Revisiting Episode II: Attack of the Clones

In our ongoing saga wherein we revisit each of the Star Wars major theatrical releases before Episode IX drops in December, we have been encouraged to sit down and rewatch each film and take some notes about what stands out this time.  As I did with The Phantom Menace, here are my notes with a healthy dose of readability edits.

Special thanks to Jason of The Wampa’s Lair and the always-magnificent Lindsey for their contributions to the episode itself!

  1. There are 50 chapters to the DVD.  This movie is so long…Does anyone else remember DVD chapters?  How quaint.
  2. Is this the same aspect ratio as TPM?  Looks a bit taller (Confirmed: The Phantom Menace‘s aspect ratio was 2.40:1 whereas Attack of the Clones’ aspect ratio was 2.35:1), so someone somewhere between the director of photography and the editing team decided that they wanted a different viewing experience.  Perhaps it had something to do with the technical requirements, given the significant jump in CGI utilization?
  3. I instantly want to watch ESB instead.
  4. AOTC might be the most goofy of all titles. Also confirmed.  Scientifically.  By me.
  5. Several thousand solar systems have declared their intentions to leave the Republic. That is an odd thing, to use solar systems instead of just systems or planets; like they keep changing the vernacular.
  6. Count Dooku is described as “mysterious” but how can that be if he was a member of the Jedi Order?
  7. While the engine sounds are neat, does it make sense for Amidala’s ship to make them?  Where does it come from?  Ground-based vehicular transport might need the type of engine that generates that type of sound (granted, I have no idea what part of an engine makes that sound) but it does not seem to fit that repulsorlift engines would.
  8. The cloud reflections on the bottom of the ship do not look very good anymore; that CGI has not aged well.
  9. While it is really neat that we see the Naboo fighter get knocked off the ledge, it seems like it was put there like “look what we can animate!”
  10. . Padme’s reaction to an assassination attempt doesn’t seem very strong, almost like she was expecting it…
  11. . I like Palpatine’s defense of the Republic.We covered this in the episode a little, but Yoda is clearly no fan of organized government that fails to keep him at the top of it.  Palpatine and Windu seem to be the only characters interested in supporting governmental institutions.  Or overthrowing and establishing his own, in particular cases.
  12. Keepers of the peace, not soldiers.This gets lost the moment an entire army becomes available for the Jedi’s disposal.
  13. Why is the second line of Palpatine’s secretary translated but not the first?  And why wouldn’t they speak Basic?
  14. Mace Windu goes ahead and dispels the mysterious nature of Dooku that was established in the opening crawl.  What, then, is the purpose of having it in the crawl at all?
  15. Yoda is instantly threatening: “grave danger, you are in!” as he points a crooked finger like a witch over a cauldron.
  16. Palpatine is the most human character in this scene
  17. I like Anakin in the elevator, although he doesn’t exactly seem stressed.  He’d be all excited and bouncing.Oh that first meeting with the girl, so cringeworthy and setting the tempo of things to come.
  18. OWK and Anakin go back and forth from being actual friends and being tired of each other; this is film-wide for these two and does not help support the “and he was a good friend line,” from A New Hope.
  19. Anakin talks to Jar Jar like he sees him all the time; are we supposed to believe there’s been an established rapport between them for ten years?
  20. While JJ is silly here, it doesn’t feel the same overbearing silliness of TPM, perhaps because the characters take him more seriously than before?
  21. Jango hired Zam to blow up the platform, and when that doesn’t work he gives her poisonous bugs.  This is the worst assassination plot ever.
  22. Anakin has got to be deliberately designed to be creepy.  He can sense everything going on in that room. Are we demonstrating his obsession?
  23. “You look tired.”  He doesn’t, really.  These scenes don’t feel connected.  They do not seem to rely on the previous scene nor do they impact the subsequent scene.  Character positioning jumps without clear connection nor time for the audience to understand what is happening.  Conversations rarely bridge shot-to-shot.
