Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)
October 9, 2015 6:48 AM - Subscribe

Ten years after initially meeting, Anakin Skywalker shares a forbidden romance with Padme, while Obi-Wan investigates an assassination attempt on the Senator and discovers a secret clone army crafted for the Jedi.
posted by PigheadedGnu (55 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
An object lesson on the importance of casting.
The good lesson : if your film has a villain, casting Christopher Lee in the role can never be the wrong choice. It's nice too, since they had Lee's Hammer buddy Peter Cushing in Ep IV.

The bad lesson : you hold highly publicized, exhaustive casting sessions and the best you can come up with is Hayden Christensen? I'm sure there were at least 10 better choices among the hundreds Lucas saw. I acknowledge that Anakin's dialogue is terrible on the page, before it even comes out of his mouth, but there are almost certainly actors who could have done something to make it less cringe-inducing. Ewan McGregor manages to not look foolish most of the time, so it's sort of possible.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:20 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm sure there were at least 10 better choices among the hundreds Lucas saw.

Just ten? Does that list include Woody Drawnonface, the talking plank?
posted by biffa at 7:32 AM on October 9, 2015 [12 favorites]

posted by wabbittwax at 7:39 AM on October 9, 2015

This past weekend I started getting into the Clone Wars TV series (starting with the recommended highlights from the first three seasons), and I very quickly began to think of the animated version of Anakin as the default, and Hayden Christensen as the unfortunate casting choice made for the live-action film adaptation of the cartoon.

This is also true, to a far lesser extent, with Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan. But obviously the fault there sits with the writing rather than McGregor's performance (which is always solid, at the very least, when he's given anything to do).

FYI, it only took about half a dozen episodes for me to start feeling like Episodes II and III were just subpar live-action bookends for a great TV series.
posted by incomple at 7:42 AM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

I know that a lot of people think The Phantom Menace is the worst of the prequels, but I think a lot of that is because there was so much expectation, and it was the first one. For my money, though, Attack of the Clones is by far the worst.

Even putting aside the casting (which is terrible), the plot is absolute garbage. Anakin has apparently been dreaming of a girl he met at 8 years old for the last decade, because ... that's a thing anyone ever does? Meanwhile, it hasn't occurred to him in that whole time to maybe go rescue his mother from slavery. And then he wins over Padme by being a completely unlikable whiner. His opening move is basically to complain about his dad figure being so mean and critical (which we never see actually happen). He closes the deal by noting that unlike sand, she is very smooth.

Smooth, indeed.

Meanwhile, all of the character development between Obi-Wan and Anakin is done by them talking about more exciting things they did some other time (which we don't get to see), after which Anakin immediately decides he hates Obi-Wan so much for being such a meanie. I feel like if you put all of their interactions in this movie in a clip, and then cut to Ep IV Obi-Wan explaining how Anakin and he were such good friends, you would need to undercut a laugh track.

Oh, and I guess Palpatine's big plan was to order a bunch of clones, and then hope a Jedi would stumble across them and just be like "wait, I didn't order any clones ... but I mean, I guess if you're offering them? Sure?". Not only is Obi-Wan's whole schtick there totally ridiculous, the long-necked Kamino people are the least perceptive characters ever. He might as well have been hooking his finger into his collar and being like "well, uh, I mean, uh, yes, I, uh, I did order these, uh, did you say clones? Clones! Yes, clones!"

Then again, Jango Fett's scheme to kill Padme is similarly totally stupid, and includes a shapeshifter who for some reason thinks using the most useful possible ability for an assassin to sneak up on Padme and kill her is a bad idea, and only uses it after fucking up a much more complicated plot involving poison centipedes.

Other notable "you gotta be fucking kidding me" moments: the wisdom of children (as written by George Lucas), and George's Adventures In Not Understanding Why The Originals Work In Ways That A '50s Diner Doesn't Translate Into.

In all seriousness: The Worst. This is the absolute rock bottom of Star Wars -- and I'm including the Star Wars Christmas Special in that.
posted by tocts at 7:53 AM on October 9, 2015 [26 favorites]

Yep. Attack of the Clones somehow made me stop thinking of The Phantom Menace as being completely terrible. I still haven't seen the third one because after this I was done.
posted by ODiV at 8:02 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

And also, let's not forget: the complete destruction of Yoda's wisdom from Ep V. In the years since, we've gone from "Wars not make one great" and "Judge me by my size, do you?" to "Who Da Man? Yoda Man!".
posted by tocts at 8:02 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Phone typed comment incoming!

Clones was a step up and an improvement over TPM and most of the problems I have aren't film destroying ones.

Unlike last time, I'll start out positive:

1) Christopher Lee, as already pointed out above, was a fabulous choice to play the unfortunately named Dooku. The only thing that held him down was Lucas' dialogue, including the weird line in which he refers to "Jedi powers." (Why the adjective?). But he was fantastic and raised the bar significantly.

