TBT – Attack of the Clones (2002)

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I know that it’s a very subjective thing but I think we mostly all agree that, when it comes to Star Wars films, the second ever film in the franchise is the best. I know over the years I’ve changed my mind on the matter many times and can still switch whenever I’m a bit hungry or my mood changes slightly. However, The Empire Strikes Back, ended up being a far better film than A New Hope and it was certainly not surpassed by Return of the Jedi. If you were to ask me, Empire is up there with a limited number of sequels that were better than the original film. This fact may have given fans a glimmer of hope after the disappointing prequel The Phantom Menace by suggesting that lightening could strike twice. We all madly hoped that Attack of the Clones would show us how great Star Wars could be with lashings of CGI and plenty of stupid characters to keep the kids entertained. Unfortunately, it did the opposite and managed to make the first film look like fucking Shakespeare. Just as we can pretty much all agree that the original sequel is the best film in the franchise, I think we all know that the worst is the prequel sequel. So, in honour of this great day, I decided to re-watch it and rip it to shreds.

As you may remember, back in 2015 I wrote a blog post in which I defended the prequels and offered several examples that I believe were genuinely good about them. There are a fair few good things about Revenge of the Sith and some aspects of The Phantom Menace that really worked well. The only things I could think of for Attack of the Clones? The Jedi battle on Geonosis and Obi Wan’s face. Now Ewan McGregor’s face has got me to watch many questionable films over the years and definitely will do again. His casting was the best thing about the prequel films and has caused me to re-watch specific scenes in all of the prequels way too many times. He’s bloody beautiful and super talented despite the god awful lines he’s continually forced to spout. Still, there is only so much that his good looks can cover up.

For the most part, Attack of the Clones is just a long and slow continuation of Anakin’s story where very little happens until the final half hour or so. The tale picks up 10 years after the end of Phantom and Anakin is still Obi Wan’s padawan. He is cocky and still unable to control his emotions. Even if you weren’t aware of the future events in his story, it’s super obvious that he shouldn’t have been allowed into the Jedi order and I spend most of the film wondering why people didn’t realise the outcome sooner. I mean he just comes across as a fucking creep the entire time and looks as though he could kill at any minute. It’s insane that Yoda let him just wander around the galaxy freely carrying a weapon.

Unlike it’s counterpart for the original films, The Empire Strikes Back, there is no dramatic and exciting opening to this film. Instead of a great battle on Hoth, we have an introduction to space politics and a really boring assassination plot. A plot which only serves the purpose of messily putting  Anakin and Padme together to allow them to fall in love. Which is basically all this film cares about. It pushes the romance angle way more than it should, especially because it’s two stars have absolutely no chemistry. Hayden Christensen is incredibly wooden and unemotional throughout his 2 Star Wars films but when he is attempting to woo Natalie Portman there is just nothing there. It doesn’t help that the lines are the worst kind of cliches imaginable but you can’t really tell from the on-screen talent that these two characters are falling in love. It just kind of sneaks up on you and doesn’t make sense. Remember how, the more you think about it, the love story in Beauty and the Beast is super questionable and weird. This one makes that look like fucking relationship goals. It’s just not good.

Thankfully, there is Obi Wan’s side-plot to keep people interested but even that veers off into dull territory from time to time. We see some new worlds and meet some interesting new characters but it isn’t until way down the line that the excitement really kicks in. He goes on a rather tame Space tour and follows bounty hunter Jango Fett to Geonosis. It’s not much to write home about. Until he, and in a painfully laboured way, Anakin and Padme get captured by Separatists and forced to fight in a massive death arena. It is here that the fucking awesome Jedi battle I mentioned as the main positive takes place. It’s a great sequence that really, for the first time in the franchise, shows us the real scope of the Jedi Order. We see why they are considered the Space Police of the whole Galaxy and understand why they were remembered as great warriors.

