BY JACOB LAURITZEN
I remember being very excited before Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones came out.
I had just graduated from Eastern Arizona College with a degree in Theatre and Cinematic Arts and I was getting ready to start film school. As a graduation present, my father and I planned a road trip to go to Hollywood before he took me up to the University of Utah to start summer classes.
We drove to California and stayed in a cheap motel a few blocks away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We went to Universal Studios Hollywood and did the V.I.P. tour. We walked the Walk of Fame and saw the fans camped outside of the Chinese Theater days before the movie came out. It was a blast.
Eventually, we drove up to Salt Lake City where my dad helped me to move into my new apartment. On opening day, we went to Century 16. And yes, I was in costume, but I wasn’t the only one. It was a 9am showing and the fans were so excited. I remember everyone cheering when the movie started. It was a great experience.
Years later, I can see the movie (better) for what it is. It’s better than Episode I, but it’s not perfect. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine’s complicated take over of the Galactic Republic still confuses me, but it’s not nearly as confusing as the motivation behind the “legal” blockade from the first movie. Like the Trade Federation from the first movie, Palpatine uses puppet villains to further his goals to take over the galaxy. In Episode II, that puppet is Count Dooku, a former Jedi turned Sith Lord who is “controlling” the so-called Separatist Movement. Makes sense, right? But the politics take more of a back seat this time.
Episode II is a buddy cop movie, it’s a political drama, but most of all it’s a love story. The movie opens with an assassination attempt on now Senator Amidala. Naturally, Obi Wan and Anakin (our buddy cops) are assigned to protect her.
But, Anakin has grown up. The small boy that flew podracers is now an older boy trying to become a man–and in the worst way. Despite being a Jedi, he has spent every day thinking about Amidala. When he unblinkingly stares at her, you get a very clear stalker vibe. And that’s on purpose, I think.
Anakin is assigned to take Amidala to Naboo and be her body guard (“And I, will always love you!”). He naturally takes the opportunity of being alone with her to show her how much of a man he really is. Eventually, she relents. The whole age-gap thing apparently doesn’t bother her that much. She is much more concerned about having to live a lie. You see, Jedi, are not aloud to date, or love, and especially not have secret romantic relationships with senators. That of course doesn’t bother love-sick Anakin, who tries to assure her that it’s okay. Typical male.
The worst part of Episode II isn’t the confusing politics. It’s the cheesy, hard-to-believe one-liners between Anakin and Amidala as they “fall in love.” That was the one thing I remembered most about the movie. Knowing that I was going to be writing this review, I paid attention to them, and yes, they were still bad.
But the pain doesn’t last long, as the movie changes focus when Obi Wan discovers a clone army that has been created in secret, has a fight with the bounty hunter Jango Fett, and then follows Jango to the secret hideout of Count Dooku, where he is taken captive. Naturally, Anakin and Amidala go to rescue him, only to be captured themselves.
Meanwhile, back at the Senate, Jar Jar Binks motions for the Supreme Chancellor to get an army and the Clone Wars begin. Yoda, Mace Windu, and the rest of the Jedi show up with their new army to save Obi Wan, Anakin, and Amidala. There is a big battle, we see Yoda fight like a crazy person with a light saber, and Count Dooku gets away.
There are a lot of things that are better about Episode II than Episode I. The action gets better. The plot isn’t quite as thick. There’s less Jar Jar.
At the end of the movie, I was pretty satisfied, but I was still surprised by one thing. I remembered that at the end of the movie, Anakin and Amidala are married, but I hadn’t noticed just how awkward it is that they don’t talk afterwards. They just turn and look out at the pretty view. Considering how awkward their love lines were earlier in the movie, maybe it was better that way.