Me and the SnookIT DIDN’T SUCK!
As God is my witness, Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones didn’t suck. That doesn’t sound like a very positive review, but it is. In fact, I will go on the record as saying it rocked. I love me some Ebert, but he dropped the ball on this one. Maybe it’s because my expectations were so low, but I really, really enjoyed myself. And it seemed like everybody else in our screening did too! Some (spoiler-free) thoughts:

  • The plot, which many TV critics have called “complicated”, wasn’t hard for me to follow. In fact, it actually made me think that Episode 1 was a better movie. You realize that more was set in motion in that film than you thought.
  • Very little Jar-Jar! And in what can only be a nod to disgruntled fans, his one major action in the movie is to make a colossal mistake (and not a funny slapsticky one, either).
  • The action scenes were awesome! The last half hour alone is worth the price of admission. The beginning was really exciting too.
  • The dialogue and characterizations, which sound really stilted and bad in the trailers, actually aren’t so bad. The new Anakin really impressed me. And Natalie Portman did a good job of playing a more womanly character. She kicked some ass too!
  • It was funny! I don’t remember laughing at anything in Episode 1, and we laughed a lot in this one! Apparently George Lucas needs a co-writer to give him a sense of humor. And I’m happy to report there wasn’t a fart or poo gag in the whole thing.
  • The romance is cheesy. Resign yourself to it. Anakin is a stalker with “date rapist” written all over his forehead. The audience was laughing out loud during the love scenes. Thankfully these constitute only about 10% of the picture, so don’t worry about it.
  • Obi-Wan is the man. Y’all can have that Tobey Maguire fellow. I’ll take Ewan McGregor any day.
  • I love finally getting some continuity with the “latter” three films. The scenes at the Lars farm, the secret weapon plans… All great.
  • Americans probably won’t get it, but all the Australians thought it was insanely funny that the storm troopers all turn out to be Kiwis (New Zealanders).
  • Yes, Yoda fights. No, it doesn’t look silly. Our audience was cheering at how much ass that little dude kicks.
  • The Snook’s and my favorite line? “Jedi poodoo!”

I could go on and on, but it’ll be more fun to wait til y’all see it and we can have a real discussion. If you’re in doubt at all, listen to me: go see it NOW with an audience full of fans. It’ll make all the difference in the world. Seriously, you guys, the Snook and I ranked this one second only to Empire Strikes Back. We’re definitely going back to see it again (hopefully in digital). May the Force be with you!

(And yeah, that’s us in the very front row of the theater. Hey, if you can’t get in the dead center middle, might as well be dead center front!)

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  1. second only to Empire, eh? high priase, indeed! you’ve definitely improved the chances of my actually seeing it within the first week of its release.

    great pic of the two of you!

  2. Got Cindy the Luke Skywalker action figure with Yoda on his back for her b-day. Now for a Dairy Queen cake and everything is set for tonight.

  3. Awww, that’s so sweet, Dad! Are you taking her to see the movie too??

  4. Uh-oh, Kris…first our disagreement over Nigella, and now this. I feel let down (once again) by George Lucas. I’ll agree with you that the last half-hour is amazing–a total thrill ride and worth seeing over and over again. But the acting/writing/pacing? I just kept cringing or chuckling through most of it. And I’m not a SuperFan or a film snob or even naive enough to go in with high expectations…I just wanted a good movie, you know? One that delivered the goods for the full two hours, or even half that. I’m going with Ebert’s tough-but-accurate take on this one, I think. We’re still friends, right? πŸ™‚

  5. Now I’m worried that I’ll have too high expectations and be let down.

    25 hours to go, though, and I’m excited!

    I liked the pic, too. I was wondering if you’d dress in character. πŸ™‚ (I’m not going to.)

