's popcorn wisdom ("Dreams pass in time") didn't sound as if it were being culled from a stale fortune cookie. Yoda is more proactive this time around and while he's still drunk on Alanis-speak (note to Lucas: mixing adjectives and verbs does not wise person make), there is some reason to rejoice. Lucas's use of light and shadow is particularly evocative during a ferocious light saber sequence between Anakin and Christopher Lee's Count Dooku. Yet the film's grandest moment is when his Royal Greenness also gets in on the action. It's a frank reminder that Lucas' toys always look better when keeping mum and waving their sticks around.

      So Lucas defines original sin as a pettish teenager. Hmph. To Boomer parents, this may not be news, but I was expecting a little more: After all, this is Darth Vader in question here, but I guess this is as much evil as Lucas is willing to risk to keep this a "kid's film." I knew Lucas had lost his nerve when, in a fit of incestuous anger after the passing of Shmi, Anakin skulls a couple of Sand People, but then relays the news verbally to Padme: "I killed the women. I killed the children." Hayden Christensen sulks it up pretty good, but wouldn't it have been more effective to actually show the killing of the women, the killing of the children, especially in the bloodles way Star Wars is so famous for? They are the Sand People after all, and nobody likes those swarthy bastards anyway.

    • Some of the esoteric referencing is fun: My favorite line is Ewan McGregor announcing, "It's very good to see you, Jar Jar," when, clearly, he's the only being in the universe of the sentiment.

    • Despite all this technical analysis, which is probably contrary to the whole spirit of Star Wars anyway, the final question is: Are the light saber fights cool enough to lay down eight bucks for? Yes, they are. They're preceded by a couple of cool sequences cribbed from other movies: a factory scene that reminded me of the pot pie machine in Chicken Run - seemingly an add choice as an action template, but it worked well in stop-go claymation, so there's little chance of Lucas screwing it up. The second is a mighty imbroglio in a coliseum that might have been inspired by Gladiator. The Jedi are certainly a multicultural bunch, and various blue, green, and black and white human beings engage in a mishmash of beheadings and deflected lasers, but the scene does nothing if not reveal the fatal obstinance of The Dark Side: If awkward, wobbly-legged lizards emerging from caves were not victories in Episode II, then why do they insist upon them in the sieges of Hoth and Endor?


  • Film Snobs: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=all&sortby=default&page=13&rid=318572 and http://www.filmsnobs.com/www/shimes/attackoftheclones.htm

    • Starring:
      • Industrial Light, but not much Magic
      • Bad Dialogue
      • Yoda Taking Care of Business

    • As wise as these Jedi are in the ways of The Force, they may be the most naive parents. The Jedi Council sends their stud apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, by himself to act as private guard dog for the young and beautiful Queen Amidala. The hills of Naboo are alive as Anakin and Padme roll in the greenest grass ever filmed; love blossoms like wild flowers; it cascades like silvery waterfalls - they're in paradise, which in Lucas World resembles a Monet painting with the contrast turned up way too high. Seeing that Anakin sprang forth from his mother's womb via a unique configuration of midi-chlorines, you might say that he is First Man, and with the gorgeous senator, they are Adam and Eve in Eden. Fair enough, but when Anakin is running with the boys, we see the germinating seeds of hatred and rebellion against the holy code of the Jedi. Apparently, Lucas cribbed the prequel trilogy from the Cliff's Notes of Paradise Lost, but Anakin Skywalker has to shoulder the burden of being both Adam and Satan - a tall order for the young Padawan apprentice.



  • It is, by all measures, an ... improvement - by Steven Rea

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=19&rid=313583 and http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/entertainment/special_packages/star_wars/3238114.htm

    • First, the good news. "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" is, by all measures, an ... improvement. That gangly goofball Jar Jar Binks - whose eyeballs suggest that this computer-animated Gungan is working on heavy sedatives - is allowed to utter but a few brief sentences of piercing, patois-inflected exposition. (He's summarily cut off at one point by Natalie Portman's Senator Padme.)

    • Sure, the spacecraft and creature designs have been "homaged" from generations of sci-fi and fantasy (everything from the `50s flick "Destination: Moon" to the animation effects of Ray Harryhausen). And there are tableaus inspired by the sun-dappled artwork of Maxfield Parrish and even the alpine splendor of Robert Wise's "The Sound of Music." (Watch Portman crest a grassy summit framed by snow-capped peaks. The hills are alive!) But whatever its many sources, Lucas' cinematic vision is, well, a vision.

      Now comes the bad part. Good luck to the hapless soul who wanders into "Clones" without being steeped in the lore of "Phantom Menace" and the original trilogy. (Surely a few still exist.) Who's this guy with the Kiwi accent (Temuera Morrison, as bounty hunter Jango Fett) and why is the Republic making a million replicas of him? To battle the armies of Christopher Lee's Count Dooku, of course!

    • Between the exhilarating Airspeeder chases, the light-sword duels, the regimental processions of battling droid and clone armies, and all the rest of the intergalactic action (something to do with rumbling separatists, unhappy spice traders, and, oh yeah, an evil plot to build the ultimate weapon), there is an eternity of numbing chitchat. Jedi knights and Republic senators exchange leaden pronouncements. An insolent Anakin and his mentor, Obi, bicker about Jedi doctrine. And Yoda, that shrimpy, centuries-old sage of the Force, has taken to talking like a textbook index, second clause first. As in: "Around the survivors, a perimeter create." As in: "Much to learn, you still have." And: "Meditate on this, I will."

    • "Clones" makes the Frodo-speak of "Lord of the Rings" sound like Noel Coward. You try bringing life to a line like "the Viceroy of the Trade Federation was once in league with this Darth Sidius" or "Now if you will excuse me, I must retire" (a stiff exit-stage-right from Portman). Even Samuel L. Jackson - who, as the pointy-eared Jedi, Mace Windu, looks like he wants to be having a good time - gets lost in the rigid solemnity.

      Still, an early Coruscant chase sequence (Obi and Anakin in hot pursuit of a "changeling" who's tried to assassinate Padme) beats up on the web-slinging perambulations Peter Parker goes through in "Clones'" multiplex competition, "Spider-Man." And if you can stay awake until the end, there's a terrific, Hong Kong-style face-off between the show-stealing, computer-generated Yoda and a significant Dark Sider.

      Saves the day, funny little green guy does.


  • Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones - Review written by: Alex Sandell

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=21&rid=313959 and http://www.juicycerebellum.com/200212.htm

    • "The CGI is strong with this one."

