Despite the critical reception to The Phantom Menace, the Star Wars franchise was still going strong and the film made enough enough to produce the second and third films in what would become known as the ‘prequel trilogy’. However, I believe the second installment, Attack of the Clones, was better recieved critcally for it’s visuals, it’s still criticised heavily for it’s plot and editing, with some fans these days calling it “skippable” and nowadays, it is more known for the memes spawned from it’s scenes rather than anything memorable from viewing the film.
Anakin Skywalker (now portrayed by Hayden Christensen) has grown up, and is learning the ways of the force from his master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, under the careful watch of the Jedi Council. Skywalker is well-known for ignoring orders and doing what he feels is right, rather than what he is told to do. Each day he becomes more of a danger to himself and to others, but despite this, Obi-Wan Kenobi does his best to keep Anakin on the path of the Jedi. However, when they are assigned to the protection services of the former Queen of Naboo, now a senator, Padme Amidala, after an assassination attempt on her life that saw her transport destroyed when she arrived on Corsuscant, Anakin allows his emotions to get the better of him, as he falls for Padme, despite knowing that Jedi are not allowed to fall in love, for they are sworn to the order of the Jedi.
After a second assassination attempt on Senator Amidala’s life, Obi-Wan discovers that she was being targeted by a bounty hunter named Jango Fett, who is hiding out on Kamino. When Kenobi arrives on the planet though, he finds more than he bargained for as he discusses with the Kaminoan Prime Minister, the current progress of a clone army, who was ordered for creation to serve the republic forces by a former Jedi, Master Sifo Dyas. Kenobi is ordered to bring Jango Fett in for questioning but after a pursuit leads to his capture by sith lord, Count Dooku, on the planet of Geonosis, the other members of the Jedi Council and the new clone army are brought in to rescue the prisoners as well as attempt to capture Count Dooku.
Inbetween the action and plot of secret clone armies being made, the film is overshadowed by the romance plotline between Anakin and Padme. After Anakin is left to guard Padme, the pair later travel back to Anakin’s home planet of Tattooine, in an attempt to find Anakin’s mother, but this leads to a horrifying discovery that leads Anakin to fall further down the path of the darkside.
Attack of the Clones holds a great mystery plot to it about the creation of the secret clone army, that is being produced on the planet of Kamino, which was apparently approved by a former Jedi Master without the knowledge of the Jedi Council. Going so far as to remove the records of the planet from the Jedi records. This plot gives a great mystery thriller sense to the film, as Obi-Wan does his best detective work to discover who shot the first bounty hunter that he and Anakin chased through the busy skies and streets of Coruscant. We get to see Obi-Wan use close contacts such as a diner cook named Dexter Jettster, who aided Kenobi in identifying the dart that killed their target.
This gave us a new side to the Jedi that allowed us to see the lengths Jedi Knights go through to complete a mission and discover the truth in order to find killers. It shows us the more narrative side to the Jedi that proves they’re more than just warriors who show up for battle.
However the other plot of this film that overshadows the other plot points, is that of Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala falling in love. It’s been around 10 years since they last saw one another, and Padme tells Anakin that whilst he has grown into a fine young man, he will always be remembered as the little boy she met on Tattooine. So there are some strange points within the script that almost make little to no sense about their somewhat sudden bonding that leads to them being married by the end of the film. Padme claims Anakin makes her uncomfortable, then suddenly gets close to him, then feels distant from him and finally once again she is close to him. There are parts of the film where you understand the connection, but as a whole, the romance feels like a rushed plot drive that tries to push the viewer into accepting what we’re given but it just takes too much away from what the audience really wants and deserves. The mysterious clone army plot is something that fits within the Star Wars genre, and the original trilogy had a romance plot with Han and Leia but it was a side plot that spans the trilogy, as it should be, so when you watch Anakin and Padme fall in love within mere minutes, and watch their romance take up the majority of the film despite being mostly forgetful, it just takes too much away from what this film should have been.
The story of Anakin finding his mother and slaughtering the Tusken Raiders, was spot on in my point of view, it shows that drive towards his emotions getting the better of him and his journey to the dark side drawing ever closer. I’d understand Padme falling in love with him after that more than what I believe from the previous scenes, because the audience begins to feel a sense of pity for Anakin at that point (or at least they would if he hadn’t been made to moan like a child so much before hand). His journey to the dark side makes sense, but more than that this film reveals to us the true failure of the Jedi, in that Obi-Wan pretty much discovers Anakin’s personal feelings for Padme, and in the interest of his Padawan, decides to not inform the Jedi Council, but more than this, Yoda feels Anakins pain through the force, hears Anakin slaughtering Tuskens and even hears Qui-Gon shout out in anguish at Anakin’s fall from the Jedi code, but despite all of this, Yoda does nothing. Perhaps he believes it’s better to keep Anakin close, in order to try and save him, but there is absolutely nothing mentioned or done about any of this, and that is down to bad writing.