2) Obi-wan's pursuit of Jango Fett through the asteroid field, I loved the sound of his mines(?) exploding. Also enjoyed their interactions, period.

3) John Williams' music continues to rock.

4) Pacing felt better than TPM but for a couple scenes.

5) Amped up battle scene. While the fight still seemed a bit awkward, it was heads better than the Gungan Droid fight.

6) I kind of liked the return to Tatooine, but it was partially ruined by 1) below.

So, right, there's some positive stuff. Now some complaints:

1) Hayden. I'm sorry. I think you did everything that Lucas wanted and it resulted in your ability to act being completely nullified. Anakin's character in general was problematic as he came across too much like a petulant and annoying teenager. Did I forget to mention the padewan outfit looks ridiculous on anyone not below the age of ten?

2) Fett a la Fett. Lucas has a love hate relationship with the character. Turning Boba into the movie's other bratty kid didn't help, and offing his father in a nearly as silly death via Mace Windu (complete with dour reaction shot) just sucked. Did we mention that Jango's head was probably still inside the helmet we see Boba staring at? The world would have been at least better if Fett wasn't just another clone, but Jango's biological son.

3) The Romance. Killed by problem 1) above.

4) C3P-O's misadventures. In ESB, it lasts two seconds, here it's a Chaplainesque tragedy.

5) The Jedi get a great entry at the arena, and then generally get their butts kicked but for deus ex Yoda and a clone army. This just felt disjointed. Also (New Kids rumors!)

6) Space Diner! This looked fine in Spaceballs, but came across as silly and out of genre for Star Wars.

7)Death sticks. Nuff said.

I'm still mixed on Yoda fight. He should have have defeated Dooku, rather than have him go 0-2 in the trilogy against Sith Lords. It might have been better to have held him out.

Parallels...o hai ESB! Jedi in training gets hand lopped off? Check. Romance? Check. Not quite a victory with omninous future ahead? Check. Asteroids? Sure.

Poor John Carter, Lucas went and stole your arena full of green alien spectators and giant monsters to fight scene.
posted by Atreides at 8:03 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

the wisdom of children

O God yes, he basically just has a scene which shows Obi-Wan is functionally moronic.

A question for later, if Yoda says "Begun, the Clone War has." here, should he have said "Be, you will." rather than "You will be." in ESB after Luke says he's not afraid?

I do think this film starts the process of making Yoda (and indeed the Jedi as a whole) look utterly incompetent. Does he actually do anything which stops any of the problems of the collapse of the Republic and the formation of the Empire?

He certainly doesn't seem to have done anything about slavery over the preceding ten years.

When the Jedi and their new army rock up at the end, why give up any tactical advantage, including surprise, by standing in the middle of tens of thousands of enemies with firearms, as far from them as you can possibly be such that they still have a shot, when you only have lightsabers?
posted by biffa at 8:16 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm still mixed on Yoda fight. He should have have defeated Dooku, rather than have him go 0-2 in the trilogy against Sith Lords. It might have been better to have held him out.

Yoda using a lightsaber is one of the most egregious instances of a problem that Lucas has with the prequels, which is that he seems to want to codify things from the original movies in ways that don't make sense.

Another big example of this is how Jedi dress. In Ep IV, Obi-Wan is dressed in a particular way because he lives on a desert planet. What he's wearing makes sense in that context (and in fact, Owen Lars is similarly dressed). Note that by Ep VI, Luke (now a Jedi) is not dressed like Obi-Wan was in Ep IV -- because Obi-Wan's clothes had nothing to do with him being a Jedi.

In the prequels, though, all the Jedi basically dress like Obi-Wan did in Ep IV. That look, which has nothing to do with Jedi and everything to do with living on Tatooine, became the Jedi Uniform, and everyone (regardless of where they're from, or if this makes sense) has to abide by it.

So, too, is it with lightsabers. Yoda doesn't have one in Ep V, and there's even hints that maybe what Yoda is differs a bit from what Obi-Wan was (Obi-Wan describes the lightsaber as "the weapon of a Jedi Knight", whereas Yoda is described as "a Jedi Master"). And everything Yoda does in the original movies seems to indicate that he has no need to physically fight, because the force is his ally.

And then we get to the prequels, and nope, Jedi means you have to have a lightsaber, whether it makes sense or not.

I really, really hate that fight scene. I love Christopher Lee, but everything else about it is just taking a big dump on everything Yoda espouses from the original movies, and there was no need for it.
posted by tocts at 8:17 AM on October 9, 2015 [28 favorites]

Also, the scene with Yoda struggling to stop a big piece of junk from squashing the unconscious Obi-Wan and Anakin quite badly undermines his 'size matters not' line on Dagobah in ESB.