      If you go into Attack of the Clones thinking that it will be the Star Wars you've been waiting for ever since The Empire Strikes Back, you'll be sorely disappointed. If you go into Attack of the Clones thinking it'll be a pretty fun flick, even if it doesn't manage to come close to the original Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back, as is the case with Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace, you'll be sorely disappointed. If you go into Attack of the Clones expecting much of anything, really, you'll be sorely disappointed.

    • 1. The romance. Lucas must have had sap on the brain when writing this melodramatic excuse for a love affair. This relationship should have been something special. At the very least, it shouldn't have been embarrassing. This is honestly one of the most moronic things I've ever seen put on the screen. The audience busted out laughing with EVERY SINGLE LINE that fell flatly from the lover's lips like dried turd. With lines such as, "I don't like sand ... it's not soft and smooth like you," I suddenly know why the man behind the Star Wars saga can't get a date.

    • 7. Why are all the Clone Troopers CGI? What happened to extras in nifty looking armor plated outfits? If I wanted to see cartoon bad guys, I'd replay The Lion King, or watch FOX News.

    • 9. Boba Fett. Jango ruined him. Thanks for wrecking the mystery of Boba Fett, George. The reason Boba Fett is such a beloved character is because he is shrouded in a cloud of anonymity. Who is he? What does he look like? What does he sound like? What are his motivations? Giving Boba a face and a back story is like Greedo shooting first ... over and over and over again.

    • 10. Some of the worst special effects ever. Sure, Yoda looks simply incredible, as far as CGI goes, but what's up with the scene with Anakin riding that cow sort of things to impress Amidala (it would have been better if he would have just gotten it over with and rode Amidala. I'm sure Lucas would have found a way to wreck it with CGI boners and electronic moans.)? Or how about C-3PO flying around the factory (and no, he doesn't actually fly, he's swung around on a machine - I had a freaky mutant write to me complaining that I was a "faggit" for not knowing C-3PO doesn't actually "fly," so I thought I better clear this up)? These effects are inexcusable.

    • 11. This didn't feel like Star Wars. It felt like a movie ripping off Star Wars. Something wasn't right.

    • 16. Lack of war in the stars. Where were the space battles? What is this crap? Wasn't this called Star Wars for a reason?

    • 20. Why was that guy who used to be on NYPD Blue in there? His role was a pointless one with a big name (Organa). Give it to somebody whose face we don't recognize, if you aren't going to expand on it. Watching NYPD Man was distracting.

    • 24. Exposition. We get at least an hour of it. It's delivered without an ounce of panache. It's dull, lifeless, and monotone. Everyone is acting in front of a blue screen, and it shows. People talk at the claymation Gumby pace. It ... takes ... three ... minutes ... to ... say ... two ... words. "Gee ... Gumby ... this ... movie ... blows!"



  • Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones - Gary Thompson, Philadelphia Daily News

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=23&rid=313910 and http://ae.philly.com/entertainment/ui/philly/movie.html?id=62802&reviewId=8798

    • The only good thing left in the "Star Wars" series is the loyalty it inspires, summed up in 2000 by one of those kids who lined up for "The Phantom Menace."

    • Fans have been consoling themselves with the news that "Clones" isn't as bad as "Menace" - a little like saying the Sixers' playoff collapse was not as bad as the Flyers'.

    • Is it me, or is Lucas bringing this new trilogy to fans with all of the enthusiasm of a pallbearer? After a while, I began to jot down all the lines in his "Clones" screenplay that sounded like a subconscious cry for help.

      "If you are suffering as much as I am, please tell me."

      "Now that I'm with you again, I'm in agony."

      "Sometimes there are things no one can fix."

      "I wasn't strong enough to save you - I miss you so much."

      That last one sounds like Lucas' apology to his own original trilogy, his call across time to a younger filmmaker who still loved sci-fi and managed to infuse his hammy stories with a sense of enjoyment.

    • The fierce devotion of "Star Wars" fans (can't wait to read my e-mail) will always be Lucas' greatest achievement.

      No one will ever take that away. No matter how much Lucas tries.


  • Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones - Cranky Critic

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=22&rid=313953 and http://www.crankycritic.com/archive02/attackoftheclones.html

    • IN SHORT: Nothing but a two hour setup for Episode Three (and a disappointment at that). [Rated PG for sustained sequences of sci-fi action/violence. 132 minutes]

    • We must have missed something in The Phantom Menace because it turns out that "Queen" is an elected and not an inherited position on the planet Naboo. Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) is now Senator and someone in the Galaxy doesn't particularly care for her. The Jedi Council assigns Obi-Wan and his Jedi-in-Training to protect the Senator and investigate the situation. Anakin watches over the Senator while Kenobi's search takes him beyond the Outer Rim of the galaxy where he discovers an elaborate operation dedicated to building an Army of clones allegedly commissioned by the Jedi Council ten years earlier. The clones are derived from a bounty hunter named Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison) whose has a young son, Boba (Daniel Logan). Meanwhile, Anakin is tormented by dreams about the mother he hasn't seen since his days in Watto's junkyard. While he cannot leave Amidala's side on the planet Naboo, there is nothing to stop her from hopping a starship to Tattooine. Her actions probably indicate that the crush Skywalker has had on the lovely lady isn't exactly a one way street, but that would be telling.

      Attack of the Clones is as busy introducing characters who will play a greater role in the four episodes to come, as it is with discarding other characters. The powerful ex-Jedi Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) leads the Separatist Movement that seeks to overthrow the Republic, still led by Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Samuel L. Jackson's role as Jedi Knight Mace Windu is greatly expanded this time out and Jimmy Smits is introduced in a minor role as Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan. We expect that Smits will see a similarly expanded role in Episode Three. On Tattooine, Shmi Skywalker (Pernilla August) has married Cliegg Lars (Jack Thompson). Anakin now has a stepbrother, Owen Lars (Joel Edgerton) and Owen has a girlfriend, Beru Whitsun (Bonnie Maree Piesse). Fans in our audience were squealing with every introduction of every face associated with characters from A New Hope. Oh yeah, when Anakin find mom, and learns of everything that caused these precognitive "dreams," he gets kinda angry.


  • The cloning of a once-great idea - By JOHN POWELL -- JAM! Showbiz

    • http://www.canoe.ca/JamMoviesReviewsS/starwars_attackclones-can.html

    • Let's face facts. There comes a time in the lifespan of every popular film series when the die-hard fans still flock to the latest chapter in droves even though the general public could care less. It happened with "Aliens". It happened with the "Star Trek" series. George Lucas' saga has now reached that point.

      "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack Of The Clones." is supremely better than "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace", though that's not saying much. With all those wearisome political manoeuverings, Darth Maul being overshadowed by the irritating Jar Jar, and a disgracefully recycled finale, Lucas should've warned audiences not to operate heavy machinery after viewing "Episode One".

