Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

3 stars

Theatrical release: 5/16/2002
PG; 136 minutes
Produced by Rick McCallum
Screenplay by George Lucas and Jonathan Hales
Story by George Lucas
Directed by George Lucas

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

January 19, 2016

After the many disappointments that marked The Phantom Menace, one wonders if anyone — like myself — who purports to like the prequel trilogy overall is viewing them through the lens of lowered expectations. I suppose it's possible. But it's also possible that everyone already has insanely high expectations for any movie with Star Wars in the title. Maybe it all balances out.

Attack of the Clones is a notable improvement over The Phantom Menace. It's enough for me to give it a recommendation, albeit a guarded one. This is a flawed movie but ultimately a thoroughly entertaining one that remembers how to get back in touch with its space-opera roots and work as an action/adventure. It excises a number of the big problems that plagued the previous installment (first and foremost Jake Lloyd, and to a degree Jar Jar, who has been diminished if not yet expunged). It also advances the main storyline rather than spending so much time spinning its wheels.

At the same time, it suffers from some of the same problems as all the prequels (puzzlingly dialed-down scenes of exposition; overly convoluted political shenanigans), and even adds some new ones (Hayden Christensen's whiny performance; some of the worst romantic dialogue ever put in a major blockbuster). But when it kicks into gear in the last act, boy does it.

I'd first better talk about the rise of Chancellor Palpatine, who will eventually go on to dismantle the Republic and become the Emperor. I thought this was one of the better long games in the trilogy, even if it was so murkily handled. Phantom Menace set up the idea of the Sith Lord named Darth Sidious, but the story hadn't gone out of its way to explicitly connect the dots to Palpatine. It was more implied as something we already took for granted. Our familiarity with Ian McDiarmid, reprising his role from Return of the Jedi, was meant to give away the game and make it an exercise in dramatic irony. Palpatine, who seems to everyone like an okay guy, makes all these political moves that seem benign or necessary under the circumstances even as we know they aren't. Watching him play both sides of this very complicated game is one of the things I like about this trilogy. Maybe I like it in theory more than in practice, because there's a lot of convolution around the edges. I still couldn't tell you who actually ordered the creation of the clone army based on what's on the screen. Was it actually the long-dead Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas, or was it Sidious/Palpatine or Tyrannus/Dooku using false identities? Or is not caring the best option because the script is merely being too coy with all these people and their multiple identities and false cover stories?

Dooku's role in this as the head of the separatists only further complicates matters. At one point, Dooku holds Obi-Wan prisoner and basically tells him the entire plot with one inserted lie: That Dooku wants to destroy the Sith when he's actually partnered with him. Still, amid all the confusion, I found myself intrigued by Obi-Wan's investigation into the erased archived logs, his travel to Kamino where he discovers the ominous clone army, his encounters with Jango Fett, and ultimately the conversation with Dooku where the cards are (kind of) put on the table. That last scene carries a stern urgency (unlike many exposition scenes) because of Christopher Lee's and Ewan McGregor's performances.

So despite the fact this probably doesn't really make sense, I enjoy the Chancellor playing in the shadows to start a war against, ostensibly, himself. I'd imagine there are easier ways to expand his power without being the mastermind behind both sides of a destructive war, but they might not be as cinematically interesting.

Aside from my weakness for the mechanics of Palpatine's power play, Clones lives and dies on its set pieces, which continue to amaze in their sheer scale, volume, and exhausting protraction. Toward the beginning there's the in-flight pursuit of the bounty hunter through the sky traffic of Coruscant. Later there's the battle in the rain with Jango Fett on Kamino, then the craziness on the droid army factory floor (where the charm of R2-D2 and C-3PO add a lot to the fun), and the Geonosis arena sequence where Anakin & Co. must escape execution. And then finally the outbreak of a massive battle between droids and clones and the attempt to capture Dooku, which ends with the fight between him, our heroes, and Master Yoda, who surprises with his launch into lightsaber action. (My take on Yoda with a lightsaber: Mostly great, except a little too much on the bouncy-ball stuff, which looks overly animated and silly.)

And while I haven't yet mentioned the masterful sound design of Star Wars (who doesn't love the screech of TIE fighters?), allow me to make mention of it now via the scene where Obi-Wan chases Jango Fett through the asteroid field while avoiding his seismic charges. Sure, the idea of sound in space, let alone gravity-delayed sound in space, defies common sense, but it does not defy cinematic greatness. There's always so much depth and detail in these soundtracks.

So lots and lots of action, all well done. Lucas and his teams still show their technical wizardry and willingness to go bigger and bigger, but without tipping quite over into the excesses of unwatchable mayhem like, say, a Transformers.

Where Lucas is decidedly less effective is as a dramatist and director of actors. Ultimately, this movie is about Anakin's plight and inability to cope with love and loss and how that will lead him to the Dark Side. Unfortunately, Hayden Christensen's performance is all wrong — too much whiny teenage angst and wooden line delivery. His infatuation with Padme comes off as creepy, and I don't think that's the intention. (I wondered how she could possibly fall for him — other than plot requirements — rather than wanting a restraining order, given his unstable behavior and creeper gazes.) And those romantic scenes and dialogue on Naboo are just brutally, laughably bad. Faring slightly better is Anakin's return to Tatooine in a failed attempt to save his mother, which benefits from signaling the moment where Anakin unleashes his rage and starts on the dark path, while also, in retrospect, tying back into and giving a thematic rationale for the existence of The Phantom Menace at all.

Look, the prequel trilogy is flawed. With each of the installments, it's about where the scales ultimately balance. For me, Episode II is a net positive.

