Wednesday May 29, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 142


 
 









 
 

Stronger with the force 'Episode II' is

By Jason Ceaser Consolacion
The Daily COugar

Critics complained that Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace lacked action and was candy-coated with too much animation and too
much Jar-Jar.


Photo Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Sparks fly between Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) (left) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) in Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

Now, critics are complaining that Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones has too much action and that the cheesy love story is laden with
terrible dialogue and acting that falls short of a middle school play.

Those same critics are too busy comparing and are too caught up in their knowledge of cinema to realize that George Lucas' Star Wars project
is being done for three reasons: 1) to tell the story of the Skywalker family the way he wanted to; 2) to bring the Star Wars empire to a whole new
generation; and 3) to make more dough.

No, Lucas doesn't need any more money. Yes, the first trilogy may stand alone in its uniqueness and original shock value. But do you know
what? These new movies are fun for the Star Wars fan and entertaining to the casual moviegoer. And do you know why? Because Lucas is a
genius.

Attack of the Clones is actually the best episode since 1980's The Empire Strikes Back. It's darker than 1999's The Phantom Menace, the
special effects are even more impressive and best of all, we only see Jar-Jar in three scenes.

The real star of this film is the animation team in charge of creating the new CGI version of Jedi Master Yoda. The film's final lightsaber battle
culminates with an incredible display of the Jedi Arts, compliments of Master Yoda. Unfortunately, this surprise has already been spoiled by a
TV commercial, but it's still the most exciting scene in any Star Wars movie.

As for humans, Ewan McGregor reprises his role as the young Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. His performance is the best among the actors as
McGregor attempts more and more to tackle the melodic movement of Alec Guinness' (the original Obi-Wan) dialogue delivery. McGregor, a
native of Crieff, Scotland also does a better job of interacting with digital characters something he found to be rather difficult when making
Episode I.

The new star of the Star Wars films is Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin Skywalker the centerpiece of the Star Wars saga.
Christensen, a fine young actor, does a satisfactory job of playing the bratty Anakin. Let's just say the 21-year-old does the best with what he
has to work with.

Lucas' dialogue for Episode II remains tongue-in-cheek, much like his work in 1977's A New Hope and The Phantom Menace. You may
remember that the best of all the Star Wars films, The Empire Strikes Back featured a screenplay not written by Lucas himself, but rather the
dramatic duo of Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan.

The weakest of the dialogue occurs, ironically, when the film depends on it most. It is during the plot development of the love story between
Anakin and Padmé (Natalie Portman) that Lucas' weaknesses seep through. Cliché piles upon cliché as Anakin tells Padmé that he can't
breathe because of the forbidden kiss that will haunt him the rest of his life.

Just thinking about it is awkward. What happened to the macho, one-liner approach that Han Solo (Harrison Ford) took with Princess Leia
(Carrie Fisher) in the original trilogy?

Beyond the love story are two subplots. The first is the Jedi's mission to find out who is behind the assassination attempts on Senator Padmé
Amidala. As Obi-Wan goes off to investigate, Anakin accompanies Padmé back to her home planet of Naboo as her bodyguard.

The other plot is the beginning of the corruption of the Republic, led by Chancellor Palpatine. If you're familiar with the Star Wars plot, then you
know who Palpatine really is and what he's really doing. While appearing to be building a clone army for the Republic, Palpatine is really
starting a civil war between the planets of the galaxy in order to bring chaos and eventual destruction to the Republic.

While trying to discover Padmé's assassin, Obi-Wan stumbles upon the creators of the clone army. It is here that he gets in a little tussle with
the bounty hunter Jango Fett and it is also here where Star Wars enthusiasts get introduced to the young Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who
captured Han Solo in Empire.

After the heroes meet in the worst of circumstances only to be saved by Master Yoda, some Jedi and the new clone army, Obi-Wan and Anakin
find themselves face-to-face with Darth Sidious' new Sith apprentice Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) a former Jedi who has fallen to the dark
side.

The three engage in a thrilling two-on-one lightsaber battle that eventually leads to the inclusion of Master Yoda.

Other than Yoda's ass-kicking scene, another welcome surprise in Episode II is the increased role of Jedi Master Mace Windu, played by
Samuel L. Jackson. Master Windu is pretty mean with a lightsaber in his own right and his importance to the galaxy and the Jedi Council is
highlighted throughout the film.

Portman delivers as Padmé much better than she did in The Phantom Menace. Her performance shows a young woman who has matured
into the role of Senator Amidala, stepping out of the shadows of Fisher's Princess Leia and into the spotlight. Assisted by revealing outfits and
sexy poses, Portman's presence counters Christensen's to give the guys something to look at.

Attack of the Clones actually attempts to tell a story unlike The Phantom Menace, which was so crowded with too much information and
choppy plot development. Although Episode II may jump between scenes of Obi-Wan and scenes with Anakin and Padmé too quickly, the flow
is smoother than that of Episode I.

The film is better than A New Hope and Return of the Jedi mainly because of the special effects the clone-droid battle on the planet of
Geonosis is the sweetest eye candy and the effect of the prequel.

Seeing the young Anakin Skywalker before he falls to the dark side is entertaining. In the original trilogy, we hear Obi-Wan speak of Anakin as a
great pilot and Jedi Knight. Now we actually get to see how powerful a Jedi he really was and why he was the perfect candidate for the Sith to
take control of and turn into who we all know now as Darth Vader.

Lucas has said all along that these six episodes are really the story of Anakin Skywalker. The first three episodes illustrate his greatness and
his tragedy while the second trilogy shows his influence on the galaxy and his eventual redemption by son Luke.

The prequels allow us to appreciate the myth of Darth Vader and why the final scene of Return of the Jedi is even more meaningful now than it
was the first time we all saw it.

So far, Attack of the Clones is the only reason we have to be thankful for Lucas revisiting the Star Wars galaxy he created 25 years ago. He has
already started pre-production for Episode III and he promises that it will be darker and uncharacteristic of a typical Star Wars film.

The fall of the Jedi. The rise of the Empire. The birth of Luke and Leia. The birth of Darth Vader.

If Episode III is supposed to be darker than the others, make it the darkest of all. Lucas can't go wrong from here.
 
 
 
 
 

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