    • Anakin has grown from a naive child into an arrogant and disrespectful jerk. Though he sees Kenobi as a father figure and mentor, he dishonours him and the Jedi commandments at every turn. Anakin claims time and again that Kenobi is holding him back and that he will be more powerful then even him one day. When an exasperated Kenobi jokes that Anakin will be the death of him, he doesn't know how right he is.

      While Kenobi is off playing Columbo by uncovering an incoherent plot involving a clone army, Jango Fett (Boba's dad), and Christopher Lee (vamping around in a cape as Count Dooku without his trademark fangs and gigantic flying bugs straight out of "Godzilla"), Anakin and Amidala fall for each other in one of the most absurd and dispassionate romances in movie history.

      With priceless lines like "I'm not afraid to die. I've been dying a little bit each day since you came back into my life", the laugh-out-loud love story has all the refinement of a soap opera plot and 10 times the snickers.

      The film closes with a battle sequence that's so confounding we aren't sure who has the upper hand at any given time. Meccano Set robots squeal and sputter. Jedi knights slash and weave. Three hideous CGI monsters snarl and screech. There's lots of laser fire and smoke, and some stuff gets blown up, too.

    • Meanwhile, for those who hold memberships in the "Jar Jar Binks Must Die!" fan club, there is some redemption in "Episode Two". Jar Jar has only a few short scenes and it turns out, with one simple but foolish act, he is responsible for paving the way for the Empire to take over. (I would've preferred that the film opened with an Empire Walker crushing Jar Jar into a bloody pulp, but I'll take what I can get.)

    • In the end, the "Attack Of The Clones" title is fitting for all the wrong reasons. Some high-brow types might insist that another cantina scene or another lightsabre dual during the finale are musical refrains that flow through the symphony that is the entire series.


  • Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones by Joe McGovern, Senior Film Critic

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=15&rid=313678 and http://www.matineemag.com/Staff/Critics/Joe_McGovern/

    • Verisimilitude, the pretense of truth and authenticity even in the most ridiculous situations, is the single most important word in the science-fiction lexicon. It is also the word most sorely absent from the deteriorated brain of George Lucas, whose fifth movie as a director (and first video feature), Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones, exists in a vacuum of its own making. The mythology of Star Wars was always inexorably linked to a universal flash of recognition between its time and place and our own. But Lucas has since relocated to a soulless galaxy much further than far, far away--one in which apparent coolness means more than credibility, where real environments take a backseat to their awkward computer-generated counterparts, and where characters are so blank that nothing, not even a digitally implanted face, can be convincingly projected upon them.

      Suspiciously less controversial than 1999's Episode I -- The Phantom Menace, probably the most startling reaction to Attack of the Clones is the general lack of one. For a movie of its gigantic magnitude, audiences will be stunned by how little actually happens over the course of its 2 hours and 12 minutes. Even non-fans remember the twists that concluded the original trilogy's grim middle masterpiece, The Empire Strikes Back: Han Solo's capture in carbon-freeze, Darth Vader's divulgence of fatherhood, Yoda's hinting to another Jedi child. Attack of the Clones, while marginally insinuating the still-premature transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader, is too lackluster to negotiate even a guilty flirt. Rarely has an event movie dealt with such profound uneventfulness. Perhaps best described as the family-friendly, blockbuster equivalent of a farcical Mike Tyson press conference, Attack of the Clones is crowded and extravagant, dumb and stiff, noisy and distracting, yet disappointingly pointless and irrelevant all the same. There is that perverse attraction that pulls you to the spectacle, followed by that feeling of emptiness when you eventually grasp that it signifies nothing.

    • Arguably the tawdriest single moment in Attack of the Clones occurs during its most pedestrian set piece, a perilous conveyor belt ride that owes much more to Nintendo than Saturday-morning serials. In a quandary about how to move off a ledge, midget droid R2-D2 draws out a pair of heretofore unseen mini rocket propellers and adeptly soars above the premises, rescuing his friends from danger. Here as elsewhere, Lucas has illogically rewritten the makeup of a pre-established character simply for the sake of tickling his captive audience.

      This and other unfortunate instances of bottom-feeding in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones stem from the fact that Lucas, despite his warm and uncritical temperament, appears to be deathly intimidated by anyone smarter than him--a byproduct, assumedly, of the wealth and power ennobled in that glittery, emerald-tinted Lucasfilm logo. (Who wouldn't love to have been a fly on the wall at the very moment the lights came up at Steven Spielberg's private screening of The Phantom Menace?) Recently Lucas was quoted as saying that Lawrence Kasdan--the obviously influential co-screnwriter of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi--was not considered as a collaborator on the new movies because Kasdan is now too busy making his own pictures. Instead, presumably in an effort to save face following The Phantom Menace's critical assault, Lucas compromised with as unthreatening a partner as he could find--his own protégé Jonathan Hales, a former scribe on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles whose contributions here might as well have been penned in invisible ink.

    • The script offers no shortage of cardboard dialogue, virtually all of it expository and much ("I've been dying a little each day ever since you came back into my life," for example) likely to be greeted with titters by even the most respectful franchise devotees. Where it has marginally improved over The Phantom Menace is in its streamlining of that film's verbose jargon and bureaucratic double-speak.

    • Likewise, the best scene in Attack of the Clones--a snaky and evasive conversation between Obi-Wan and the enigmatic bounty hunter Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison)--required merely the presence of two actors in a room talking as its special effect.

    • His prowess with the camera is both ignorant of film history and non-progressive, best illustrated during Attack of the Clones' sloppy coliseum extravaganza, a broader, flatter remake of Luke Skywalker's clash against the drooling beast in Jabba the Hutt's dungeon from Return of the Jedi. Here Lucas employs swift zoom-ins for a couple of shots, and whether his intention was to distinguish the movie from a video game or pay homage to his 70’s roots, the result has a hilarious resemblance to a South Park parody of Ridley Scott's Gladiator.

    • Nothing Lucas does badly on the technical side, however, can be compared to his crude and disrespectful direction of actors. It seems inconceivable that Portman would play the already dull Padmé with such a graceless and pallid monotone unless being explicitly told to do so. McGregor, Ian McDiarmid, and Samuel L. Jackson, all slightly less drab here than in The Phantom Menace, nevertheless are lost in a sea of CG pollution. Just as the luminous Pernilla August gave the best performance despite limited screen time in The Phantom Menace as Anakin's selfless mother (here she is offered mere crumbs, of which she promptly chokes on anyway), so too does New Zealander Morrison, extraordinary in 1995's Once Were Warriors, give a brief high-wattage jolt of electricity to Attack of the Clones.