Previous: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Next: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

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53 comments on this post

Tue, Jan 19, 2016, 10:54am (UTC -5)
A minor, never mentioned, disappointment was that this movie wasn't about clones and was the only film that didn't feature a war. Since "A New Hope," we heard about the Clone War and I assumed that clones had menaced the good guys. Now we would see that war. But no: the clones were on our side, and their role was just to be the source of storm troopers, and they didn't attack until after the end of the movie. Why call it "clone war"? They could have called it the "storm trooper war" or the or the "droid war" or the "Jango Fetts (plural) war." By this rule of nomenclature, we shouldn't call the movies "Star Wars" because stars weren't engaged on the battlefield. (Well, except as the power source for the starkiller base.)
Jason R.
Tue, Jan 19, 2016, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
People like to pile on Phantom Menace as being the weakest of the prequels, but for me Attack of the Clones holds that crown. For all the awfulness of Jar Jar Binks in PM, (and he was awful) he does not suck up nearly as much oxygen or screen time as the wretched, utterly terrible "romance" between Padme and Anakin. I could scarcely imagine two actors with less chemistry than Portman and Christenson. Not since Neelix and Kes have we witnessed a more stilted, implausible, utterly ludicrous romance. Again, Jar Jar was merely comic relief for the kiddies in PM, whereas the romance subplot in AOC is the central piece on which the entire story pivots. Attack of the Clones fails in a manner far worse than PM.
Latex Zebra
Thu, Jan 21, 2016, 4:00am (UTC -5)
Worst of the lot for me.
The foundry scene with C3-PO is worse than anything Jar Jar ever did.
Carlos Danger
Thu, Jan 21, 2016, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
I have rarely disagreed more with a Jammer review. Attack of the Clones is, IMO, one of the worst movies ever made. There are almost no redeeming qualities to it...the only one I can think of is the sound effects in the Jango Fett/Obi Wan space battle. Anakin is not a likable character, the romance is ridiculous, the fight scene at the end is Exhibit A for the case of "Less is More" when it comes to CGI usage, Yoda's fight scene exists solely to be Yoda's Fight Scene...etc, etc.

I agree with the above comments about TPM as well. TPM is not a good movie, by any stretch of the imagination, but I think with a few script rewrites and some competent directing, it could have been a pretty good movie.
Fri, Jan 22, 2016, 1:52am (UTC -5)
I initially thought it was cool that they give Padme a pretty badass wound from the Nexu. But it doesn't appear to be bleed and she never pays it any attention beyond her initial reaction.
Mon, Jan 25, 2016, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
While reading this, I found myself thinking back to your review of The Matrix Reloaded in which you slagged the prequels although at the time there were only two of them. I guess if you remove the Anakin and Padme romance, AotC is an OK movie. But I never ever ever feel like watching it, so couldn't give it more than 2 1/2 stars.
Andrew Taylor-Cairns
Tue, Jan 26, 2016, 10:36am (UTC -5)
I think TPM is slightly more watchable than AOTC; I would rate both of them 2 stars (or 2.5 at a push for TPM). As people have said here, the stilted Anakin/Padme relatuonship is a hard sell, and it hurts the film more than Jar-Jar in TPM.

C3P0 was very annoying in the factory scene too.
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 26, 2016, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
Jammer missed a huge part of why Palpatine waged the clone war against himself. It wasn't just to trick the Republic into becoming an Empire, although that's part of it. He absolutely required the war because the main purpose of it was to force the Jedi to join the war effort in order to protect the Republic. He knew their power base rested there and they would protect the Republic at all costs. He also arranged for the clone army to be made up of clones of Jango Fett, an efficient bounty hunter and also (from other sources) a renowned Jedi-killer. This army of Jedi-killers was designed specifically to take down Jedi, and the war was a means of getting all the Jedi out in the field with their killers. The coup-de-grace in the plan was that Palpatine knew the Jedi's feeling of entitlement to be the supreme force-users in the galaxy would mean that they would place stopping the Dark Lord of the Sith over and above the law and any other obligations, thinking themselves above such concerns. Palpatine even told Anakin that the Jedi's desire to remain the dominant force in the galaxy was their weakness, and he used this against them by revealing himself as the Dark Lord of the Sith once Anakin was ready. Once they knew he was the Dark Lord he knew they'd rush in to fight him, putting aside entirely the small matter of him also being the Supreme Chancellor and a duly elected representative. There is, after all, no law against a Sith being elected to office. Once the Jedi came to arrest him his "So it's treason, then." line concludes his plan, where he has successfully set up the Jedi to commit high treason and turn against the Republic by attacking him, and he is now fully within his rights to declare the order an enemy of the state. Order 66, for all its ominous title, is a mirror of such standing emergency orders as exist right now and are a series of contingency plans in case of various disasters. Order 66 was the contingency plan for if the Jedi ever tried to take over the Republic. The Clone War, then, was about wiping out the Jedi order, making it legal, and using the threat they posed as a reason to ramp up security and turn the Republic into a military empire that needed a standing army to defend itself. Palpatine set up the noose and let the Jedi hang themselves with it. Brilliant.
Fri, Jan 29, 2016, 2:32am (UTC -5)
Eh, didn't really like this one. I could go into every little detail but I'll just go into the obvious ones:

-Anakin and Padme have about as much romantic chemistry as a shriveled up, burnt out match.
-So a planet disappears from the Jedi archives and you have to have a bunch of kids to give you the obvious answer that someone deleted it? Really?
-How are the Jedi considered the finest warriors in the galaxy based on their tactics in the Geonosis stadium, which basically boils down to "everyone charge into the center, get cornered and get shot to pieces"? About a hundred Jedi die all just to rescue two Jedi knights and one senator? I would have brought in a gunship or two from the get go.
-Why didn't Yoda just use the Force to throw the pillar at Dooku's ship to disable it?
-If the assassin changeling woman had attached a blaster to that droid thing instead of a toxic worm dispenser, the movie would have ended right there. (Same if Jango Fett had just used a blaster instead of a poison dart).

And last but not least: Samuel L Jackson didn't get to say "I have had it with these [nerf-herding] droids on this [nerf-herding] planet!"

