Film (2002). A Lucasfilm Ltd Production, a Twentieth Century Fox release. Directed by George Lucas. Written by Lucas, Jonathan Hales. Cast includes Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Ian McDiarmid, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman. 142 minutes. Colour.
More ambitious than its immediate predecessor, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones is also the most muddled of the Star Wars films. The convoluted plot sees the Republic facing a new threat: a Separatist movement, led by Big Business, that wishes to secede. Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor playing the much younger version of the role made famous by Alec Guinness in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope ) tracks the origins of an assassination attempt on an idealistic senator (Portman), while his apprentice Anakin (Christensen) breaks the tenets of his order by forming a romantic relationship with the same woman, thus starting down the path that will eventually lead to his becoming Darth Vader. The secret development of an army of Clone warriors provides an origin story for the Imperial Stormtroopers.
Lucas seems to have a lot to say in this instalment, about Politics, War and adolescent emotion. The rise to power of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (McDiarmid), who will become the evil Emperor, parallels that of historical dictators such as Adolf Hitler with some wit: upon taking up his emergency powers the wily Senator proclaims, "I love democracy, I love the Republic." Closer to home, the potentiality for corruption and the inefficiency of the political process in the Republic seems to act as a comment on the contemporary United States of America.
However, these sentiments are largely obscured by the awkward script. The plot is needlessly complicated, with numerous loose ends. Most damaging to the film's integrity is the romance story. Perhaps the core event of the prequel trilogy, it is uncomfortably acted, hopelessly scripted and naively chaste. The adventure sequences are more interesting, but they are hampered by the inelegant insertion of lines, characters and events for no good reason other than referencing the original Star Wars films. The novelization is Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) by R A Salvatore. [JN]
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