One of the most interesting things about Episodes 2 & 3 is the extent to which it undercuts what we might have assumed about the Jedi based on the original sequel. If I thought for a second Lucas had really been aiming for that it would be quite impressive.
posted by biffa at 8:25 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I only really remember two things about this movie. Ewan McGregor jumping out of a window for some reason, and the terrible Yoda fight scene. I think I'd recently played Shenmue, and Lan Di in this scene, relaxedly defeating his opponent without taking his hands from behind his back, made the spinning, bouncy lightsaber ball look ridiculous by comparison.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:52 AM on October 9, 2015

I'll stop responding after this, because I know have SO MANY FEELS about this movie and will talk too much. But:

One of the most interesting things about Episodes 2 & 3 is the extent to which it undercuts what we might have assumed about the Jedi based on the original sequel.

This is a really good point, and I want to make mention that it is not just the Jedi that Ep II/III undercut. There's a much more insane bit of retcon that happens, due to Lucas' desire to make Ep II all about the senate (and thus, his desire to make Padme a senator just like Leia was).

Here's the deal:

In Episode I, we meet Padme as Queen of Naboo. She is 14 years old (seriously, I just verified this). She became Queen at age 13 -- and OK, in a hereditary monarchy, this is a thing that can happen. Granted, in a lot of historical cases where a monarch has died and their heir was still young, a regent would be appointed to rule until the child comes of age, but whatever. We can accept this: Padme is a 14 year old queen.

In Episode II, though, we find Padme now as a Senator. We of course wonder: wait, can she be Queen and Senator simultaneously? And the answer Lucas gives is: no, but it's OK, because on Naboo, Queen is an elected position, not a hereditary one. Her term ended, and she went on to be the Senator for her sector of space (which includes Naboo, and some other planets).

Let me re-iterate this to be crystal clear: because of Lucas' changes in Episode II, we learn that Episode I Padme was not a young, struggling monarch thrust into events beyond her control due to a death in the family, and forced to step up and take her place in the political sphere of the galaxy. No, Episode I Padme was in fact a 14 year old who convinced a whole planet to effectively elect her to be Chief Executive of the Planet (at age 13).
posted by tocts at 9:43 AM on October 9, 2015 [24 favorites]

Re: Yoda vs Dooku

Yoda absolutely should have beaten Dooku. The moment when he stops the big hunk of space trash from crushing Obi-Wan and Anakin is a huge missed opportunity. He just drops it on the floor. Dooku's ship is RIGHT THERE! He could have simply thrown that big thing right at Dooku's ship. Then Dooku is trapped and Yoda can really lay the smackdown on him.

And yeah, what the hell Anakin, why didn't you go back for your mom in all those years?
posted by wabbittwax at 10:30 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

In all seriousness: The Worst. This is the absolute rock bottom of Star Wars -- and I'm including the Star Wars Christmas Special in that.

Yes. Riding those giant ticks in the "love scene" picnic. Nuff said. I was done with the movie right there.
posted by chainsofreedom at 11:00 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I'll go to the mat for TPM because I think the hate it gets is disproportionate to how bad it actually is, but the story flaws in AotC are bone deep and it doesn't have nearly as many redeeming qualities. The thing I remember most fondly about it are the early scenes that do give you a sense of Coruscant as a city-planet with an actual urban culture (even if that culture includes "death sticks," whatever). I remember getting stoked along with everybody else in the theater when Yoda busted out the lightsaber but it's just not something that holds up once the novelty wears off.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:35 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

More so in this film, which introduced CGI Yoda (TPM originally used a puppet - which was replaced for the home video releases with the CGI version), our favorite Jedi Master starts to become something of a caricature of himself. If you study his speaking habits in ESB and RTOJ, his tendency to swap around verb and subject and what not is much less than presented in AOTC and ROTS. (Perhaps he spent his time on Dagobah going over galactic common?)

This past weekend I started getting into the Clone Wars TV series (starting with the recommended highlights from the first three seasons), and I very quickly began to think of the animated version of Anakin as the default, and Hayden Christensen as the unfortunate casting choice made for the live-action film adaptation of the cartoon.

There's a lot that I love about the first Clone Wars animation, but one reason the follow up animation wins out for me is the presentation of Anakin. In the first, they actually do an accurate job of capturing Hayden, and because of that, it suffers. The voice actor for the second animation, as well simply the writing and the gradual development of the character, does wonders for rehabilitation.
posted by Atreides at 12:20 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

One of the things that actually upset me the most about AOTC was in the score, during the assassin chase scene on Coruscant: there was an awful noodly shreddy electric guitar part mixed in.

Christopher Lee's performance is a testament to how much a talented actor can do with terrible dialog, but even he couldn't deliver the line "It is obvious that this contest cannot be decided by our knowledge of the Force... but by our skills with a lightsaber!" without making me want to leave the theater altogether out of sheer embarrassment.
posted by usonian at 2:02 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Obi-wan's costume creates another gigantic plothole in Episode 4. Why is he dressed like a Jedi if he is in hiding from the Empire? Literally any other outfit he could choose would be a better disguise then dressing like a goddamn Jedi.
posted by leotrotsky at 2:21 PM on October 9, 2015 [14 favorites]

It's things like that which make me wonder how much of it was Lucas insisting on something be this way or the people at Lucasfilm simply going back to the original trilogy for inspiration and not thinking through the choices they presented to Lucas to choose for use in the film.
posted by Atreides at 2:24 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

(I lied about non-response, but, a short response)

As far as Lucas wanting things his way: it has been said by people who worked closely with him on the prequels that to this day, when he talks about the weapons used by the Jedi, he always calls them "laser swords". Why? Because that was his original name for them, and he never liked "lightsaber", and he's held a grudge since the '70s that he was overruled on that in the production of the original Star Wars.