  24. Anakin is admitting to infatuation and OWK says “be mindful of your feelings, they betray you.”  It doesn’t seem like they do: he is being open and honest, as creep-tastic as he is. What does OWK actually think about Anakin’s obsession?  Is the Council aware of it as well?
  25. How do the bugs know where Padme is, and how to be still and quiet when R2 wakes up?  In fact, why does R2 need to be powered down?
  26. I like that the boys are having a continued conversation even when the camera cuts away from them.  This stands in exception of #23 above, well done team.
  27. Padme’s wakeup reaction shot is really “first take”NOBODY WAKES UP FROM SLEEP LIKE THAT.
  28. The Coruscant chase music is oppressive here.  High brass sections repeating not so much a musical phrase but simple notes with grace notes back to back.  Then the orchestra drops for the percussion section to pick up. It lacks inspiration and feels very much like temp music to me.  There is no melody, no theme, no connection and no time it is ever reused later on.  This one sequence has an 11 minute (or so) musical track especially written for it without any real value to the rest of the film.  Contrast this to the “Escape the Death Star” theme from ANH which was reused as recently as The Last Jedi to resounding success.  
  29. Why couldn’t they just make that one Dug Sebulba?  Would that be over-bearing?  Too audience-winky?
  30. Anakin, shut up.  He’s trying so hard to get those lines out about the right speed capability but it doesn’t feel like the way real people would talk to each other. This is when they are in the car chase and Anakin is going on about not being able to find the right one and color, etc.
  31. “You know I don’t like it when you do that.”  I’m not sure what he didn’t particularly like about Anakin’s tactics.  Or was he talking about enjoying the chase and the inherent danger?I’m reminded of the fathier chase where Finn says “stop enjoying this, stop enjoying this.”
  32. I hate when they go through the power coupling.  Does it really happen enough times where OWK has to tell Anakin multiple times?  And if he sees that he’s going to go through one, why wouldn’t Anakin go above it?  Or around it?
  33. Another “I hate it when he does that” from OWK.  It sure sounds like OWK is a bit over being Anakin’s master.  This detracts from them being good friends, see #18 above.
  34. The first changeling shot goes by so fast that I don’t think anyone understood what they saw the first time it occurred.
  35. Why does Anakin let go of the saber?  There doesn’t seem to be any real reason for him to drop it other than for OWK to hand it to him in a minute.
  36. I like that Coruscant at least seems populated, as opposed to Naboo which was abandoned.  Though it is interesting that they use a lot of classic trilogy aliens: Bith, Arconas, Rodians, etc.
  37. “I think he is a she, and I think she is a changeling.”  Something clunky about this line. If it’s a changeling, can he really say she?  Is there sufficient evidence to make that gender assignment?  Are changelings restricted to only shape-shifting into their particular genders?  That would be… unexpected.
  38. You wanna buy some death sticks?  Or do you want to go home and rethink your life? What’s the purpose of that interaction?  What does it tell us?  I suppose, if we really stretch and look for meaning, it could be an indication that OWK is so flippant with the Force, he is willing to dramatically upend an individual’s life simply because he is bothersome.  Maybe it goes to the hubris of the Jedi but more likely it goes to George Lucas’ writing sensibilities: “well, they are in a bar, and people in bars do drugs, so I put a dope fiend in my children’s movie.”
  39. The misdirection of Anakin being snuck up on is unlike anything else that occurs in SW.  Much like the POV shot in TPM, and the battle fog later on. But MAN she gets too close to Kenobi; she could have shot him from across the room!
  40. Just a senator from Naboo.Why would she admit that so incredibly soon?  And she sounds so pitiful when she says “its just a job,” as if it was going to aid her cause.
  41. Palpatine’s robes mirror Anakin’s to a degree, specifically the long over-exaggerated hood