      Morrison deserved to stand out even more in a movie strangely lacking the presence of an interesting or discernable villain, unless you count the late entrance of Christopher Lee as the sinister Count Dooku--an old hat performance most astutely described by my colleague Chuck Rudolph as Christopher Lee doing an impersonation of Frank Langella doing an impersonation of Christopher Lee in Lord of the Rings. Dooku's much talked-about lightsaber fight scene with Spider-Man at the end of the film--I'm sorry, I meant Yoda--is another cheap and silly betrayal of Star Wars principles. Why the hell couldn't Yoda have remained the quiet Gandhi-like voice of conscious that he was in his three previous appearances? Is that simply not enough anymore? As if watching him perform obscene backflips were not enough, Lucas also digitally inserts Lee's 79-year old head onto a stuntman's body for this scene, a transparently flawed bit of technology that should send shivers down the spine of anyone who catches their eye to it. But again, what is the point of this? Lucas never needed to cork off Alec Guinness's head in order to get the shot he wanted--and Lord knows Guinness would be rolling twice as vigorously in his grave if Lucas ever did.


  • Strike II: 'Attack Of The Clones' Is Visually Stunning But As Flawed As 'Episode I' by Terry Lawson Detroit Free Press

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=13&rid=313971 and http://ae.freep.com/entertainment/ui/michigan/movie.html?id=62802&reviewId=8799

    • The other night I dreamed that for the opening of "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones," the Free Press hired Yoda to be its movie critic. (As a Jedi knight, he is duty-bound to be honest, so conflict-of-interest charges would not apply.)

      "About this movie, much fuss has been made," Yoda's review began. "I fear to the Dark Side it may have gone."

      I truly wanted to believe the prerelease hype that said director and cowriter George Lucas had heeded the criticism lobbed at "Episode I" that said the movie, for all its technological wonder, was soulless and silly. That the characters were one-dimensional, the acting wooden and the dialogue insipid. I wanted to believe it was possible for Lucas to recapture the innocent but indelible mythos of the original three films. I wanted to be wowed again.

      I can honestly say I was impressed and surprised. Not by the story, which has not a single unpredictable turn; after all, we've known for 20 years how this all turns out. (Spoiler alert: The good guys win.)

      And not by the computer-generated landscapes and characters. They are, to be certain, groundbreaking in scope and execution. But we now expect every new fantasy film to break new ground, because technology not only permits it but requires it. And we certainly expect "Star Wars" to lead the charge -- it's helmed by the man whose company, Industrial Light & Magic, can lay claim, for better or worse, to revolutionizing what was once quaintly known as special effects.

      No, I was surprised, and impressed in a perverse way, at how unaffected Lucas has been to the reaction to "Episode I." Universally detested computerized comic sidekick Jar Jar Binks has his screen time reduced -- while still making the movie's most momentous decision -- and protagonist Anakin Skywalker is no longer a cute, annoying 9-year-old, but a cute, annoying 20-year-old. Beyond that, it's pretty much the same old Lucasland. Lots of eye-dazzling action, lots of light sabers, enough avant-coiffeur to qualify for Detroit's Hair Wars. To borrow from Yoda-speak: Much to desire we still have.

    • On those counts, he is correct. Not only does Anakin embarrass his mentor by questioning his mission, disobeying orders and generally acting like a brat, he wastes little time in declaring his love for Padme. Jedis are expected to resist earthly desire, not to mention to show some manly restraint.

      While it is possible some adolescents and action-figure collectors will mistake Anakin's anguished glowering for passion, the romance that will produce Luke and Leia is barely believable.

      It's hard to blame the actors for this love-bomb lapse; Portman is unquestionably talented, and Christensen slouched his way convincingly through last year's "Life as a House."

      Lucas just seems to have no clue how to build a relationship on something as complicated on character; without the badinage of Han and Leia, these lovers have little to say, and when they try, it's embarrassing. After Padme tells Anakin about a rare day she spent enjoying herself on the beach, he moves in close and says, "I don't like the sand. It's coarse and it's rough and it gets everywhere. I like things soft and smooth." What a sweet talker.

      The relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin goes no deeper; Obi-Wan's a schoolmarm scold, Anakin is a reckless kid who drives too fast and acts without thinking and uses too much mousse. It would be ironic, were it not so understandable, that the most human character in "Episode II" turns out to be the now entirely digitized Yoda (the voice still, for the moment, belongs to Frank Oz). Free of the puppet strings that prevented him from reaching his full potential, Yoda out-acts and out-thinks everyone in "Episode II" and (spoiler alert No. 3) is rewarded by being handed the light saber for the climax.

      This compensates a bit for an overlong, overly busy sequence that would seem to be an homage to "Jason and the Argonauts," in which the Jedis come together in a gladiator-bullfight-rodeo arena to battle a bazillion computerized droids commanded by evil Count Dooku (Christopher Lee).

      Everything that is disappointing about "Episode II" is summed up right here. There's Anakin playing ride-'em-cowboy on a bucking, horned -- well, you'd have to buy one of those countless "Guide to Star Wars Creatures" books to know exactly what it is. There's Padme running around in a ripped tunic, and there's C-3PO, every bit as irritating as Jar Jar was in "Episode I," losing his head.

      Don't worry, kids; he can be fixed. As for the franchise, let me suggest this, Mr. Lucas: Give it up. Hand over the keys to the kingdom and the Jedi handbook to someone who has a real interest in working with actors and a script writer, someone who can send this series out the way it came in, with a bang, not a bore. A new leader, Jedi warriors, you now need.


  • In space, no one can hear you groan - Stephanie Zacharek

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=1&rid=313947 and http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/review/2002/05/16/attack_clones/index.html and http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/review/2002/05/16/attack_clones/index1.html

    • May 16, 2002 | "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones" could be the worst movie ever made and still it would have the faithful rallying around the Lucas franchise, brandishing their light sabers like bayonets. Against that army of formidable opponents, it seems like a waste of breath to point out the flaws in a movie that isn't really a movie at all: truncated sequences that don't string together into a coherent story, dialogue that may as well have been cobbled together out of pieces of wood instead of words, love scenes shot to look like douche commercials. At this point, George Lucas can put whatever he wants on-screen and get away with it. He has become the ruler of the universe, at least the one between his ears; his wish is our command.

      Anyone who dares criticize Lucas has to be prepared for an onslaught of e-mail from fans. But the irony here is that for all the fan-boy loyalty he inspires, Lucas doesn't make movies with the hopes or desires of an audience -- any audience -- in mind. In his fortress, the lights are on, but nobody's home.

