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Film Review - Attack of the Clones
Well it has been another three years and it's time to raise the bar, whip out a new Star Wars!
Episode 2, Attack of the Clones, picks up ten years after The Phantom Menance. The Republic is beginning to split at the seems. The film starts with a spectacular assassination attempt. Intrigue and mystery is a signature element in Clones. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are assigned to protect the target of this attempt, Senator Amidala. Soon Skywalker and Amidala are exchanging spit.
Meanwhile, Obi-Wan has tracked the bounty hunter responsible for the attack and discovers that someone placed an order for a clone army ten years ago, it's ready for delivery.
This is the most complex episode of the Star Wars saga. I have to say it is the best acted. Most notably Natalie Portman brought a full range of emotions to the screen. Hayden Christensen as Anakin has a shorter range, but it's still a cut above what we saw in the original trilogy. (We even learn where Luke gets his whining from.)
What starts to be revealed in this episode is the careful twisting and planning by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. In Phantom Menace, his plot was to become Chancellor, in Clones it is to gain emergency powers and take control of the clone army, the future Stormtroopers of the Galactic Empire. But if you think about it, you see that Palpatine is even subtly manipulating Skywalker, putting little messages in his ear about how he will be the most powerful Jedi ever. Has he seen the little spark of the Dark Side of the Force in Skywalker? And having Anakin protect Amadala is his idea too. Did he see a romance possible that would help corrupt Anakin?
John Williams in the big hero in Clones. Williams has created a new masterpiece score, and has weaved into his new pieces tiny hints of themes from the original trilogy. This is key in bringing all of these story elements together. It's truly amazing to hear the Imperial March as the clone troopers head off to war in defence of the Republic. Only we know they will become Stormtroopers and that theme's meaning will come to mean oppression rather than freedom.
A new milestone has been hit in the creation of computer generated images. Many of the environments are not so simple anymore. Now weather is being depicted. The synthetic worlds are much more believable. In the computer generated environments the "camera" moves as if a real camera were there. This motion and the simulation of sudden and not smooth zoom at times gives Clones a feeling of a documentary during the battle scene.
Where the computer fails are those few shots where the characters (most notably Anakin) were portrayed by a computer model. The trouble is we have seen Hayden Christensen playing Anakin, and when a shot uses the computer model, it is only too obvious because it doesn't move like Hayden Christensen. The same flaw occurred in a few shots in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Having seen Attack of the Clones both on traditional film release print and in a digital theater, I have to say you can tell a difference. The digital screening was much cleaner and a crisper image. George Lucas, who shot Clones 100 percent digital and has been pushing theaters to convert to digital projection is validated when you compare digital and film prints.
Technology aside, even Lucas says it's all about the story. On that subject I can only say I wish these films had been shot and presented in the correct order. The trouble is we know what is going to happen next, because there is only one more film between Clones and A New Hope. Just image how great it would be to go see Episode Three and not know that Anakin will be Darth Vader at the end.
But to be fair, this is the best Star Wars movie to date.
Directed by George Lucas
Released in 2002
MPAA Rating: PG
Reviewed by Mongo