[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B005HNV2OS][/pullquote] Three years after the release of the much-maligned The Phantom Menace, George Lucas released Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones in hopes of gathering back some of his lost fans. Despite commercial success, Episode I had left a bad taste in the mouths of old school fans. The wooden acting and high school dialogue was rightfully criticised and Fellowship of the Ring had been released, meaning that a large protion of science fiction and fantasy fandom had a new banner to march under. Lucas had two films left to save his stumbling franchise from being a complete laughing stock.
Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) enters teenage years by pursuing a romance with Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) which is forbidden by his Jedi masters. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) discovers a clone army being bred for a coming war against the Republic by the evil separatist movement under the gaze of two Sith Lords.
So is Lucas able to reclaim the some of the passion that made the original trilogy so popular after the lacklustre first prequel. The answer is, sort of. Still included is the woeful dialogue and endless conversations of exposition that distract from what made the franchise so successful in the first place: The action. Star Wars should be edge-of-your-seat exciting and for large portions of this we subjected to the least convincing romance epic since Pearl Harbour. In fact everything that is wrong with the film is perfectly encapsulated in the scene between Padme and Anakin on the balcony I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth. Just utter nonsense.
Where Attack of the Clones is able to surpass it’s predecessor is in the final act. There is loud, over-the-top, bombastic fight scenes involving hundreds of men, aliens and Jedi all punching, shooting and swinging for their lives. It’s a lot of fun. Add to that the harsh-but-fair sidelining and critically blaming of Jar-Jar Binks for all the trouble ahead with the answer to the age-old question, (does Yoda use a lightsabre?) and you’ve got an all-out thrill-ride of a conclusion that almost saves the film from the critical tongue-lashing that the first one got.
Sadly the rest of the film is just a drag as Lucas insists on thrusting the love story down our throats, when clearly what the audience wants is quick-witted one-liners from Obi-Wan and an enormous and exciting battle. It is commercially the least successful of all six films, although that is more a hangover from The Phantom Menace. In the end Attack of Clones goes some way to repaying the faith put into the films by the fans, unfortunately it’s a case of too little, too late.