  6. Oh man, Max. Really? What was the crowd like? I think it really helped that we were with a good bunch of folks. We laughed off the bad parts and cheered the good ones. I honestly felt entertained for the whole two hours. You’re still my “Hypothetic Blogger Road Trip Official Mix Tape Maker”, though. πŸ™‚

    Tricia – I thought about it, but I didn’t know if using my old Amidala costume would be considered passé. There turned out to be a lot of Darth Mauls, though, so I guess it would’ve been cool. I guess dressing up would have been admitting to myself that I was excited about it, and I was trying to keep my expectations way low.

  7. Woowho I have a mere 11hrs to go!!

    Also went past the local Ritzy (small art house cinema) in Brixton last night and even they are having Digital screenings!! I know where I’ll be Sunday night!!!

    Like I said to anyone that would listen Ep1 was too busy setting things up to get on with a “it Rocks” storyline.

    Though I have to agree with the critique that George ain’t so hot with lines; ESB has a seperate scrptwriter (Lawrence Kasdan?) and even another director!! George is the vision man.

    Can’t wait though I’m have the utmost faith. πŸ™‚

  8. I’m going tomorrow night…woooo! More comments from me then.

  9. I just saw it, and I liked it, but if I were a film critic, I would have said just what Ebert said. Since I like Star Wars, I am mostly glad for what I did get, the cool stuff that soon enough everyone will know about. But I also agree (with Ebert) that the way that the movie was filmed just brings out the worst in the actors and the dialogue. Even Ewan seemed sterile and lifeless to me. And the romance–what a disappointment! Maybe a little heavy petting would have made up for the lack of chemistry. Finally, I am very disappointed in the way Anakin was developed. Ok, we get it, he’s gonna turn evil, but can’t he have some good too? I mean, can’t it at least be a contest before he’s turned to the Dark Side? He went straight from prefect little kid to narcissistic, unfaithful brat. I have ideas about how he could have been developed better, but I don’t want to spoil anything more for people who haven’t seen it yet. Maybe another time…

  10. Dan, I had an idea too. (STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE! I WON’T BE HELD RESPONSIBLE!) Okay, you know when he goes nuts and kills all the Tusken Raiders? I think we’re supposed to think of that as some HUGE step towards evilness, but personally, I don’t really give a shit about Sand People. It didn’t have any impact for me. I see two ways they could’ve made it better: actually show something GOOD about the Raiders, like some Sand Mother feeding one of the kids or something. As it was, his killing them didn’t mean anything to me. OR, they could’ve changed the species. What if it were Jawas? Sure, they’re not “good” either, but they’re smaller and I feel more kindly towards them. It would’ve been horrible for him to kill something so much weaker than himself. What do you think?

  11. Again, DON’T READ IF YOU WANT TO BE UNSPOILED. Also if you don’t like rambling. ok. Kris, you were close to what I had in mind. I also thought the Tusken massacre should have been a way more critical scene. My problem is that by the time we get to that scene, Anakin’s flaws had already been established. Seeing him whale upon some Tuskens doesn’t really tell us that much new. Now, I thought it would be cool if he been more teenagerish at the start (over-eager and cocky, but basically a good kid) and then have the situation on Tatooine bring out the true darkness in him. I mean, can we have one character who isn’t completely one-dimensional? (Ok Dooku had me going for awhile–that was cool.) Of all the characters, Anakin was the best bet for multi-dimensionality. He’s a complex guy. In the end, he has great love as well as great hate–remember, this is the same guy that saves Luke and destroys the Emperor despite years of corruption by the Dark Side. Anyway, I also agree that Lucas should have ratcheted up the impact of the Tusken scene via means you described or by 1) actually showing the massacre (instead of cutting away) or 2) by having Padme be upset about it and say “how awful” or something or 3) (best of all) give Anakin a character where he’s actually a decent, peace-loving guy so we are surprised when he goes ape. That’s just my opinion. I guess I can see where one might argue Anakin was developed alright, I would just disagree with that. … Agree, disagree, whatever; when all is said and done, Yoda fighting was cool. What more can you say?

