Director: George Lucas
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Lee
To be honest, I couldn’t really remember much from this one. Which really annoyed me and also worried me. Not because I feared I was losing my memory, but because a film of this cinematic magnitude – one which forms part of my favourite movie franchise – should never be anything less than memorable. After having the introduction to the trilogy with ‘The Phantom Menace’, I was ready for the all important development episode to bring everything to a head and draw me in for the final instalment. Or should I say the third? This is confusing stuff Lucas! Within ten minutes of watching ‘Attack Of The Clones’, it all came flooding back; the new characters, the new worlds and all the merchandise I gave away in my teenage years. I really do hate 14 year old me for making me think I was too cool to have Star Wars toys.
Ten years have passed since the events of ‘The Phantom Menace’, and everything has changed. Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) is now a senator, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is the padawan to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), and around them the Republic is falling apart under the strain of the Separatist movement. There is a distinct lack of Jedis, who find themselves spread across the galaxy trying to keep the peace against a resurgent dark side of the force. Amidst assassination attempts, the mysterious production of clone armies and contentious allegiances, Anakin – the key to restoring balance to the Force – grows tired of his training and falls deeply in love. But at what cost? Surely a blossoming love affair can’t be a bad thing?
Welcome to the franchise, Hayden Christensen. The young actor brings an intense and brooding edge to the role of Anakin Skywalker, if not a little creepy and obsessive at times. He plays the stroppy teen perfectly, just like Luke Skywalker. I wonder if they’re related? After a slightly odd performance in the previous film, Natalie Portman returns with much more depth and emotion to her character. Don’t be fooled however – Portman is just as adept at delivering convincing action scenes as she is the romantic moments. Legendary actor Christopher Lee takes on the role of the main bad guy, Count Dooku, but unfortunately fails to be convincingly fearsome despite his most villainous intentions. Personally, I’m more worried about that Chancellor Palpatine guy.
There is LOTS of action in this film, following the pattern of the original trilogy, where we start with a slow paced introduction and hit the ground running with the second installment. Truthfully, only nostalgia prevents ‘Attack Of The Clones’ being better than ‘A New Hope’ really. It is full on right from the start, and the climactic, epic battle scenes are very impressive indeed. The aged Count Dooku is involved in a saber battle with Anakin towards the end of the film, which is hauntingly reminiscent of Vader versus Luke in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. I have a really bad feeling about the frustrations of the overzealous young padawan, but these concerns are quickly forgotten when you notice all the clever little nods to the future of the galaxy. We meet the Fett family, witness friendships and conflicts which have huge repercussions on the future of the galaxy, and see the building of the clone army which will inspire the Storm Troopers of the Empire to come. Easter eggs everywhere!
It’s weird really. I would say this film is about as good as this film could ever have been. The only downfall is – it is not and never will be as good as the original trilogy. Nobody to blame for this, just that the original trilogy is so exceptional and iconic that it would take something special for any prequel to surpass the success of the predecessors. ‘Attack Of The Clones’ however, is still a fantastic sci-fi/adventure film, full of action and excitement.