Still, that’s only 1 scene. We have to wade through an immense amount of shit to get there. We all wanted to love Attack of the Clones and, if it’s sequel brother was anything to go by, it should have been great. Instead it featured and some really boring narrative points and some of the worst writing in cinematic history. The lead couple never really gels enough to sell the only part of the film that George Lucas gives a fuck about and there just isn’t enough of Obi Wan’s face. This film, even more than Phantom, is just a mess of CGI backdrops and awful cartoon characters for the kids. There are moments when I start to feel embarrassed for the people involved in making it. I mean the scene between Obi Wan and Dex the Diner owner is just pure children’s cartoon. Then there’s the moment that could fit in any B movie or soap opera when the director attempts to trick us into thinking Padme is about to be melted. Or, finally, the laughable moment when Christopher Lee’s Count Dooku is speeding along on a CGI space scooter. Who the fuck signed off on that visual? Lee looks super uncomfortable and the end result looks so shitty.

Ultimately though, the problem with Attack of the Clones is that nobody really gave a shit about it. It was just a placeholder. It didn’t matter to the story and was just the inevitable 3rd movie to let the whole double trilogy thing come to life. Phantom was about introducing us to Anakin and explaining how he became a Jedi. Revenge would show us the moment Anakin became Darth Vader. Attack? Nobody really knew what that needed to be about so it was just about nothing really. It was let down by lack of plot and sense of direction. It’s aimless so there is nothing it can do to make up for any shortfalls. If it weren’t for a couple of great moments and some decent acting from the likes of Ewan McGregor, Christopher Lee and Samuel L Jackson then it would have completely crumbled. Also, CGI Yoda is the fucking bomb!

TOP 10 WEN-SDAY – TOP TEN STAR WARS

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Tomorrow is the biggest day in any Star Wars fan’s diary. Yes, May the 4th is upon us all again and, as we started last year, it’s time for our yearly Star Wars Top 10. I have to be honest, I’ve only done 1 of these so far and I was already struggling to find a decent idea here. It didn’t help that I got back late from the cinema. I’ve just watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and I have too many feelings to be able to process this top 10. Still, I’m soldiering on and am ready to right a list of my top moments in the Star Wars films. All the Star Wars films that it. Even the newer ones were up for grabs. That’s probably controversial but, as I’ve said before, all of the newer films have their positives.


Ten: The Jedi Battle – Attack of the Clones

The great moments in the second prequel film were definitely few and far between. However, the huge Jedi battle on Geonosis is just amazing. It’s the first time we really see the sheer force and size of the Jedis before Order 66 destroys them. They are a force to be reckoned with and you can see how they are able to keep the Galaxy in order.

Nine: The Pod Race – The Phantom Menace

The Pod Race gave so much hope early on in this film. It’s such a fantastic sequence that uses CGI in a really good way. You know, unlike the other scenes in the prequels. Ignoring the rest of the film, this sequence is exciting and exhilarating. We see Anakin as the great pilot that Obi Wan always claimed he was. It looks great and it adds a lot to the opening of the new film.

Eight: The Battle of Hoth – The Empire Strikes Back

This opening battle is bloody brilliant, right? It picks up off straight away after the dramatic tension of A New Hope and takes it to a new ice planet. I mean if nothing else, Hoth is a fucking great place for the series’ first land battle. Then look at the huge AT-ATs against the tiny rebel ships. It’s a great battle with a great background. It showed us that this sequel was ready to start with a bang and keep on going. It is chaotic, energetic and brilliantly set out. A great sequence.

 Seven: The asteroid field – The Empire Strikes Back

Never tell me the odds of this scene ending up in this top 10. This scene is, quite frankly, a roller-coaster ride. We follow Han Solo as he tries to escape in the Millennium Falcon from the Imperial fleet in the middle of an asteroid field. There’s near misses, snappy dialogue and some great visuals. This scene just works so well and is helped along by John William’s great score. It’s a dramatic moment where you genuinely fear for the safety of our heroes.

 Six: The trash compactor – A New Hope

Not exactly something you’d see as a key moment but this scene is the first to feature out main foursome together for the first time. It’s the moment when we really see the relationships develop and see how the character’s bounce off each other. Add to that the tension and fear. The dialogue is great and the sense of danger is always present. Then we have things popping up all over the place and random trash monsters. It’s a great little scene.

