In anticipation of the brand new Star Wars films, I will finally be expressing my thoughts on the original trilogy plus its prequels. I felt like doing 2 in a row so fuck it:

This one works as punishment.

This one works as punishment. Love the poster though.

Meese no like-sa.

Meesa no like-sa.

Depending on how you look at it, Star Wars: Episode II is either a thankful improvement over The Phantom Menace, or an even more tragically incompetent Gungan of a film. On one hand: there’s more dark stuff and more intensity to the action. On the other: there’s an inanely written love story and even more digital effects being used where practical ones would’ve been, well, more practical. One one hand: there’s less Jar-Jar Binks. On the other: could you honestly tell me Hayden Christensen is that much more fun to spend the majority of a movie with?

Aww look, it's supposed to be adorable, aww.

Aww look, it’s supposed to be adorable, aww.

George Lucas is back, this time with Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of The Clones, which for some inconceivable reason is the only Star Wars prequel to receive a negative review from Roger Ebert. Its so-called plot revolves mostly around the attempts of Separatists to orchestrate the death of queen-turned-galactic senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman). On the city-planet of Coruscant, she receives two new protectors in the form of Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor, trying his best to save the movie) and his young pupil Anakin Skywalker (now portrayed by Hayden Christensen), who is just the right amount of whiny and creepy for Amidala to be inexplicably charmed by his disturbing stalker vibes. Bella Swan has better taste in men than this moron.

Carrying out the assassination attempts is Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), a bounty hunter who is the father of Boba Fett and whose tactic of killing Padmé is hiring another bounty hunter named Zam (Leeanna Walsman) so that she can fly a droid up to Amidala’s bedroom window and have it squirt out venomous centipedes that Anakin easily kills. I guess Jango removing a couple degrees of separation from that plan by flying up to her (unguarded) window with his jetpack and shooting her ass himself was too simple?

After a long chase scene that rips off The Fifth Element, Zam dies and Obi-Wan traces Jango to the rainy planet of Kamino, where an army of clones made from Jango’s DNA is being created; these are prototypes of the Stormtroopers we see in the old movies, only less crappy. This army has apparently been ordered by a mysterious Jedi knight whom no one remembers, and Obi-Wan’s investigation soon ends him up in the clutches of a Sith lord named Count Dooku (the late Christopher Lee), a Jedi turned evil who is behind the attempts to take Padmé’s life and also oversees the production of battle droids on the cave planet of Geonosis. While all this is happening, Anakin and Padmé go back to Naboo to engage in awkwardly forced “forbidden romance” scenes. They then visit Tatooine so that Anakin can find his mother, of whom he keeps having what he believes are clairvoyant nightmares, and also run into young versions of Owen and Beru (Joel Edgerton; Bonnie Piesse) because fanservice. They too eventually go to Geonosis to help Obi-Wan, and we get an emotionless climax with too many lightsabers and sagacious Jedi master Yoda (Frank Oz) going against everything he stands for by having an honest-to-God lightsaber duel with Count Dooku.

Did I mention that the inhabitants of Geonosis communicate entirely using fart noises? No? Good.

“War does not make on gr- That was what? To my face come say that, bitch!”

There’s also this thing about Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), now no longer a mere senator, being granted “emergency powers” by the senate to send the clones into battle and take out the Separatist droids, all whilst Amidala is away and has no say in the matter. What’s interesting is that, at this point, she has for some reason made that insufferable clutz Jar-Jar Binks into her acting senator, and Jar-Jar letting Palpatine “send in the clones” plays perfectly into his scheme of initiating the clone wars and using them to destroy the Jedi Order. So by letting Palpatine, a.k.a Darth Sidious, take his first step towards killing everyone and becoming emperor, Jar-Jar can now be directly blamed for absolutely everything terrible that happens in the rest of the movie series. It’s like Lucas did this on purpose because we all hate him so.

As with all of the prequels, the film contains a multitude of either irritating, tolerable, stupid, or utterly stoic action figures side characters, including Anthony Daniels as a more “clothed” rendition of C-3PO, Kenny Baker as 3PO’s little pal R2-D2, Samuel L. Jackson (still totally miscast) as dull Jedi master Mace Windu, Ahmed Best as Jar-Jar, Jimmy Smits as the senator that allegedly raised Princess Leia, Silas Carson as the still 100% harmless villain Nute Gunray, a gazillion random Jedis with their own extensive Wookiepedia pages, and Marton Csokas as the leader of the Geonosians. You can tell he’s the leader because none of the other Geonosians have a gross tentacle beard.

