On to the second (or fifth, I guess) film, and now with a hell of a lot less Jar Jar Binks and politics! Hooray!
There is unrest in the Galactic Senate. Several thousand solar systems have declared their intentions to leave the Republic. This separatist movement, under the leadership of the mysterious Count Dooku, has made it difficult for the limited number of Jedi Knights to maintain peace and order in the galaxy.
Senator Amidala, the former Queen of Naboo, is returning to the Galactic Senate to vote on the critical issue of creating an army of the republic to assist the overwhelmed Jedi….
Note: Full Spoilers From Here On Out!
Cast of Characters:
“Weeeeeeee! Having fun am I!”
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) – Jedi with the unenviable task of trying to set Anakin Skywalker down the right path, despite the fact that he’s clearly a knob.
Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) – Clearly a knob. Also couldn’t woo his way out of a paper bag… not that makes any sense .
Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) – Former Queen of Naboo, now a senator who falls for Anakin, who she first saw as a child. She too has some of the worst ideas about how to talk romantically, but doesn’t sound quite as wooden as her lover.
Senator Palpatine / Darth Sidious (Iam McDiarmid) – Good old Palps, as no one dares to call him, is still making his way up the government ladder in hopes of building his Empire.
Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) – Former Jedi-turned-Sith, Dooku sees no future in the ways of the Jedi, and instead is all for seeing his master subjugate the galaxy… but of a turn around, then…
Yoda (Frank Oz) – The Leader of the Jedi Council he is, speak in an annoying manor he does. Cute at first, it was… now… it’s not.
Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) – Bad ass Jedi with a mysteriously purple Lightsaber. Likes to say cheesy “bad ass” lines because … well, he’s Samuel L. Jackson, I guess.
Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison) – Mandalorian bounty hunter who is cloned countless times to create an army. He also had an unaltered clone son called Boba, just because Boba was cool, so let’s rake in some sweet Mandalorian armour-related merch!
If Blade Runner crossed over with Star Wars…
Ewan McGregor is once again great as Obi-wan, and Ian McDiarmid is also still great as both Palpatine and the Emperor. You can now add Christopher Lee as Count Dooku, who is, as always, a great villain in his own right.
The film is pretty much split into two stories for most of its run. One is a love story that… well, look at the first paragraph of bad for that, the second is Obi-wan searching for whoever was responsible for an attempt on Padme’s life. The search takes him around the local systems and Jedi temple, all the way to Kamino, which I have to say I really like the design of both the planet and its inhabitants. It also leads to Jango Fett, clearly only in the film to please fans, but that’s okay because his fight with Obi-wan on the Kamino platform is great fun.
It also has to be said that the opening scene, set in the planet-wide city on Coruscant, is an exciting chase through a very cyber-punk-like cityscape, and ends with an amusing scene in bar, fit with a few nudge-nudge-wink-wink jokes about the future of Obi-wan and Anakin and a fun use of the old Jedi mind trick.
The final large-scale battle between Jedi, clones and droids at the end of the film is a visual feast, and it was great to see Yoda fight at last in the last part of the battle. The new “Super Battledroids” have a good design to them as well, it has to be said.
Even though I don’t like the acting, I did like the story of Anakin’s mother dying in his arms leading to him touching the darkside for a while. Anakin’s eventual turn needed to be teased a bit, and not just by him being a bit spoiled-brat-ish.
“Hey, I’m pretty obnoxious, but I’m no Jar Jar, am I right Obi?”
Anakin and Padme. In general. Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman’s dialogue of how much they love each other is so bad… SO bad. Add in Hayden’s wooden acting (and yes I know it’s not an original insult, but it really is the perfect example) and you’ve got some pretty damn awkward scenes. Even the cocky Anakin comes off as an arrogant prick rather than Han Solo lovable rogue that was probably the intention (and pulled off so well in the “Clone Wars” cartoons…)
Some attempts at humour fall short. C3PO in the droid factory was fine, but C3PO in the middle of the battle making really bad visual jokes was kind of annoying and took away from the intended drama. The lightsaber duel between Dooku and Obi-wan/Anakin was okay, but felt short and certainly ended a bit suddenly. I guess because it leads into Yoda taking over, but it was still underwhelming.
A lot of people say they dislike this more than Phantom Menace, but I’m not sure how. Yes, a quarter of the film is a wooden and awkward romance section, but there is a lot less attempts a being silly and more interesting characters and fight scenes. The Jedi battle en masse for the first time, which is what every child imagined when they watched the original films, and Count Dooku and his teased backstory are far more interesting than Darth Maul. Thankfully you can skip Episode I and still enjoy the developing story going into Episode III.