Five: “I love you” “I know” – The Empire Strikes Back

Another memorable and quotable moment. The history of the behind the scenes are now as famous as the words themselves. When Harrison Ford decided he wanted to change the line from “I love you to” to “I know” he really cemented his character’s attitude. Han Solo is the egotistical, frustrating, scruffy-looking Nerf-herder. Yes, he’s lovable but he’s still a rogue. More than any other line in the trilogy, these 3 words sum up exactly who he is. It’s why we all love it so much.

Four: Duel of the Fates – The Phantom Menace

Before the prequels came along the lightsabre fights we, if we’re honest, really fucking lame. The new films introduced us to what a Jedi battle could really be with this showdown and, boy, did it rewrite the rules. First, we have Darth Maul and his double-ended sword and then we have the Jedi twosome working together. It’s a brilliantly choreographed sequence and is full of tension, excitement and offers an emotional punch in the middle. It’s the best thing about the first film and the prequels. It’s just mesmerising.

Three: The Death Star Attack – A New Hope

Another super iconic scene and such a memorable moment. At the basic level, without this scene the original films wouldn’t have it’s story. I mean if the Death Star hadn’t been destroyed then there wouldn’t be a rebel alliance any more. At the same time, this is the moment when we really see the potential of the force and Luke’s Jedi abilities. There are also the fantastic illusions to WW2 and the aerial dogfights. It feels real yet completely sci-fi at the same time. It’s a game changer.
 
Two: Darth Vader unleashed – Rogue One

I’m not sure if it’s cheating having this moment in my top 10 because it’s from one of the newer films. However, this is the Darth Vader scene we’ve all been waiting for. Darth is one of the greatest villains in cinema history but, when you think about it, there’s little reason for this to be true. In the originals we never see him do anything that terrifying and the Anakin in the prequels doesn’t get beyond killing a few annoying younglings. We needed this scene to show us exactly why the rebels were so fucking afraid of him. It’s a breathtaking scene.

One: The Big Reveal – The Empire Strikes Back

As if there could be any other moment in the number 1 spot. We all remember that moment we first watched the films and saw this moment. It’s number 1 simply because of how iconic it is. Without this, the original films don’t have their emotional core. It’s one of the best lines in the series and it’s one of the most memorable lines in cinematic history. How could I possibly pick anything else?

TOP 10 WEN-SDAY – TOP TEN STAR WARS CHARACTERS

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So it’s Star Wars day again and I have another chance to discuss one of the greatest franchises in movie history. Last year I defended the prequels prior to the release of The Force Awakens. They aren’t that bad, after all. It’s just a shame that The Force Awakens was so good that it makes them seem worse now. Still, this year, May 4th has fallen on a Wednesday which mean it’s time to write another top 10 list. This time my list of all time favourite characters. I’m not really a very original thinker so this is bound to be very reminiscent of most people’s top 10. Had the newest film not royally fucked her character up, Captain Phasma would no doubt have been here. Of course, that was a massive let down. Although she has time to make the cut. As does Poe who would have been here had he had more screen time. I’d love to have included Mace Windu but I feel like I needed a reason beyond “he’s fucking Samuel L Jackson and has a purple lightsabre”. So I present to you, without further ado, my top 10 Star Wars characters.


    Ten: Kit Fisto

A less obvious choice, no doubt, but since I first saw the second of the prequels I’ve had a huge soft spot for this Nautolan Jedi Master. I’m not entirely sure why he made such an impact but it’s probably something to do with the massive grin he has on his face during the epic Jedi battle on Geonosis. Yes, his death may be supremely shitty but this guy is a genuine badass. 

     Nine: Kylo Ren

I was wavering about including too many newer characters onto the list because we’ve still only seen Episode 7. We haven’t really seen much of any of the new faces from The Force Awakens to tell if they deserve being given such high accolades. However, Kylo Ren was such a great addition to the new film that I couldn’t ignore him. There has been a constant struggle between the light and the dark side in all the Star Wars films that it was difficult to imagine it feeling fresh. Kylo Ren does that. Having such an avid Sith Lord being pulled back to light side was fantastic. Add to that his teenage temper tantrums and we have a potentially new iconic figure. 



