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STAR WARS EPISODE 2 - ATTACK OF THE CLONES

SYNOPSIS:
Ten years after the events in The Phantom Menace, a separatist movement threatens stability in The Republic. Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobe (Ewan McGregor) and his apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) are assigned to protect Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), former Queen of the planet Naboo, who has been targeted for assassination. Obi-Wan's investigations reveal the existence of a clone army in the service of rebel Jedi Master Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), while Anakin travels to his home planet Tatooine with Padme, only to discover his mother has been kidnapped. As Anakin falls into forbidden love with Padme he is torn between personal feelings and duty to the Jedi.


Review by Louise Keller:
The Force is indeed with George Lucas. Fulfilling its promise of the Saturday afternoon matinee, Attack of the Clones delivers on all counts as a satisfying, thrilling, action-packed adventure story with a touch of romance. The effects are awesome, while there are touches of comic relief throughout. As John Williams’ marvellous score pounds out the Star Wars fanfare and Episode 2 begins, my spine tingles. Especially satisfying is how the gap between the original trilogy and The Phantom Menace narrows, and the characters become more developed and substantial. It’s as though Lucas has just got back into the swing of things, with renewed enthusiasm and boyish energy. It’s easy to get involved in the story, whether you’ve seen all the Star Wars films, or whether this is your very first. Of course, if you are familiar with the characters, it’s like visiting old friends; we know where they’ve come from and where they’re going. Ewan McGregor has really mellowed into Obi Wan Kenobi (I think Alec Guiness would approve), while the very beautiful Natalie Portman loosens up. Padme’s costumes are more about sex-appeal than officialdom, and her previous bored monotones are replaced by a Princess Leia-like stubbornness and determination. But all eyes are on charismatic Canadian heartthrob Hayden Christensen, whose Anakin Skywalker gives us a beguiling cocktail of cocky daredevil, smitten lover-boy and revenge-driven madman. It’s an edgy performance and gives credence to the evolving dark side. The romance between Padme and Anakin, shot at glorious Lake Como, is fairy-tale like, the setting a sharp contrast with the clinical production design of Naboo. Christopher Lee’s resounding voice and imposing persona plays a strong role here, while the likes of irritating Jar Jar Binks are relegated to token cameos. The action and effects are eye-popping with an exhilarating climatic arena scene with a cast of thousands, but perhaps the highlight is the light sabre duel between Count Dooku and master Jedi Yoda, who displays for once and for all, that size certainly isn’t everything. Yoda remains one of the most memorable Star Wars characters, and shows his wisdom as he murmurs ‘Meditate on this, I will.’ The technology is unsurpassed and serves the story well, and while the buffs will remember this to be the first major film created by using the high-definition, twenty-four frames per second, digital video camera and videotape rather than film, film lovers will think of it only in terms of high voltage thrills and entertainment.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
The good news is that Attack of the Clones is a huge improvement on the dire Phantom Menace. Perhaps the best evidence that George Lucas listens to fans is in the drastic change to the Jar Jar Binks character. The fully computer generated, jive-talking sidekick who played such a large and unfunny role in Phantom Menace has been relegated to a few small scenes and the human element is back at the forefront. The story is infinitely superior and we're also moving closer to events in the original Star Wars. This factor adds plenty of dramatic punch as Anakin Skywalker shows his first signs of attraction to the dark side and the state of affairs in Tatooine and the rest of the galaxy far, far away is starting to resemble the place where it all began in 1977. At least 90 percent of shots carry some form of special effect but this time they're exciting because the story serving the action set-pieces is emotionally engaging. Even the fairly drippy love story between Anakin and Padme registers better than it deserves to because we know where it's leading to in Episode 3 and beyond. Actors rarely have the chance to shine in these sorts of films but here we have a wonderful Ewan McGregor (looking like Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments) giving the moral of the tale backbone and resolve, Natalie Portman as a gutsy heroine and the superb Christopher Lee as villainous Count Dracula...oops, I mean Count Dooku. In all, this is well over $US250 million very well spent and it's hard to imagine the franchise faithful complaining too loudly. I'd like to see all of the 100% computer generated characters disappear (come back Yoda puppet, all is forgiven!) but that might cause massive unemployment in Silicone Valley. I'm not a Star Wars aficionado but I found this science-fiction adventure exciting, engaging and only dull for a minute or two. Attack of the Clones (terrible title, though) delivers fine escapist entertainment and you can't ask for much more than Lucas delivers here.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
Where to begin? With a reality check and a reminder that "it's only a movie"? Well, long-time Star Wars fan or not, I can objectively say there is nothing about Episode II that is "only a movie". To coin a phrase from Darth Vader himself, "Impressive...most impressive.." Attack of the Clones is mighty impressive. It's easily the most magnificent looking and sounding film I have ever seen, from the Blade Runner-ish city-scapes and street life early on in Coruscant to the watery alien-world where the clones are engineered to the Roman colosseum climactic battle that makes anything in Gladiator look like games of tiddly-winks. And more than anything in The Phantom Menace or Lord of the Rings, Episode II shows the full scope of digital filmmaking as the future of filmmaking. The sounds of spaceships rumbling overhead, light sabres clashing, or seismic charges hitting asteroids are quite incredible. The scenery - whether digital or real – is jaw dropping and beautiful. Indeed Clones is a film by which all other digitally-driven films to come will be judged. More than Phantom Menace - which was an introduction to the saga - Clones starts to fill the holes and answer the questions. What caused the Republic to split? What makes Anakin turn to the dark side? Who made the storm troopers? Where did Boba Fett come from? However, the dialogue and the acting is clunky. Anakin's professions of love for Padme induced giggles in the crowd, and there are few memorable lines other than Obi-Wan saying "Why do I get the feeling you will be the death of me" to Anakin, and newcomer Hayden Christensen displays his characters' frowns and scowls for all they're worth. As Padme, the beautiful Natalie Portman gives Star Wars some much needed sex-appeal with her belly-baring outfits that Britney would envy. Samuel L Jackson has some cool Pulp Fiction moments as he leads the Jedis into battle, and New Zealander Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors) shows us just why Jango Fett is Boba's (Daniel Logan) big daddy. Clones is crammed with heart-pounding action, a grandiose digital design and a dark side that Lucas hasn't shown us since 1980's The Empire Strikes Back. This is not just an improvement on The Phantom Menace we've been waiting. It doesn't just make that film a better one. It's one of the best in the Star Wars saga and lifts the epic story to new heights.

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Photos - Lucasfilm LTD + TM. All rights reserved. Digital work by ILM

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

FEATURE

STAR WARS EPISODE 2 - ATTACK OF THE CLONES (PG)
(US)

CAST: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Pernilla August, Jack Thompson

PRODUCER: George Lucas, Rick McCallum

DIRECTOR: George Lucas

SCRIPT: George Lucas, Jonathan Hales

CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Tattersall

EDITOR: Ben Burtt

MUSIC: John Williams

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gavin Bocquet

RUNNING TIME: 142 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 16, 2002







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