I get the impression that basically anything he didn't personally choose in the original trilogy, he had zero compunctions about keeping any kind of continuity with in the prequels.
posted by tocts at 2:33 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is the movie where I well and truly checked out of Star Wars.

It was a single line.

Jedi business. Go back to your drinks.

A single line written by Lucas so perfectly tone deaf, I literally got up and walked out of the theater. There was nothing more to see, show's over, we're done here.

In the first movie, Obi-Wan cut a dude's arm off without a word. Without. A. Word. He picks Luke up off the floor and is immediately back to business. "Chewbacca here is first mate on a ship that might suit us..."

Decades later. Having watched from a ringside seat. While his pal Stevie Spielberg made three Indiana Jones movies. Lucas. Writes...

Jedi business. Go back to your drinks.

Thanks, Deputy Anakyin.

Show's over. We're done here.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:05 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I was one of those in the Phantom Menace thread who said Clones was a worse film. So let me say why I feel that way:

1. The casting.

2. The characters are idiots, in general. For specifics: Yoda and the Jedi Council, despite being "incredibly wise" don't send someone to pick up Ani's mom in the intervening years. They're worried about him, and his fear and all of that, but apparently didn't feel the need to do anything that might help the boy, emotionally. Obi-Wan is so stupid that he can't figure out that the map is wrong and that something has been erased. Anakin's response to Obi-Wan taking him on as a Padawan is to resent him. The Jedi launch their attack against the separatist forces in the arena in an utterly bizarre and stupid way - scattered all around, isolated, and then allow themselves to be herded to the arena floor. It goes on like this.

3. The Jedi Council. In addition to the above, the general philosophy of the Jedi is further explored in this film. Fear is bad. Anger is bad. Hate is bad. Love is bad. Affection is bad. So the Jedi philosophy is to be Vulcan, apparently. No strong emotion of any kind. So you wind up with an environment where an emotional basket case like Anakin is going to be experiencing problems, and there's no plan for dealing with that. It makes me think that Lucas has some major issues with the normal range of human emotional experience, in addition to his political thoughts.

4. Between the depiction of the Jedi and the Republic, at this point you've completely undermined the nostalgia that the Obi-Wan of the original trilogy (and by extension, the audience) had. They are shown to be some mix of incompetent, corrupt, or just too stupid to live. At this point, the prequels are undermining the original trilogy, folks: When I hear Obi-Wan wax on about the great days of the Republic and the Jedi being a force for good and for peace, I now see them as the ramblings of a senile old man who has either forgotten or was too dumb to see how bad it was. And I know Lucas is a fan of the idea of a benevolent dictatorship, and maybe one of his points here was that the system was rotten and needed to fall, but if so that was a point lost in general incoherence and a sinking feeling on the part of the audience that two characters we knew and loved - Yoda and Obi-Wan - were actually idiots.

5. The Padme/Anakin romance. Horrible, horrible dialogue added to a plot line where Ani comes across as an obsessive stalker. And, given the Jedi concerns about any strong emotion, and that Obi-Wan knows how Anakin feels about Padme, shouldn't he say something before sending the two of them off, alone, for a trip to the lake country?

6. The Obi-Wan/Anakin friendship. Again, we undermine elements of the original trilogy here - Obi-Wan recollects Anakin as a student, and a friend. There's nothing in this film that makes me think they are friends - they reminisce about fun things that happened, but we never see them as friends. We are told, not shown. What we see makes me think that they don't actually like each other much.

7. The characters. We don't care about them; they aren't developed enough, and we have no attachment. So when the final battle sequence starts, there are no stakes for the audience - I don't care about any of them, and I know Padme, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda all survive anyways because of the original trilogy - so it's just a sequence full of noise and fury, signifying nothing.

8. The Yoda/Dooku lightsaber duel. It starts with promise - Dooku and forcelightning, which Yoda shrugs away - but then descends into absurdity. "knowledge of the Force" isn't going to settle this? "Lightsabers" are? WTF? And Yoda, instead of being the Jedi master who taught Luke that "wars make one not great" and who never spent a second teaching Luke anything about handling a light saber, turns into a spinning ball of CGI...and we're supposed to think this is awesome.

