Star Wars: Attack of the Clones


On rewatching years later, The Phantom Menace is better than I remember. Attack of the Clones…is not. To be honest, I think it’s the weakest of the prequels and of the six that George Lucas was actually involved in.

I could see what they were trying to do, but it doesn’t hold together as well, and the story hinges on a romance that is, frankly, unconvincing. It’s like an early draft of a script went into full-blown production, but no one could tell Lucas, hey, maybe you should try something different here, or keep working on the dialog there, etc.

The effects are amazing. The music – John Williams is still at the top of his game here, and “Across the Stars” is one of the best Star Wars pieces written (up there with “Duel of the Fates” IMHO). There are cool concepts and interesting characters, and good actors doing the best they can with what they have. (When they can.)

And there are great moments too! Like Dooku telling Obi-Wan the absolute truth about the Republic having fallen under the sway of a Sith Lord, just in a way that Obi-Wan can’t believe it. Or Padme quietly picking the lock on her handcuffs in the background while Anakin and Obi-Wan argue in the foreground.

Mainly I think it needed more script revisions. And to let someone else direct it.

First-Viewing Twist

There was one thing that I remember making a big impact the first time I saw the movie, way back when it was new and the Clone Wars were still some mysterious thing that we knew happened between The Phantom Menace and the rise of the Empire.

The moment the Jedi arrived on Geonosis with zillions of clone troopers, their armor evoking Imperial storm troopers, it hit me: The Jedi are on the wrong side. They’re helping build the Empire, and the Geonosians’ coalition is the precursor to the Rebellion!

It quickly became clear that it was more complicated. Dooku’s heavy involvement with the Separatists despite being Sith showed that, along with the preliminary Death Star designs. And of course we now have another movie and multiple seasons of cartoons making it clear that Darth Sidious was running both sides of the conflict. There was no “right” side, and the Jedi were unwitting pawns like everyone else.

But that weird feeling of wrongness stuck with me through the end of the movie.