      Forget for a minute that we're the ones paying the electricity bill. "Attack of the Clones" is barely reviewable as a movie because it's something so far beyond (and yet less than) anything an honest-to-God movie should be. It's an event, a juggernaut, with a preprogrammed audience ready to like it whether it's any good or not.

      Of course, you could have said the same about "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace," and you'd be right. But as aggressively piddling and impossible-to-follow as that film was, "Attack of the Clones" is actually worse. Instead of unraveling the back story behind the first "Star Wars" (now, of course, designated as Episode IV) in any recognizable narrative fashion, Lucas has decided to tell it with almost exclusively expository dialogue and a handful of not particularly impressive effects thrown in.

      In fact, Lucas seems to have gone out of his way to make the plot complicated, as if following the wormy convolutions of the tale were supposed to be some kind of test -- forget actually caring for the characters or being enthralled by the magic of a story as it unfolds. The message seems to be, if you find yourself unable to diagram the plot and all its alleged intricacies in 60 seconds or less, you can't belong to the club.

      Which may be why so many people, consciously or otherwise, are desperate to belong. In the case of "Attack of the Clones," what does your Captain George Decoder Ring get you? You get the crawl at the beginning to explain where we're at in the story, which you'll need whether you remember a shred of the plot of "The Phantom Menace" or not.

      Ten years have passed: Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) is no longer the queen of the planet Naboo, but an important senator who represents her home planet in the Galactic Republic. Even though we don't really see her do anything except flit about in the worst movie gowns since "Mahogany," she apparently is important enough for someone to want to assassinate her.

      An attempt on Padmé's life fails, and Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor, again doing a fine Alec Guinness impersonation but otherwise seeming lost and alone in the galaxy as the one actor attempting to give a real performance in this mess) and his young protégé Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) are assigned to investigate.

      The trail leads them to Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), and you know he's bad because his name sounds kind of like kidspeak for "turd." Dooku is a separatist who wants to secede from the Republic and otherwise stir up all sorts of trouble. Luckily, though, on a distant planet everybody has forgotten about, there's an army of mighty soldier clones who are almost ready to receive their orders to defend the Republic. They've been grown from the earwax scrapings of a fearless bounty hunter named Jango Fett, who's the last of the Mandalorians and also the forefather of a great Gypsy guitarist.

      In other words, this is a story you'll definitely want to take seriously. It really heats up when young Anakin and Amadala, who knew each other as kids but haven't laid eyes on each other since the puberty fairy waved his magic rod, fall desperately in love. But of course, a Jedi knight isn't allowed to have relationships with the fair sex, and a senator has no time for nookie, anyway.

      Thus we're subjected to an embarrassingly dewy scene, set on a soft-focus hillside straight out of "The Sound of Music," in which the two roll around playfully together on the grass, each hoping to inadvertently cop a feel. Later, they stare into each other's eyes on a moonlit terrace, talking in hushed tones about the infeasibility of inserting Tab A into Slot B. Forget "Spaceballs" -- we're talking "Blue Balls."

    • Poor George Lucas: For him, the whole galaxy is a town without pity. He approaches the love scenes between Anakin and Amidala with unsheathed embarrassment. Clearly, he can't wait for them to be over so he can get on to the cool stuff, much of which he's stolen from other movies anyway. (A city of roadways floating parallel to one another on many different levels is lifted straight out of "The Fifth Element"; there's a major battle, complete with bloodthirsty beasts, derived straight from "Gladiator.")

      There's one special-effects scene in "Attack of the Clones" that qualifies as fun: A light-saber duel between Dooku and that little whippersnapper Yoda, who's about one-sixth his size. When Yoda swings and sweeps through the air, jabbing and slicing at the stringbean-elegant Dooku (even when he's playing a dud of a character, Lee can't help but look elegant), the movie gets a momentary jolt of energy. The sequence works because it shows us a Yoda we haven't seen before, moving in a way we never imagined he could -- it's a bit like seeing Kermit the Frog ride a bicycle. In that one sequence, Lucas creates a believable reality for a beloved and well-known character that teases and tickles our imagination.

      The rest of the time, though, "Attack of the Clones" leaves us constantly hoping that with the next scene, something exciting will actually happen. The story is chopped up into dozens of tiny, episodic bits; they're supposed to move the action along rapidly, but they only serve to make the movie feel like an elongated cheapie toy train with too many cars for its weak engine to pull.

      What's more, Lucas has never met a stereotype he didn't like. Jar Jar Binks, his dreads dangling and his patois pattering, makes a few brief appearances. (For what it's worth, the preview audience I saw the movie with hissed when he came on-screen and cheered when he left.) We also get another chance to see the crooked moneylender we first met in "The Phantom Menace," the guy with the insect wings and the big, hooked nose. This time, he has apparently sold Anakin's mother down the river. But we know he's not supposed to look Jewish or anything because, as everybody knows, Jews don't have wings.

      Scene after scene, "Attack of the Clones" looks, sounds and smells bad. Portman and Christensen (the first of whom is incredibly talented, and the second of whom at least had a fighting chance in "Life as a House") bumble about awkwardly, trampling over their own and one another's clumsy lines. (Portman's outfits are a consistent disappointment: Whose idea was it to put her in that chintzy Courrèges-by-way-of-Target stretch outfit for the climactic escape scene?)

      "Attack of the Clones" is the ultimate betrayal of the two high points in the "Star Wars" series: It's such a far cry from the giddy, Saturday-afternoon feel of the first "Star Wars," and from Irvin Kershner's somber, completely enveloping "The Empire Strikes Back," that it hardly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.

      What no one wants to admit is that modern fantasies like TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books have rendered the ever-more-convoluted machinations of the "Star Wars" franchise irrelevant. (I'd also argue that the first installment of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" series stole the thunder of "Attack of the Clones" months in advance.) Both "Buffy" and the Harry Potter books relate directly to real life, instead of taking place in a sterile, self-contained universe. Both have done a much better job than the "Star Wars" series of creating a rich and complex mythology and, most important of all, they've given us characters we genuinely want to care about.

      Lucas, on the other hand, has created an imaginary universe that pretends to fuel our imaginations even as it seals them off: He doesn't want our imaginations to soar, because then they will no longer be in his power. That's why every plot detail in "Attack of the Clones" is so neatly planned out and controlled. This is a fantasy with no poetry in it.

      Which explains why barely a frame of it stuck with me after I left the theater. For some moviegoers, the two-hours-plus of "Attack of the Clones" may qualify as fun. But what I loved best about it was running, almost literally, from the theater afterward: I can't remember ever feeling so glad that a movie was finally over. Lucas may have held my imagination hostage for two hours, but reclaiming it afterward wasn't hard at all. The Force is always with us. It lives, even when George Lucas tries to bludgeon it to death.