  42. The interior hallway shot of the Temple is ridiculously green screen.  Would it have been so hard to build a hallway?
  43. Arrogance is a common flaw among the Jedi? Especially among the older ones? Demonstrated by the Council meeting in the previous scene, where they decide to have Padme sent back to Naboo?  Why does that feel so weak though?
  44. It’s worse!  He’s overly critical, he never listens, it’s not fair! Yeah, hard to believe OWK doesn’t think he’s ready…
    1. There’s so much talk about Anakin growing up but that doesn’t seem suited to a 19 year old like this.  It is the opposite problem of TPM where Anakin was too young, now he’s too old. How come we cannot find an appropriate balance of age-appropriate material?
  45. On the transport, OWK seems to pop out of nowhere.  It is a result of stitching together two different shots: the one where Padme is the focus with Anakin behind her, then a shot over Anakin’s shoulder where OWK catches him off-guard. Really unfortunate editing
  46. Padme’s laugh at Anakin’s R2 crack is another first-take.  Dorme made roughly the same crack and it went nowhere, which is more realistic  
  47. Dex’s Diner!  Simultaneously fun and eyerolly! Much like myself.
  48. Dex seems almost sinister, like he was going to come back into the story in an earlier version of the script, but clearly that never went anywhere.
  49. The bust of Dooku doesn’t even look like him. So why would they keep busts of the lost Jedi?  Seems an odd thing to memorialize; I bet the novelization has more about this though.
  50. The shot lingering on OWK thinking is a good contrast to the unnecessarily long shots in TPM; this one at least emphasizes his mystery and confusion.  This was a great bit of film-making and I for one would like for that sentiment to have been implemented more often.
  51. Anakin’s love speech. Compassion = unconditional love?  No, no it isn’t.
    1. Attachment, possession are forbidden.
    1. Introduction of the Across the Stars theme, oboes and strings.  
  52. Elementary school teacher Yoda is best Yoda.
  53. “Because someone erased it from the archive memory.”  I don’t feel like that’s the stretch in logic that OWK wouldn’t be able to figure out on his own.  Why does OWK go to Yoda for that insight?Because he already knew it was impossible for someone to erase something from the archives.
    1. Yoda believes the puzzle is dangerous and disturbing because only a Jedi could have done that but there’s absolutely no follow-through on it.
  54. Back to Naboo. I hate the jump cut during Padme’s explanation of her tenure (where they are outside the courtyard and then suddenly inside the courtyard), but the conversation continues without skipping a beat.  The characters would have traveled hundreds of feet but there is no jump in the time of the audio.  That creates dissonance between what is on screen versus what you are hearing from the characters themselves. THAT’S BAD FILM-MAKING
  55. Sio Bibble playing the role of Ric Olie for this film, announcing that Nute Gunray is still in control of the Trade Federation.
  56. “The day we believe that democracy can no longer is the day we lose it” Now, at least, that’s a faithful statement.  Vote in every election.
  57. Welcome to Kamino. This film feels better paced than TPM does at least.  Still a lot of ridiculous plotting and story beats, but at least some of the fundamentals are back in place.  Did they change editors? Did Ben Burtt do any additional films in between?  Looks like he did some editing work on the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles between TPM and AOTC, maybe that helped.
  58. Isn’t it incongruous that the Prime Minister of Kamino is in charge of the cloning industry?
  59. Master Sifo-Dyas ordered the clones over 10 years ago for the Republic, so this was before TPM takes place.  Not sure the timeline around all these events, I think a lot of it was partially explained in ancillary materials but I don’t think it was very satisfactory.
  60. Anakin is straight up predator, there’s really no way to spin this as romantic. Needle scratch!  What romantic film or scenes did Lucas look to for inspiration in this sequence?  Had he (Lucas) ever known true love by now?
  61. The cloning facility is a neat sequence of mixing visual stimuli and dialogue.  That might be the best 60 seconds in the film.
