Friday, April 8, 2011

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones

I doubt that I am going to say much about this film that has already been said.  And yet, I feel inclined to offer my two cents, and for what other reason do I have a blog than to share my unimportant opinions with the internet at large?

The greatest failure of this movie is creating a compelling love story.  Every single scene devoted to the Padme/Anakin relationship left me waiting impatiently for it to end and to get back to the much more interesting main plot of the movie.  When your lead character is in only the most boring scenes of the movie, you have a problem.

The relationship is almost unbearably awkward.  It was clear Lucas had almost no idea how to write convincing, nuanced, and interesting romantic dialogue.  In the first half of the movie, Anakin seemed more like a creepy stalker than a sympathetic young hero in love.  (If being creepy and overbearing is the secret way to a girl's heart, then... well, that would explain my lack of a love life.)  My biggest problem with the relationship as presented is that we are given no reason that these two characters get together.  It just happens.  When two people get together, there is always a reason.  There is something that they give each other.  If there isn't something there, it's not love, it's just infatuation.  Without a foundation of real connection between two people, there can't be love.  This is were the Anakin/Padme relationship completely fails to convince me.  I can see Anakin simply being infatuated with Padme (to the point of obsessive creepiness), but Padme seems more sensible than that to me.  It almost seems as though the only reason they get together is because we know that Anakin has two children.

Another thing that really bothers me about this movie is the sheer lack of any kind of character development.  Of all of the major characters of the film, only Anakin is noticeably different at the end.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a dynamic protagonist and a static supporting cast, but I personally find it to be a boring choice.  Padme, in particular, seems woefully underdeveloped, especially to my feminist sensibilities.  Before she and Anakin get together, she seems strong and capable of her own actions and thoughts.  After they get together, though, she becomes scarily passive.  I thought it was particularly disturbing how, upon Anakin telling her how he killed all the sand people in rage against his mother's death, she didn't seem concerned that her new boyfriend had just KILLED A BUNCH OF PEOPLE.  She tells no one, and seems content to let it remain a secret.  Personally, if my significant other revealed to me that he was so mentally unstable that he killed a bunch of (mostly) defenseless people, I would at the very least want to take a break for a while.

That said, the character development on Anakin was really pretty well done.  Hindered only by Hayden Christensen's acting abilities, his actual fall to the dark side is believably done.  They do an excellent job at showing how fear is a perfect motivator to do some horrible things, and Yoda's predictions in Episode 1 are fulfilled.

Of course, the combination of Christensen's acting abilities and Lucas's subpar dramatic dialogue do much to harm the presentation of Anakin's character arc.  In particular, the scene where he reveals to Padme that he killed the sand people came off as an annoying teenage temper tantrum where it should have felt much more dramatic and important.

The noticeable Windows Movie Maker transitions between scenes still bug me quite a bit, but I've made peace with them at this point.  I don't know why they are there and I don't like them, but I guess whatever floats George Lucas's boat.

All in all, I actually think this film was better than the previous -- a view that I think many will disagree with -- simply because it has a stronger sense of progression and consequences.  Also, the noticeable lack of Jar-Jar is a plus.

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