Overview: Attack of the Clones revels in the political intrigue, but make no mistake this film is all about Anakin Skywalker and the beginning of his descent into one of the most iconic villains of all time, Darth Vader. LucasFilms; 2002; 142 Minutes.
Using the Force: Perhaps the best thing about this film, and what sets it apart from its predecessor The Phantom Menace, is the great lead-ins to future events. Attack of the Clones explains the origin of the Stormtroopers. (obvious spoiler alert number 1: They’re clones! And they attack!). It also gives us insight into the guy that will eventually become Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker (a disappointingly mediocre Hayden Christenson who may or may not be a cardboard cut-out). We already know that anger and malice are the emotions that can lead a Jedi to the Dark Side. Here we get our first glimpse of the emotional turmoil that will eventually lead to Anakin’s downfall – the ruthless slaughter of an entire tribe (men, women and children) of Sand People. Thankfully, Ewan McGregor props the film up with his measured portayal of Obi-Wan Kenobi, he is the steadying hand that Anakin desperately needs but refuses to take. And, hey, we also get a look at one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars universe, Boba Fett… even if he is only roughly 9 years old.
Gone to the Dark Side: George Lucas’ overuse of CGI is almost laughable. And he introduces characters with the seemingly sole purpose of selling more merchandise. Some of the scenes feel rushed while others last entirely too long. It doesn’t help that Attack of the Clones suffers from possibly the weakest screenplay of the entire series, and that’s saying a lot (I’m totally not talking about Phantom Menace). There’s a lot of focus on the love story between Anakin and Padme (Natalie Portman), but it would be difficult for that to fall more flat. There’s just no chemistry between the two. Did I mention Hayden Christensen is awful?
Best Scene: There is a jaw dropping moment near the end of the film. You know the one I’m talking about. Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) versus his former mentor, Yoda. In a lightsaber duel. Yoda. Lightsaber. Duel. The theater erupted. Longtime Star Wars nerds (like myself) and new fans alike knew that this was a special moment.
Wrap-Up: Although this is perhaps the weakest film in the canon, it did set the stage for the rest of the entire series. The argument could be made that Anakin’s portrayal as a whiny, angry kid that never really fit in was intentional … because we’re not supposed to get too attached to the kid that will eventually be Darth Vader. But I’m inclined to believe that Hayden Christensen is simply ruinously terrible in this pivotal role. As a lifelong Star Wars fan, this is difficult for me to do …