Main cast: Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Natalie Portman (Senator Padmé Amidala), Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker), Ian McDiarmid (Supreme Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious), Samuel L Jackson (Mace Windu), and Frank Oz (Yoda)
Director: George Lucas
Here we were, the Giggles, in this cinema, squashed between a Chewbacca and a Darth Vader. Hey, who says fanboys and fangirls are a particularly imaginative bunch? We Giggles consider ourselves fanboy and fangirl too, but we do hug each other in horror when we listen to this Chewbacca relate to us how he watches Star Wars (the original one) once a day because he feels that the movie is, wow, so deep and filled with perfect allegories we all need to improve our lives.
I found Episode I underwhelming, while hubby says it is so-so, but for Episode II: Attack Of The Clones, we are in perfect agreement for once: this movie is fun. We both agree that in the third movie, Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman should be banned from speaking and just get naked in muted mode, George Lucas probably has never seduced a woman before in his real life, he has probably taken all those love notes he wrote to his Unrecipocrated Crush On The Older Woman Amy Dale when he was ten and made Portman and Christensen mouth those lines, and Anakin Skywalker is gay. The last is because Anakin sets my admittedly unreliable gaydar off the charts and even hubby, who recoils at the notion of slash, wishes that Amidala will just die and Anakin and Obi-Wan will consummate their chemistry.
It is probably pointless to mention the plot, because I will have to relate the entire Star Wars story for it to make sense. Bottom line is, Anakin Skywalker, the future big bad villain in the original Star Wars trilogy, well, this is his story about how he turns bad. Of course, this movie wants us to root for him, so he's made out to be, you know, a nice, misunderstood boy who just whines a lot, speaks in a high, squeaky voice, and becomes evil because he lost his Mummy and eventually his wifey Amidala.
Hey, I'll get evil too if I conveniently remembers the mother I left behind in a life of slavery after ten years (Anakin left his mother behind to play Jedi apprentice to Obi-Wan in Episode I), travels far and wide just to conveniently finds her right before she croaks while trying to tell me, "I love... I love... ack!" Such bad Bollywood melodrama will definitely turn me evil, I tell you. Hubby was laughing hysterically at that scene, while Darth Vader next to me was sobbing and blubbering like an idiot (probably he believes that Shmi is really his mother for all I know). I never loved my hubby more at that moment.
Meanwhile, Queen Amidala - or a A-Million-Dresses as I call her, since she appears in every scene in a new wardrobe (some really nice, some are just bizarre, like that fisherman's net thing) - has lost her Kabuki make-up. But she is still wooden and unconvincing. Let's face it, Princess Leia's lines weren't gems, but Carrie Fisher delivers them with style. Natalie Portman, however, just couldn't deliver the same sass. She's just a pretty sorority girl mouthing some really godawfully cheesy lines.
It's the same with Christensen. Boy sure is pretty in a Leonardo di Caprio way - heck, Lucas probably has Titanic in mind when he wrote the love story, because I swear they try to make Portman look like Kate Winslet in some camera angles - but he is just dead wood. If Jake Lloyd (that 10-year old tree stump who played Anakin in Episode I) grows up, he'll be just like Hayden Christensen. Christensen does deliver the James Dean pain well during a scene where he lashes out at his mother's death, but the lines he is mouthing are just plain cheesy, so that almost negates everything good about that scene. And Portman's blank face during that scene doesn't help much. Boy is hurting and Christensen is doing hurting so well, and here Portman is, staring back at him as if he is a piece of cold fish. Nice.
And the love thing is awful. It is really awful, and this is coming from someone who has watched Titanic too many times for her own good. There is one scene of gambolling in the meadows that just screams GAY, GAY, GAY because that boy is so... I don't know. He has no chemistry with Portman, so Anakin and Amidala are like girlfriends giggling over boy secrets.
It is a good thing, therefore, that the love scenes are interspersed with Obi-Wan Kenobi's more interesting search for The Truth about Who Is Trying To Kill Amidala. He discovers the secret of the clones - you know, those silly robotic-looking guys in white suits fighting for the Evil Empire? Apparently they are just test-tube babies mass-manufactured in a planet populated by apparently only two dim-witted tall ET-steamrollered creatures. In the future, I guess you can do anything even when you are short-handed.
Samuel L Jackson is wasted - as usual - and the man looks embarrassed asking a stumpy, green alien with no grasp of English grammar for sage counsel. The Chinese/Japanese villains grate as usual, as well as the ghetto caricature Jar-Jar Binks, who thankfully gets only two major scenes in this movie (although Amidala appointed him her stand-in in the Republic Senate - believe it or not, and yes, George Lucas is smoking crack). The audience I'm in loves Jar Jar Binks. Hubby and I hug each other in horror again and vow to take a cab home instead of sharing the same subway train with these losers.
The saving grace of this story? The childish, pathetic sci-fi fun that is straight out of a young adult science fiction story. Ewan McGregor, lustful gazes at Anakin and barely concealed disdain at his own lines, has definitely slipped into the character of Obi-Wan and he is so cool. Maybe that's because he's not the gay boy trying to reaffirm his non-existent heterosexuality by forcing himself on Amidala. He has some cool action scenes and he's the only guy who doesn't seem to be reading his lines straight out of a teleprompter.
And then there's the last thirty minutes, where a group of Jedi warriors play ping-pong with Evil Armies Of Robots. The phallic imageries are all lost on the fanboys here, but check out that scene where Obi-Wan chases the bad guy, his lightsaber zoinging out at an angle right from his groin level, only to dezoing sadly when the bad guy slips out of his grasp. Ah, boys. And then there's the way the battling Jedi warriors try to make each's lightsaber longer than the other. This is lil' boys' games all over again - who has the biggest dong wins.
If this is so, Yoda has the biggest dong then. The scene where he trashes Christopher Lee's Count Doku is hysterical. It's cool, and it's ridiculous at the same time. I like it for its farce value, but at the same time, I feel so sorry for Christopher Lee. Saruman at least gets to keep some of his dignity, and he isn't ripped a new one by a short, stumpy green brother with the biggest lightsaber.
The special effects are exhilarating to watch (the chase through the asteroid belts, the monsters in the sacrificial colosseum, the scary killer caterpillars), while there are some eh-inducing settings (the video arcade - I guess kiddies don't want to watch a strip club instead? - and the 50's style diner). And it's amusing that everyone is firing at everyone in the last thirty minutes, but not one of the main characters get hurt (the only Jedi who died was an insignificant non-WASP, non-Samuel L Jackson, non-human extra so good riddance, eh, George?). Even more of a hoot is that the laser beams here are like thin tiny neo-glow crystal bars one can buy at new age trinket stores. Still, those are fine, adrenaline-charged moments.
In the end, yeah, Attack Of The Clones is fun. It lacks substance, sense, logic, or even rewatchability factor, but as some harmless way of passing two hours, hey, I can do worse. This is a showcase of fine computer generated special effects, and I suggest that non-fanboys/fangirls who don't intend to watch this movie 1,000 times before the month is out to wait for the DVD. That way, you can skip every single scene of the Anakin/Amidala puke-inducing juvenile-love-poetry nonsense or at least set them to mute and just admire those two young, beautiful, beautiful people. (Skip the Jar Jar Binks scenes for the sake of your sanity.) This movie gets more enjoyable that way, trust me.
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