Earlier this summer, mere days after comps ended, I found a VHS set of Star Wars episodes four through six (the ones from the seventies and eighties), and he’s hooked on Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. (We haven’t been able to pull him away from those two long enough to watch A New Hope yet.) That’s the setup for the story.
So this weekend, while I was working at Bogart Library, Micah came to the counter with a DVD copy of Attack of the Clones, by far the worst of the six movies. (And that’s saying something, given how rotten episode one was.) Mary and I saw this stinker in the theater the evening after we loaded up the truck to move to Georgia. I was tired and had no capacity for stupidity, and now that I’ve watched it with Micah and looked at the DVD player’s timer, I know that I ran out of patience for it about forty minutes in. But this time, more rested and with no expectations, I did find some things commendable even about this movie.
But first I have to reiterate my objections to this movie. First, George Lucas should have hired a scriptwriter. The scenes between Amidala and Skywalker are nearly unwatchable, and the conversation between Kenobi and Dooku is not much better. Speaking of Skywalker, although Natalie Portman can do alright with a strong script, she’s nowhere near enough an actor to handle Lucas’s stunted dialogue, and Hayden Christensen is even worse. There are too many cute self-referential moments (Tatooine rim-shots, as Mary and I call them), and the first half of the film tries unsuccessfully and at times painfully to be Blade Runner.
Whew. Got that out of my system.
All that said, time has softened my dislike of the film. As a popularizer of Joseph Campbell, Lucas still can’t be beat. His mythology has enough heart to make all the mentor/student dynamics interesting, and watching the Jedi fall victim to a Machiavellian Sith politician bears the marks of tragedy.
Beyond that, fight choreography has gotten better in the last thirty years, and the prequels show it. Watching Ewan McGregor go after his enemies with a light saber makes Alec Guinness’s swordplay scene more than laughable. And although the CGI gets heavy-handed, and although a flying Yoda is undeniably silly, the grand battle scenes do lend the movies more of a war movie feel.
John Williams still can’t be beat. No matter how silly the acting becomes, his sound track almost fools me into thinking that I’m watching something legendary.
Finally, having revisited episodes four through six recently, I have to concede that bad acting and scriptwriting aren’t novel with the prequels. We are talking Mark Hammill, after all. Just as Harrison Ford and Alec Guinness lent gravity to those, so Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor give some weight to these.
It’s still the worst of the six, but hey, it’s still Star Wars.
I know I’m about six years late to be blogging about this movie, but such is the life of a parent of a three-year-old who wants to be R2D2.