I don’t get why everyone in this galaxy is too stupid to figure out what’s going on behind the scenes. The Jedi know that Jango’s blood is being used to create a clone army for Palpatine, they know that Jango’s the assassin hired by the Separatists, and yet they never figure out that Palpatine is up to something, let alone a Sith. Sidious’ unrealistically elaborate plan works, thanks only to dumb luck.

I also don’t get why you needed to give Boba Fett a father? Is having Boba running around as a little kid next to his much less badass-looking daddy really better than putting the actual Boba Fett in the film would’ve been? You could’ve made it so that he’s really old or immortal, thus being capable of battle even during the events of the prequels. You could’ve made a mystery out of the fact that he doesn’t seem to age in-between trilogies. Why not?

Of course, Anakin Skywalker’s status as “the chosen one” is also alluded to several times. I don’t know why Darth Vader needed to be a damn Space Messiah in his origin story but he is. “The boy is important” as September from Fringe would say. He is said to be destined as the bringer of balance to the Force, but since the Jedi have been on their own for so many years with the Sith thought to be extinct, does the Force really need balance? Sith lords like Sidious, Dooku and Darth Maul from the last movie have all been hidden in the shadows, so how would the Jedi know that the Dark Side still needs to get destroyed? And why by the guy that the endlessly wise Yoda keeps saying is dangerous? He’s going to become Darth Vader, guys! Didn’t you see Star Wars?

Windu threatens Jango Fett as Boba, Dooku and Squidbeard look on. And yes, Sam Jackson specifically demanded that his character have a purple saber. That's pretty sweet.

Windu threatens Jango Fett as Boba, Dooku and Squidbeard look on. And yes, Sam Jackson specifically demanded that his character have a purple saber. That’s pretty sweet.

This is a film that punishes you for trying to think about it, and even worse so if you try to feel anything for the characters. For years, fans have complained that Anakin is a despicable brat (who murders people and whines about hating sand) when this is meant to be his pre-Vader days of heroism. Even so, I enjoyed some scenes such as when he slaughters an entire clan of Sand People to avenge his mother and you can faintly hear the spirit of Liam Neeson‘s character from the last movie, Qui-Gon, screaming at Anakin and trying to stop him. Also nice is an early scene where Anakin and Obi-Wan are talking to each other in an elevator and from the way they speak of times gone by, you buy for a brief moment that they’re actual friends. It should come as no surprise that this scene was slapped on late into production as an afterthought when someone suddenly thought “oh right, there’s supposed to be humanity somewhere in this relationship”.

But again, it isn’t just the stale acting and snore-inducing political dialogue that bores me – almost every scene in the movie has been filmed against a bluescreen and nearly every single shot contains some sort of digital effect, so much so that you can tell that none of the actors believe they’re inhabiting the world of Star Wars either. They weren’t, they were running around a blue room and fighting with sticks. They aren’t looking at real locations or real creatures. They’re looking at an empty space where those things will exist later. Like many older films, what made the original Star Wars trilogy so great was the technical limitations of the time, on top of all the aliens and sets existing physically in front of the camera.

It was breathtaking the way they made such gorgeous films with what they had, back in a time when computers didn’t allow you to shove in all the over-the-top fighting, exploding space ships, pretty but obviously fake backgrounds, or scenes of C-3PO flailing like a CGI ragdoll you wanted. As for the new, CG’d Yoda: I always thought he looked so angry compared to the jolly old muppet I remember from Empire, and I do not see why he needs to walk with a cane if he can spin and jump around like Speedy Gonzales during his out-of-character sword fight with Dooku.

What more do I or any other critic need to say really? Don’t we all know that this isn’t what Star Wars is meant to be by now? Well, sadly no. There are still those who favor the stupid action and “wannabe-smart” dialogue of the prequels over the genuine heart and power of the originals. They’ll take the irritating squeaking of Jar-Jar Binks, the over-the-top hamminess of Palpatine and the outright insultingly unconvincing romantic leads over characters that are actually complex, developed and subtle. And in some cases, people have seen these newer movies first without seeing the classic trilogy, thus being falsely informed that the entire franchise is bad. Either way, the word needs to be carried on, and someone who cares as excessively as I do is the perfect man to do it.

1/5 whatever

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