Attack of the clones is the fifth movie in the Star Wars series. It was released on circuit worldwide on May 16, 2002.

In the chronology of the Star Wars universe, this is episode 2, and comes after The Phantom Menace but before the original Star Wars movie (now refered to as "A New Hope" or "episode 4" instead of just "Star Wars"), and it's sequels The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Attack of the clones is the middle movie of the prequel trilogy, and thus occupies a position similar to The Empire Strikes Back. It leaves only one movie remaining that will be filmed to knit up the end of the prequel trilogy to the start of the original trilogy.

The plot concerns Anakin Skywalker, particularly in his relations to his Jedi mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi and to Senator Padme Amidala. This is set against the background of the galactic republic starting to unravel.

Spoiler alert

Read no further if you don't want spoilers.

Things I liked in this movie, a very short list:

  • Big-budget CGI
  • Jango Fett and Bobba Fett: the happy confluence of sci-fi storyline, interesting characters and acting
  • Ewan McGreggor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • Yoda's killer mosquito-fu
  • the whole Obi-wan going to the bar scene, with the echoes of Episode 4.
  • Palpatine's win-win proposition is kinda cool. Essentially he's fighting a war and controlling both sides, so either way he ends up with a strong winning army and lots of Jedi squashed dead in the middle. This is not very different to his plot in Episode 1

This movie is not great. It is very not-great. In parts it is unintentionally funny. The editing is clumsy. The dialogue is wooden, and the plot is like a lace curtain: flat, thin and full of holes.

In general, this is a movie in the same way that a pile of expensive, good looking masonry is a house. The only reason that it didn't get panned like The Phantom Menace is that The Phantom Menace significantly lowered our expectations. Like episode 1, this is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

A kinder view is that of dutchess: I realize Lucas was writing for 12-year-old boys, and as such, I think he did a great job. I think that at 12 years old I would have been swept away by this movie, as I was by the original at a similar age. I would have overlooked its flaws, blinded by the special effects. What gets me is how easily the flaws could have been fixed, e.g. better dialogue, without detracting one iota from the movie's kid-appeal. That's just shoddy craftsmanship, This is in itself puzzling given the amount of effort put into the movie. One possible reason is that George Lucas now lives in a hermetically sealed criticism-free zone, surrounded by yes-men.

let's hit the highlights of the plot holes:

  • In Episode 4, Darth Vader walks right past C3P0 and R2D2 without recognising them, yet he is very familiar with them from episode 1 and 2, and probably episode 3. It has been suggested that he recognised them, just didn't show it. Yet by then he probably knows that they are involved with the rebellion and should have stopped them.

It has been suggested that the transformation from Anakin to Vader involved some kind of memory loss and personality change. Perhaps. But that would be stretching to keep continuity.

On that note, the presence of R2D2 and C3PO in the first trilogy in any way is my opinion ludicrous. It shows a lack of imagination in reusing minor characters incongruously instead of introducing new ones. A less charitable interpretation is that there were warehouses full of unsold R2D2 and C3PO merchandise.

  • Count Dooku reveals to Obi-Wan Kenobi the truth that the senate is controlled by a Sith Lord. Why would he want that fact to come out? It is true that he is not forthcoming with all the details, but why would he want the Jedi to think along those lines? Over some alcohol we came up with the theory that he knew that Obi-wan would never believe him, as Jedi mistrust the lies of those who have turned to the dark side, and so told him the truth in the knowledge that the Jedi would thereafter discount that possibility as the one think that was known to be false. Does that make sense? Not really.
  • More likely it was a spin on the old routine of "before I kill you I'm going to tell you all about our evil plan. Mu-haha"

  • Between episodes 3 and 4, the young Luke Skywalker is hidden for a period of at least 15 years. Where is he hidden from his father Anakin? How about on the planet where Anakin grew up. How about on Anakin's half-brother's farm? How about next to Anakin's mother's grave? he’d never think of looking there, would he?
  • Perhaps Amidala fled while pregnant, before Anakin was aware that the children existed. Then how did he know that Luke, I am your father?

