Attack of the Clones is a stupid title. Everyone I know thinks it's a stupid title. My hubby dragonwolf thinks that George Lucas chose a stupid title on purpose so people wouldn't build it up in their minds the way they did The Phantom Menace. But the only person on the inside with the guts to admit it's a stupid title was Ewan McGregor, who initially did so without thinking when some press person asked what he thought of it - before anyone had told him the title of episode 2. Not long after this hit the newsstands, he issued a public apology for the remark, which dragonwolf said must have required putting a gun to his head, but turned out not to really be an apology but a statement of the official "oh yeah, it harkens back to the golden age of sci-fi, Flash Gordon, yadda yadda" that sounded like an insult to Star Wars as a whole by comparing them. After it was released, he said, golden age, Flash Gordon, yadda yadda, "and that's why it's a stupid title!"

Conversely, the general consensus (including an official statement by Ewan McGregor) is that it's a better movie than The Phantom Menace.

It starts with Padme Amidala (who knew that was her full name?), who is now a senator, landing on Coruscant. The exit ramp of her ship blows up as her decoy is disembarking (which the Trade Federation, who are later revealed to be the ones trying to kill her, should have expected). Palpatine insists that someone be assigned to protect her and chooses Obi-Wan and Anakin for the job supposedly because she knows them and wouldn't be so annoyed about it but really because he knows Anakin is in love with her and hopes to use it a a wedge between him and Obi-Wan.

We learn quickly that Anakin is way more than Obi-Wan can handle, but he made a promise to his dying master so he's going to see it through no matter what. Unfortunately he doesn't have a chance because Palpatine is over Anakin's other shoulder subtly turning him to the Dark Side. On the other hand, the pair have a great dynamic, lots of fun banter like we had between Han Solo and Chewbacca, something that was sorely missing in The Phantom Menace.

So the next assasination attempt leads to our two Jedi chasing the attacker through the city in Corbin Dallas's cab - er - a speeder. They track her to a club where some drug dealer is stupid enough to try to sell to Obi-Wan who is of course wearing Jedi robes. ("I don't want to sell you death sticks. I'm going to go home and rethink my life.")

Through a series of events that don't bear repeating, we end up with Anakin and Padme heading back to Naboo to hide out while Obi-Wan tries to find a planet of clone salesmen; it takes Yoda's twisted practicality - when in doubt, ask a child - to find it, and then he goes to it.

Meanwhile, Anakin is telling Padme that Jedi are not actually forbidden to love (despite what the trailers and posters implied) but are rather discouraged from becoming attached to anyone because it interferes with one's duties, a philosophy probably intended to reflect the Buddhist detachment but which reminds me of the ideals of John Humphrey Noyes and the Oneida Perfectionists.

Obi-Wan arrives on the lost planet and is taken to see the leader in the Men in Black written test room - or not. He discovers, as you all know by now, that someone claiming to be a Jedi who died before the order was placed had asked for a clone army for the republic. They show him where the humans are kept so robots can harvest their energy - er - where the unborn clones are being incubated, and they introduce him to Jango Fett (and his way-too-popular ten-year-old clone/son Boba) who seems to be behind the assasination attempts on Padme.

Jango then tries to kill Obi-Wan on the launch pad where it's pouring down rain, but Ewan McGregor is wearing too many layers of robe to reveal much. The Fetts take off and Obi-Wan plants a homing device on their ship, allowing him to follow them to Planet Spaceball - er - the planet where the Trade Federation is building a droid army - where he sneaks around the Skeksis palace spying on them. He learns that rogue Jedi Saruman - er - Count Dooku is behind the whole thing.

Meanwhile, there's this whole badly acted teen love thing going on between Anakin and Padme. I don't get it, because they have excellent chemistry in every other scene, but in the love scenes all I get is she's trying to keep it professional (while wearing a dominatrix outfit?) and I wouldn't want to be alone on a date with him unless I was absolutely certain I wanted to have sex with him. Maybe they're just trying to spit out the awful dialog without retching. When they're arguing, disobeying other people's orders, or in combat, though, they are the perfect couple (except that she's not turning evil).

Anakin keeps having dreams about his mother, so they take off for Tatooine (which, incidentally, is an alternate spelling of the name of a real place in Tunisia, where the desert scenes were filmed). It turns out she's been kidnapped by Tuscan raiders and for some reason lives just long enough for him to find her, after which he kills the entire camp. Then he throws a fit, saying he could have saved her life if Obi-Wan weren't jealous of abilities and therefore constantly holding him back - revealing that he's not only angry but has narcissistic personality disorder.

Then they get the call from Obi-Wan that he is in trouble, and Padme decides she'll go rescue him so Anakin has to go with her and help because the council ordered him to continue protecting her instead of saving Obi-Wan. (Instead they are sending every musketeer - er - Jedi they can drum up to do it even though they might not get there fast enough from Coruscant.)

So Padme (in a white suit that only hides the color of her nipples) and Anakin go to Count Dooku's hideout, where they are attacked by goblins and then have to run through the chompers - er - the battle droid factory. But they get caught, and all three are chained up in a gladiator stadium without weapons. Scott Evil - er - Newt Gunray keeps telling Dooku to just shoot them, but he insists on trying to kill them the complicated way.

Padme has to face a catlike thing that gratuitously slices her suit to reveal her midriff, Anakin is up against a huge boarlike creature, and Obi-Wan has to fight a bug. They are holding their own when Mace Windu, who for some reason gets a purple light saber when absolutely everyone else has either blue or green, shows up and holds said light saber to Dooku's throat. Dooku calls out the battle droids, and Windu calls out the rest of the Jedi, who include several much-loved comic book characters and the squid baby from Men in Black.

The two sides charge across the Scottish Highlands - er - gladiator chamber, and much fighting ensues. Of course they have extra light sabers for our heroes, and Padme gets a gun from a fallen droid. Obi-Wan finally kills his bug (probably a bit of overkill involved there) and for about two second we get to see him with his hair down instead of pushed back (excuse me while I drool!).

In the end, the Jedi are surrounded by droids and goblins, and they are ready to fight to the death when Yoda shows up with the clone army. They pick up our heroes, who go chase after the now-escaping-Dooku, and unload most of the clones to fight the droids. When Padme falls out of the transport, we learn from the ensuing argument between Obi-Wan and Anakin why Jedi are not supposed to get attached to people (and that Ewan isn't so able to hold onto affected accents when yelling). Both Jedi are incapacitated fighting Dooku, mostly because Anakin can't follow orders, then rescued by Yoda, who lets Dooku escape instead of throwing heavy objects at his ship. (But he is clearly much stronger than Gandalf, who was completely at the mercy of the same actor, Christopher Lee.)

I also had the opportunity to see this movie in French (L'Attaque des Clones is only slightly less stupid a title.) Observations of note:

  • Jar-Jar Binks is actually funny in French ("J'accepte avec maxi-maxi humilité"). It occurs to me that the French like Jerry Lewis and probably, therefore, liked Jar-Jar all along.
  • The familiar vs. formal address (tu/vous) adds an extra dimension to the interactions, especially between Anakin and Padme. They start out both calling each other "vous," then she starts calling him "tu" when she gives him orders on Naboo, then he starts calling her "tu" during a later love scene.
  • The voice actors overacted a bit, but this was an improvement on the love scenes. If I closed my eyes (and therefore didn't see the lack of appropriate body language and facial expressions) I could believe every word of it. But what else should I expect; they're French!
  • Yoda just isn't right unless he's Frank Oz.
  • C3PO sounds about the same in both English and French, although they had to play around with some of his bad puns to get them to work right.
  • Three words: French battle droids.