The story so far: After watching the disjointed but happy Phantom Menace, we leapt forward in time to A New Hope and then straight onto The Empire Strikes Back. Luke abandons his Jedi training with Yoda and flies to help Leia and Han but finds himself confronting Darth Vader instead. Vader beats Luke in a light sabre duel and cuts off his hand. Vader then entices Luke to join the dark side. Luke says “You killed my father” and Vader replies: “No, I am your father.”!!! Oh my golly gosh! Anakin Skywalker, the cut kid we met in Episdoe 1 is Darth Vader!!!
Cue wibbly-wobbly flashback sound effect as we head back in time to find out WTF is going on in this galaxy far, far away….
More than any other film in both trilogies, Attack of the Clones is constrained by plot. We know where Anakin has to end up – trapped inside a Darth Vader suit. We know the Republic has to fall. We know the Empire takes over. We know somewhere along the way Luke has to born (we don’t know about Leia yet in the order I’m watching them – but her too) as the child of Anakin. The Phantom Menace did very little of the heavy lifting in this regard and therefore the bulk of the set up has to fall on Attack of the Clones.
This is only the fifth full length movie George Lucas directed and there is an air of him still working out what a Star Wars movie should be. The Empire Strikes Back was the second film in the first trilogy and the set pieces in that were held together by a sort of love story (Han & Leia). So this movie gets a love story as well but sadly it is not one that really works. Hayden Christensen is not hopeless but he doesn’t present Anakin as being particularly loveable. Instead he plays him as a sulky teenager – which could work (sulky teenagers do fall in love) but Natalie Portman plays Padme as a woman who has moved on from that phase in her life.
Nor is it just that Padme has to fall unwisely in love with Anakin but she has to do so despite him confessing later in the movie to murdering the women and children of a Tuskan Raider village. It is never quite convinces.
Visually this is the most urban/industrial of the films. Apart from Naboo, the film concentrates on planets that are either cities or factories (clones on one, robots on another). The visual innovation is atmosphere – as in literally atmospheric features. We see clouds and rains in a way that hasn’t been shown to the same extent (even counting The Empire Strikes Back) but there is little purpose to it. It is rather like the shot we get on the planet Genosis of somebody riding some strange beast initially below the water and then up and over the water. It looks good but it doesn’t seem to contribute to anything.
R2-Sith Lord Observations:
This is a very R2-light movie. It is almost as if he can’t be present when people are being stupid. Obi-Wan’s droid R4 at least shows us how astromech units normally behave. I’ll assume R2 is spending most of this movie trying to figure out what is going on.
- R2 gets to guard Padme as she sleeps. An assassin sends some evil millipedes into her room – it is a bit unclear if R2 notices them and decides to just let them get on with things or merely suspects something and the evil millipedes hide. As R2 later saves Padme and has saved her in the past I’ll assume he doesn’t notice.
- When the evil millipedes are about to eat Padme, Anakin and Obi Wan sense something and save the day! Sense what though? Millipede thoughts? If so then why not earlier. Let’s assume R2 summons them – although he could have just made loud beeping noises just as easily.
- R2 is up to something on Padme’s ship on Tatooine when Obi Wan calls. We don’t know what.
- C3P0 to R2 “For a mechanic you do an extraordinary amount of thinking.” Yes he does 3P0, yes he does.
- R2 pushes C3P0 off a ledge. Again I don’t know why. It is like there was a whole separate R2 movie filmed and we only get to see random bits of it. I’d like to see that movie.
- R2 can fly now. Nobody thinks this is odd.