To get it down to the tl;dr version: The film is uninteresting and poor on its own merits; it then does damage to the original triology by providing us with moments that actively undermine the characters from those films.
posted by nubs at 3:28 PM on October 9, 2015 [11 favorites]

And maybe just to make it clear, because I think I only touch on it above, part of the plot line of the original trilogy is based on certain assumptions:

1. The Empire is bad.
2. The Old Republic and structure that existed before the Empire are worth fighting for - worth sacrificing millions/billions of lives for.

What AotC does is destroy that second point. If the Old Republic wasn't worth saving then it sure as he'll isn't worth fighting to restore.
posted by nubs at 4:52 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just finished watching this (for only the second time; saw it in theatre) and I have to agree wholeheartedly with nubs.

That is quite the bad movie all on it's own; taken as part of the whole... it's really hard to think much thought went into it at all...
posted by PigheadedGnu at 8:08 PM on October 9, 2015

I'm surprised to see the seeming consensus that AOTC is worse than TPM. I thought TPM was just a fiasco, while AOTC was... sort of OK? Definitely not great, but not an endless slog like TPM. Stuff actually happens, the performances are a bit better and while the dialogue has a few real howlers it doesn't read like a bad Google translate job, like every line in TPM did.

Somebody said that you could just eliminate TPM and start with this movie, and I think there's something to that. Anakin is already a conflicted young man, not a chubby cheeked little imp who hollers "Yippee!" Jar Jar is all but gone, the comedic relief role going to C-3PO, who is much better suited for it. When Anakin slaughters the Sand People, we get our first glimpse of the hatred that will eventually turn him to the dark side. That's the kind of thing we need to see fairly early on, if this is supposed to be the story of his fall.

Anakin has apparently been dreaming of a girl he met at 8 years old for the last decade, because ... that's a thing anyone ever does?

That worked OK for me, because this is an epic fantasy and in that sort of story it's not so weird to fall in love with somebody when you're a kid and never get over it. I think that does sometimes happen in real life, too. You know, like when people have a lingering crush on their old babysitter. (Although Anakin's love for Padme is a rather extreme form of this!)

Meanwhile, it hasn't occurred to him in that whole time to maybe go rescue his mother from slavery.

That bugged the hell out of me too, but my girlfriend (who held on to her Star Wars fandom long after my disappointment drove me from the flock) explained that because the Jedi believe there should be no emotional attachments, they forbade Anakin from going to save his mother. I don't know if my GF got that from the Expanded Universe stuff or what, but it makes his behavior make a little more sense and it partly explains why he gets so fed up with the Jedi. Supposedly Luke brings balance to the force by introducing a new way for the Jedi, where they can have attachments and loved ones without being corrupted by the dark side.

That stuff makes the whole franchise make a little more sense, but like I said I don't know where she got it. I wouldn't put it past her to have spent a few long nights on Wookiepedia, developing a Grand Unified Theory of Star Wars. If that was all Lucas' intended story, I wish he'd made it a lot clearer.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:45 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

There's a lot of hate directed at the Anakin character, but Padme gets off a little too easy in this. Is it not just a little bit creepy that she falls in love with "little Ani"? I can understand Anakin's infatuation as a little boy with this beautiful, older, determined, resourceful, and smart girl, and having that obsession carry on for many years. But her? Shudder.

Queen Amidala in TPM should have been Padme Amidala in AotC's mother. That way Padme can be a Senator while her mother is still ruling Naboo, and the "romance" makes more sense for both parties. Anakin remembers that cute girl around his age (a year or two older or younger, makes no difference) he met during his first big adventure has grown into a confident teen. And Padme remembers that little kid she hung around with who helped save her planet has turned into a brooding, sullen teenage boy. That's a recipe for certain teenage lust.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:54 AM on October 10, 2015 [8 favorites]

I'm just here to agree that AOTC is worse than TPM.
posted by crossoverman at 5:18 AM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I still haven't seen the third one because after this I was done.

RotS sucks too, but it's sort of interesting. Lucas actually reveals the Jedi to be the colossal assholes they started to appear with Kenobi's "from a certain point of view" crap in RotJ.

spoilers for RotS---------------------------------

So it turns out that the thing that pushes Anakin fully over into the dark side was when he reveals to Mace Windu that Palpatine is a sith and Windu, as more or less representative of the Jedi council, responds by attempting a coup against the Republic and trying to murder Palpatine in cold blood rather than capture him for trial. Assholes.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:52 AM on October 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Curiously, and I don't know if this is your point, that prefigures the assassination of Osama bin Laden, though with a different outcome, obviously.
posted by Grangousier at 6:26 AM on October 10, 2015

because the Jedi believe there should be no emotional attachments, they forbade Anakin from going to save his mother.

That, and once you do that for one Padawan, how do you justify not doing it for other Padawans who also have family in difficult situations? Especially when you have to explain that justification to younglings the age of Yoda's class that was shown when Obi-Wan goes to ask about his missing planet.

Think of how young Anakin was in TPM, and already the Council was prepared to dismiss him as being too old to begin the training. Even without going to the Expanded Universe material to get the full story, the implication is clear, they're taking Jedi candidates from their families while these kids are still babies or toddlers. Even so, there would have been time enough to form the kind of emotional bond that would lead to force visions when their former families experience pain or distress.