  12. AGAIN, SPOILER WARNING. See, the only problem with our “fixes” is that if Lucas had done that, the movie wouldn’t have been PG. And it’s more important to get every possible person in the world in to see it (thinking from a monetary standpoint). But dammit, descent into evilness cannot be accurately portrayed in a way suitable for kiddies!

    (Interesting sidenote: All the trailers we got were for kids’ movies: some stupid one about a horse, and Stuart Little 2, and some other crap. We were all laughing. It’s like, who in the world possibly thought that the audience for those movies and Star Wars would overlap? Granted, a lot of kids go, but I’d guess more adults. And I don’t know any adult who’d go to a movie about an animated horse.)

    Anyway, at first I also thought Anakin should be more teenager-ish. But then I realized he’s PERFECTLY teenager-ish. My own brother is 19 right now. He’s sullen, untalkative, and moody (with his family and anyone he perceives to be an authority figure). That’s Anakin to a T! Darth Vader wasn’t Richie Cunningham as a child. He was a brat. Plus I actually think Hayden is believable as grown-up Jake Lloyd (ignoring the question of whether either of them is believable as young Vader). A kid who asks “Are you an angel?” might well say some of the dumb crap older Anakin comes up with. Anyway, this is all probably just rationalization for why I enjoyed it. I can’t understand why I liked it so much compared to everybody else. I’m not an Episode 1 apologist; I walked out of THAT screening feeling betrayed and let down. It’s just weird that the stuff everybody hated in Episode 2 didn’t bother me very much…

  13. Saw it last night – it rocked big time. A billion times better than TPM and ROTJ and approaching ESB.

    Our Trailers were for Bond, James Bond (Die Another Day – whats with tha title?) and some other stuff but not really kiddie. We also had Anthony Daniels show up to introduce it!!

    SPOLIER and possible ramble!!

    Actually I think that cutaway at the Tuskan camp was good it lets you imagne what he did (which is worse). Though they could have shown a Tuskan mother feeding her kid or something beforehand to give a little smidgin of sypathy, but lets face it what they did to his Mum just wasn’t on!!! But I think the point of no one giving a monkeys about the Tuskans was a good one as, well 30s Germany I expect that was the attitude towards certain minorities (OK Tuskans aren’t on the same level but they are indiginous to Tatooine…).

    At points the acting and lines were a little hammy but I just read an interview with George in the Guardian and he basically says he thought cinema died with the introduction of sound so he’s deffo not a big dialogue guy.

    I think there were also a fair few lines in there “This party IS over” for a start.

    Oh and even though Yoda’s appearance to fight was greeted with laughter – he kicked arse.

  14. I’m so glad you liked it, Martin! At least somebody else did. And I’m so jealous about Threepio!

  15. I’m totally with you on Episode II rocking. IT ROCKED LIKE A NERF HERDER.

    And was I the only one who got some serious chills during the night scenes on Tattoine? Anakin staring into the sunset, talking to Jawas, and then spying on the Tusken camp.

  16. Now that I’ve seen it, it’s great to be in a place where I can chat about the film with people who understand…

    It was awesome!!

    Rambly, unsolicited, SPOILER (?) comments to follow:

    The crowd/theatre: I saw it in the Cinerama in downtown Seattle, which I guess is one of 18? theatres in the US which showed it in digital. The true geeks saw it at midnight the night before, but the crowd was still packed with old-school fanatics. Only a few were dressed up (the guy w/ Princess Leah buns was the funniest). Everyone cheered (Obi-wan and Joda) and laughed (love scenes) and hissed (Jar-Jar) in the right places.

    Trailers: We hoping for LOTR preview (didn’t get one), ended up with some kid films, but the crowd exploded when the first green characters of the Matrix preview scrolled across the screen (I don’t think anyone was expecting it).

    I still get chills every time I see “STAR WARS” first appear on the screen, regardless of what episode, and the intro words start scrolling.