  62. Interesting thing about Paulo, he attended Young Legislators Camp but then ended up as an artist?  Is that code for something? Didn’t Hitler get into politics after failing at painting?  Or is that just a bit by Eddie Izzard I’m remembering?
  63. The discourse on government actually seems rehearsed and practiced (by the actors, that is).  They actually seem like they are having a conversation! So it can be done!  Why is this the only sequence where it occurs? What made it different? Perhaps being on location?
  64. Oh the giant tick incident, truly worthless.  We’re actually rolling around in the grass. This is the PG version of a sex scene in Star Wars, isn’t it? I made this joke during the episode and it was uncomfortable; that was unfortunate.
    1. But I was still right.
  65. Fett was approached by someone called Tyranus, he seems to be truthful here.  Lucas is setting up some real mystery and intrigue here, but if memory serves very little of it actually pays off.  How come we can’t build something cohesive?
  66. The dinner sequence.The camera is much more active here.  Did we change cinematographers?Nope, same Directory of Photography David Tatersall.
    1. Then it cuts to the fireplace sequence.  There’s an establishing shot where they are simply staring at each other, breathing heavily.  This is a really uncomfortable scene. Anakin makes the kiss her fault, not his. She is tormenting him, wounding him in the heart (hoping it does not become a scar).  What is it he is afraid of, jeopardizing his spot in the Order?
    1. Then why does he say that anything is possible?  
    1. You are asking me to be rational; that is something I cannot do.  
    1. This scene is not written well at all.
    1. Living a lie would destroy them, he says.  Since they end up going through with the lie, do we think that it destroys them?
  67. OWK sends a message back to the Temple; could he not have gotten into the dang car first?  It’s raining! Mace asks if OWK thinks the cloners are in league with the assassination attempt on Padme, but OWK says, “there appears to be no motive.”
    1. However, Padme was going to Coruscant in order to oversee the vote against the creation of the Republic’s army.  Kamino has a vested interest in the Republic’s desire for the army, so there is absolutely motive for them to try and take out Padme?  The cloners want to make sure that their customers for the army don’t have to back out of their massive order. OWK is not that good a detective after all.
    1. Yoda, when hearing that Sifo-Dyas ordered the army, looks like he was aware of that already.  Then he says that we must be blind if we could not have seen the clones being built. Mace says that it may be time to “inform the Senate that our ability to use the Force has diminished,” but Yoda waves him because “only the dark lord of the Sith knows of our weakness” and that their adversaries would multiply if the truth came out. Mace is actually acting in the interest of the safety of the Republic
        1. How does Yoda know the DLOTS would know of their weakness?  Are they being attacked and prevented from using the Force? If so, how does that work with the relationship between the midichlorians and the individual?
        1. What adversaries is Yoda afraid of?  Congressional dissolution of the Jedi’s mandate to guard the peace? Restriction of their budget? Yoda is NOT behaving like he has the Republic’s best interest at heart!
  68. That shot of Anakin facing the rising sun is legit good.  Shame he has to open his mouth and ruin it. Also, Padme gets awfully close to him before changing her mind. 
  69. Padme’s hair is legit did.  Yet she’s still in her pajamas.  So she woke up, got her hair did, but didn’t change into her day clothes?
  70. Platform battle.The editing here is pretty suspect, again!
    1. Repeat use of the same explosion throwing OWK to the ground.
    1. OWK swinging his lightsaber at nothing (like they forgot to put in a blaster bolt).
    1. I can’t see it in this version, but I feel like I remember seeing Jango’s chest plates bending like they are more rubber than solid plates; might be memory playing tricks on me.
    1. Boba keeps climbing up to the viewport to see the action, but when you see the outside of the ship, there’s no way he would ever be able to.  The viewport faces up, so Boba has no line of sight to the action below him.
  71. Welcome to Tatooine!