Once again, this second installment in the prequel trilogy is packed with what was at the time, state of the art CGI, that brought the galaxy, the planets, the people and the backgrounds to life with enormous buildings, speeding space cars, busy streets, an army of clone soldiers in perfect formations, and a battle like no other on the planet of Geonosis, as we see more Jedi than we ever have before, face off against a batallion of Droids.
One thing that caught my eye in this film was the change in tone from the first film. The colours become darker, and certain scenes really portray the feel of the films plot, such as one of my favourite scenese which is as previously mentioned, Anakin heading to find his mother. The scene takes place during the setting of the two suns that shine over Tattooine, but the double sunset gives the scene a palette of reds, yellows and oranges that represent the firery rage burning within Anakin, as well as possibly foreshadowing his later, and quite literal, baptism of fire in Revenge of the Sith that sees him become Darth Vader. This scene also shrouds Anakin in a shadow that portrays his journey to the darkside and how his mind is clouded by his emotions. It’s a great but simple scene that tells so much without a single words being said, just Anakin on his speeder, on his way to take revenge.
What I like
I enjoy Attack of the Clones, as I enjoy all of the prequels. It’s a trilogy that is skippable, but each film has it’s individual charm that is overshadowed by something that doesn’t portray well, or bad writing that simply should not have been allowed to put to film without some serious editing in order to get the points across that needed to be set out in a much more controlled and professional way. The journey of Anakin Skywalker simply doesn’t make much sense as a whole in these films, and there are only certain scenes that can be looked back on as being simply ‘decent’. This film, as well as the other two in the prequel trilogy, has become more of a source for memes, rather than a source of storytelling.
As mentioned before the mysterious plot of the clones production on Kamino and the Jedi battle versus the droids on Geonosis are the two stand outs in this film, but the plot is easily forgetable and not even the brilliant casting can save the films. Ewan McGregor brings life once again to the loveable Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the legendary Christopher Lee gives us a very menacing sith lord in the form of Count Dooku, who steals any scene he is in. Even Hayden Christensen, despite the backlash, did the best he could with the poor writing. He gives a new life to Anakin Skywalker and his emotions shine through when he becomes angry at the Tusken Raiders, or the guilt he feels afterwards. Christensen received so much backlash from the two films he starred in (Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith) but I think there is definitely a fanbase out there who believe in his efforts and his skill as an actor, and I for one am very pleased to hear that he will be reprising his role in the upcoming 2022 Disney Plus series that will focus on the life of Obi-Wan Kenobi after the events of Revenge of the Sith. So it will be fantastic so see Hayden be given another chance with a far better script, to show us what he can really do to bring one of the galaxies greatest villains to life.
This film holds one memorable scene, which consists of the most amount of lightsabers seen on screen at once, in the battle of Geonosis. Nowadays, it’s easy to see some of the mistakes made from actors fighting CGI droids, such as a few Jedi swinging their lightsaber at nothing, just as it would be in the studio, but the editing team, who had a big job on their hands, simply missed just a few of the connections that needed added droids, but at the time, as a kid, this scene was simply magical. To see not just a pair, or the council of Jedi, but a small army of them, face off against a batallion of droids and lose, was simply breathtaking. Despite their efforts a lot of Jedi fall to the droids barrage of gunfire and it gave us that sense that even Jedi fall in battle against someone who isn’t a sith. Of course in The Phantom Menace, we see Qui-Gon killed at the hands of Darth Maul, but in a sword fight, it’s bound to happen. To see a Jedi fall at the hands of a droid however, was something we as children simply couldn’t get our heads around, though you realise they are simply outnumbered and overwhelmed by the constant effort to attack and defend against the oncoming forces.
What I didn’t like
I’ve already mentioned the script and the other things that have failed this film, so I’m not going to dive too much into it all again for the sake of this post, but let me just say that this film had no real heart behind it from George Lucas. It really does feel more like a money grab than a prequel journey to the original trilogy that we all fell in love with. There were enough good ideas in there to keep the audience coming back for more and leaving us wanting the story to be expanded upon further, but in it’s execution there was more concern for merchandising and visual advances than there was for plot, leading to a hot mess that could have been something truly special, despite still being a far cry from the original trilogy.
I doubt I’ll ever be one to suggest to someone who’s never seen Star Wars, to watch the prequel trilogy. It’s very much skippable and at this point I think watching something like The Clone Wars television series (which isn’t necessarily considered canon) is a far better choice to make after watching the original trilogy of course. For those of us who have already seen the franchise as a whole, I would remind you more of what this film and the trilogy did for the expanded universe, rather than remind you of the terrible rushed mess that it really is overall.
If you don’t like the prequels, that’s understandable. I for one am one of the few who enjoy them all for what they are and after my rewatch recently, I’m discovering more about them that makes me appreciate some of the scenes a little more, but despise some of them a whole lot more due to the poor writing. Love it or hate it, the prequel trilogy exists, and I’m here to review them all because why not.
All of the Star Wars films, including Attack of the Clones, are available to watch on Disney Plus. Just visit the Star Wars section and find the films category.
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