Three years after the release of the first Star Wars prequel came Episode II: Attack of the Clones. With The Phantom Menace came the newly uncovered siths whose threat is yet to be concluded. Anakin (Hayden Christensen)’s grown up and the dispute between the separatist movements and the Republic rumbles on. Problems mount for the dwindling Jedi and, whilst Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) makes some mysterious discoveries, Anakin is left to fight his growing feelings he has for Padme (Natalie Portman) who, now senator for Naboo, is fighting for the Republic and the right to enforce an galactic army to ward off the mounting trouble.
Although not the most memorable of the Star Wars canon, Episode II offers an entertaining interlude between the slightly disappointing opening and fantastic conclusion to the prequel trilogy. As the threats on Padme’s life increase, Obi-Wan and Anakin find themselves on a thrilling chase through a Blade Runner-esque landscape. As the dangers posed against her mount Anakin is set the task of protecting her which inevitably causes him to battle his feelings for the young senator who has a taste for impressive headgear. Anakin disregards both the rules stated in the film’s tagline (‘a Jedi shall know no anger. Nor hatred. Nor love’) and those set by his master and he and Padme soon find themselves back on Tattooine where we witness his true first act of evil. Meanwhile Obi-Wan discovers a mysterious engineered clone army that threatens the balance of peace in the galaxy and will inevitably be part of the clone wars.
The film’s style, notably the segues and transitions used, is undoubtedly Star Wars-esque, which adds to the enjoyment provided by the film. Providing yet more history behind the original trilogy, Episode II sheds light on Anakin’s toying with the dark side and the journey that leads to the birth of Luke and Leia. Although sequels usually face a tough task, Attack of the Clones had to appease the countless fans disappointed with the first (though technically fourth) instalment and somewhat manages to quell any unrest. Jar Jar Binks, one of the main sources of disappointment, returns but he is forced to the sidelines. Is the fact that he is inadvertently responsible for fall of the old Republic Lucas’s way of appeasing aggravated fans? We’ll let you decide.
The unrest in the galaxy ultimately plays a bit-part to Anakin’s journey and the introduction of the Storm Troopers, but there is an impressive final battle that results in Yoda (completely CGI for the first time) flipping about defending an ‘armless (arf) Anakin and Obi-Wan from the evil advance of the the oddly named (even for a Star Wars character) Count Dooku. Providing one of the main talking points of the film (another being the purpleness of Mace Windu’s lightsabre), the battle injects a vitality into the crowded battle scenes. Comical interludes are provided by C3PO and R2D2 who manage to get caught in the cross fire yet again.
Ending with the worrying growing power of Senator Palpatine and the secret marriage between Anakin and Padme, the film hints at the power of the third prequel instalment whilst enjoying itself along the way.
Best light sabre scene: Yoda taking on Christopher Lee.
Best line: ‘I thought we had decided not to fall in love’… how wrong he was.
Best character: Jango Fett.
This was the most expensively-made Star Wars film though the only one not to top the box office earner list the year of its release. Also, look closely and you may see that one of Anakin’s shadows resembles Darth Vader’s… a sign of things to come?