Positive things? Well, admittedly the lightsaber fight at the end was really well done (and we got to see Yoda fight too for the first time in the franchise!). Although I groaned when Anakin's arm got cut off - honestly who didn't see that coming? If I lived in the Star Wars universe I could probably make billions making prosthetic limbs especially for Jedi. ;)

The HISHE short is really funny (and addresses a few of the points I brought up earlier):
Fri, Jan 29, 2016, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
People love to bash on TPM but... Attack of the Clones is bad news. It's a film that somehow manages to be less than TPM in some important ways.

Jake Lloyd might have been awful, but at least he's not serial creeper status like Hayden Christensen was in this episode. The way he said things and stared at Padme were the worst. It makes it a HUGE surprise that she even wants to spend time around this weirdo. A horrible and unconvincing romance that just drags the movie down. Gah.

So, pros? The Yoda fight was OK. Obi-Wan's investigation had it's moments... though Obi-Wan's body managing to survive hits from a starship's giant cannons is beyond silly.

At the end of the day, this one is especially hard for me to rewatch. Definitely two stars, maybe a 2.5 on a very good day.

Kudos for doing these Star Wars reviews, Jammer. I'm a big fan of the franchise and I never figured you would ever review them.

So, "Welcome back"?? :)
Latex Zebra
Sun, Jan 31, 2016, 10:42am (UTC -5)
Interesting that this film doesn't have much of Jar Jar, it has no Midiclorians (that I can recall) and it also doesn't have Jake Lloyd.

It is still more unpopular than TPM.

Sun, Jan 31, 2016, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
@Zebra - Jar Jar and Jake Lloyd had more chemistry with Natalie Portman...
Latex Zebra
Mon, Feb 1, 2016, 2:20am (UTC -5)
@Robert - Very true.

First time I saw this I kept expecting Anakin to jump Padme with a dirty rag soaked in chloroform.

Or the force equivalent. ;o)
Mon, Feb 1, 2016, 6:27am (UTC -5)
True story. The first (and only) time I saw this the movie skipped (which I've never seen happen before or since).

Anakin repeated the same line about not being able to stop thinking about Padme twice while I was reaching for a soda and I didn't notice. My wife (at the time girlfriend) remarks about the movie skipping after it was over and I had no idea. The dialogue was so bad it seemed entirely plausible he would have said that twice in the same stupid monotone voice. And since I wasn't looking I saw no visual issues. That is my review of the movie. The dialogue was so bad that it skipped in the middle and my brain didn't notice.
Tue, Feb 2, 2016, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
This is probably going to be our biggest disagreement ever Jammer. I found Attack of the Clones to not only be the worse Star Wars movie, but also one of the worse movies made. I wouldn't put it in my ten, because its not that bad; but it won't rank around my lower 40s or 50s.

From the nonexistent and flat direction, the awful wooden performances, the relentless overuse of CGI, a romance subplot that manages to be even more unbearable then Twilight, bad plotting and character decisions, dreadful dialogue, the complete character assassination of Yoda, and so much more. The only good things are the musical score by John Williams, the sound editing, and an occasional shot.

Outside of that it really is one of the worse movies that I have ever seen. Say what you will about Phantom Menace, it least that was a memorable disaster, Attack of Clones is a complete waste of time.
Fri, Feb 5, 2016, 7:44pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G
One minor flaw with your Order 66 theory. This was a republic so even if the Jedi were considered traitors they would have deserved a trial, not to be executed off hand. This would be true even if the Republic was under martial law. You also ignore the fact that the Jedi now had evidence that Palpatine had committed treason; they went to arrest him, not execute him (unless you believe the serial liar/deceiver Palpatine).
Fri, Feb 5, 2016, 10:37pm (UTC -5)
I agree with everything Jammer said,
i find The Phantom Menace unwatchable but i quite enjoy Attack of the Clones, if i could remove most of the romantic (I hate sand) scenes with Anakin and Padme i'd enjoy it a lot more.
Sat, Feb 6, 2016, 2:29am (UTC -5)
Hayden's acting here killed the movie for me. My gosh was he just dreadful. It is no accident that his career went nowhere after Star Wars and I believe he is essentially retired from acting now. What a horrific choice. I often have wondered the difference if they got a quality actor in there. I have a hard time with this movie just because of his acting and delivery of his lines.

The plot itself was decent and the Palpatine political movements are the best part of the prequels. I wish they made them even more detailed but alas, George was writing the prequels for kids.

Looking at the prequels over a decade later, they are not too bad. A lot of good ideas and plot lines.

I think if I were to go back and re-cast.. I would have made Ewen McGregor the Anakin character (he was young enough they could have pulled it off), and had someone else be Obi Wan.

Natalie Portman was cut off at the knees because she had poor dialogue and had some of the worst chemistry in movie history with Hayden.
Jason R.
Wed, Feb 10, 2016, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
"@Peter G
One minor flaw with your Order 66 theory. This was a republic so even if the Jedi were considered traitors they would have deserved a trial, not to be executed off hand. This would be true even if the Republic was under martial law. You also ignore the fact that the Jedi now had evidence that Palpatine had committed treason; they went to arrest him, not execute him (unless you believe the serial liar/deceiver Palpatine)."

Adam, what evidence did the Jedi have that Palpatine committed treason? None that I can think of. They knew he was a Sith Lord, but as Peter noted, it's unlikely there was a law against a Sith being chancellor.

Further, if they didn't have the right to arrest him, did Palpatine have the right to resist that arrest? They drew their swords against him first, didn't they? And it was Mace who attempted to execute Palpatine at the end against Anakin's protestations that Palpatine was entitled to trial.

No, Peter is correct. The Jedi had no evidence that Palpatine had committed a crime, thus their attempted arrest of him (by force) was illegal, as was certainly their attempts to kill him without trial.