    I agree with all of the above Anakin criticism. He did act like a normal teenager, but should Anikin Skywalker ever behave like a normal person? He should have a little more depth of character, both the good and bad parts. I wasn’t disappointed, though, as I didn’t expect more. I agree with the commentary on the Tuskan raiders bit, Padme’s lack of reaction, etc.

    Once things got rolling with Count Dooku, I was really pleased with the plot. I might even have to see Phantom Menace again (fast-forwarding most of it), before returning to Episode II to ensure that I pick up on all of the details. I also loved the parallels to LOTR, with the actor who played Sauroman (sp?) playing such a similar character, with a similar fight scene.

    I loved the way Padme kicked butt, but it bugged me the way she slowly lost one part of her outfit at a time in the ending action sequence. Like a slow strip-tease to show off Natalie’s ab-work. I admit to being catty about this, but none of the guys messed up their complicated outfits…

    Overall, I was very pleased. It’s left me wanting to see it again, and anxious for Episode III (very different from the way I felt after seeing Episode I).

  17. You’re right, it didn’t suck! I hated Phantom, but enjoyed this one quite a bit. (It helped having the audience snicker at the love scenes–might have been different with a family matinee crowd)

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’m not a big fan of the CGI (computer graphics) in the newer movies. (Almost blasphemy, since I work in 3D graphics!)
    Remember when Luke fought the Rancor in Jedi? That really got my blood pumping, you could almost smell it and feel the sweat dripping off.
    The newer monsters (like those in the arena) seem too colorful, too ‘fake’…it’s like watching a video game. As Ebert mentioned, part of it is probably the disconnect between the actors and the CGI–they film the scenes in a vacuum & add effects later, so the interaction isn’t realistic.
    Nitpicky? Yes, that’s what I’m all about πŸ˜‰

  18. Jabba The Butt

    May 18, 2002 — 6:31 am

    I’m not a mega SW nut like some of you here but from the reactions of everyone, it seems that this new film is good. Aaahhh well, I’ll go see it.

  19. Just to clear things up, despite my criticisms I like EpII a lot and I even like EpI, even tho the pod racing was boring and the whole midichloriwhatever thing was very upsetting to me. I thought EpI was mostly misunderstood but now I think people are seeing where it fits in. A few comments I would like to second: the slashing off of Padme’s delightful white outfit was definitely gratuitous; now that I think of it, the CGI monsters were video gamish and sterile compared to older monsters, but the CGI is improved since EpI; I went to a matinee showing in Maryland and all the previews were for comedies starring black actors. Also, there was a line around the block for tickets when I got there but I walked right by it because I got my tickets from moviefone the day before (shhh, it’s my little secret). My new comments and questions: 1) Why did that trade federation guy still want to kill Padme–or was he just being manipulated by Dooku? 2) How many times is R2D2 gonna save the day before they clone an army of HIM?

  20. Kris, looks like you should host a forum devoted to EPII !
    (Anyone who gets this far has already seen it or obviously doesn’t care about spoilers…)

    Dan, I agree–seems like R2D2 is the ‘nick of time’ savior in every movie, the rebellion would have been wise to create dozens of R2 units! My question–how does he have jet thrusters in this movie but LOSE them by Episode IV? On a similar robot rant, shouldn’t C3P0 recognize Tatooine, and the farm that he once worked at, when he & R2 crash there again in E4? I’m sure Lucas has a convenient ‘memory erase’ excuse.

    My favorite scene–the Jedi warriors coming out of disguise and charging into the arena, bullets flying and dozens of lightsabers swinging…Amazing! Nice to see a few female Jedis as well.

  21. As for your first question, Dan, I wondered about that one too. I think the best explanation is the simplest: he’s still pissed at her for messing up his whole Naboo plan ten years ago. That’s the only reason he could possibly have. He thinks he’s on the opposite side, so her “let’s not make an army” stance would be a good thing in his eyes. Of course, the Emperor/Dooku want her out of the way so they CAN make the army, so maybe they’re some subtle manipulation going on as well.