It's hard enough to tell a regular kid at that age that no, they can't go do that thing they think is really important, because I'm the responsible guardian in this situation, and I say no you can't. Now imagine you have to tell a kid who's already begun training in the ways of The Force. Being able to fall back on "This is the Jedi Way, it's how the Order's done it for thousands of years" gives the Masters extra leverage in that discussion, leverage that would have been undermined if they'd made an exception for Anakin.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:59 AM on October 10, 2015

Somebody said that you could just eliminate TPM and start with this movie, and I think there's something to that.

There's a whole name for that (Machete Order), and I actually do agree that it's a good plan for introducing someone to the "whole" story, but disagree with the person proposing it that it's because TPM is the worst.

In my opinion, you're right that TPM is absolutely skippable if you're trying to show someone the whole story -- there's literally nothing you need to know from it for AotC or RotS to work. However, I still think AotC is a worse movie overall, albeit one that does bridge some necessary gaps if you have any interest in what the prequels have to offer.

Think of how young Anakin was in TPM, and already the Council was prepared to dismiss him as being too old to begin the training.

I think that's giving Lucas a bit too much credit. I always read the "too old" bit as having not much of a point excepting as an explicit callback to ESB, with Yoda saying the same about Luke. In fact, the Jedi Council using that rationale (with Yoda present) is actually very high on my list of things that the prequels really fuck up about the originals by wanting to reference things, but not really understanding what they're referencing.

In ESB, Yoda goes through a litany of reasons why he can't train Luke. He has no patience. There is much anger in him, like his father. He has spent his whole life looking forward, and never paying attention what he is doing in the moment. He is reckless.

He is simply not ready.

Through all of these objections, he is rebuffed, first by Obi-Wan's ghost, and then by Luke. The interaction with Obi-Wan, in particular, has very much the tenor of old friends, with Yoda being almost knowingly cantankerous, and Obi-Wan taking it in good humor.

Literally the last objection that Yoda gives is: he is too old. The thing is, by the time he says it, I think (from his tone, and from what leads up to it) he has already decided he will train Luke, and already knows that what he's saying is silly -- that he's being a grumpy old man (which, let's be honest, Yoda is very much moreso in the originals, whereas the prequels try to re-cast him as a paragon of virtue). It is a very self-aware last weak objection.

So why does this being referenced in the prequels matter?

With the prequels in place, this conversation now takes on a very strange, frankly totally insane tone. 30 years prior to this conversation, Yoda and Obi-Wan had a very similar conversation about training someone who was too old -- and Yoda was right. And I don't just mean kinda right; that person (Anakin) went on to literally murder every person Yoda knew and loved, including dozens of children that Yoda had a personal connection to as their teacher.

And yet by the time ESB rolls around, Yoda and Obi-Wan are having this conversation, this very "I know I'm being a grumpy old man" thing going on, as if they're reminiscing about old times -- all while knowing that this is a twin of a conversation that, last time Yoda gave in on, lead to genocide.

I swear to god, there's no end to things in the prequels that, because they decided to tie them to the originals (but didn't put much thought into it), retroactively fucks up characters, motivations, etc.
posted by tocts at 8:34 AM on October 10, 2015 [23 favorites]

explained that because the Jedi believe there should be no emotional attachments, they forbade Anakin from going to save his mother

Yes, it's a good thing they forbid emotional attachments and then allow master & apprentice to work together for 10 plus years. Surely no bonds of friendship or affection would ever grow from that, which is why the films repeatedly go to the trope of the strong bonds between Master and apprentice (Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon; Obi-Wan and Anakin; Yoda and Dooku; probably others I don't recall). No emotional attachments, nope, none at all.

Sorry, but while this might be a plausible explanation for not allowing Ani to rescue his Moms, it just furthers the underlying problem - either the Jedi are a bunch of self-deluded fools, or else the person writing the story is.
posted by nubs at 9:55 AM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Plinkett nails it: Attack of the Clones is the worst thing ever made by humans.
posted by Bringer Tom at 2:45 PM on October 10, 2015

(The RLM review is so full of times when the voiceover matches up to the mouths of the actors in the clips.. A little less and I'd think it was a maddening coincidence.)
posted by nom de poop at 3:32 PM on October 10, 2015

I wish he'd do these reviews but without the horrible bits.
He makes such good points about the movie.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:38 PM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, a lot of nose holding is required, and the AotC review is even worse than TPM review in that respect.
posted by nom de poop at 4:13 PM on October 10, 2015

There is a long story arc in the Plinkett Reviews serial-killer backstory which ends with Plinkett getting a comeuppance for his horribleness. He's still present in the backstory of the new Half in the Bag reviews but mostly as a guy writing really incomprehensible notes who can't get his VCR repaired.
posted by Bringer Tom at 4:42 PM on October 10, 2015