  • Review: 'Clones' better, but still uneven : Fabulous action sometimes undone by wooden dialogue By Paul Tatara

    • http://www.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/Movies/05/15/ca.s02.review.tatara.star.wars/index.html

    • Now that they've had a couple of years to process its indignities, most people accept that "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" stunk like a rotting Bantha carcass. So it's nice to report that "Episode II: Attack of the Clones" is a considerable improvement, even though it features several laughable courtship scenes and lots of wooden expository dialogue. Until he pulls an entertaining, highly unexpected move near the end of the picture, even Yoda seems vaguely uninterested.

    • All those feelings
    • That's about the gist of it, but Lucas knows that millions of fanatics won't settle for a mere gist, never mind that the first "Star Wars" picture was designed and marketed as a trifle.
    • Consequently, we're forced to endure endless scenes in which robe-wearing actors -- including Samuel Jackson as Jedi Master Mace Windu -- solemnly intone the basic conflicts and dilemmas. These interludes don't choke the rhythm as much as they did in the last installment, to be sure, but there's no avoiding their seriously inflated importance.

    • Unfortunately, given Lucas' proven knack for lousy dialogue, you can't help but snicker at the two lovebirds. Special mention has to go to Anakin's head-scratching segue between complaining about beach sand and marveling at Amidala's silky-smooth complexion. For a couple of terrifying seconds, it seems like he might start singing.

    • Anakin, as embodied by Christensen, is the kind of needlessly moody kid you might see getting punched out in a Dairy Queen parking lot. It's difficult to determine exactly what the more mature Amidala sees in him, except that they have to get it on in time for Luke and Leia to pop up in "Episode IV" (the original "Star Wars").

      Lucas also displays a distinct loss of nerve when it comes to illustrating Anakin's swing to the dark side. A pivotal slaughter that he perpetrates against a camp full of semi-innocents is suggested rather than shown, almost certainly because it's hard to sell action figures depicting a guy who butchers people on camera.

      So it's a mixed bag, but not as dreadfully mixed as the last one.

      The difficulty in trying to critique the "Star Wars" films is that millions of viewers are so convinced beforehand of its glorious achievement, they're wanting to hear that it's a religious experience. "Attack of the Clones" drags in parts, some of it is exciting, and it looks like it cost several trillion dollars to make --- just like "Spider-Man." If you're after anything more than that, it's up to you to find it


  • When We Last Saw Our Heroes By KENNETH TURAN

    • http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-051302turan.story

    • We'll never see another "Star Wars," no matter how much we want to. And we want to very much.

      But like the cherished passions of first love, the fervor called forth by the landmark film is never coming back, and no amount of prequels or sequels is going to change that. Paradoxically, the fact that the latest prequel, "Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones," is a bit better than its predecessor makes it clear how lacking in the things that matter these newcomers are.

      Given its huffy 9-year-old protagonist and off-putting characters like Jar Jar Binks and Watto the junk dealer, "Episode I The Phantom Menace" was anything but a tough act to follow. Picking up the adventures of Anakin Skywalker 10 years later, "Clones" (which opens Thursday) has more menace and less Jar Jar, better battles and an impressive parade of eye-catching splendors. But like the Tin Man, "The Wizard of Oz's" C-3PO predecessor, it doesn't have much of a heart. Writer-director George Lucas' gift for animating the inanimate turns out to be paralleled by a tendency to deaden what should be completely alive.

    • One reason is a script that feels, well, cloned, something Lucas and co-writer Jonathan Hales (TV's "Young Indiana Jones," story credit on "The Mummy Returns") threw together in their spare time. The plot is standard, and the dialogue, even for something intended for young people, is curiously flat. It ranges from the pious ("The day we stop believing democracy can work is the day we lose it") to the predictive ("Why do I get the feeling you're going to be the death of me," Obi-Wan Kenobi jokes to Anakin) to the pathetic, as when Anakin grumbles about Padmé Amidala, "I've thought about her every day since we parted--and she's forgotten me completely."

      These stiff lines are matched by line readings so uniformly impassive that even such lively performers as Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan) and Natalie Portman (Padmé) can't animate them. Only the veteran Christopher Lee, with experience of doing things on his own during his long career, gives a worthwhile performance as the villainous Count Dooku. For what Lucas gets out of his cast, the actors might as well be digital too, as is the rest of the film.

    • Judging by his performance here (perhaps not a wise thing to do), young Canadian actor Hayden Christensen was picked for Anakin strictly on his ability to radiate sullen teen rebellion, something he does a lot. Anakin chafes like a grounded adolescent at the restrictions Obi-Wan places on him, grousing that the master is "overly critical. He never listens. He just doesn't understand. It's not fair."

      This High School Confidential in Outer Space tone is continued in the forbidden romance (Jedis aren't allowed to fall in love) that develops between Anakin and the senator. As the young people hide from danger in an elegant Naboo retreat, they're burdened by a formidable lack of chemistry. (Where are Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst when we really need them?) And they're saddled with dialogue that might have been ransacked from old Harlequin novels: "I'm haunted by the kiss you never should have given me."

      Everything inevitably ends in a climactic battle, where the senator gets to fight bad guys while showing off a Britney Spears-like bare midriff. Impressive though the computer work is, it soon descends into video game overkill. Only a teenage boy could find this kind of stuff continually diverting, and only a teenage boy would not notice flimsy emotions and underdeveloped acting.


  • Star Wars II - 'Attack Of The Clones' by Edward Johnson-Ott

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=11&rid=313934

    • Although the film suffers from many of the same problems as the leaden "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace," the latest bloated by-God-this-will-be-an-Epic from George Lucas actually has a few minutes that are fun.

      Remember fun? Like the fun we had during the original "Star Wars," when the guy who brought us "American Graffiti" tackled space operas? Lucas, still a young twerp, updated the old "Flash Gordon" type serials with a grand adventure pitting a wide-eyed farm boy, a cocky pilot, his furry partner and a tough-as-nails princess against one of the most hissable bad guys of all time. The fresh-faced performers' acting skills were shaky, the dialogue was cheesy and some of the creatures were less than convincing, but none of that mattered because the overall package was such a blast.

      Lucas followed "Star Wars" with two sequels that were more ambitious and more melodramatic. Although the trilogy contained some annoying elements (Ewoks, anyone? And how was the death of a Jedi supposed to have any impact when they kept popping up in ghost form?), they satisfied because of the immense fun factor.

