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Review: Attack of the Clones

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (and the end of The Skywalker Saga) arrives on December 20th, 2019. That’s Entertainment will be celebrating the next month, until the release of Episode 9. Check out yesterday’s coverage here and Garrett’s review of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Phantom Menace.


Attack of the Clones Poster ImageDirector: George Lucas
Writer: Jonathan Hales, George Lucas
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen

Attack of the Clones is the worst of the series, period. Watching them all back to back makes this abundantly clear. There is nothing redeeming about this entry, save some of Padme’s badassness and displays of agency. That anyone thinks Episode I is the worst of these movies (it has the lowest Critics Rating on Rotten Tomatoes) is absurd.

Where Episode I has more practical sets and costumes and effects than I remember, Episode II has almost literally none. It’s a big cartoon from start to finish. While I can concede that this is due to Lucas once again trying to pioneer and push forward new film technologies, it doesn’t work well here or even look that good. Episode I has aged well and looks and feels like a classic fantasy/sci-fi film. Attack of the Clones looks and feels like something more goofy—it reminded me of David Lynch’s Dune. And that hurts everything, including scenes I remember liking such as the opening chase through Coruscant or the Obi-Wan V Jengo Fett fight on Kamino.


I actually think the story of this movie is fine, it’s the actual script that really bogs this down. None of the dialogue works, none of it sounds like things people would say to each other. For some reason Lucas wrote this Trilogy in a sort of Shakespearean formalism, and it sounds terrible. No one can figure out how to deliver this stuff other than Ewan McGregor and Ian McDiarmid. The original Trilogy doesn’t sound like this (I know because I backed to back them). It’s looser and more casual and sounds and looks like a lived in universe. This does not.

I never liked the second half of Attack of the Clones, and re-watching it reminded me why. I’m not sure why, but the whole Gladiator sequence seems outside the tone of the rest of the Star Wars series to me (it’s really not—there are Rancor pits in this series, but it just has never felt right to me) and the fact that it’s ground zero for the Clone Wars is a let down as a result. I hate that Keystone Cops style action set-piece in the factory; it’s way too silly for its own good. It’s almost like Lucas lifted a level out the Super Star Wars video games and put it in his movie.

There’s just nothing that works here. Lucas is experimenting with building really minimal sets and fleshing them out with CGI, and it just doesn’t feel real, sucking the fun and the stakes out of almost all of it. It’s so numbingly boring, I couldn’t even be bothered to care when Yoda pulls out of a lightsaber for the first time.

But hey, there’s Joel Edgerton!


Before watching Attack of the Clones, I had a made a joke to a friend that I was going to watch all 6 Star Wars back to back and survive by sleeping through the second half of Attack Of The Clones. He said that doesn’t count and I have to watch all of it. I countered that sleeping through the second half of Episode II and watching the second half of Episode II are identical experiences. Having attempted to watch Episode II on Friday night and falling asleep during the Kamino fight (almost literally the halfway mark) and then watching the whole thing from start to finish the following morning, I can confirm that my argument regarding the second half of Episode II was precisely accurate.

The above was originally written in 2015, during Garrett’s rewatch of the series leading up to the release of The Force Awakens.

Score: ★☆☆☆☆

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