The big question on everyone’s lips is could George return from the immature `Phantom’ to the traditional and powerful space opera the world had fallen in love with. The short answer is no, `Attack of the Clones’ does not live in the shadow of Episode 1, but it fails to deliver. It is basically a children’s film and it will most likely please in that respect, but to the more mature moviegoer, it will leave you wholly unsatisfied.
Cutting to the chase the overall basic plot is actually pretty good and `cool’ in a fan sense, but the dialogue and attention to detail is completely pathetic. I moaned and groaned with every word during the love sequences between Anakin and Padme, which resulted in a totally unbelievable love between the two characters. Several scenes could have been cut without any trouble and several others shortened, Lucas seems to have devoted his screen time to the useless and left the key dramatic scenes to your own imagination. There is a sequence towards the end of the film where Anakin descends into a mad rage, it is probably the height of the films emotion and could of saved it except the scene only received a mere minute of screen time.
Which brings me to the screenplay, probably the films worst aspect. George is a visual storyteller and even in `Phantom’ his skills in this area were very evident. This time round however there is almost nothing notable about the film as a visual entity. A highflying chase sequence at the start of the film and a few small scenes shoved in here and there satisfy in terms of visual appeal, but overall the scene construction is very poor. There is also nothing notable about the cinematography, which must have been a lost art on this film. It is very hard to do this job when the majority of the actors and sets are placed in the scene after shooting. Several individual shots were so awful that they alone interrupted the flow of the film and distracted my attention.
To top it all off the Direction was again, like `Phantom’ completely non-existent. There is nothing to suggest that George has done anything more than tell his actors to stand in front of the camera and read the cue cards. The characters were already life-less in the script, but good direction can save them, the actors do a commendable job trying to bring life to them but ultimately George does not seem to have put in an effort. Obi-Wan and C-3PO steal the film and are reminders of what we loved about the original trilogy, Anakin too gives us a great scene when he reveals to Padme that he slaughtered the Sand People, overall however it is far too little to save the film.
As usual the visual effects are pretty good, however the film feels far less `real’ than the original trilogy. Digital technology still has a long way to go before it can ultimately suspend disbelief. My major problem in this area would have to be that natural motion of living animals and humans is still not convincing in digital form and distracts from the action on screen.
My final thought is again on the films construction, which overall skips all the build-up, all the dramatic tension and jumps straight to the action. Unfortunately for George, half the fun is getting there and when the battle sequence suddenly happened at the end of the film, there was no feeling, emotion or tension to release. I was never breathing heavily, gripping my seat, gasping, feeling the force at all and it left me completely unsatisfied. I am sure the “fans” will love it, although I honestly used to be one until now. It is clear George is betting on the “fans” forking out for the new film and all its merchandise out of pure religious devotion, and he is probably on the money or rolling in it for that matter. I doubt we will ever get another `Star Wars’, but God how we all want one!