Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (2002)

"Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (2002)
Starring Ewan MacGregor, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen
Written and directed by George Lucas

After making gobs and gobs of money while simultaneously destroying the hopes and dreams of entire generations of moviegoers with "The Phantom Menace," George Lucas would return to the 'Star Wars' universe in 2002 with "Attack of the Clones."  Of course, everyone, including me, hoped that this would be a return to form for the uber-famous writer/director, proving that "Phantom Menace" was just a bizarre aberration, the result of Lucas just being rusty after so long away from the characters and universe.  Instead, "Attack of the Clones" is more like Kobe Bryant going in for seconds.

The, uh, "plot" starts with an assassination attempt against Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), now Senator to Naboo instead of its queen.  Chancellor Palpatine requests the Jedi Council assign protection to Amidala, and suggests sending Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.  No sooner do the bickering Jedi arrive, but another assassination attempt is made.  While attempting to track down the assassin, Obi-Wan stumbles upon a plot to hide a massive army buildup as Anakin hides Padme away on Naboo, hoping to keep her safe.

While on Naboo, Anakin puts a whole lot of creepy moves on Padme, and then reveals to her that he has disturbing dreams about his mother and decides to head to Tatooine to find out what's wrong with her.  When they arrive, they learn that Shmi Skywalker has been kidnapped by Sand People.  Anakin tracks her down, but she dies in his arms and then he slaughters an entire village of people. 

You know what, I'm kinda sick of describing the meaningless meanderings of this movie.  Basically, a bunch of retarded shit happens and then there's a big fight at the end with a bunch of Jedi, robots and clone troopers.  None of it really makes any sense, or leads naturally from one part to another.  The movie is essentially a collection of scenes, most of which suck entirely, which sort of loosely form some kind of story.  But it's like the rambly, nonsense stories you might hear from Grampa Simpson more than anything else.

Nothing about the screenplay for Episode II works at all.  The dialogue is horrendous, even worse than in the last film.  Any scene where Padme and Anakin speak to each other is as grating and offensive to the ears as listening to an out of tune Japanese junior high death metal band.  Their supposed love story is also insulting to intelligent humans, and sullies what little either character had going for themselves.

For example, Padme is a Senator.  Anakin spends the entire film belittling this fact, and essentially advocating for military dictatorship.  He stares at her constantly, with these creepy stalker-glares that would drive any normal woman to put their fingers on their stun gun triggers. 

In fact, the entire Anakin character is once again the most poorly conceived aspect of the entire movie.  The screenplay keeps trying to tell us that he's a good person tempted by the Dark Side... but just watching him and listening to the things he says proves that this is simply not true.  The truth instead is that Anakin Skywalker is a fucking douchebag.  Obi-Wan Kenobi has the patience of a saint for putting up with this whiny asshole for so long; Anakin constantly and publicly argues with his Master and makes snide comments left and right about the way things are done. 

The worst offense of the entire movie comes after Anakin has found his mother on Tatooine.  She dies in his arms, and in a fit of rage, he slaughters the entire village of Sand People.  Sure, you can be like, 'Oh, he was angry and he killed the folks who killed his mom' but that's not quite it.  Anakin admits that he kills them all - including the women and children, he says he slaughtered them like animals.  What is Padme's reaction to all this?  She puts her hand on his shoulder and says, "To be angry is to be human."

Um... WHAT?  This scene is disgusting.  It shatters whatever credibility the Padme character had, when she essentially tells him it's okay to kill women and children just because he's upset.  It makes me upset to think about how atrocious this scene is, and the pall it casts over the rest of this movie... which already sucked.  The intensity of the stupidity on display here is astonishing.  The fact that twenty minutes later, she says that she loves him is so utterly ludicrous that I had to burst out into incredulous laughter.  The music swells like this is some huge moment in some incredible love story, but it's fucking retarded.

After this point, it's pretty much impossible to take anything this movie does seriously.  It tries to seem like it's all dark and awesome, but the truth is that the movie simply deflates.  'Attack of the Clones' finally gives 'Star Wars' fans a giant action sequence featuring a whole bunch of Jedi, but it's mostly nonsense.  Cartoonish nonsense.  Very little of 'Attack of the Clones' feels real at all, since so much of it consists of gummy CGI backgrounds and characters.  The characters continue saying and doing stupid things (Padme says maybe she can find a diplomatic solution to the situation while she and Anakin stealthily break into the evil villains' secret lair).  Anakin pretty much steals C3PO from the Owens.  The argument could be made that 3PO belonged to Anakin in the first place, but after ten years, it's pretty douchey to just show up and take something from someone... especially taking a helper away from a disabled farmer.  This feels a lot like when Anakin sticks around for the third act of 'Phantom Menace' even though he had no real purpose for doing so - 3PO's presence in the third act of 'Attack of the Clones' is utterly pointless, and played entirely for comedy (most of which is entirely unfunny).

Because of all these problems, "Attack of the Clones" ends up being an even bigger failure than "Phantom Menace."  With a runtime of 142 minutes, the movie is just far, far too long for something that makes as little sense as this.  Add in the fact that the screenplay isn't just stupid, it's downright offensive, and you get one of the worst big-budget blockbusters ever assembled. 

Unfortunately, it's not even over at this point.  Just wait till you see what awful lows George Lucas will sink with "Revenge of the Sith," the only movie in my 28 years that I ever openly heckled in a theatre.