Sunday, August 13, 2006

Movie Log: Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Boys' Movie Saturday rolls around once again, and Thing 1 wanted to watch Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and leave Howl's Moving Castle for next week. (And you can't blame him for it; the last Miyazaki movie he saw was the scary Princess Mononoke and he doesn't know how bad Attack of the Clones is.)

For that matter, I didn't really know how bad Attack of the Clones was; I'd never seen it before. I'd heard a lot about it, and I'd played through the storyline in Lego Star Wars on the GameCube, but I'd never actually sat in front of a screen on which it was playing. Well, now I have.

I won't beat this very dead horse too much, but boy! was that a waste. Hayden Christensen was lousy, Natalie Portman and Samuel Jackson (both of which I've seen actually acting in other movies) were stiff as boards, and only good ol' Ewan MacGregor was able to successfully impersonate a human being. The dialogue was bland and uninspiring, and the actors not directed to do much with it. (I kept thinking that a really good script would have been able to counteract Lucas's problems directing people, or that a really strong director could have salvaged Lucas's script -- but, doing both, he magnified his weak points.)

This could have been a damn good movie -- it has real ideas poking out of it at odd angles, and its events, tweaked slightly, could have made an excellent, gripping story. But Attack of the Clones is not that story. Lucas relies too heavily on special effects, and many times (as when character's faces are computer-pasted onto a CGI dummy), those effects make the characters move in obviously unrealistic ways, so that the viewer keeps being reminded that he's just watching a movie...a dumb, ham-handed movie that would have been wonderful if Lucas handed his plot to a decent scriptwriter and produced the work of a director who can actually get actors to show emotion. (The only emotion we do get, anywhere in this film, is Anakin's whiny petulance -- and we get that far too often.)

So I don't hate Attack of the Clones because it's dumb -- it was a summer skiffy movie, and those are supposed to be dumb -- but because the good movie it could have been is always faintly visible like a ghost, and that haunts it from beginning to end.

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