My problems with the movie start with the title: Attack of the Clones. For most "Attack of the..." movies, the titular attacking things--Crab Monsters, 50-Foot Woman, Killer Tomatoes, Puppet People--are bad. In this movie the clones are the good guys. Sort of. I think.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:01 PM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

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.
posted by ChuraChura at 3:48 AM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

There is a moment in the arena when the Jedi and the droid army clash. For perhaps half a second, there is a shot of fifty Jedi rushing into battle, lightsabers aglow. AotC is satisfying just then. Otherwise, no.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:51 AM on October 11, 2015

All I have to say to George Lucas about this movie: "You want to go home and rethink your life."
posted by entropicamericana at 11:06 AM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Why? Because that was his original name for them, and he never liked "lightsaber"

I don't know whether to be grateful or annoyed that this didn't compel Lucas to invest heavily in advanced speech synthesis technology so he could go through the films and replace all of the "lightsabers" with "laser swords". The resulting uproar would have made the Han Shot First incident look incredibly minor, but at least we might have ended up with some useful technology out of the deal.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:56 PM on October 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

There's so much I could say about this movie, but for me its crowning failure is introducing two characters like Jango and Boba Fett and then dispensing with them in a single movie, instead of turning them into the Lone Wolf & Cub of the Star Wars universe. Especially when you consider that Dark Horse had the license for both SW and LW&C at the time, that's a monster of a missed opportunity.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:37 PM on October 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

The Fett handling in this film is just odd, but not unexpected. Fett was and remains a pretty popular figure in the Star Wars universe from before ESB (the toy came out first, right?). For as spectacularly awesome as Fett is in Empire Lucas turns around and gives him a virtually slapstick death. Yet, his popularity continued and was great enough that Fett is given what can only be called a lingering cameo shot in the added scene for Star Wars when Han gets a visit from Jabba (now in fancy slug form). He steps in front o the camera and nearly breaks the fourth wall. But, in RTOJ, and my mind is fuzzy, didn't the special edition then add a belch from the Sarlaac after eating Fett (?) dismissing the character.

So what does George do? He not only brings Fett back for AOTC, but makes Fett the genetic father of the clones, essentially stating that Fett represents one of the finest warriors in the galaxy. TECHNICALLY. Why technically? Because in this instance, Boba Fett is just a bratty and sullen tween who all but hisses and claws at Obi-wan, and it's revealed that Boba is simply a naturally aging clone of a dude named Jango Fett. The Fett name is there, and so is the armor, but not the armor that we know and love. And yet, he's presented as such an incredible bad ass that he's chosen to be the mold from which entire legions are made. Jango isn't a fool, either, catching on to who Obi-Wan was and trying to silence him in a brief fight where he momentarily goes toe to toe with a Jedi.

But yet again, this same incredible warrior has the hubris or the veteran experience to decide to take on a Jedi Master in the form of Mace Windu. That fight scene ignores the earlier fight scene in which both Jango and Obi-wan are moving constantly, with Jango taking advantage of his jet pack to open up another avenue of attack. In this instance, he stands in one place and shoots repeatedly at a Jedi wielding a lightsaber. He didn't even do that against a much less dangerous Jedi opponent. The result? That ridiculous head lopping off scene. Was Lucas too lazy to write a better death for Jango? Did he just want to stick it to Fett fans again? Who knows.

From the expanded universe, we also know that the Mandalorians, up to that time period, were considered some of the most fierce warriors in the galaxy. They actually had their own equivalent of a lightsaber (and a history of fighting Jedi at that). So of all things, Jango represents the baddest of the bad, one would imagine - if you're picking the best warrior of Mandalore, you're essentially choosing one of the best in the galaxy...and yet, his death...yeah.

I think one of the mental hurdles I have with AOTC is that it's a very problematic film, but at the same time, it's dressed in many ways as a beautiful film parading itself in the costume of something I still loved after TPM (and even now). It's got the trappings and so much of that appeals to me at an inner level, I'm willing to elevate far higher than it deserves.
posted by Atreides at 2:22 PM on October 13, 2015

But yet again, this same incredible warrior has the hubris or the veteran experience to decide to take on a Jedi Master in the form of Mace Windu. That fight scene ignores the earlier fight scene in which both Jango and Obi-wan are moving constantly, with Jango taking advantage of his jet pack to open up another avenue of attack. In this instance, he stands in one place and shoots repeatedly at a Jedi wielding a lightsaber.