  72. The music has a slight Asian influence, along with the rickshaw driver.  Oddly culturally specific, not sure what we are going for with that…
  73. The subtitles here are not italicized like they were in Palpatine’s office at the beginning.  Consistency is so very difficult…
  74. Watto’s “Ani?  Little Ani?” is pretty amazing.  Watto.  Good character.  Really enjoy it.  Behaves exactly the way someone in that situation would be expected to behave; good decision to include Watto again.
  75. The ships exiting hyperspace do not have the same bang that they do in The Force Awakens.  Was that created for TFA or did it exist anywhere in the prequels? Did I imagine that?
  76. Seismic charges: super impactful in the theater but really pales in comparison to the Holdo maneuver in TLJ.  
  77. You know what, the bobbing back and forth version of piloting reminds me of Rebels.  I wonder if they ever looked to the way piloting was filmed in the prequels as inspiration.  Though, when we have the camera showing us OWK, he’s bobbing left and right. But when we see his ship from an exterior shot, he is doing barrel rolls nearly nonstop.  How to reconcile those things? Could it be too distracting to see the spinning that would be occurring outside of his ship through the sides of the frame? Hard to say. I vaguely recall having a similar question about Hera.  She is billed as a terrific pilot, but we only saw her (to that point) bobbing about a bit; is this scene in AOTC meant to inspire or evoke that in some way?
  78. Geonosis. An unusual concentration of Federation ships?  What would be a usual concentration of Federation ships, then?
  79. Tatooine. They get awfully far away from the ship before Padme tells R2 to return to the ship; I bet he had some choice beeps for her in mind!
    1. Padme is wearing what amounts to a walking pillowcase.  Looks totally unwieldy and not the right thing for Tatooine at all.  
    1. I like Cliegg’s story because it sounds like something you can imagine happening to frontier farmers like these folk; solid world-building.
    1. Anakin’s line of “to find my mother” is simultaneously heartbreaking and pathetic.  The emotion he says it with is right: dismissive, disappointed, ready to take control.  However, the words themselves are weak.
    1. “I won’t be long,” has the opposite problem: right word choice, wrong delivery.  Should be less matter-of-fact and more “I promise this won’t go well for them.”
    1. “Duel of the Fates” – potentially the wrong use of music here? It represented intense conflict between the Jedi and Sith, and now it is used to demonstrate the seriousness of a rescue mission all on Anakin’s own.  It makes the audience think that we will get a visceral encounter between Anakin and the Tuskens like it signified in TPM between Darth Maul and QGJ/OWK.  However, that is not at ALL what we get.
  80. 1 hour 16 minutes in and we FINALLY get to Dooku.
  81. 10,000 more systems could join their cause?  How big is this dang galaxy?  How would any form of representational government ever work?  We have 50 states and our population-based legislature suffers from this very issue (among a great many others, of course).  Seceding from the Republic to join the Confederacy of Independent Systems would seem to be trading in one bad idea for another.
  82. Not sure what those 2 Tusken Raiders are supposed to be doing while they are watching the dogs fight; are they supposed to be standing guard?
  83. Shmi’s head roll back is really unfortunate.  I remember it getting a laugh at the time which really breaks the tension in the scene.
  84. The string sections’ frenetic action really does no favors for the sequence.
  85. Qui-Gon’s, “Nooooooo” is a really unfortunate thing given the same problem with ROTS and subsequently ROTJ.
  86. Little “Imperial March” motif used underneath Yoda’s analysis of young Skywalker’s terrible pain.  Why doesn’t OWK feel it? Why doesn’t Mace? WHY DOES YODA? And why does nobody do anything about it?
  87. The music while Anakin returns Shmi to the homestead is again really uninspired.
  88. Is it possible that this is Anakin’s first experience with taking a life?  Certainly in anger, but is it possible that its his first time killing another being?  More over-the-top use of music: “Imperial March” bars and “The Emperor’s Theme” when it is simply not needed.
