Having been binging on Star Wars: The Clone Wars recently I decided to rewatch a film I haven’t properly sat down to watch in almost half a decade: Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones, a film that just last week I said was bad. Turns out time has been kind to Attack of the Clones (henceforth AotC), or I have gone mad, quite possibly the latter.
A couple of months ago I rewatched The Phantom Menace because it happened to be on my DVR and I was in the mood for some Podracing action. Now this was a film I watched numerous times on VHS, so I was very much surprised to notice subtle differences in this version that happened to be on TV at some point, which I assume is the same as the Blu-ray versions. Firstly the HD quality helps bring it up to date (although Phantom Menace was cautious with its use of CG), but George Lucas’ meddling resulted in a some minor additions to the Senate as well as a slightly extended Podracing section. These are changes I was very happy about.
Now because AotC is not a film that I’ve watched many times I really can’t comment on whether anything has been added or not, but what really stood out was that Lucasfilm had put in considerable effort to polish up the CG. It is by no means perfect, but now looks more like the typical limitations of using physical actors on top of green screen (or blue screen in the case of Star Wars). There was one scene in a diner featuring Obi-Wan Kenobi and an old acquaintance of his, Dex (Dexter Jettster), that I would always bring up whenever there was a discussion about the prequels and the use of CG, as no matter how much I may defend Phantom Menace, the character model of Dex was dreadful! Obi-Wan may as well have been talking to the tennis ball that Ewan McGregor was likely actually talking at. Thankfully now Dex has been fleshed out with a much more convincing character model. No longer dragging me out of the experience, except for the fact that I couldn’t get over how happy I was they fixed this scene.
When I started watching AotC, and after the giddiness that one gets during the opening crawl of text, I found myself surprisingly gripped by the first few scenes involving the attempted assassination attempts on Padmé Amidala. This first section of the film is possibly the strongest as the film struggles to keep up the same tension or intrigued (also helped by the fact that, despite being a literal global city, Coruscant is an interesting location). The scenes on Naboo are forgettable except for how tedious they are for having to poorly explain Anakin’s feelings for Padmé. After having left Tatooine, which involved a big rise in dark side points for Anakin, they arrive on Geonosis and bumble their rescue of Obi-Wan. In the events that follow for the first time we are shown the full force of the Clone army, followed by the surprising revelation of Yoda’s adept lightsaber skills fighting off against Count Dooku.
The film does end strong, with Count Dooku passing the plans for the Death Star to Darth Sidious, and an impressive shot of the thousands of clones marching off to fight in the Clone Wars. Even the final scene with Anakin and Padmé following their wedding is fitting considering how, along with the presence of R2-D2 and C3PO, is reminiscent of the ending of The Empire Strikes Back. All of these are accompanied perfectly by the excellent score by John Williams, who has managed to create great new themes for the prequels, whilst expertly interweaving the themes from the original trilogy.
However, despite my reappraisal of Attack of the Clones, it is still the “worst” film of the series, but that’s all. It is not the abomination to the cinema that many people think it is (or the entirety of the prequel trilogy for that matter). I admit that having been watching The Clone Wars may have helped, but with the necessary changes made to the CG, even with the sometimes mediocre acting (although who am I to call out someone’s acting), Attack of the Clones is a worthy film, and more importantly a worthy Star Wars film.