Our 7 part series looking back on the Star Wars Saga continues with Star Wars Episode II Attack Of The Clones. Today’s article is written by long time Star Wars fan and World’s Best Media contributor Michael Cole. I asked Mike to write up the Episode II article specifically because I remember years ago Mike saying how he thought this scene was cool.
That may just be some bullshit memory of a conversation we never had, but Mike’s article is a good read anyway!
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones written by Michael Cole
I am of a unique generation of Star Wars fans. The original fans, even those who were very young in 1977, were already full-grown adults when the prequels started coming out. There is also a generation of kids for whom the prequels are their first taste of Star Wars. Between these two generations is mine, I was 14 when the Phantom Menace came out in 1999, and not quite 21 when Revenge of the Sith came out in 2005. One’s stance on the prequels seems to be largely dictated based on the viewer’s age upon their release, the older crowd seems to hate them, the younger crowd enjoyed them. So I think that I have a relatively unique viewpoint of the prequels.
Attack of the Clones is often considered the worst of all 7 saga films. I don’t agree, my own personal least favorite is Revenge of the Sith. What I want to do in this look back on Attack of the Clones, is focus on the positive. There are plenty of negatives, but there are a lot of positives that almost never get mentioned.
First, and this has nothing to do with the film itself, but a personal memory that I enjoy, is actually going to see the movie. When I went and saw Phantom Menace, I went alone, because I had no friends, when I went and saw Revenge of the Sith, I went with my two best friends, but for Attack of the Clones, I went with the largest crowd I think I’ve ever gone to a movie with. It was opening night and I went with a ton of people from school (I was a junior in high school at the time). As the lights went down, and the screen said “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” someone yelled “aww, I’ve seen this one already,” got up and walked out (I’m relatively sure he immediately walked back in, but I was too fixated on the screen to really pay attention). Regardless of the film itself, it was one of the best movie going experiences of my life.
Now, to the quality of the film. Like I said before, there is plenty of stuff that you’ve probably heard about that doesn’t work in this film, but rarely do you hear about the positives. We’ve only had one saga film since the prequels, and so perhaps this isn’t a fair statement, but the prequels when compared to The Force Awakens, are much more creative. The Force Awakens was a good film, but it doesn’t reinvent the wheel. In the prequels we saw a lot of expansion of the universe, we saw exciting set pieces and action sequences (and not a single Death Star!)
There are two things that I think stand out about the Attack of the Clones, first of all, we got to see an epic multi-Jedi battle in a gladiator style arena. The original trilogy had been somewhat limited as to what they were able to show with lightsaber battles due to their really not being anymore Jedi, but this wasn’t a problem for the prequels. We got to see the Jedi Council fly in, and kick some ass in a colosseum.
The next great thing about this film, is that for the first time in 4 movies, we got to see Yoda fight in a lightsaber battle. Looking back, little ball of a Jedi Master bouncing around Count Dooku in a cave may not be as impressive , but on opening night? That was the greatest thing I had ever seen!
Another highlight was the speeder chase through the ‘streets’ of Coruscant. Not completely original, but new and exciting in a Star Wars film. With Anakin jumping out of the car and landing levels below onto another car. This was a very Star Wars version of similar scenes from movies like The Fifth Element and Blade Runner. Even with his wooden line delivery, Hayden Christenson seemed pretty badass (for those first few minutes). You also began to see what Anakin and Obi-Wan’s relationship was like. Which brings me to my next point…
Finally, since the original Star Wars had come out, we knew to some extent that Obi-Wan had been Darth Vader’s (or Anakin Skywalker’s) teacher, and really this is the only film we get to see that dynamic. Hayden Christenson doesn’t really carry his share of the ‘chemistry,’ but Ewan MacGregor does. MacGregor’s performance shows us how close the two characters had been, which really adds layers to their reunion in A New Hope.
This is far from a perfect film. But I don’t think it deserves to be remembered as the worst Star Wars movie. I would argue that ultimately it suffers most, from the trilogy’s real problem. Which is that the whole films are never more than the sum of their parts. Some of those parts are really good, unfortunately they’re brought down by the ‘other’ parts.
May the Force be with you!