Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones ★★★

Audio Commentary featuring George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, John Knoll and Ben Snow ****

Having been disappointed by The Phantom Menace commentary, I was dubious going into this one but found myself pleasantly surprised. I suspect part of it was just that, having spent so much of the Episode I commentary gawking over the CGI, it felt less pressing a concern for this track. Lucas discusses story and character more this time, particularly Anakin Skywalker's character arc, both within this film and the larger context of the entire series.

Story-wise, I think the thing that I learned that interested me the most was that the scene in which Count Dooku approaches the captive Obi-Wan Kenobi was originally a political debate between Dooku and Padmé. It's one of my favorite scenes, in part because Obi-Wan and Dooku are two of my favorite characters in the entire Star Wars Galaxy, but also because I love that Dooku is completely honest in a situation where we almost always expect deception. Still, I would love to have seen a Dooku/Padmé tête-à-tête!

From a production side of things, I was surprised to learn that there was never a clone costume; all the clones are 100% digital characters. How I went twelve years oblivious to this tidbit is almost as interesting to me as the fact itself.

As far as the movie, I've always been mixed on it. I love all the political machinations. By this point, Deep Space Nine had been off the air for three years. I was fascinated that I was now finding political intrigue in Star Wars rather than Trek. (Later this same year came Star Trek Nemesis, which promised to be even more intriguing but then fell completely apart.)

I know fans almost universally hate Hayden Christensen's performance as Anakin Skywalker in this movie, but it always made sense to me. I think it clicked for me because Anakin reminds me a lot of my elder cousin, who really does have tremendous aptitude and talent - intellectual and athletic alike - but had similar impatience and arrogance issues that got in his way. Discipline is the most important component to combine with ability, and when that's absent, you do wind up with Anakin Skywalkers.

The romance between Anakin and Padmé is murky. I never really buy that it exists organically at all, but I do admit I find myself smiling at some of the little moments, like Anakin faking being injured in the pasture, and the way the swelling music stops abruptly during their first kiss. By the end of the film, I begrudgingly accept that the romance has developed but without ever having bought into its development.

The first hour or so should be more engaging than it is, but still, I gotta admit that pretty much from the time that Obi-Wan confronts Jango Fett onward, I'm into it. Anakin's attack on the Tusken raiders, Count Dooku's aforementioned discussion with captive Obi-Wan, the battle in the Geonosis arena, the arrival of Yoda with the clones, and then the final duels...I love all of that stuff. That's the stuff I pay my money to see in a Star Wars movie. I just wish that so much of the action didn't feel like watching someone else play a video game.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#448/1658)

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones > Jurassic Park III --> #448
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones > Anjelah Johnson: That's How We Do It --> #415
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones < Star Wars --> #415
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones > Office Space --> #310
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones < Bridget Jones's Diary --> #310
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones < The Third Man --> #310
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones < Marvel's The Avengers --> #310
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones < The Fifth Element --> #310
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones < Shadow of the Vampire --> #310
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones < Gangs of New York --> #310
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones < Starship Troopers --> #310

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #310/1658