      Sixteen years after the final film, Lucas unveiled the first in his prequel trilogy. I won't rehash "The Phantom Menace" here - the painful memories are still too fresh. Suffice to say that, aside from gorgeous special effects, the movie was a stone drag.

      Initially, it looks like "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (could these titles be any clunkier?) is headed down the same path. For well over an hour, the film hops from one breathtaking vista to the next as a parade of dull characters spouts bad dialogue. Only a zippy flying car chase scene breaks up the monotony.

    • After Padme is nearly killed while Obi-wan and Anakin squabble, the plot splits in two - Obi-wan flies off to find the culprits while Anakin remains to guard Padme. On a distant world, Obi-wan discovers a clone lab cranking out warriors to fight for the Republic (though no one can remember ordering them). Meanwhile, Anakin and Padme begin the most stilted, least passionate romance in the history of film (Sample line: "I am haunted by the kiss you should not have given to me").

      Ouch.

      Eventually, the key players are reunited as Lucas does an alien version of "Gladiator" and the flick gets a much-needed shot of adrenaline. After so much strained posturing, the movie finally turns into "Star Wars" again, or at least something very much like it. This portion includes the high point of the film: a terrific lightsaber battle where Yoda (Frank Oz) finally stops yapping and jumps into the fray. As much as I enjoyed the fight, I enjoyed what Yoda does immediately after even more.

    • On the flesh and blood front, Samuel L. Jackson gets to do slightly more than in the last film, although his talents are still wasted. Jimmy Smits pops up briefly - presumably he and Sam will have expanded roles in the final installment of the trilogy. Horror movie giant Christopher Lee appears as a pivotal character, looking remarkably good for his age. And Temuera Morrison, the mesmerizing star of "Once Were Warriors," makes an indelible impression as little Boba Fett's fierce bounty hunter poppa.

      Sadly, the acting is as wooden here as in "The Phantom Menace," with the sole exception of Ewan McGregor, who humanizes Obi-wan Kenobi quite nicely in an assured performance. McGregor also draws the biggest laugh in the movie when he turns to the future Darth Vader and says, "Anakin, sometimes I think you'll be the death of me."

      I'm still not sure whether or not I like that line, but I am sure that "Attack of the Clones" is a better film than "The Phantom Menace." Although the ending is annoyingly abrupt, at least the movie delivers a few payoffs. Both films, however, left me with the same question: When did George Lucas forget that people, not special effects, are what make a movie work?


  • Star Worse - Glenn Lovell

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=1&rid=313912 and http://ae.bayarea.com/entertainment/ui/bayarea/movie.html?id=62802&reviewId=8796

    • They can't blame Jar Jar for this one.

      The floppy-eared one with the unintelligible patois keeps his duck-billed trap shut through most of George Lucas' ``Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones.''

      If only Hayden Christensen as the hunky new Anakin Skywalker and Natalie Portman as now-Senator Padmé Amidala had been similarly muzzled. The star-crossed Romeo and Juliet of the Galactic Republic couldn't be more innocuous or self-conscious. Caught frolicking in a Nabooian field and trading goo-goo eyes before a cozy fire, these two young actors appear to be auditioning (very poorly) for ``As the Galaxy Churns.''

      ``I've been dying a little each day since you came back into my life,'' Anakin tells Padmé in a typically lame timeout from battle droids and asteroid-belt dodgems.

      The rest of the cast -- including the returning Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Samuel L. Jackson as Jedi Master Mace Windu -- seems both bored and unimpressed by the periodic digital dust-ups, this time between insurgents plotting the Republic's fall and Jedi Knights charged with protecting Padmé and tracking assassins back to a phantom planet.

      Thank goodness, then, for that all-knowing gnome Yoda (now computer-generated, like Jar Jar and the winged Watto) and the dastardly Count Dooku (Christopher Lee, on loan from ``Lord of the Rings''). As chief goodie and baddie, these guys ignite what little real excitement finds its way into ``Attack of the Clones,'' which fairly drones along as it trades on undeniably impressive CG effects in place of strong narrative and real suspense. (Like cartoon characters, Anakin and Obi-Wan repeatedly fall from high places, and then dust themselves off.)

      Watching Yoda (again voiced by Frank Oz) draw his lightsaber, whirl into action and kick Darth butt almost makes up for the pointless heroics and hopeless Christensen.

      Hewing closely to the plot lines and evolving tone of the first trilogy (1977-1983), ``Clones,'' like ``The Empire Strikes Back,'' is a lot darker and more fatalistic than its predecessor, which played to a much younger audience with its funny beasties and podracers.

    • Ignoring Anakin's obvious emotional attachment to Padmé, the High Council makes him her bodyguard. Of course, the young Anakin isn't up on his Jedi-code. To wit: Duty first, Nabooian nuzzling later. Oddly, just as things heat up between the two -- during the aforementioned roll in cosmic clover -- Anakin begins pining for his mother, who, in an homage to John Ford's epic western ``The Searchers,'' has been kidnapped by Tusken raiders on the desert planet Tatooine.

      Meanwhile (insert old-fashioned optical ``wipe'' here), Obi-Wan tracks an assassin to Kamino, the storm-ravaged mystery planet where he finds giraffe-necked aliens hard at work filling the Republic's back order for a clone army, which bears a striking resemblance to the stormtroopers of the original ``Star Wars.''

    • And so the scene is set for the Big Showdown: Clones vs. Battle Droids. But you can think of the clashing forces as blips on a computer grid. They're kind of neat to watch, but they're like the proverbial armies in the night -- one big roiling mess.

      To be blunt, ``Clones'' is more star chores than ``Star Wars,'' more phantom menace than ``Episode I,'' which used to represent the series' low point. It's a good thing Lucas has episodes IV-VI in the can: The way he's going, the diminishing ``Star Wars'' fan base will be drawn to the dark side (as in Zzzzzzz) before Anakin metamorphoses from budding fascist to wheezing Darth Vader.

      It doesn't help that Lucas' latest arrives on the heels of Peter Jackson's ``Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring'' and Sam Raimi's ``Spider-Man.'' Jackson's action is labyrinthine while Lucas' is predictable and repetitive. Raimi's comic-book adventure zips along while Lucas', for all its retro-``Blade Runner''/``Metropolis'' set design, feels forced and lethargic. The coliseum climax -- with Anakin, Padmé and Obi-Wan as main-event monster bait -- feels like a cross between ``Gladiator,'' ``Ben-Hur'' and vintage Ray Harryhausen adventures with fire-breathing dragons.