    1. Anakin is a really crummy Jedi, though.  He knows he is better than this, he knows attachment and possession are wrong, yet that’s all he wants to do.  Attach and possess. He knows the right yet actively refuses to engage in it. He seeks to upend it and undo it.  
  89. Padme acts surprised to see R2, yet she knew he was there with them the whole time.  
  90. Gunray is behind the assassination attempt?  How is that so? Because he wanted Dooku to kill her in order to join his Rebellion?  Does that make good sense?
  91. Jar Jar gets duped into calling for emergency powers; starting to pity Jar Jar more and more these days.
  92. Dooku apologizes to OWK for his treatment; are we to believe that or do we think he is being bitterly sarcastic?  I like it as an open question though, really informs us of Dooku’s character. Let’s be honest, Sir Christopher Lee made that decision to be ambiguous.  He is the reason this character is as compelling as it is
  93. He acts so sincere but is also lying through his teeth about Fett’s presence on Geonosis.  
  94. Though he is truthful about the presence and actions of a DLOTS over the Republic.  He also knows of the Jedi’s diminished access to the Force. Perhaps the greatest of evil comes cloaked in just enough truth to gain our trust and lower our defenses
    1. We don’t deserve Christopher Lee in this movie.
  95. There is no way a Representative would be allowed to sub in for a Senator.  Also, Jar Jar calls for a vote and then everyone claps. Palpatine then accepts the powers awarded. So does that mean they vote by clapping?  Does Lucas not understand how Parliament works? This is clearly modeled after British Parliament but it still takes an actual VOTE to get anything done.
  96. And suddenly Yoda is like, “Well there is a perfectly prepared army, just right for the using; we might as well grab it right?”  He is perfectly willing to sacrifice their ideals for practical expediency. He’s just the worst in this movie.
  97. Who are we supposed to root for when all our heroes are arrogant, childish, clueless, and otherwise horrifically bad at their jobs?
  98. Walking down the hall, we see it dawn on Anakin’s face that their are being surrounded.  However, we saw him earlier in the film sense the danger of 2 space slugs from 20 feet away, why is this situation different when so many more lifeforms are present and closer to him?
  99. Why would R2 push Threepio out the door?  What’s his motivation for doing so?
  100. Threepio is insufferable in this sequence.
  101. Using Yoda’s theme for lightsaber action is not a good decision.
  102. The body horror/comedy for Threepio is cringe-tastic.
  103. Padme stuck in the bucket is not fun to watch.  She has no dialogue, no reaction to her situation, not even to her physical situation of being slung around so hard.  The quick camera zoom into the bucket only emphasizes how little she is actually doing. Let’s be clear, Natalie Portman is not at fault here.  She has an Academy Award and is one of the greatest actresses in the business today.  Her talents are greatly enhanced when she has the proper material to work with (see Leon, The Professional, Black Swan, and Annihilation for more); the opposite is also true.  Her talents are greatly diminished when she has poor material to work with (insufficient direction, uninspired writing, etc.).
  104. Anakin’s lightsaber has digitally added sparks and smoke; that couldn’t have been done with a prop?
  105. “I’ve been dying a little bit each day since you came back into my life.”  This does not jive with her character AT ALL. And now suddenly Anakin is all I thought we agreed not to be a thing, girl.  So in control of his emotions is he? When did that happen? Because he’s been on an emotional roller coaster for the past 30 minutes but all of a sudden and without real impetus, he’s the mature one?No. The answer is no.
  106. OWK and Anakin DO NOT ACT LIKE FRIENDS.  Friends can be snarky at one each other sure, but Anakin doesn’t look like he thinks its funny.  Rather, he clearly looks like he is taking it personally. Does anyone remember vuvuzelas?  Because I’m pretty sure we hear them in the crowd from time to time.
  107. Padme slinging that manacle around could not possibly have impacted the beast that much; they really cheat the length and weight of those chains.  They are precisely as long as they need to be for the moment, and whether that is a different length from the moment before is immaterial to the filmmakers.