Where it gets fuzzy is in the Order 66 scene and Palpatine's summary execution of the Jedi still out on the battlefield. Of course we don't know much of the laws of the Republic, but Palpatine could make a reasonable case that they were all part of an organized conspiracy to kill him.

Even today our government executes people all the time in distant lands and battlefields through drone strikes and special forces purely by virtue of those people being members in a criminal organization such as ISIL or Al Qaeda. In this case, Palpatine would have made a similar case.

Now slaughtering Jedi children at the temple... well I guess Palpatine might have had some trouble explaining that. But then again, when U.S. drones fire their hellfire missiles at terrorists, sometimes children die too. So even then you can see how it could be spun by Palpatine...
Peter G.
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 1:02am (UTC -5)
@Adam @Jason R.,

For quite a while I felt that the summary execution of the Jedi in Order 66 didn't make sense in light even of their decision to commit treason. Surely they would be tried before a tribunal for their crimes? And how could the entire order be held responsible for the actions of three Masters?

But I've come to realize that it made complete sense to execute them on the spot. For one thing, the entire order follows the commands of the council, and the council itself was the party committing treason and that tried to assassinate the Chancellor. Furthermore, we know for a fact that Windu and Yoda conspired to take over the senate by force and establish themselves as the interim government authority. This means by any reasonable standard that the Jedi were attempting a military coup d'etat in order to establish martial law. It is also not only foreseeable but pretty much guaranteed that every Jedi in the order would follow the commands of the council in this matter, especially in light of it being to target a Sith Lord; this means it wasn't merely the threat of a few Masters but of the entire order that would undoubtedly follow them blindly. In light of this, it would have been reasonable to believe that the entire Order has turned traitor.

But this still leaves the matter of how to deal with them. The first thing to remember is that the Order had decided to use force to take over the Republic, which means they would have to be suppressed with force, which means death since you cannot reasonably subdue a Jedi in any other way. The second thing to remember is that the Chancellor had been granted emergency powers as a war-time measure and that this was still in effect at the time Order 66 was announced. We don't know the exact specifics of what the emergency powers were, but it probably involves a wide range of discretion involving military deployment and spending, as well as internal security and policing. I have no doubt that during a war for its very existence the Chancellor would have been authorized to summarily execute traitors and those involving in committing high treason against the Commander in Chief. Even in our current society it would most likely not be questioned to eradicate a terrorist organization actively trying to kill the President and overthrow the government.

Palpatine's genius is that he tricked the Jedi into becoming a terrorist organization despite what they thought were their best intentions. He knew better; he knew their intentions were more self-serving than they were aware of and he used this. Having considered this for quite a while I find the circumstances of Order 66 not only reasonable within the proper context but almost necessary. There would be no way to contain the Jedi threat unless they were dispatched right away. The idea that the Jedi were acting for anyone's good is something that would have to be taken on faith by someone who trusted them, like Bail Organa. To any other kind of observer they were traitors who thought themselves above the law.
John TY
Thu, Feb 18, 2016, 1:37am (UTC -5)
It's somehow reassuring that so many others agree that this is the worst of the prequels.

Everyone has already mentioned why, I'd just add that I hated how dumb Lucas chose to make all the Jedi (and other 'good guys') in order for the Republic to crumble. By the end of Ep III, I kinda felt like they deserved to lose.
Thu, Feb 18, 2016, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
The sad thing is, the overall shape of the trilogy is a great romantic tragedy: the arc of Anakin's love, loss, and downfall. But the execution is just wretched. This is one of those films I wish we could hand to someone to redesign and reboot like we have Superman, Batman, etc. over the years. The kernel of a magnificent story is here that should have been played out in the final film. In Shakespearean terms, this movie is act III--that moment when Anakin moves to take those things he's not supposed to have but cannot deny. But when you write it wrong and cast it wrong, no effects or fight scenes will save the movie. And the fact this film is called Attack of the Clones shows how the focus is on all the wrong things. For me, this is one of those great lost opportunities that makes me sigh with regret.
Peace of Landru
Fri, Feb 26, 2016, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
It often comes down to whether I like Episode I or II the least, and I think it really comes down to Episode II being the least "convincing" for me. Episode I has the pod race, Darth Maul and Liam Neesen. Episode II is supposed to be the love story of Anakin and Padme, but it's so wooden and unbelievable that the rest of the movie mostly falls apart for me.

You know what would have made this more interesting? Make Padme the love interest of Obi-Wan. Anakin is however obsessed with her and forces himself on Padme, or at least make it really questionable. Make their relationship almost abusive and Padme a bit stockholm syndrome. Make it dark. But it's all perfectly logical from Anakin's point of view.

Oh and C-3PO's head on a battle droid? Ridiculous.
Sarah M
Sun, Mar 20, 2016, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
This is my favorite of the prequel movies.

That's not saying much, and the scenes between Padme and Anakin feature some of the worst dialogue and worst chemistry ever captured on screen. But I did enjoy Obi-Wan's investigation (Ewan McGregor deserved better movies, he was a good fit as the younger character), and I will just say I found Light-Saber Yoda a lot of fun.
Fri, Apr 1, 2016, 7:25pm (UTC -5)
I think the really interesting question that Obi-Wan's investigation brought up for me is who killed Sifo-Dyas?
Greg Q
Tue, Apr 5, 2016, 4:51am (UTC -5)
Worthless garbage. Saw it in the theatre and laughed out loud during the yoda fight. Only one of the series that I haven't seen multiple times. George Lucas died and now his doppelganger has taken over the franchise. Thank God for Disney.
Mon, May 9, 2016, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
Jammer, I really don't see it. You yourself pointed out all the flaws, and still three stars? The visual effects *do not* make for good story telling. Take the visual effects in The Fifth Element: grand, almost excessive, daring, and beautiful. But the *story* is good too! The Fifth Element, like the original Star Wars trilogy, expertly uses visual effects to tell a story. The prequel uses a story to tell special effects.