*shrug* I don't really have a problem with this. His overconfidence was his weakness. After all, Fett had just greased Cannon Fodder Jedi #421 seconds before and takes off after Windu when Windu is distracted and on the run from Generic CGI Beast #2. (Aside: I enjoyed Dooku's arch look when Fett decided to take the fight to Windu, like "Really? You're going after *him*? Good luck with that." ) Besides, the movie makes it clear that Fett's rocketpack was damaged after he was stampeded by Generic CGI Beast #2: It's sparking intermittently and then black smoke belches out of his exhaust seconds before Windu decapitates him, implying he was trying to rocket out of harm's way but couldn't. The rocketpack was the only reason he was really able to go toe-to-toe with Kenobi in the first place.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:44 PM on October 13, 2015

Attack of the Clones Is a Star Wars Wish-Fulfillment Checklist Gone Horribly Wrong,” Germain Lussier, io9, 19 November 2015
posted by ob1quixote at 5:30 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

No.2 down, 10 days to #7. It's worth noting that a lot of background got cut. Arrival on Naboo, Mace & Obi-Wan's chat, Padme's family. The romance was always going to be awkward, given the characters. Lucas' failure is that he did not rise to the challenge of making the romance credible onscreen. He cut the very material that might have allowed him to carry it off.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 1:58 AM on December 8, 2015

Compared against the romance of Han and Leia, in which there's much less overt effort to show a 'romance' occurring (romantic dinner, fun picnic with the tick beasts, etc...) it's kind of a case of trying too hard.
posted by Atreides at 6:53 AM on December 8, 2015

The difference is experience and plotlines. Han was no virgin, and while Leia probably was, she was older and had adolescent years when she could have had a social life. Padme and Anakin were younger and less experienced and were snatched up very young into very controlled careers - Padme to be Queen, Anakin to be a Jedi.

The challenge was to show these two highly regimented youngsters gradually breaking down the walls of convention while still maintaining the outward decorum demanded by their roles in society. Anakin comes across as creepy because he has no idea how to relate to girls (term used sdvisedly - Padme is a woman in years but a teenager in ecperience) and she is his childhood wet dream. For her it's a thrill to have handsome young Anakin pursuing her. Their time on Naboo together provides the catalyst.

It's possible to show a story arc like that economically, but difficult. Also, whereas in Han/Leia is a subplot in IV, Anakin/Padme is the core of II.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 3:47 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I made the effort to see this at the cinema when it came out... not sure I've watched all again since. The only really strong memories I had were that the sound effects of the concussion mine things in the asteroid chance sounded awesome in the cinema and the bit where the jedi arrive at the end was a brief thrill.

I'm also pretty sure I thought it was a step up from the abysmal Phantom. Now, having watched it again, I'm not so sure. The 'sand is rough' stuff has become pretty much a cliche but by god it's really bad to watch that stuff again, in fact whenever Anakin is on screen the film just reduces to a series of groan moments. Was the only qualification they had for the actor was that he had to be tall?

Clones suffers from a lot of the problems that Phantom had - terrible plot and dialogue, flat acting. And in the action scenes there's often so much cgi garbage on screen it's often impossible to tell what is happening. Anakin being a whiny fascist - terrible. Yoda bouncing round the screen - terrible. The jedi council being a bunch of useless loonies - terrible. The whole clones plot - terrible.

There's bit of prodcution design that are nice, but on the whole - terrible.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:55 AM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

The only really strong memories I had were that the sound effects of the concussion mine things in the asteroid chance sounded awesome in the cinema

That scene actually stands out as one of my favorite from the film and it's one I kind of dwell upon when I want to believe the movie is better than it is.
posted by Atreides at 11:41 AM on December 9, 2015

Upon a rewatch I did come up with a total fanwank that makes the whole absurdity of Anakin a little more palatable.

Everything that doesn't make clear sense is the result of Palpatine whispering in Anakin's ear in dribs and drabs over the last decade. The obsession with Padme, Palpatine encourages it to the point of suggesting Anakin be the one to watch over her. The bitchiness with Obi-Wan, fully prompted and encouraged by the Sith lord by telling Anakin over and over again that the Jedi aren't taking him seriously, that he's far more talented than they give him credit for. To the point where he even sets Anakin up for failure in the next movie by advising him to push the Council to make him a master. Palpatine's no idiot, he knows that there's no way the Jedi will make this young punk a master and it will continue to push Anakin to the Dark Side. Finally, I fully believe that Palpatine had a hand in the kidnapping and torture of Shmee. There's no real reason to extensively torture her other than it makes for a continuous disturbance in the Force that will distract Anakin from his duties. Heck, it's the tactic that Vadar uses in Empire to pull Luke away from his training and you know that he learned it from somewhere.

As to the whole Jedi council and Yoda looking like fools, well, the Force is out of balance. They've reached a point of hubris and delusion that they are all convinced that the Sith are completely banished. So convinced of this truth, they can't even sense a Sith lord in their very midst!

Of course this doesn't excuse the horrible wooden performance from Christensen but I can't fanwank everything.
posted by teleri025 at 2:23 PM on December 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I saw fanwank that Christensen was imitating the speech patterns of Darth Vader: "Imagine his line readings in a baritone and slight processing." I hate to admit it's somewhat plausible.

(Now, of course, you're imagining James Earl Jones intoning "I don't like sand.")
posted by entropicamericana at 3:22 PM on December 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by the webmistress at 7:23 PM on February 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

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