I saw an early screening of "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" and, as a recovering "Star Wars" - aholic all I can say is, George has betrayed us again. Not as painful as the last time, but by the end of this plodding film, you feel like "Who cares? Isn't this over yet?"
It's long. It's loud. There are beautiful costumes and stunning special effects. In the end, however, there's no Han Solo. I'm not saying that the aging action star should put his black vest back on but there's no particular character in these movies that audiences can or would want to connect to.
The original "Star Wars" was about a rag tag team of rock roll kids out saving the galaxy. There was a camaraderie with the heroes and you shared their adventures. The awe-inspiring special effects carried the "we're all in this together" spirit of things that made the original Star Wars movies so much fun.
Unfortunately, this current crop of "Star Wars" features subscribes to the cultish religion that has grown up around its own mythology. Lucas seems compelled to fill them with flat pompous characters who you just don't care about.
BUT...it isn't ALL bad... parts of "Clones" cinematic mud is watch-able. For instance, following Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan on his solo mission to track down Jenga Fett, the bounty hunter, is full of the Saturday matinee thrills that you paid to see. The eye candy is amazing and Yoda kicks butt with a Light saber! Yes, the artists at Lucasland deliver a super-slick ride but to borrow a phrase from Hal Barwood, "You can't polish a turd."
And finally beware the sound of music. About an hour into this hulking epic comes a scene in which the hills are painfully alive with sound of John Williams overscored soundtrack. And just why are we watching young princesses and Jedi's frolicking in a flowery field? Perhaps to explain how Natalie Portman goes from being creeped out by the sexual advances of Anakin (Hayden Christianson), the little boy she used to baby-sit in the last movie, to being "deeply and truly in love" with him by the end of this one. These plotlines would be rejected by UPN but make it to mega cinema blockbuster status because the writer is rich enough to self-publish.
As someone who saw the "Empire Strikes Back" seventeen times in its first summer run in 1980, Lucas owns my attention span and I will continue to endure whatever slop he's serving up, just to see if part of that original magic is still there. But alas, that was then and this is now, and this marketing device for his "star wars" product line will surely fill air-conditioned theatres for at least the opening weekend until word gets out.
May we be forced to watch them all?
For Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2002 - Purple - Air Date: 5/15/02
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
USA - 2002