While the story has a more mature tone than Phantom, that doesn't make it better. It just disguises the awfulness a bit more. I think this this Dark Side of darker tone has clouded your judgment, haha. Speaking of the Dark Side, Palpatine is actually the only good thing about the prequels, especially when he gets so evil in Revenge of the Sith. But if we are supposed to believe that everyone just acts stupid because Palpatine is confusing everyone, then we are unable to connect with the characters since they are not relatable.

Phantom and Clones get zero stars from me. Maybe 1/2 star, and that's generous, and just for the music and special effects.

@Peace of Landru, that's a great idea! What a good movie that would have been. Or any other of a thousand better ideas.
Fri, Jul 1, 2016, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
Not much to say that hasn't been said already. I liked the scene where he slaughtered the sandpeople but thought it was too convenient that he found his mother just alive enough to die in his arms. The arena scene was beyond stupid and neither Yoda or Sidious should have ever picked up lightsabers. They're grandmasters! Granted, a "Scanners" type scene between the two of them where they look constipated and try to blow each others' heads up by thinking hard would have looked silly, I still feel they took so much away from the characters and made them mundane. Lee as Dooku was well cast and he should have been promoted to Duke Dooku.
If they had cast a better Vader and made the love story not just believable but strong, the entire franchise would have been much better off. People say, "come on, it's star wars". I say "It's a space opera! Where's the emotion?"

Worst episode ever.
Aaron B.
Sat, Jul 2, 2016, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
I didn't see this until recently, so maybe it just hasn't aged well, but I found the action scenes in all the prequels boring and silly. The factory floor bit reminded me strongly of the pie machine in "Chicken Run", except that what works for claymation chickens just looks ridiculous for live actors, and the "Chicken Run" sequence didn't go on forever. Or compare the chase of the assassin to the flying car chase in "The Fifth Element," an older and much cheaper movie. Here the cars (and actors) fly around with no sense of weight or actual danger, making it impossible to forget it's all green-screen. Ditto all the light-saber/laser battles; there's a lot of flash and movement but no sense of weight or a feeling that anyone will ever make contact.

But the "romance" is the worst. In response to his creepy worshipfulness, Padme should have given Anakin the "I don't want to spoil our friendship" speech and made a play for Obi-Wan.
Benjamin S.
Sun, May 7, 2017, 7:18pm (UTC -5)
I have always felt this is the worst Star Wars movie ever made. Hated it in the theater and haven't enjoyed it in any viewing since.

The special effects haven't aged well at all. I watched it a year ago with a friend who had never seen the prequels, and he said to me: "Is this a cartoon?" Because, that's exactly how fake the clone troopers looked.

Matthew James Burns
Thu, Jan 11, 2018, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
I like this film. It is still Star Wars. It was my first Star Wars at the big screen too - so nostalgia plays a part I surpose, too. It has some pretty shoddy acting in places, I completely agree. But it is mostly enjoyable, exciting and has a great story going on within, if you actually pay attention.

It has a dreamlike look to it - A sort of dark fairytale vibe. I liked it.
Thu, Jan 11, 2018, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Jason R.
Wed, Feb 10, 2016, 2:41pm (UTC -6)

"The Jedi had no evidence that Palpatine had committed a crime, thus their attempted arrest of him (by force) was illegal, as was certainly their attempts to kill him without trial."

The Jedi had evidence that Palpatine was a Sith Lord, and they knew a Sith had orchestrated two wars against the Republic. That should be cause enough for a lawful arrest. And they only attempted to kill him after he attacked and Windu realized that he was so powerful that no peaceful arrest was possible. If the police went to arrest a man suspected of mass shootings and then the man starting opening fire on the police, the police wouldn't exactly be in the wrong for shooting back and killing the man.
Peter G.
Thu, Jan 11, 2018, 3:55pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

"The Jedi had evidence that Palpatine was a Sith Lord, and they knew a Sith had orchestrated two wars against the Republic. That should be cause enough for a lawful arrest."

Seriously, replace "Sith" with "Jew" or "Protestant" or something and tell me if that makes what the Jedi did ok. 'X group, that you are a member of, did bad things, so we're here to arrest you.' And it's not even the designated police, it's a group of vigilantes there under no authority but their own who've decided to arrest the Supreme Chancellor during wartime. It's pure treason according to the law. Of course they had good reason to want him arrested! But he knew they were too full of their own sense of entitlement to try to do so lawfully. Prior to the 'arrest' Yoda and Windu are literally plotting to take direct control of the senate, and Yoda - in a somewhat understated comment - suggests that this may be a dangerous path to take.

Also, check out the scene again. Palpatine doesn't just attack them, he makes double sure that their intent will be backed by violence before he strikes first, and announces treason for the cameras to make sure it's clear he's defending himself rather than starting trouble. Also, the Jedi clearly draw weapons first rather than try to make the proceedings peaceful.

From a 'good vs. evil' standpoint it may look obvious that the bad guy got the drop on them and that Windu did what he had to. From a legal standpoint the Jedi had no leg to stand on and they knew it. When watching this scene think back to the scene where Palpatine explains to Anakin that the Jedi are just as invested as the Sith in maintaining their public power, and he's completely correct. The Jedi don't even realize this is a weakness, and in that they're the cause of their own demise.
Thu, Jan 11, 2018, 5:47pm (UTC -5)
The thing is, the Sith aren't just like some minority religious group, they're more like an active terrorist organization only on a much grander scale. If someone exposed an important member of a terrorist organization (Here, Anakin), then there would certainly be cause for lawful arrest. There's no two ways about it. If they needed to use weapons or whatever to arrest him, so be it. Sith aren't just religious fanatics, they're practitioners who can kill people using the sheer force of will (i.e. force-choking).