Eight: Luke Skywalker

Very nearly didn’t make it into the top 10 because, as we’re all aware, Luke is a bit of a joke as the hero. He’s the annoying teenager who stumbles into the limelight and manages to be utterly annoying whilst saving everyone. Kind of like Harry Potter, we like him because he’s the main guy but we kind of wish someone else was. However, Luke is no.1 so he gets a lot of the juicy bits. His lightsabre fights are the best in the originals and he is a part of most of the iconic scenes. You don’t want to be Luke but you can’t help but admire his journey. 

     

Seven: R2D2/BB8

Had to lump these two adorable figures together because, let’s face it, they’re essentially the same thing. R2D2 and BB8 are the adorable droids that have taken the world of Star Wars merchandising by storm. It’s not difficult to see why they’re so popular. Both are incredibly cute and have enough personality and fun to provide comic relief in the midst of all the darkness. Not being able to speak hasn’t stopped either working they’re way into the hearts of fans. 


   

 Six: Chewbacca 


Chewbacca is the best friend anyone could hope for. He’s furry, handy in a fight and incredibly loyal. No wonder, considering the inspiration for his creation was taken from George Lucas’ dog. Chewie is a great fighter but, most importantly, he’s a great friend. His bromance with Han Solo has been providing squad goals way before Taylor fucking Swift came along. 

   

 Five: Princess Leia

Princess Leia shines partly because she’s a lone female figure in a male dominated universe. She also shines because she’s so fucking awesome. She stands up against the Empire, watches her home planet destroyed and still comes out being sassy. She’s a strong, independent and self-assured leader who isn’t content to sit around waiting for evil to strike. Even if she sometimes has to play the role of sex-symbol, there is never any doubt that Leia is a hero in her own right rather than a damsel in distress. 

     

Four: Darth Vader

I know, I know. How can I put Darth Vader at number 4? The guy IS Star Wars. And it’s true. Darth Vader is one of, if not the, most iconic movie villains of all time. He looks and sounds the part. Absolutely terrifying, unstoppable and unforgiving. Darth Vader is the Sith Lord that very clearly has his own agenda. He may work under the banner of the Empire but it came as no surprise when he turned his back on them. He also gets the best cinematic reveal of all time. 

     Three: Obi Wan Kenobi

I admit, my love of Ewan McGregor probably has a lot to do with my love of Obi Wan but I think the Jedi deserves his place at number 3. Obi Wan had the horrible task of spouting a lot of Force related nonsense but, thanks to the great job of the two actors playing him, he sounds like a fucking genius rather than a lunatic. Obi Wan was the introduction to the Jedi culture for both Luke and the audience and we were happy to follow him into unknown territories. He’s the mentor we all wished we could have had at some point in our lives.And let’s not forget, he’s also one of the biggest badasses of them all. 


     Two: Boba Fett

So very close to stealing the top spot, Boba Fett manages to walk out on top of this franchise despite having only 4 lines of dialogue. It is in these 4 lines that the character manages to show what a fucking badass he really is and bring a much needed boost of cool to the proceedings. At least until George went and fucked things up with the prequel tie-ins. Still, let’s not dwell. Boba Fett is the ultimate mercenary. Willing to do anything for anyone provided the price is right. The fact that we knew so little about him only made him all the more appealing. What a guy.


     
One: Han Solo

An obvious but very deserving winner. Han Solo is the true stand-out of the original trilogy. He’s the scruffy looking nerfherder of every girl’s dreams. Harrison Ford is a beautiful man in these films and is the ultimate cool space hero. Han Solo is a wisecracking, arrogant and highly annoying individual. He is also incredibly realistic and provides most of the memorable moments from the original trilogy. He’s such a well written character and shows real growth throughout the three films. Ford plays him perfectly and his flirty sparring with Leia is just addictive to watch. Yes, he may lack the use of the Force and lack the power and wisdom of the other big players. Darth Vader and Luke are cool and all but, be honest, it’s Han Solo that you wanted to be.