  108. Padme lands on the beast and gives Anakin a little kiss on the cheek.  Imagine Lucas giving that direction: “then uhh Nat, you give Ani a lil peck on the cheek, you know ahhh for luck.”  How ridiculous.
  109. Mace’s slow walk down the hall; just the right level of over-dramatic.
  110. More music reused from TPM. What is the story behind the music here?  There’s something going on.
    1. I could never find my own explanation for it, but Jason did a stellar job of filling us in during the episode itself.  You should probably listen to that episode.
  111. This arena sequence wants for lack of a good stunt coordinator.  Nobody is fighting like their life depends on it, not a one of them.
  112. Random shots of random Jedi and things.  Any lessons learned about editing earlier in the film are wasted.
  113. Neat crane shot where Anakin and Padme fall out of the chariot and then use it for cover, as opposed to most camera angles which seem to be a knee height looking up, especially when watching OWK do anything.
  115. Neat that Dooku controls all the droids with a wave; that’s a design flaw from TPM solved.  No more control ship! Well done.
  116. I hate how Plo Koon and Ki Adi Mundi get walked into the rest of the Jedi crowd.  Makes them look wildly ineffective.
  117. The LAAT gunships are the best designed thing thus far.
  118. And suddenly the arena is empty?  Not a one is left behind, even droids?
  119. Yoda is afraid that if Dooku escapes, he will rally more systems to his cause.  There are already 10k systems joining his cause, and that’s on top of the thousands of solar systems from the crawl.  How many more systems out there is the Republic under threat of losing?  What is happening…
  120. What’s Dooku’s plan here?  Did he know the clone army was coming ahead of time?  Or did that catch him off guard?
  121. It’s really amazing how many times they actually show us the Death Star outline.  Was the DS that iconic when The Motion Picture was released that it was inspirational even to this entry?  
  122. Is the spherical design of the Trade Federation blockade ship hubs meant to evoke the DS as well?  Probably not if the ship design is for the Trade Federation yet the DS is Geonosian in origin.
  123. Not having read Catalyst, does this all line up okay with that later-established canon?
  124. OWK escalates his fight with Anakin pretty quickly.  We have a job to do, to you will be expelled, to what would Padme do.
  125. I hate how forlorn and disappointed Yoda is in these sequences (the entire Battle of Geonosis, that is).  He spends so much time concerned with their inability to be good Jedi that he can’t even focus on the opening skirmish of a three-year long war.
  126. Padme’s scene in the sand is another first-take, in dire need of another take.
  127. What does Anakin hope to gain by cutting the electrical umbilical cord to the ship other than a pretty neat light show?  Is there a reasonable thought process behind that or is it simply to create a visual?
  128. So the whole movie we see Yoda really blowing his role as leader of the Order.  “The Dark Side I sense in you.” No kidding genius. Now we’re supposed to root for him against Dooku?  Man, at this point I’m with Dooku.
  129. I’m not sure I buy the physical exertion it requires for Yoda and Dooku to tear out heavy equipment from the walls and roof of their fight room.  Why does it seem false to make these characters struggle in this way?
  130. Where are the rest of the chairs for the Jedi Council?  Back on Coruscant, Yoda is sitting in his chair but there are no others there.The real scandal of this film: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE FURNITURE?
  131. I’m not sure that the Clone War would be an appropriate name for such a conflict.  Yoda names it thus based on the participation of clones on one side. It would be akin to calling it the Nazi War (instead of WW2) or The Confederate War (instead of the American Civil War).  
  132. And its over.  Not a moment too soon
  133. Listening through the credits, the score does not go back into the normal triumphant SW theme.  There is no grand ending that most of the other ones have. It simple fades out of “Across the Stars” and that’s it, party’s over.

