Star Wars: Episode Two - Attack of the Clones
by H. Becker
As an effects movie, "Attack of the Clones" is a masterpiece. Otherwise, it's slightly better than average, no more. It's certainly no "Star Wars."
"Star Wars" was funny, thrilling and moving, perfectly mixed between drama and action, and properly focused on the human story. The sci-fi setting merely bejeweled it.
Now it defines it. "Clones" is a showcase for computer-generated creatures, laid out like Dungeons and Dragons miniatures in a glass case. And they are impressive. I have no idea of the work that goes into creating this stuff, but it's visually seamless. It seems like somebody at Lucas' shop went around with a paper bag full of insect, dinosaur and mammal names, and the animators or graphics technicians drew out two or three and created their triceratops-grasshoppers and dragonfly-preying mantises. I'm not interested in computer chimeras, but anybody who is will find this movie a perpetual orgasm.
I care about funny lines, and people struggling to overcome. By that stick the film is spotty. It has a formality that never loosens. In an era of loudmouth nigger movies, that's unusual and not to be dismissed, but even so, I found this movie too stiff. Its seriousness works best in the tender scenes between the larval Vader Christensen and the comely Jewess Portman. Apart from that, the tone is, well, not funereal, but library-serious, and the characters more speak at one another than interact with each other.
And how do you cast Samuel L. Jackson? You spend umpteen million on special effects, and a dime on this quintessential Noble Negro who, no matter what role he plays, can only be seen by the audience as that same old holier-than-God FBI agent that staples the politicized fantasy world the televitzim serve us around the clock. Combine him with wise old Yoda, you've got major nobility pall working. You can't exactly go up to Yoda, clap him on the shoulder, and ask, "How's it hangin' there, sabermeister?" Best-Behavior characters make for boring.
There was also a credibility gap late in the movie where Yoda shows up to battle the big boss man bad guy. He hobbles in on his cane like an 80-year-old looking for the adult diaper section in Wal-Mart; a minute later he's flipping 360s off the ceiling like Tony Hawk on crack. A tad ludicrous, it's. And that's another thing. Maybe it's just our Semitical Incorrectness here at VNN, but Yoda has a just-this-side of yiddish syntax -- reversed word order -- that's just that side of annoying. Stop it, Yoda. Just stop. And sheesh -- when the entire fate of the civilized galaxy rests on your shoulders and the outcome of your light-saber battle, could you at least doff your shawl? Give yourself a little swinging room? Ya owe us that much, little guy.
The interesting part of the movie isn't developed enough to make this an excellent adult film. The Kid on the Way Up is well cast; handsome, but still young enough to be headstrong at the wrong time. He does a good job portraying not just the coming of age oscillation between fear and strength, but the general and lifelong difficulty in distinguishing where to run in the groove and where to stamp fresh tracks; when to obey authority, when to resist. This is the good stuff, this is the stuff I want more of, not computer-generated, say, brontosaurus-rocky-mountain-spotted-tick-teal-ducks. "Star Wars" had this down just right, gave you a coffee cupful of what you want; "Clones" gives you a teaspoon. The music too, with the leitmotif's wonderful chord of sadness/inevitability/yet-press-on , is just a shadow of what was fully developed in "Star Wars"'.
I'd hesitate to ascribe any political meaning to this movie or the others in the series. You can tie dark side/light side to just about any cause you want. The battle here between the separatists and the Republic is never described in detail, so the viewer has no basis for making a choice between sides. All we know is that they're fighting and the movie's told from the point of view of the light side. I think the lack of detail makes the movie less interesting. All you can do is identify with the nice, light, truth-telling folks, and hate the evil dark lying schemers. Unless you're perverse or thoughtful.
The closest the movie comes to anything substantive is the implication that the darkies are anti-democracy. The Jewess Portman, who plays an implausibly young senatoress, says something like, "We lose democracy when we stop believing in it." That's a pretty thin reed, some of us -- Lucas certainly included -- might observe. Democracy does indeed seem a religious test more than a workable system, letting illiterates and illegals vote the way it does. But in all the small ways it is clear this is a meta-ZOG, a Zionist-Occupied Galaxy.
Lots of space-whizzing, protracted battles between/among men and mechanized clones, chimeras, not much speech, almost all of that earnest rather than evocative. If that's what you want, you can probably find somewhere to see it.
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