Attack of the Clones - Star Wars
reviewed by Steve Sailer
UPI, May 16, 2002
There is no point in attending "Attack of the Clones" if you are blind, since the plot is ponderous, the dialogue deplorable, and the line-readings limp. Still, the latest "Star Wars" installment is worth seeing if you like bang-up action sequences and splendid sci-fi landscapes.
The reported budget of $120 million appears to be an understatement; perhaps George Lucas gave himself a discount at his own special effects provider, Industrial Light & Magic. If "Spider-Man" cost $139 million, "Clones" looks like a $225 million movie. (Although, oddly enough, the most beautiful setting - Italy's mountain-ringed Lake Como - appears to be the least retouched by Lucas's digital wizardry.)
John Updike's summary of science fiction and fantasy novelist Kurt Vonnegut might describe Lucas even better. "There is in Vonnegut a fine disdain of the merely personal." His works "have a pre-sexual, pre-social freshness; he worries about the sort of things - the future, injustice, science, destiny - that twelve-year old boys worry about."
Indeed, the love affair between Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman - in the last episode she was a queen, but got term-limited out of that job) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen as the future Mr. Darth Vader) sounds like a 12-year-old wrote it.
On the other hand, Lucas is now 58 and his boyish love of adventure has partially deteriorated into a middle-aged man's love of talking about politics. So, most of the movie consists of politicians yammering on about the fate of The Republic. Lucas has evidently been mulling over the dire destinies of such failed republics as Rome, Venice, and Florence. Americans studied these carefully when setting up our own Republic (see the Federalist Papers), but I doubt that the coveted Under 25 demographic will be entranced.
Ultimately, this entire trilogy (Episodes 1 through 3) strikes me as misbegotten. Prequels are almost always a bad idea. They appeal to the obsessive fan, not to the average moviegoer, who has a natural desire to find out what happens next. And devoting three entire movies to the evolution of a bad guy, rather than a hero, is definitely straining Lucas' shaky powers of characterization.
Rated PG for sustained sequences of sci-fi action/violence.