NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Despite the generally lackluster reviews of Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, fans of the series poured into theaters to witness the phenomenon for themselves.
The film, released on May 16, broke all records for a mid-week release and earned an estimated $30.1 million gross income on its opening day.
Episode II features Hayden Christensen as the now 10 years older Anakin Skywalker training to be a Jedi knight under the leadership of Obi-Wan Kenobi, played by Ewan McGregor.
A separatist movement under the power of the mysterious Jedi Count Dooku, played by Christopher Lee, is now threatening the power of the Republic. To make matters worse, someone is trying to assassinate Natalie Portman’s character, Senator Padme Amidala.
Obi-Wan is ordered to an investigation of this mysterious assassin, while Anakin is ordered to protect the Senator at all costs.
While Obi-Wan is investigating, he runs into a distant planet and discovers a giant army of clones being raised up to defend the Republic. The senate does not know about this order, but they decide to use them in battle anyway.
Meanwhile, on Padme’s home planet of Naboo, the Senator and Anakin start to fall in love, which is a problem in itself since a Jedi cannot marry or pledge his love to anyone.
Soon, Padme, Anakin and Obi-Wan are all taken hostages and are put on death row by Count Dooku, so the Republic is forced to face the separatists in a battle with their clone army. This begins the clone war era that is still occurring in the original three episodes.
This latest installment in the Star Wars saga comes after Episode I The Phantom Menace, which fans and critics alike agree had more faults than factors that worked. The movie’s focus seemed to be more on special effects rather than character or plot development.
Overall, The Clones is a major improvement over Menace, and restored much of the lost energy into the series.
A great deal of the movie was spent on developing the plot. There are many foreshadowing events that occur, and, if the audience can catch them, many events that fall in to place or relate to the first three films that were first released more than 20 years ago. Trying to figure out how everything connects can be the best part of the experience.
The effects are incredibly put together, especially on our little green friend Yoda, who, for the very first time, is completely computer generated. This offers viewers a chance to see subtle facial gestures and more meaningful movements. Lucas is also now able to create many different aliens to display how diverse the universe truly is.
The best thing that works for Star Wars is its incredible fighting sequences near the end of the movie. More than just a few light sabers, but rather everything from a airplane chase through a buzzing, night life city to a giant coliseum battle encompassing the handful of Jedis facing the endless droid army of the Separatists.
The best and funniest part of the movie, although unexpected, was seeing Yoda take on Count Dooku in a light saber match. A more accurate name for the film would be Attack of the Yoda.
For everything that went right for the movie, it had an equal number of faults.
First of all, the acting is good, but not excellent by any means. Anakin, Padme, and Obi-Wan just cannot compare to the original cast of Luke, Leia, Vader, and Hans Solo with his sidekick wookie.
For starters, Obi-Wan takes his part way too seriously for this movie and never does lighten up at the least bit. His part comes out as more of a drag than anything else.
I also hoped that Anakin would release his anger and signs of rebellion on the screen more radically than he did. Eventually he must turn into the evil Darth Vader, but his actions and emotions are not extreme enough in this film to give evidence to turn completely against what he is fighting for.
Anakin and Padme do not fully portray a love to the audience that is enough for them to both ruin their futures. The relationship seems more awkward than true, and the dialogue they are forced to speak would probably be rejected by a soap opera.
I was initially worried that Lucas would try to form this installment into a Titanic teen love story, but luckily he shied away from dwelling on it. It would be impossible to do away with the love story between the two characters due to the fact that Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker have to come from somewhere, but thankfully it was cut to a minimal.
With so many special effects put in to every frame, there are bound to be some that clearly do not fit in with the main action going on. This happens a few times, and takes away from the rest of the scene.
Although the plot development was much better than Phantom Menace, there was still a problem in presenting it. After an exciting chase scene at the beginning, the film took a serious turn and laid out the exposition for about an hour or so.
Unfortunately, too much of the time consisted of political jibber-jabber that could have been shortened or better screened by Lucas.
Fortunately, just when the audience is about to get up for more popcorn, a long action sequence begins with one amazing rescue and laser light show after another.
One last aspect of the movie that I found lacking is the one thing that made the original trilogy powerful: humor. In Episode I, Lucas created Jar Jar Binks to be the comic relief, but it backfired tremendously. Jar Jar does appear in The Clones, but his role is significantly reduced.
The mood in this film is just too serious and would work better if all the characters were more lighthearted. The movie is ultimately saved when Yoda duels off with Dooku near the end of the movie.
Overall, this film does its duty to keep the Star Wars momentum on track, but still could be better for all the hype it has received. Most fans will gladly overlook the flaws I’ve mentioned, and will already start to anticipate Episode III.
There is quite a bit of symbolism that can be drawn from this movie. Although symbolism can be drawn for many different purposes, there are few lessons from a Christian standpoint that you can teach a young child after watching Star Wars with them.
For instance, both Anakin and Count Dooku reveal that they think they are the best Jedi in the world, and no one can stop them. This behavior eventually leads both of them to join the dark side and ends in their destruction.
Also, on a deeper note, the entire series can be said to be a message against Communism. The entire point of the war in this movie is to keep the Republic together and to not form a dictatorship. The Republic is finally restored during The Return of the Jedi.
However, there is still a large amount of violence in this film. Parents should be mindful of letting their young ones see Attack of the Clones.