Since I started doing these blogathons, I’d always watch the full movie shortly before writing a blog post. But with Attack of the Clones, I started writing this blog post around the time Obi Wan Kenobi arrived on Kamino. Why? Because of all the Star Wars movies, this is the one I find it hardest to pay attention to. And why is that? Because it’s so boring.
Just so you’re aware, I’ll be writing this blog post assuming the readers have seen this movie and remember a fair amount of it. I apologize if you feel lost, but there’s a lot to get through and I don’t want to write too long of a post.
For me, Attack of The Clones is the worst official Star Wars movie. Like Revenge of the Sith, it overuses CGI backgrounds that really haven’t aged well. A lot of the CGI characters also look bad by today’s standards. At times it looks more like filmed cutscenes for a 90’s video game than it does a movie. The action scenes are both over the top and not all that intense at the same time, because you’re just watching two CGI armies of faceless soldiers fight each other on a flat, open field. There are no room for tactics here. It’s all just a bunch of audio and visual noise. At least The Phantom Menace used real sets most of the time.
Even the live action fight scenes sometimes lack gravity because the excessive CGI is clearly affecting the actors’ performances. The factory fight, which was added in near the end of filming, might just be the dumbest action scene in franchise history, including the unofficial entries. It’s also got the worst lightsaber fight in the franchise to date, thanks to the camera being too close, the lame choreography, and a host of other reasons.
But that’s not what makes Attack of the Clones the worst Star Wars movie. No, it’s the sluggish pacing in what already used to be the longest Star Wars movie (The Last Jedi is longer by about 8 minutes or so). It’s the horribly written love story between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala that feels more like the story of a psychopathic stalker and his oblivious girlfriend. It’s a story that attempts to be an intriguing mystery of where the clone troopers come from, yet it doesn’t provide enough answers.
That’s not to say this movie isn’t without its strengths or clear potential. With tighter writing and a couple minor role reversals, the love story could have worked. It should have been Anakin who’s resistant to the relationship due to his Jedi allegiances, not Padme. Some of the action is still decent, like the fight between Obi-Wan Kenobi and at least elements of the chase scene through Coruscant. The gladiator pit fight before Anakin and Obi-Wan get replacement lightsabers is also fun, showing the characters in actual danger. The soundtrack, while not as good as usual for John Williams, is still brilliant. And of course the scene where Anakin slaughters a village of sand people is brilliantly done and cuts out at the exact right moment. Up until his megalomaniacal rant, the aftermath scene was also very well done.
It’s also the first Star Wars movie released that showed more than three planets, and as much as there’s too much CGI, the general design is consistently great.
As for the performances, well … Hayden Christensen is better than Jake Lloyd, but he’s not all that great as Anakin. Sure, he’s great at being angry and psychotic, and he does a good job at being winy when he’s supposed to be. Also, don’t forget that Luke Skywalker was also a bit winy in A New Hope. But all you need to do is watch some of the behind the scenes footage to know that George Lucas isn’t the greatest director when it comes to getting good performances out of everyone.
I’ve seen Christensen put in good performances in other movies. For example, he played the lead role in Shattered Glass, a true story about a once famous journalist who was caught having made up almost every story he ever wrote. He even received several nominations for his performance in that movie, and won one at the Las Palmas Film Festival. He kind of disappeared for a while to take a break from acting, but has been showing up in the odd independent movie here and there in the last few years. Thankfully he seems to have turned out better than Jake Lloyd. He seems content with how people have reacted to his performance.
And this movie even got a boring performance from Samuel L. Jackson. I’ll speak more about that in my post for Revenge of the Sith, but for now, I’ll just ask how? How do you get Jackson to put in a boring performance when he’s supposed to be one of the more awesome Jedi in the order? Seriously, what a waste.
But Ewan McGregor is still brilliant as Obi Wan, Christopher Lee is great as Count Dooku in this movie, and Ian McDiarmid is perfect as Palpatine, the emperor in waiting, as always.
Like with The Phantom Menace, I wrote a blog post years ago suggesting things that could have improved this movie, if you’re interested.
Even when I first saw this in theaters, I didn’t love it. I didn’t fully understand why, but there was something about the movie that felt off. It was shortly after that when I saw The Fellowship of the Ring for the first time, when a lifetime friend of mine received the extended cut on VHS for his birthday I believe. That’s around the time when I stopped being a hardcore Star Wars fan for a while. I still mostly enjoyed Revenge of the Sith when it came out, but I never really followed the franchise closely between Attack of the Clones and The Force Awakens. This is the movie that killed my super fandom, even if it took about a year to do so.
But I don’t hate this movie. I just mostly ignore large chunks of it when I rewatch it, like I’m doing as I write this, only to tune back in when one of the better moments happen. And this is the only Star Wars movie I do that with. It also means I tune out more than I pay attention. Besides, even if I find it hard to turn away from the Star Wars Holiday Special, that’s still worse than this.
Please though, let me know your thoughts on this movie in the comments.
Next up is Revenge of the Sith, which is pretty much universally regarded as the best of the prequels. Or the least bad of the prequels as some people call it. After that, it’s the Clone Wars movie that somehow got a theatrical release, followed by two mystery posts. What are these mystery posts? I’ll tell you what the first one is at the end of my Clone Wars post. Until then, may the force be with you.