This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Martin Ralya’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I decided it was time to revisit and reevaluate the prequel trilogy, all of which I previously rated ½ (which I think marks the first time I've voluntarily rewatched any ½ films), for three reasons.
One, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the first couple episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and I wanted to see if I might like the prequels now, decades later. (Andor had the same effect, but for Rogue One.)
Two, I've based some of my identity as a Star Wars fan on hating the prequels. I wanted to try to appreciate them on their own terms rather than, when they clash with my expectations, simply assuming my expectations are perfect and therefore the films are the problem.
And three, 20+ years later I'm a different person, I love the Star Wars universe even more than I did back when these films came out, and my appreciation for the Old Republic, Galactic Republic, and Clone Wars Eras has grown. I've spent dozens of hours playing Star Wars: The Old Republic and engaging with prequel content in other media, and I've enjoyed it.
On to Attack of the Clones, then!
This is the best film in the prequel trilogy, and a legit amazing movie in its own right.
I remember walking out of the theater on opening day in 2002 full of excitement, and feeling like Lucas had redeemed the series after the travesty that was The Phantom Menace. In the years that followed, I let it become a casualty of my hate for the prequels as A Thing. I was content to file it under Films I Hate and move on.
Rewatching it now, I get why 2002 Martin liked it. (That guy had decent taste.) Attack of the Clones hits all of the beats a Star Wars movie should hit, with a better script, better action scenes, and more restraint on Lucas' part -- but not so much restraint that it compromises the inherent exuberance of this ennealogy.
I adore the battle scenes and lightsaber duels in Attack. Padme (Natalie Portman) is such a kickass character, and she really comes into her own in this film. Geonosis is rad. The clones are a killer concept, and Kamino is cool.
The CGI still looks fantastic 20 years later; the three years between I and II really helped here, giving the tech a chance to catch up. So too does the way that CGI is deployed: more deftly and more naturalistically. It builds on the best parts of I to create something really special.
Watching this back-to-back with The Phantom Menace makes it clear that plot-wise you could replace the entirety of Episode I with a 15-minute introduction in Episode II and not miss anything. But you'd be missing all the foundation-laying and worldbuilding, the best aspects of Menace, and I'm not sure Attack of the Clones would be as awesome as it is without that foundation.
I enjoyed this rewatch so much that I decided to give Clone Wars a shot, and I'm so glad I did. There's so much room to explore what Attack of the Clones introduces to the Star Wars universe -- which is part of why it rocks.