I'll grant you that the scene is staged so we're sympathetic to Anakin's position; that the Jedi were strong-arming Palpatine out of office. But at the same time I don't see any thresholds being crossed that wouldn't be necessary in-universe, considering how powerful and deadly the Sith are. Windu's real mistake was not bringing along more witnesses (call the galactic TV news, why not?) that could be around to see Palpatine reveal himself for what he really was.
Jason R.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 8:16am (UTC -5)
Chrome the problem with your interpretation is that you're basically assuming facts not in evidence - namely that the Sith were some well recognized terrorist organization like Al Qaeda or ISIS. That is unlikely given that the Sith were basically underground or in hiding for centuries by this point (correct me if I am wrong) and from the point of view of anyone but the Jedi, they were more a dark legend by this point than some concrete threat.

The Jedi may have considered the Sith ancient enemies / adversaries, but it doesn't follow from that that their group was considered illegal under *Republic* law.

In addition, even if there was some law on the books against being a Sith (unlikely) I would assume that some proof would be needed before you attempt to arrest (and summarily execute) someone, let alone the sitting chancellor of the republic!!
Peter G.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 9:06am (UTC -5)
Facts aren't in evidence about what the Sith were in the eyes of the average Republic citizen, but we know at least that the Jedi had thought them extinct and that this had been the case for some time as of Ep 1. Also don't forget that this was a group of basically military officers and not the legitimate police. So imagine if a general and two captains barged into the White House to 'arrest' the President and the army was supporting this. In our modern parlance that's called a coup, not a lawful police action. And indeed it was a coup, because other military people were intending to walk into Congress with weapons and declare that they were now in charge. That's what was happening here. Think of it in modern terms and tell me it isn't scary.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 9:27am (UTC -5)
The comment stems from the fact that the Sith have a history of sacking the Old Republic in a war prior to the Republic shown in Episode I. The Galactic Republic was established only after the defeat of the old Sith by Jedi, which is why they are given such an important place as defenders of the Galactic Empire. Now, if one of the Republic's old enemies started to re-surge and the Jedi became aware of it and its clear danger to the Republic, they'd be completely within the right to quash the resurgence immediately. Unless you're trying to tell me that despite having all this information in the Galactic Library, the Republic is full of forgetful imbeciles who've become sympathetic to war enemies and distrusting of Jedi.
Peter G.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 10:19am (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

Not sure where you're getting your facts, but neither canon nor expanded universe backs that up. In original canon the Jedi defended the Republic for "1,000 generations" so it's not a recent thing where the Sith have been around anytime recently. If you include the prequels then the law of Darth Bane had been in place for 1,000 years, and since then the Sith have been on the DL, never amounting to an army or an organization. Just two of them at a time, as Yoda says. The Republic would never consider a group of two people to be a threat in the face of an entire Jedi order, and in fact I doubt anyone in the Republic had ever heard of them.

You want to talk about a lone individual, with a religious faith that hadn't clashed with the Republic in 1,000 years, and who was duly elected, and then say he's broken the law? That sounds really messed up to me, and I'm not just being an apologist for this side of the argument. It's seriously a question of religious oppression. They had no proof that Palpatine did anything wrong other than having a faith that previously (a long, long time ago) was at odds with the government.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 10:49am (UTC -5)

It's also covered in the Knights of the Old Republic games, which aren't per se canon, but are based on the canonical encyclopedia and fun nonetheless. Our basic argument boils down to are Sith dangerous criminals, or should they be treated like everyday citizens with full rights. Since the Republic was built during a time when everyone would have recent memory of the Sith, I'd have a hard time believing there wouldn't be old laws instructing the Republic on how to deal with them.

Your argument is on behalf of either forgetful, negligent, or corrupt citizens of the Republic. Therefore, I can't accept it as a great argument against Windu's actions.
Peter G.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 11:06am (UTC -5)
Windu in particular is a different story. Once you accept the premise that Palpatine has to be arrested, I do agree that the concept of simply incarcerating someone with the power to mind control the guards and tear apart any prison is troubling. I'm not exactly sure what Windu could do with someone who's going to resist like that except kill him. However that begs the question that the arrest was legitimate. Where was the warrant signed by a judge? Where was the actual proof he was a Sith other than the fact that Anakin had a conversation with him? Even if we accept your notion that the Sith would have been seen as criminals, do you just walk into the Chancellor's office and arrest him when you merely suspect he is one?
Jason R.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 11:19am (UTC -5)
Chrome for argument's sake, assuming there was some ancient law on the books against being a Sith, do the Jedi have legal authority to summarily depose and execute a sitting Chancellor?

To use a recent example, suppose Donald Trump was proven to be on Putin's payroll. Okay, that's illegal. But there is still a process by which you go after a sitting President.

A Delta Force operative can't just barge into the oval office and summarily execute the President for treason - even if he's guilty! This act would itself be illegal.

Whether Palpatine was guilty of being a Sith, it was for the Republic to judge him. Indeed, we know this both because Anakin flat out tells Windu what he is doing is illegal and Windu doesn't deny it - his response is simply that the courts are in Palpatine's pocket.

So it's pretty much right there in the text - the Jedi were engaging in an illegal act and yes, likely treason.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 11:25am (UTC -5)
Peter G., there's no way I could answer your question without knowing exactly how the law works in the Republic. Would Anakin's word be enough to arrest Palpatine? Since Anakin was appointed to be "the eyes and ears of the Republic" by the Chancellor himself and given a similar role on behalf of the Jedi counsel, I'd have to consider Anakin's word to be pretty important here.

As for Palpatine's arrest, I don't see that they had a choice but to catch him off guard in his office, as he would be tipped off and flee if there was too much deliberation beforehand. Did the Jedi get authorization from the Judiciary Counsel before making the arrest? You'd think so, and perhaps there are exigent circumstances that don't require the authorization, but we can only speculate on that point.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 11:39am (UTC -5)
"To use a recent example, suppose Donald Trump was proven to be on Putin's payroll. Okay, that's illegal. But there is still a process by which you go after a sitting President."

