Star Wars Episode 2 : Attack Of The Clones

At last, it's finally arrived. After negativity The Phantom Menace received from some fans and critic, saying that George Lucas was destroying their childhoods (get a life people!), the anticipation was mixed for Attack Of The Clones. Let's get right into it straight off. WARNING SPOILERS! - and lots of them!!

Set 10 years after The Phantom Menace, Attack Of The Clones starts with Senator Amidala (Natalie Portman returning and not looking any older after 10 years!) the former queen of Naboo, surviving an assassination attempt. As a result it is decided that she needs additional protection and is assigned two Jedi knights, Master Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor in a welcome return) and his padawan apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen). Anakin is a head strong and impulsive young man of nineteen now, who feels that he is being held back (don't all teenagers?). Although he and Obi Wan are like father and son now, there is tension between them too. Anakin is already skilled with a lightsaber and the Force, but as Obi Wan says his abilities have made him arrogant.

Palpatine is still Supreme Chancellor of The Republic (the position he acquired at the end of Phantom Menace) and is a trusted confidant of Anakin. After another assassination attempt on Amidala, the two Jedi knights discover that a bounty hunter, Jango Fett, was hired to kill her. Anakin is ordered to take Amidala back to her home planet of Naboo for her safety while Obi Wan tracks the bounty hunter to the water-covered planet Kamino There he is surprised to learn that an army of clones is being built for the republic - and that they are using the DNA of an ideal soldier, aforementioned Jango Fett.

After reporting his finds to the Jedi council, Obi Wan is ordered to bring Fett back to the council for questioning. Unfortunately Obi Wan didn't count on the fact that Fett isn't considered one of the most feared bounty hunters in the galaxy for nothing and he escapes.

Meanwhile, Anakin is tormented by two things; his love for Amidala (which he's been harbouring ever since he last saw her ten years ago) and dreams of his mother suffering. The young Jedi, forbidden to love, cannot help himself and finds himself intoxicated by her presence. However, the dreams still haunt him and he decides to go to his mother on Tatooine.

Obi Wan manages to track Jango Fett to Geonosis, where a second army, this time consisting of droids, is being constructed under the order of Count Dooku (Christopher Lee - who seems to enjoy playing bad guys). Count Dooku, a former Jedi knight, claims to be building an army to help free the Republic from the Sith Lord who is in overall control of it. He claims that the separatists that have joined his cause will help him destroy the Sith. Obi Wan is captured and sentenced to death for not joining him.

Anakin finds his mother was captured by Tusken Raiders and seeks her out. Unfortunately by the time he gets to her its too late and he takes revenge - showing that his transition to the Dark Side has begun. He receives a message from Obi Wan and he and Amidala go to rescue him.

On the other side of things, when the Senate hears about the army being created, they vote in executive powers to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to create an army for the Republic to protect it from the separatists (hmm, is this the army being constructing in secret on Kamino?).

Arriving on Geonosis, Anakin and Amidala are captured and sentenced to death along side Obi Wan. With the remaining Jedi on their way from the Republic, can they get to the trio before they are executed and stop Count Dooku?

END SPOILERS.

Apologies for the jumping from scene to scene review, but it's as the film. George Lucas has redeemed himself after The Phantom Menace - although in his defence, that first film was supposed to be very light and 'sugar-coated' to offset the next two in the prequel line up. Attack Of The Clones has its dark side and is more serious and as a result more appealing to adults (who seem to be the biggest fans of Star Wars anyway). This is the film that the fans hoped would be made - less childishness and more Star Wars.

The performances are good from some of the cast. Natalie Portman is okay - easy on the eye, but her performance lacked substance. She seemed to sleepwalk through her role. Hayden Christensen has moments of brilliance - especially when exploring his darker side, but unfortunately the romance between him and Portman is very dull. There's very little chemistry between them and as a result the 'love' aspect of the film is slow going. Ewan McGregor eases himself back into the roll Obi Wan and looking more and more like a younger Alec Guinness. Samuel L Jackson is excellent as always - he can still make a Jedi Council member look cool, plus he gets to kick some arse big time. Other performances range from good (including a completely CGI Yoda!) to poor (the childish cackling of a young Boba Fett - yep Jango's little boy). Star Wars films are not normally renowned for their performances.

The film cracks on at a fair old pace but as mentioned before the romance aspect does slow the middle of the film down considerably. Luckily before long we're back to mass battle and lightsabers. The special effects are stunning from the water covered Kamino to the epic battle with a hundreds of Jedi. Industrial Light And Magic (ILM), George Lucas's formed special effects company have truly outdone themselves. The Computer Generated Image (CGI) Yoda looks superb and much more lifelike than the puppet used in The Phantom Menace.

Star Wars: Episode 2: Attack Of The Clones is an excellent film even with its minor flaws. There have been some negative reviews but they seem to have come from preconceptions stemmed from the fan based hype. Ignore them; the film features some of the best performances for a Star Wars film and definitely the best special effects seen in a while. The film makes up for the duller aspects and comes up trumps.

Also, you get to see the real reason why Yoda is considered the best Jedi Master ever. Two foot of green ninja - with a lightsaber! Damn shame we have to wait till 2005 for Episode 3. I'm off to 'test' out the new toys and lightsabers - purely for research of course.

SCORE 10/10 - barely only just

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