  • Oh, look, a mysterious clone army of New Zealanders here at the disposal of us Jedi. let's just use them without ever worrying at all about how they came into existence or if it might be part of some plot.
  • War droids: A technology that gets lost between episode 2 and episode 4. The Jedi seem to be more than palace guards than any force for moral good. In the last 10 years they have made no progress at all in suppressing slavery on Tatooine. Anakin has himself not bothered to return to find out what happened to his enslaved mother.
  • Furthermore, upon learning of the existence of 200 000 cloned human beings who are essentially being treated as droids, i.e. machines, less even than slaves, what is the reaction of the Jedi? revulsion? Compassion? Nope: Send them into battle, and let Yoda command them, with hilarious dialog like "around the survivors a perimeter set up."

    Yoda also displays appalling character judgement. Episode 1's Anakin, a precocious but happy brat is deemed by Yoda unfit to be a Jedi. But Episode 2's Anakin, a landmine of anger, is entrusted with an important solo mission.

    Yoda, by the way, is slowly turning into Nelson Mandela. Their faces look similar, and both are old and kindly, wise yet resolute. Both enjoy photo-opportunities with children to demonstrate their grandfatherly nature.

    The 'love' scenes between Anakin and Amidala were flat and unconvincing, and were filmed in a sun-bleached, soft-focus, oversaturated, the-hills-are-alive-with-the-sound-of-music style that jars when set against the red/orange/yellow palette of the rest of the movie.

    As a friend remarked afterwards, tragedy is when a good person is brought down by a single flaw. Anakin was not that good person, he is a git of the creepy, obsessive, stalker variety.

    His very teenage take on love was annoying, though somewhat realistic: "I have been obsessed with you for ten years, and now you are tormenting me" no, actually you are tormenting yourself, "so I'm turning bad and it's all your fault!" no, you decided to be a shit all on your own.

    Towards the end I found, to my astonishment, that I was mildly bored in spite of the incredible CGI. My feelings on realising that the movie was ending were a mixture of "where's the beef?" and "yay! it's over".

    We were happy when we realised that Jar-Jar Binks introduced the senate bill that authorised Emergency powers for Palpatine and lead to the Army of the Republic. Thus he will go down in galactic history as one of those names that will live in infamy. Yipee!

    After the movie, over beer and pizza, we talked about it. The sad thing is,G- remarked, every one of us will still pay to see episode 3.

    We speculated on what must happen in Episode 3. Here’s a speculative plot summary:

    Scene opens on Coruscant.

    Palpatine: Anakin, you are so great, so cool, you don't deserve that crap that Obi-Wan Kenobi and those silly Jedi put you through.
    Anakin: Gosh, you are even more like a father to me than that mean old Obi-wan. You must be right. Show me how to do that cool force-lightning stuff.
    Palpatine: Easy, just let your anger flow.
    Anakin: Raargh!
    Palpatine: The dark side is strong in this one. Mu-haha.

    Scene changes to Tatooine, for no reason other than that Tatooine is obligatory.

    Obi-Wan: Anakin, you cannot be married and a Jedi. You must give up one or the other. And I don't like your attitude.
    Anakin: I won't! It's not fair!! Raargh!

    The scene changes to Naboo.

    Amidala: Anakin, you scare me sometimes. You are so .. psychotic. I'm leaving with Obi-Wan, and taking the kids with me.
    Anakin: I'm not psychotic! Obi-Wan, this is all your fault for making her think I'm bloodthirsty. I'll kill you for that. Raargh!!

    The scene changes to a previously unvisited planet full of myriad things. It gives the special effects team a chance to show off and will feature in the video game.

    Obi-Wan and Anakin duel with lightsabers. Anakin finally has various limbs chopped off, and Obi-Wan flees.
    Palpatine: Anakin, you are so great, so cool, so I will save your life. Here, have this black exoskeleton and together, we will rule the galaxy. Wipe them out. All of them.
    Anakin: OK daddy. mu-hahaha.

    several inhabited planets are scoured to the bedrock. Entire races are wiped out during the clone wars. All Jedi either die or go into hiding in pestilent swamps.

    Obi-Wan: While this baby lives there is hope.
    Luke: Waaah! I want my bottle. It's not fair! Raargh!
    Owen and wife: Awww, cute!
    Focus on baby and cue happy ending

    Yes, I am a negative bastard. I try to play to my strengths.

    Update, May 2005. Three people have remarked on how accurate this summary is. I have not altered it since 2003. Fish; Barrel; smoking lightsaber. Having now seen Revenge of the sith, I think that my version has more emotional depth.