But the situation would be so much different if Palpatine were just receiving bribes from the Separatists or some other white collar crime. A more similar situation would be if it were found that Donald Trump was working in league with ISIS or Al'Qaeda to overthrow US forces. That would be an act or war and call for a quicker response and less rights for the accused. In the U.S. many suspected terrorists are often sent straight to Guantanamo Bay and are held in perpetuity without trial or due process because the laws allow special treatment of suspected war criminals. It's harsh, sure, but the U.S. has deemed it important for national security. I suspect the Galactic Republic has its own set of rules for war criminals, and that's what the Jedi were following here.
Peter G.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

"A more similar situation would be if it were found that Donald Trump was working in league with ISIS or Al'Qaeda to overthrow US forces."

Your example seems cherry picked to make it sound as bad as possible. But it's not applicable because the Sith were not actively doing anything to the Republic; there were no current hostilities, nor had there been for a very long time. In fact the force Palpatine was *actually* backing, the Separatists, were not Sith, and Windu and the others didn't even know when arresting him that he was behind any of this. All they knew was that he was a Sith and therefore a bad guy. They hadn't even connected this to the Clone Wars! So your analogy doesn't work because there was no cause for anyone to believe that Palpatine being a Sith was in any way an indicating that he was supporting anti-Republic forces. Even according to your logic, that being a Sith was in and of itself a crime, there was no other crime they were aware of that he had committed, and no reason to believe him a threat to anyone other than the fact itself of him being a Sith. Do you really think they brought this matter to the judiciary before trying to arrest/kill him? I hardly think that's likely since this was part of a two-pronged effort to also take the senate by force. I somehow doubt a judge would sign off on that!

One seeming problem with Ep 3 people had was that the senate seemed strangely ok with the Jedi being wiped out randomly. The film doesn't shove this in your face - it focused more on Padme's view of freedom being lost - but the story implies that Palpatine made the video of the Jedi attacking him available for all to see, and that their conclusions matched his, that the Jedi had attempted a legit coup d'etat. I guess you could always just say he had mind controlled the whole senate and that their point of view shouldn't be taken seriously, but the film in any case doesn't show us that (and neither does the novelization). What it does show us is that the senate accepts that the Jedi tried to take over and had to be treated like terrorists after that. Were they fooled in some sense? Yes, but the lie is couched in a truth, which is that the Jedi messed up badly. What Luke in Ep 8 said about the Jedi was surely true in Ep 3, which is that the order was rotten and needed to be taken down from power. This is consistent with Qui-Gon's view of the council, which is that he didn't want to be a member and didn't believe their actions and bureaucratic attitudes were correct.

We don't know Republic law and can only speculate, but (flawed or not) I believe the story Lucas was trying to tell in Ep 3 was that Palpatine tricked the Jedi into treason knowing they wouldn't be able to resist. You do know that he didn't have to tell Anakin he was a Sith, right? If it was illegal to be a Sith don't you think he would have gone about this a different way? The story doesn't dwell on these details but if we're to assume he was a master strategist then surely he'd never offer the Jedi an officially legitimate reason to arrest him that the senate would accept.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
I don't think any real world example is exactly what was going on in this movie, so I can only find the closest fit. Jason and I were having a discussion working under the assumption that there *is* a law against being a Sith. It's also my understanding that the Jedi knew the Sith were involved in the Separatist war effort after Darth Maul appeared in Epiosde I to back up the Separatist militants, so that's my basis for the Sith acting as organized terrorists.

"You do know that he didn't have to tell Anakin he was a Sith, right? If it was illegal to be a Sith don't you think he would have gone about this a different way?"

I don't think Palpatine/Sidious was in any real danger from the Jedi at the point he revealed his identity because he never revealed the extent of his power. He probably predicted the Jedi counsel would come to arrest him immediately and he could arrange to look like he was being bullied in front of Anakin. It's not like Palpatine ever had anything to fear from a few Jedi. He was powerful enough to throw Master Yoda around like a ragdoll. The only chance the Jedi really had against Palpatine is if a strong Jedi like Anakin joined them. At least, that explains the council's interest in Anakin as "The Chosen One" in the first place.
Jason R.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 12:49pm (UTC -5)
I actually rewatched a clip from ROTS to be sure but Palpatine never actually admits to Anakin that he is a Sith. He reveals his knowledge of *the dark side* and he doesn't deny Anakin's accusation that he is the Sith Lord they were looking for, but he never admits to being Sith.

I'll concede from Anakin's point of view his identity is pretty obvious, but legally speaking, I think it isn't. Being a dark side user isn't the same as being a Sith!

Regarding your last point Chrome, while it is open to interpretation, I choose to think that Mace Windu was still a legitimate threat to Sidius and was probably at least an even match in lightsaber combat. Yes, Sidius had other abilities (like force lightning) but we know that a lightsaber completely nullified this. The only time FL was shown to work was against an unarmed opponent or when it caught someone by surprise. There is good reason to believe that Windu was capable of beating Sidius in a straight up LS duel and Sidius was banking on Anakin to intervene, basically hedging his bets that Anakin would save him.
Peter G.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 12:53pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

" Jason and I were having a discussion working under the assumption that there *is* a law against being a Sith."

I was engaging under the premise for a bit too, but that shouldn't exclude discussion about whether that's a reasonable premise in the first place.

"It's also my understanding that the Jedi knew the Sith were involved in the Separatist war effort after Darth Maul appeared in Epiosde I to back up the Separatist militants"

In Ep 1 there were no Separatist militants, only the Trade Federation conducting an illegal invasion. One thing I am sure about is that no one by the time of Ep 3 had worked out any connection between the Trade Federation's bizarre embargo of Naboo and the later Separatist insurgency apparently led by Count Dooku. The Jedi in these films were not exactly swift on the uptake.

