Attack of the Clones (2002) is the second part of the Star Wars prequels, taking place after the events of The Phantom Menace. George Lucas once again directs this episode, with Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson and Natalie Portman returning to their roles and Anakin Skywalker now portrayed by Hayden Christensen. Set ten years after The Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker takes on the role as protector of Padmé (Portman) whilst Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor) investigates those who tried to kill her.
To start off positive, Ewan McGregor is fantastic in the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi. It is clear that he cares a lot about this franchise and series, because he is giving it everything to make this film work. He is entertaining and his character actually has the best storyline to go with it as well. Samuel L. Jackson is his usual self and it is hard not to smile when he appears on the screen just for being himself. I also enjoyed watching Yoda in this film, particularly when it comes to the end of this instalment.
There are also technical achievements which should be noted as positives here, such as the sound design continuing to improve heavily throughout these films. The fight sequences also continue to be a stand-out in this series, however it seems like this film may have gone too bold with its ideas and could not fully execute everything they wanted to, making some of the CGI and visual effects work look really bad. There are moments that look great, such as Yoda, but some of the background shots look awful in comparison to even The Phantom Menace.
The script for this film in particular is bad, whether you look at the tonal balance or the narrative of the film. The film seems to just start in the middle of the story, not allowing the audience any time to settle in or get a grasp of what is happening before we are thrown straight into it. The film drags on for nearly two-and-a-half hours long, which feels way too long for a narrative of this style with not much action actually happening in that space of time. It also takes an incredibly long time for Palpatine to come on screen, which is concerning considering he is reliable for a lot of the tension in the film.
Just like the previous film, this one cannot seem to get a balance of tone correct. This time, all of the serious moments came off cheesy and cringe, whilst the humourous content still comes off as childish. Part of that is still down to Jar Jar Binks, who gets less screen time here but is still annoying and hard to watch. It does not help that the CGI in some parts is so bad that you cannot believe anything that is happening in the film.
The performances from most of the cast are actually quite bad for a film like this. It feels like some of the cast signed on expecting it to be in the same league as the original trilogy and now they are stuck in a contract. This mainly applies to Natalie Portman, who really seems like she is giving as little effort as possible. I do not blame her, considering how her character is written and what the script is like overall, but it is just a mess. Hayden Christensen tries giving some effort with the role of Anakin, but once again his character is just badly written and lacks any ability to make anything worthy of it regardless of performance.
Unlike the original trilogy, in which you care about the love story of Han and Leia, I hate the developing relationship between Anakin and Padme. They are heavily forcing a cheesy tone to this love story and pushing the narrative of it being forbidden, something that is well overdone in Hollywood nowadays. It takes up way too much of the running time and provides some of the worst lines of this entire series, including the likes of “I don’t like sand”. What even was the point of that sequence?
From the script to the performances, this film is another level of bad. Whilst I could get some form of entertainment out of The Phantom Menace, the same cannot be said about Attack of the Clones. There are still aspects to appreciate, such as the direction of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda mainly, but this is a film I could see myself never sitting through again. This is a huge letdown and misstep for the Star Wars franchise and I could not recommend anyone who hasn’t seen it to sit down for over two hours for this. It is not worth your time.
What are your thoughts on Attack of the Clones? Do you dislike it as much as I do, or do you think I’m being too harsh? Let me know in the comments section and let’s have a discussion.