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Episode II, but whose really counting?

Let me tell you something about Episode II: Attack Of The Clones: Don't believe a word they tell you. This movie is cool. It's cooler than cool. It's cooler than the coolest coolies who live in Coolville drinking kool-aid and smoking kools. It's the coolest thing that has ever existed anywhere... period.
There, now they have something they can put in their commercial (even if none of that is ture).

There was a point about half an hour into the movie where I realized, "O.K. it's not gonna be good, but at least it will be interesting." Then an hour-and-a-half in: "O.K. it's not interesting but at least it will entertain." Then two hours in: "Well, it's not entertaining but at least it gives us what we want." Then finally after two-and-a-half hours of schlock: "Well, I bet it will make an awful lot of money."

The Pros:
After this, there's only one more movie left… hopefully.

The Cons:
In the first trilogy, Lucas had a truly original and startling vision. He took on an epic theme, played all the right cards, and astounded the world. Return of the Jedi got a little too cute with all those adorable and immensely marketable Ewoks, but it was still great. However, if you look at the actual storyline of that series, it's really pretty simple. A classic hero, a classic villain, and fabulous supporting cast to aid him on his voyage, and plenty, but not too many, important plot twists. In the first three movies there was an epic sense of history built on the allusions to past events.

Now, what we have in the current trilogy is Lucas forced to tie up all those loose ends he threw out at us in the original to give his story that depth. We find ourselves being told the history we were forced to envision all over again. And I think what I imagined was better than what Lucas is giving us. And to make matters worse there is no additional history to our tale. We know virtually nothing of the republic except that it's been around for thousands of years. With no history, there's no depth. And, as a result, these past two movies are tired, and above all, completely predictable. If you're going to make a prequel to the most popular film trilogy in history, you better have some new material to throw at us, but I find that Lucas's vision has become short sighted and unimpressive.

And he had a world of opportunity for some back-stories here. When I was a kid strapped into my seat staring doe eyed at the original Star Wars, I wanted to know everything there was to know about becoming a Jedi. All of it: the philosophy, the training, the history, the culture, where I could sing up, all of it. And Attack of the Clones would have been the prime place to do it. The most famous Jedi in history is being taught the ropes, gives us some lessons here. Make him pull a space hip out of a swamp, anything! All we get, however, is the same old banter "Clear your thoughts… Be one with the universe… Don't focus on the negative… put this helmet on and let a little ball shoot you with a laser."

There were literally dozens of aspects of Lucas' universe that could have been explored. But instead, a good forty-five minutes of this flick is consumed by the 'love affair' between Anakin Skywalker (Christensen) and Padmé Amidala (Portman). It runs something like this:

Anakin: I love you.
Padmé: I'm a senator.
Anakin: but I really, really love you. I, like, burn for you… and stuff.
Padmé: But I'm a senator.
Anakin: What if I was all creepy and weird… and groped at your breasts… and started staring at you with a perverse rapist-like glare? How about then?
Padmé: Well, I guess I do love you after all. Let's make a baby!

In Bizzaro World the dialogue between the two love-birds might have worked, and not seemed quite so much like a stalker trying to woo his stalkee, if there had been any amount of chemistry between Christensen and Portman. But these two merely herald what is possibly the worst ensemble acting gig in several years.

None of the acting was good, literally, none of it. C-3P0 wasn't the neurotic priss that he used to be, Natalie Portman has given up that dark, severe way of speaking she had in The Phantom Menace, Frank Oz isn't putting as much into Yoda now that he's computer generated. Samuel L. Jackson is as far from being a bad-ass motherfucker as I've ever seen him, and Ewan McGregor looks totally lost having to interact with nothing but computer generated creatures.

And Christensen really takes the cake on this one. There aren't even words to describe how repulsive his acting is in this movie. He plays Anakin not as troubled, but as bitchy. Not as powerful, but spoiled. It's as though there's no good in him to begin with so the conversion to the dark side is inevitable, rather than a soul destroying voyage. He does lose an arm, however, I guess that's something to smile about.

And, by the way, what the hell is Jimmy Smitts doing in this production!? He looks as out of place as 2(x)ist underwear does on a straight boy.

The Ratings (as always, out of four):

Direction Rating: Half of a walk down Hollywood Boulevard
The director should be bundled up with the writer and the producer and all three should be severely beaten until they promise never to do anything like this again. What was that? All three people are George Lucas? Fuck that. Just kill the bastard.

Geek Rating: two and a half acne riddled dungeon masters.
There isn't too much here for the geeks to love. There is some notable trivia (like the guy whose always played C3-P0 is doubling as a Lieutenant, and so on) But that's about it. Otherwise it's nothing more than a torrent of new characters ('The Most Jedi Of Any Star Wars Movie Ever!') that have already been turned into action figures for you to collect and never play with.

Homo-Erotic Tension Rating: Zero Batmen and Robins
What Homoerotic tension? I mean, just because some nubile little 18 year old is following some guy with a big-ass beard around, calling him "master," doesn't mean there's going to be any homo-erotic tension. Even if you try really hard to read into the story, there's nothing, not one glimmer or knowing look between fellows exchanged. Now that you mention it: there isn't any erotic tension in this thing, Homo- or otherwise, despite the 45 minutes of "I love you/But I'm a Senator." Nothing. Actually, the more I think about it, there is absolutely no tension whatsoever, of any kind.

Effects Rating: Three Lords of the Ring
I guess I have to say something nice about this movie. OK. Here goes: The scenery was pretty good looking. The special effects were flawless. And the one chase scene in space between Obi-Wan and Jango Fett is pretty cool.

Over all Coolness Rating: One half a star - a tiny, east village apartment with no AC in July (how cool is that?)
This movie sucks. It's the suckiest suck fest ever produced by Sucktown. What sucks even more is you know you're going to see in anyway, despite everything I've said. That's what is so evil about this stupid media machine we let rule our lives. And to think: I missed an episode of Survivor for this!

--Carter Edwards
[email protected]

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Wr/Dr : George Lucas
Str: Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Ewan McGreggor, Natalie Portman, Frank Oz
Now playing everywhere

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[email protected] | May 2002 | Issue 26
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