And there you have it!  If you made it this far, let us know your thoughts as well.  There’s a comment field below or you can join the conversation on Twitter.


2 thoughts on “Revisiting Episode II: Attack of the Clones

  1. Great blog! Lots of good insights. I agreed with about 90% of the comments.

    I have such weird, mixed feelings for the prequels. On the one hand, all fandoms seem out of control these days, with all the “fans” hating every new thing. The anti-Disney Star Wars rage seems particularly frothing. Sometimes I wonder if that all stemmed from the prequel hate (although, ironically, the anti-Disney faction seems to be the most passionate defenders of the prequels).

    Certainly, poor Jake Lloyd and Ahmed Best didn’t deserve to have their lives ruined by angry fans. And the greatest vindication that George Lucas could probably have is that the Disney folks are making Star Wars movies completely differently from him, and they’re *still* just getting as much anger from the fan base that he did, if not more so.

    On the other hand…these films simply aren’t good. And we’re not doing justice to the really good entries in the Star Wars canon if we put these on the same level.

    I think the broad strokes of what Lucas had in mind were fine, but he struggled with the execution. There’s a huge emotional mismatch between what we’re told is happening and what we can see and hear ourselves. Obi-Wan and Anakin never stop bickering (their few lighthearted moments are forced and awkward), which means that their final battle in RotS will ring emotionally hollow and even laughable at some points. Never for a moment do we believe that they’re good friends. And Anakin’s creepy stalking of Padme (smirking as he denies her request to stop staring at her and making her uncomfortable) and her believable rebuffs of his affection make it all the more outrageous when she suddenly claims that she’s been hiding her feelings for him the whole time. (And Anakin rebuffing her in that moment also feels false. The character’s actions and motivations change on a whim.)

    The films suffer greatly from prequel-itis. Lucas and the audience both know that Obi-Wan and Anakin have to end up mortal enemies, so their relationship is strained from the start. Lucas and the audience know that Anakin’s relationship with Padme won’t end well, so it always feels doomed. They only get together at all because the script suddenly demands they do so.

    Indeed, knowing that Anakin is in love with Padme and knowing that Anakin constantly disobeys orders, it’s recklessly stupid of the Jedi to have Anakin be Padme’s escort. But, again, knowing where the story is going, they have to spend time together to “fall in love,” so the Jedi make a dumb decision to move the plot along. (Sidebar: If Padme is supposed to be in hiding from assassins, why do they send her to her *home planet* to spend time with her *family* and roll around in big grassy fields? Shouldn’t she be hiding in a bunker on some world where people wouldn’t immediately recognize her?)

    And because Palpatine’s rise to power is a foregone conclusion, the Jedi repeatedly make stupid mistakes. They spend a ton of time in his presence yet they never sense the Dark Side of the Force on him. (Actually, in RotS, Mace Windu says that he *does* sense the Dark Side on him, but then they don’t ever move against him until Anakin says that Palpatine is a Sith Lord, at which point Mace acts completely shocked!)

    How and why all the Jedi have suddenly lost the power to use the Force against a single Sith Lord is a huge problem, and was deserving of more than one quick continuity hand-wave conversation between Mace and Yoda. (And, yes, Yoda is the worst for not telling anyone.)

    If the bigger pieces had fallen into place — if we had believed in the characters and cared about them — then I think the audience would be more willing to forgive a few continuity hiccups and other things that don’t quite fit and make sense.

    Lucas would have benefited from another screenwriter, although ironically, AotC actually *does* get an assist from Jonathan Hales. I read Lucas’ draft of the screenplay before Hale’s, and it’s actually even talkier and more boring. There were additional long conversations on Kamino, this time between Dooku and Padme, and the droids just sat on the ship the whole time. Hales was mainly responsible for adding the action on the conveyor belt and the stuff with Threepio’s head getting switched, which was at least less dull than what Lucas had written. What Lucas needed was someone with enough clout in the industry to tell him no on certain things. Two of my favorite new Star Wars are “The Force Awakens” and “Solo,” both of which benefit from Lawrence Kasdan (“Empire,” “Jedi,” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) on scripting duties.

    Sorry, I’ve gone and written a novel here. 🙂 Anyway, I’m glad that you’re willing to call the prequels out on certain things. While George Lucas and the others involved with these films deserve to be treated with respect and compassion, like anyone else, and while Lucas still deserves to be thanked for giving so many of us fantastic childhood memories, we need to put an end to the false narrative currently gaining traction that the first six films were all flawless until Disney came along and “ruined” everything. We need to be objective, embracing the good where it exists (Darth Maul and “Duel of the Fates,” for instance), but being willing to acknowledge the bad too.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts! 🙂


  2. RE: 149, Catalyst shows that the Republic believe they got hold of the DS plans by capturing high-ranking Separatists so they started building their own believing the Separatists were building one


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