Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones ½

Lucas just never solved the fundamental problem of making all the pieces he hinted at in the original trilogy come together in a coherent way in these prequels. For example, what were the clone wars and why was Boba Fett so interesting? Those two questions are resolved by combining their origins together in a convoluted mishmash of hilariously inept plot twists. 


And so the characters here don’t behave sensibly at all, forced to adhere to nonsensical plot contours rather than any real motivations. In Anakin’s case, particularly, the narrative is so desperate to set him down the path of the dark side that they make his character insufferably petulant; it’s completely implausible that any older woman, much less one who had been elected as of head of state and appointed to a parliamentary post, would fall for him. Similarly, Lucas is in such a rush to resurrect the comedic relief of C-3PO and R2-D2 that within a scene or two of their ostensible first pairing, the former is lashing out at the latter with almost shocking intolerance. 


There’s so much here that doesn’t work, and it’s beyond obvious that Lucas’s attention was really focused on the technical challenges that he set for himself, as he starved his actors of any meaningful direction—they look disengaged and inert against the copious CG enhancements to every frame. 


That the digital effects are primitive at best is only part of the problem, because what Lucas chose to do with the technology he had at the time was roundly ill advised. Everything he rendered he did to excess, so if he needed a crowd the movie shows us a crowd of hundreds; if the plot calls for an army we get an army of thousands. Everything is intended to show off the visualization possibilities of the tech to the point of gaudiness, and none of it is to advance the growth of the characters. Two decades later it’s clear that the real problem wasn’t that Lucas lacked for rendering horsepower, it was that he lacked for good taste.