    Did anybody else notice that the “death stick merchant” in the night club was Mouse from “The Matrix”? There were lots of other minor Aussie stars in there as well.

    I loved the last shot of the film. It practically mirrored the last one of Empire Strikes Back, with Luke and Leia looking out over the galaxy while the droids stood nearby. It wasn’t quite a good a cliffhanger – The war began. Big surprise – but I’m still definitely looking forward to Ep III. πŸ™‚

  22. Oh, and about R2. We’ve got the Ep II Visual Dictionary, and it says something interesting about droids in it: “Memory wipes, which are customarily performed when a droid acquires a new owner, can delete filed informatio or completely erase a droid’s stored experiences. When ‘zeroed’ this way, even sophisticated droids may be rendered barely self-aware. If allowed to build experience between memory wipes, some droids seem to develop individual identities and even idiosyncratic personalities.”

    And then about astromech droids in particular: “Astro Droids have an inclination to exceed their programming if their stored experiences develop far enough.”

    So I guess what that means is R2 hasn’t had a memory wipe in a long time, which is why he’s the way he is and all the other Astro Droids suck.

    As for Threepio – there are conflicting theories. The “memory wipe” is the simplest, but it may not be necessary. This page explains why he might actually remember everything all along. In fact, it argues that memory wipes couldn’t possibly have happened given the evidence. It’s really good reading if you’re interested in these continuity issues.

  23. Notice the “maker” comment. Now we truly know who he meant in the earlier (later!) films when he said “thank the maker”.

    I don’t think R2 really needed hover thrusters in the other films?

    The last scene in EpIII has to be the mask going on? Well thats my theory.

  24. I noticed that too! I guess I always thought that “The Maker” was some sort of deity reference.

    Rodd and I have been speculating about Ep III. He thinks the Anakin and Obiwan fight and Obi kicks Ani’s ass, thus necessitating all the machinery. That doesn’t seem like a very good note to end the movies on. I think the birth of the kiddies would be a more hopeful ending.

  25. The story goes that Obi Wan knocks him into a pit of Lava and leaves him for dead.

    Mace Windu must get it in the neck at some point too.

    Yoda runs off to Dagabah. ObiWan to Tattoine to watch over Luke.

    Do you reckon OdiWan knows of Leia? As in ESB he says “That boy is our only hope” and Yoda replies “no there is another”

  26. Jedi Ferret III

    May 21, 2002 — 3:24 am

    Ahhh but the real question is, when does JarJar die off in the films?

  27. Well, maybe he just doesn’t know that she’s involved in the Rebellion or that she’s strong with the Force. Or actually, it would be better if he didn’t know about her at all. That way if Luke were killed and Obiwan tortured or something, he wouldn’t be able to give Vader any info about the other kid.

  28. Ok, never mind wiping the minds of the droids: how come Uncle Owen doesn’t recognize C-3PO when he buys him from the Jawas? He only lived with him for several years?

  29. Yeah, but when did 3PO get the gold plating? He was all crappy when Owen had him. Plus we’ve seen other similar protocol droids in the movies. Maybe he assumes that Anakin kept 3PO and that this one is different. I imagine once Luke tells him that droids mentioned Kenobi, that’s when he figures it out and wants their memory wiped.

  30. hey, why wasn’t anakin’s hand all black and stuff like vader’s? THAT would have been a cool ending!

  31. Vader’s wearing a glove. πŸ™‚

  32. Kris, I think you actually answered my question. I forgot that Owen wanted to wipe their memory in the first movie. He DOES remember.

    God, do you think Owen and Beru are subject to Tusken Raider revenge because of Anakin’s slaughter? That’d be a reason for him to never want to mention Luke’s dad to him again.

  33. Hmm. I never thought of that. I always pictured it just as Owen and Beru being really protective of Luke. I mean, they don’t seem to have any kids of their own. And maybe Obiwan gave them some idea of how important he was and how much his Dad would be after him if he knew.

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