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Star Wars Episode 11: Attack Of The Clones (2002)













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A Review By Shalini Nayar

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Directed by George Lucas
Written by George Lucas
Starring Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee and the voice of Frank Oz as Yoda.
















Lets face it folks...This is the grand-daddy of all the summer blockbusters this year. And that means Spidey, your limelight is over just as abruptly as it began, so go and take a hike. Or I'll squash you like, well, a bug.

Ever since we were left crying (at the patheticness) and cursing (at George Lucas, of course) for the laughably insipid The Phantom Menace, we wondered if George could in fact bring back justice to the visionary Jedi-filled galaxy he created over 20 years ago. Well, guess what? He did just that for the latest installment of the Star Wars series, Episode II : Attack Of The Clones.

This time around, George chronicles the epic 10 years after the events in The Phantom Menace. The galaxy looks as if it has gone through a light-years worth of facelift since the last series, but it still manages to look more fascinating and threatening at the same time.

The story begins with Queen Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) now a senator, contemplating a very important vote to create an army to deal with the increasing strife within the Republic. She would rather rely on diplomatic negotiations but that results in death threats by separatists. The Jedi Council establishes that she must return to her home planet of Naboo for her safety's sake and assigns Padawan learner Anakin Skywalker (newcomer Hayden Christensen) to protect her.

We learn along the way that Anakin has become the most powerful and accomplished Jedi apprentice of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), who himself has metamorphosised from a student to a Jedi Master. Anakin has now grown into an angst-filled teenager (typical), and is frustrated as he feels that his mentor Obi-Wan is holding him back from exploring his full potential as a Jedi. Anakin had been waiting anxiously for a face-to-face encounter again with Padmé (more of a reunion, really) and he wastes no time in finding the opportune moment to profess his love for her.

As Jedis are not allowed to fall in love and Padmé being a very popular public figure, their romantic attachment looks bleak. I have to admit, their amorous exchanges do look candy-coated, enhanced with its sometimes pathetic dialogue but it gets by as being genuine at times. Their liaison in the isolated section of Naboo is followed through some pretty picturesque scenery like lush meadows overlooking magnificent waterfalls and vast serene lakes.

However, their entanglement is interrupted by Anakin's feverish nightmares depicting his enslaved mother whom he feels is in great pain. He expresses his wish to go back to his birth place to Padmé and she joins in the effort to find and save Anakin's mother. But they're too late; Anakins mother has been kidnapped by the Tusken Raiders, and by the time he reaches her, she dies in his arms. Fuelled with rage, he blindly instigates brutal revenge on the nomadic tribe. These events act as catalysts for his future shift of embracing the dark side of the Force.

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan embarks on an investigation into the assassination attempt by a mysterious bounty hunter named Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison). With Jango's planet missing from the charts in the Jedi archives, Obi-Wans search leads him to the windy, rainy planet of Kamino. There he unearths a scheme to create an army of clones designed after Jango on the orders of a now-dead member of the Jedi Council from a decade before. Obi-Wan then follows Jango to the inner division of the battle clone factory, where he overhears the treacherous plans of Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) to kill Padmé and ignite an intergalactic war.

Following that, Obi-Wan is captured and chained in a gigantic coliseum, reminiscent of the movie Gladiator, where he soon is joined by Anakin and Padmé who have come to save him. They are to be consumed by gigantic, gruesome creatures, much to the delight of the cheering crowd. Theres a comical side to the situation involving the lovable fussy android C3PO (Anthony Daniels). In response to Obi-Wans distress call, which was diverted to the Jedi Council with the help of the reliable robot R2D2 (Kenny Baker), Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and his fellow Jedi Masters arrive to save the day, soon joined by Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz).

One of the highlights of the film would definitely be the showdown between Yoda and Count Dooku. Once a puppet, Yoda now has adopted a more expressive and natural outlook thanks to CGI, but his anomalous articulateness remains unfazed. The outstanding light saber battle between them is commendable.

George had decided to flesh out the characters more in this installment, so we get to observe a decent amount of character development. There are some enigmatic performances to look out for.  Hayden shines as Anakin, and he manages to carry the emotional baggage well. Ewan is given a meatier role after being overshadowed by Liam Neeson in the last movie, and he delivers a superbly convincing performance, reprising as the young Jedi Master. Samuel L. Jacksons excellent portrayal as Mace Windu is unparallel. Jar Jar Binks (voiced by Ahmed Best), the quirky creature some of us loved to loath in The Phantom Menace is back but accommodates very limited appearance and is hardly a significant character in the film.

I can't help but realize the plot is actually meager, the acting in general is as kayu as it can get (especially Natalie's) and the robotic delivery of the lines plus the inadequate quality of the dialogues didn't contribute much to the brilliance of the movie. It is the mind-blowing action sequences magnified by extravagant and sometimes hypnotizing CGI effects that successfully compensated the flaws and finally saved the film. So, my fellow Star Wars junkies, we can't do much but wait patiently for Episode III due in May 2005 to witness the birth of menacing Darth Vader and the unrest that soon blankets the galaxy. In the meantime, may the force be with you...

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