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Sunday, May 25, 2003
PoliReview: Attack of the Clones
By Steven Taylor @ 5:35 pm

I finally got around to watching SWII: Attack of the Clones (I still can’t believe that was the best title Lucas could come up with) , and while it was quite a bit better than SWI: The Phantom Menace, it still was rather mediocre. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that it was set in the Star Wars universe, it really wouldn’t be all that interesting. Indeed, that seems to be part of the problem, as the plot seems geared to making sure certain things happen (Palpatine becoming the Emperor, Padme getting pregnant by Anakin, etc.) without really any strong underlying logic propelling the story. Despite all that talk when I was kid when the first triology came out that Lucas had the plots of nine films mapped out, it seems to me that he had only the vaguest of ideas of what the backstory was. There is no sense, unlike with J. Michael Straczynski Babylon 5, that the author really does know the whole story, even if he doesn’t tell us every detail.

A few thoughts:

  • The Jedi, as cool as they are, are really rather pathetic. How can one Sith Lord and his apprentice totally cloud the entire Jedi Council, and weaken the good side to the degree that Yoda and Mace Windu can be on the same planet (indeed, frequently the same room) with Darth Sidious and not know it? Is the message here that evil is radically more powerful than good? And if so, how did the Jedi keep the peace for 1000 years?
  • Jedi powers are widely inconsistent. If “size matters not” why couldn’t a ring of Jedi just blow back all those battle droids telekinetically, rather than having to have Yoda and his clone army show up to save the day?
  • Speaking of size mattering not, again, if that is the case, why does Yoda have to strain to keep the big stuff from falling on Obi Wan and Anakin?
  • And is Padme nuts? She sees murderous rage in Anakin after he admits slaughtering the men, women and children in the Tuskin Raider camp, and this helps induce her to fall in love with him? Not to mention all that talk about becoming so powerful so as to stop death. I suppose some folks find psychotic megalomania attractive.
  • If the Force is strong in families, but Jedi don’t marry, where do little Jedi come from?
  • Why is it that no one on the Jedi council seemed to have any moral qualms whatsoever at growing (and using) a clone army?
  • Speaking of armies-how can you have a Republic of thousands (indeed, probably tens of thousands of systems, since in the beginning crawl we learn that thousands of systems have left the Republic, but yet the Republic continues to exist) not have a standing army? At least a defense force of some kind? Why would the only recourse to protect the Republic been a clandestinely growth clone army?
  • For that matter, the politics of the Republic are lost on me anyway. Why does it exist? How do you coordinate thousands of systems politically? Why would you want to? Especially since trade policy is apparently outside the control of the Senate, and they have no military. I mean, what’s it there for?
  • Why does Lucas recycle so much? (the Death Star in IV and VI, the battle of the technologically backward v. insurmountable odds (the ends of I and VI), the need for a lone pilot to blow something up so the good guys can win (I, IV, and VI), etc.

    If one ignores all this (and other stuff), it was a fairly entertaining flick-and the light sabers are very cool. And seeing Yoda in action was nifty.

    The Empire Strikes Back is still my favorite.

I give it **1/2 out of 5.

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  1. Hey. I don’t feel so “behind the times” anymore. Thanks. I just reviewed Matrix Reloaded. What a dog (star).

    Comment by John Lemon — Monday, May 26, 2003 @ 12:38 am

  2. Sean:

    I appreciate Lucas’ interest in myth, and think that he did a good job of creating a general mythos. However, I think he would have been better off letting other writers play in his world, as he seems to only have a set number of plots in his head.

    And JL:

    Heck, I haven’t seen the first (Matrix) one yet :) It is sitting on m desk in a stack of DVDs I borrowed from a friend.

    Comment by Steven — Monday, May 26, 2003 @ 9:59 am

  3. Oh wow, I’m glad I’m not the only one less than impressed by Lucas’ “romantic treatment” of Vader-to-be’s genocidal impulses. When I saw that scene in the theater, I wanted to flick pencils at the screen.

    Comment by Matthew — Monday, May 26, 2003 @ 2:52 pm

  4. One would have thought she would have left the room in horror, rather than seeking to comfort him. Or, even if she was feeling especially compassionate, that she would have had serious second thoughts on the whole love thing.

    The whole Padme-Anakin storyline felt like “ok, they have to get married, so they will, even if it doesn’t make sense”.

    Further, the whole Anakin storyline seems like: “ok, we know he’ll be Vader, so he has to be angry and rebellious.” Quite frankly, his corruption would have been more insidious (no pun intended) if he had been more heroic and really the model Jedi before his fall. It would have been more dramatic had he been more Luke-like and then become seduced by the Dark Side. Rather than this whole faux rebel without a cause bit. Since we all know that Anakin will become Vader, it would have been far better if Lucas had managed to get us to like him anyway, so that there would be some sadness when he turns. I suspect we simply won’t care when he switches. Indeed, I had a hard time seeing him in a heroic light in SWII.

    And really, the Republic deserved to die if Yoda and friends are so dense they can’t see what a happening before their very eyes.

    There was a more subtle, more dramatic, and more tragic, and entertaining story that could have been told here, but, alas, was not.

    Comment by Steven — Monday, May 26, 2003 @ 3:16 pm

  5. Comment by Anonymous — Tuesday, August 10, 2004 @ 11:52 am

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