      Lucas now would seem to have three paths before him. He can hand over the reins to ``Episode III'' to a real director who knows how to work with actors and balance story and effects. Or he can retire Obi-Wan, Anakin et al. and allow us to use our imaginations to connect narrative dots that were never very far apart to begin with.

      Or, he can continue on as bogus wizard behind an increasingly frayed curtain.

      To borrow Yoda's tortured syntax, ``Down this path, my wealthy Jedi friend, darkness and disaster found can be.''


  • "Episode II': The Force Falters - by Desson Howe

    • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1112314/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=1&rid=314080 and http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=style/movies/reviews&contentId=A26961-2002May16

    • FOR THE legions of "Star Wars" fans, some of them still lining the block to see "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones," nothing stands between them and a good time. And may the force be with them.

      And also, may they read no further. They're not going to like this.

      To this set of ears, there's a distant rumble. But it's not the army of clones marching across the battlefield or George Lucas's cutting-edge sound system. It's the collision of two Lucas eras - the better one, in which Harrison Ford was the newest kid on the block; and the later one, in which the new sensation is . . . Hayden Christensen.

    • But in the tortured syntax of Yoda, Vader not is he. And while we're talking in funny Muppet language: Great movie not is "Attack of the Clones."

    • While these dark forces threaten the welfare of the cosmos, and Obi-Wan gets the go-ahead to investigate further, Anakin "Ani" Skywalker is left to guard, and fall in love with, Senator Amidala.

      They have to fall in love, we know that. Or Luke Skywalker won't be born. There's a timetable over their heads. Unfortunately, that seems to be the only discernible reason for their romance. The chemistry between them is a frigid zero.

      For one thing, neither party is particularly engaging, either as character or performer. Christensen's Anakin is a one-dimensionally arrogant brat given to surges of petulant rage. It's not his fury so much as his limited range that brings him up short. Portman is brittle, chilly and unconvincing as Padme; it's as if she hasn't quite committed to being a "Star Wars" character yet.

      The net result: a love affair between a hothead and an ice bucket.

      "I've been dying a little bit ever since you came back into my life," Padme confesses to Anakin. Does it get any Ami-duller than this?

      Christensen and Portman are just two elements that don't jibe with the "Star Wars" movies of the 1970s and 1980s.

    • Even the storytelling has slumped. The rivalry between McGregor's Obi-Wan and Christensen's Anakin is practically phoned-in. And when you've seen one scene of mass-generated clones marching in symmetrical fashion, you've seen them all. There's nothing to stir us, no scene to savor for life – such as the father-son battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in "The Empire Strikes Back." Back then, we were watching a classic, still the best film in the series. This time, we're watching just another "Star Wars" flick.



  • Revenge not so sweet - The final star wars is better than attack of the clones. But that's not saying much - by Rick Gordon

    • http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20050518.wxstarwars0518/BNStory/Entertainment/

    • Anyway, since today's culminating chapter is actually the sixth angel crowded onto this pinheaded chronicle (oops, is my bias showing?), it remains only to compare their relative merits. To that infinitely simpler question, the answer is easy enough: Sombre III vastly improves upon listless II, stays at a marginal par with mediocre I, but (to anyone but the most slavish apologists) is no match for the playful insouciance of IV, or the emerging gravitas of V, or even the tie-up-the-loose-ends neatness of VI.

    • The rest of us, long excommunicated from the church of Star Wars, will tiptoe through the usual psychological twaddle, praying that our irreverent giggles go unnoticed by the faithful. Everyone, though, will agree on the immutable issue of "how." Immutable, because Lucas directs as he always does, with the same basic two-step that, if anything, has only grown more entrenched over the years.

    • Opening gambit over, it must be time for some exposition. Returning home, Anakin snuggles up to his furtive love, Padmé (Natalie Portman), and promptly makes the joint discovery that, (1) Padmé is pregnant and, (2) Lucas's romantic dialogue is as risible as ever. Man: "You're so beautiful." Woman: "It's only because I'm so in love." Man: "No, it's because I'm so in love with you." Me: "Man oh man."

      Understandably anxious after this torrid exchange, Anakin is plagued by bad dreams prophesying a tragic event, and looks to the sagacious Yoda for counsel. Alas, still doing his ass-backwards best to turn English into Latin, a help Yoda is not. So the chosen one is prompted to choose a less convoluted ally in the person of Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Now it's our chance to enjoy a twinned set of discoveries: (1) McDiarmid is the only actor in the entire cast who survives, and somehow even animates, Lucas's wooden way with words; and, (2) Anakin made a bad choice.

      From there, it's a slippery slope to Darth Vaderville. Well, maybe not so slippery, since there's more action, and more marketable action figures, that must intercede. Like the nefarious General Grievous. Half-alien, half-droid, with a canine head and a nasty cough, he looks like a skeletal greyhound feeling the effects of a two-pack-a-day habit - hey, kiddies, just pull the string and hear him hack.


From Nikki - and Ben

From: Nicola
To: l.m.d.cranswick@dl.ac.uk
Subject: RE: Information needed.
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 09:38:25 +1000

Hi Lox,

Ta for the trivia re Django (or "Jingo" as Jack calls him).  Needless to say
I haven't seen Star Wars II (or I to M or whatever they're up to).  I did,
however, read a bit of a review in The Age a week or so ago.  It said that
while everyone is banging on about what crap the latest efforts are, they
have forgotten what crap the original films were.  The difference being that
most devotees (and current reviewers) were around 10 years old and a bit
less discerning when they saw the originals.  He also pointed out that out
of the original cast, only Harrison Ford was any good and, surprise,
surprise, only Harrison Ford has gone on to be a big film star.

This is all I can offer on this topic, but in other world-breaking news, the
second round robin paper is all set for printing - proofs and corrections
have had the OK.

See ya later,

Nikki


From: Nicola
To: l.m.d.cranswick@dl.ac.uk
Subject: FW: Django
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 09:55:45 +1000

Hey Lachlan,

This is Benzo's (somewhat feeble, it IS Monday morning) response to your
Star Wars trivia.  For some reason he couldn't reply to you - it kept
bouncing and saying the address was wrong?!?!?!?!?

See ya,
Nikki

-----Original Message-----
From: Blazz
Sent: Monday, 17 June 2002 9:36 AM
To: Lachlan Cranswick
Cc: nicola
Subject: Django


> (Bit of trivia for Nikki and Ben:  One of the characters is named Jango and one
>  reviewer states: "Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), possibly (but probably 
>  not) named after guitar legend Django Reinhardt, drops "seismic charges" 
>  in an all-too familiar asteroid field that explode with a D-minor twang!")

Lachlan,
Jango - Django without the "D".
I guess the explosion was the D-minus twang..,

Cheers,
Ben


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