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I'm just a simple man, trying to make my way in the universe.


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

Things that are worthwhile about Attack of the Clones; the backbone of the political machinations of Palpatine in his rise to power are well-conceived and McDiarmid plays his dual roles with gravitas sorely lacking elsewhere. The Obi-Wan plotline, pursuing Jango Fett to Kamino and beyond, gives the story more shape and purpose than it ever had in The Phantom Menace.  Christopher Lee's Count Dooku (-ula) is a welcome presence, even if his role suffers from Lee playing too many bad guys in too little time (with this and Saruman). Natalie Portman gets as close as the prequels will to a metal bikini with her exposed midriff. The sonic detonators that Fett tries to kill Obi-Wan with are a thrilling sound effect (possibly an inspiration for the "big" sonic booms in so many movies of late). Helping things along greatly is that the film is well-paced, also unlike The Phantom Menace.

Things that don't work: Hayden Christensen plays a petulant brat completely adequately, but is that really all Lucas had in mind for the guy who became Vader? Anakin's romance with Padme is at best anodyne, at worst toe-curlingly horrid in its dialogue and staging (who can forget the ride on the CG beastie in the meadow?) 

I'm fairly on-board with the first two-thirds of the film, but once the action settles on Geonosis it becomes a distracting CGI overload; from the daft conveyor belt sequence in the factory, to the arena (there's a couple of good spots there, mainly involving the Fetts), to the lost-the-plot-video-game-as-movie attack of the clone troopers (where Lucas doesn't use any guys in costumes really obviously, for no logical reason other than that that he can - see also Tuskan Raiders). And while parts of the showdown with Dooku are enjoyable, I'm not sold on CGI Yoda and his Speedy Gonzalez fighting skills. 

I'm not really buying Samuel L Jackson either; a Jedi who looks and sounds permanently angry, and comes out with lines like "Party's over" is a strange fit for the emotionally sterile world that Lucas has created.

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