"I don't think Palpatine/Sidious was in any real danger from the Jedi at the point he revealed his identity because he never revealed the extent of his power."

It's not a question of him being in material danger. The goal was to make the removal of the Jedi order legal, not to merely kill them. By revealing he, himself, was a criminal, it would undermine his authority and legitimacy. The whole political game is about 'making things legal', not just brute forcing them through. That's what the Sith ostensibly seem to have done wrong in the past - try to use brute force to overcome the law. Sidious knew that the only reliable way to get rid of the Jedi was to do so on the correct side of the law.
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 1:12pm (UTC -5)
"I'll concede from Anakin's point of view his identity is pretty obvious, but legally speaking, I think it isn't. Being a dark side user isn't the same as being a Sith!"

I'm not sure how we know what's legal here. If Anakin is a trusted representative of the Republic and the Jedi counsel, his identification of Palpatine seems valid enough. Are civil rights so strict in the Republic that Palpatine had to downright say "I'm the Sith you've been looking for all these years!" in order for Jedi to have cause to arrest him?

"Regarding your last point Chrome, while it is open to interpretation, I choose to think that Mace Windu was still a legitimate threat to Sidius and was probably at least an even match in lightsaber combat. Yes, Sidius had other abilities (like force lightning) but we know that a lightsaber completely nullified this. The only time FL was shown to work was against an unarmed opponent or when it caught someone by surprise. There is good reason to believe that Windu was capable of beating Sidius in a straight up LS duel and Sidius was banking on Anakin to intervene, basically hedging his bets that Anakin would save him."

I admit it appears that Windu could've killed Sidius if he wanted to. But couldn't Palpatine pull out his own lightsaber if he needed to like he did against Yoda? I also wonder why the Jedi needed Anakin to "balance the force" if they were perfectly capable of doing it on their own.
Wed, Feb 21, 2018, 3:30am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

Wow, what a great recent discussion!

My somewhat disjointed thoughts are that Jedi are trained to resist a Sith wherever they find them, no matter the cost. If it isn't a law, it's a rule the Jedi are taught from the beginning, since the Sith delve into things that are best left un-delved, and get power from areas that are better left untapped (dark side). And over the many years, they figure that is bad enough to override common sense and *light up* on the ruler of the entire known galaxy.

But when the Jedi power up before the bad guy does, they fall right into his trap. Heck, he's found a way to turn a stupid trade agreement dispute into full power for himself, and they don't think he is still working the long game? Even holding their saber *unlit* would be enough to convince that they were attempting to grab control of the government. Now, this was all manipulated of course, but they weren't bright enough to realize how they were being used?

What I don't quite get is why does Palpatine do all of this? He has a thirst for power, but once he gets it, what can he do with it? Conquer the outer rim planets? Okay, fine. But Star Wars never mentions an outside power or area to control. It seems the Republic had pretty much every planet within their sphere of influence already in the group. That's why they didn't really have an army, because there were no bad guys. He needed an army to back him up when he took control, and he got it (after inventing some bad guys). But what then? If he was looking for ultimate power, I think he'd already gotten that from the Dark Side, so now he just sits on the throne, with no one else to defeat? I'd think he'd get bored.

I'm reminded of that fantastic Robot Chicken skit where, in the middle of finding out the Death Star has been destroyed, someone calls him for a sandwich order. He'd hate running the galaxy, and the tedium that comes with it. While he probably *saw* a rebellion coming, he'd probably relish it because it would give him a reason to flex his muscles. And after it would be put down, once again, then what would he do? Now, if they'd even mentioned another portion of the galaxy that had different rulers (other than the Hutts *squish*), or even another galaxy to move into and put under his influence... maybe.

*I don't know... cole slaw... what is everyone else getting?... I'm not going to eat it anyway...*

And my ramblings are over... for now... :)

Regards... RT
Sun, Dec 16, 2018, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
I guess it is more interesting to try to find the movies good points rather than bad, so, sure the Emporer's plotting in and if itself is great.

If only the Game of Thrones people were in charge, you might have gotten a tolerable movie out of it.
Tue, Jul 9, 2019, 9:09am (UTC -5)

"If only the Game of Thrones people were in charge, you might have gotten a tolerable movie out of it."

I'm sorry, your comment made me laugh and laugh. I am a fan of the books and gave up watching the TV sometime in Season 2 because I got tired of how much was left out and it just felt so flat to me therefore. Though I must admit I did enjoy the online horror after the Red Wedding. Muwhahaha--we book readers all knew it was coming!

But as the series came to a close I thought I'd check in with it again--watched bits here and there, read reviews to catch up with the direction the show had gone, and checked out the finale. And all i have to say is . . . the BELLS.

Do you still think the GoT people would have done a good job? lol

That's not a lol at you--I just think the general consensus is that they butchered the ending.
Sun, Jan 15, 2023, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
The comments are so harsh. Yes, it has some big flaws, that doesn't make it terrible.

Anakin and Obi-Wan are overly unappealing but their story and characters are still pretty interesting, some of the special effects/action scenes are excessive but a lot of them are really good. Some of Anakin's dialogue is annoying but the fireplace scene is the only one where it's really very excessive/bad.

Agreed with Jammer for giving credit for at least the story of Palpatine's machinations (and I think the execution was good though still could have been better developed) and for the entertainment of the effects/action.

Despite the significant flaws, I overall rate it a slightly better than TPM, slightly improvement from B- to B.
Jason R.
Sun, Mar 26, 2023, 7:33am (UTC -5)
Boy oh boy did Master Sifodius order the deluxe ultimate platinum package from the Kaminoans. How else to explain the massive fleet of starships, tanks and other accoutrements included with the clones. It certainly explains how nice they are to Obi Wan - this one order probably covered the planet's gdp for the last decade.

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