Movies: Attack of the Clones

Hey Lucas, here’s the one-line summary of my review that you can use in your Attack of the Clones newspaper ads: “Holy crap, this movie didn’t suck!” raves Matthew Baldwin of defective yeti!

I hated Phantom Menace. Hated it. Hated it. Hated. And I swore I was not going to go see Attack of the Clones in the theater. The way I saw it, Lucas owed me a movie after tricking me into squandering my eight bucks on that first heapin’ pile of Jar-Jar infested crud, so there was no way I was going to spend another dime on this saga until I got a free pass and an apology from Georgie.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I of course went to see Attack of the Clones last week. Resistance is futile. But here’s the thing: I liked it! Which isn’t to say that Clones is a good movie. It could be good. It could be great, even. Or it could be awful. I haven’t the foggiest idea. By the time I actually got into the theater my expectations were so low that had Attack of the Clones been a shot-by-shot remake of Beaches it still would have exceeded my wildest hopes.

Most of the Clones criticism is dead on. The dialog is usually stilted and sometimes atrocious. The first half of the movie is mostly exposition and drags. The plot is much more convoluted that it needs to be. But what most reviewers seem to be willfully ignoring is that this stuff — dialog, exposition, plot — is just the packing peanuts around the real movie: starship combat, lightsaber fights and 87 gazillion alien races running around like termites on a log. Plus, the romance between the protagonists is much more palatable than you’d expect based on the trailers and the reviews. Yes, it’s maudlin and over-wrought, but these are teenagers fercrissakes — who amongst us, at the age of 17, wasn’t prone to uttering syrupy garbage in an effort to bed a galactic senator?

When the movie works it works surprisingly well. Ewan McGregor’s impression of Alec Guiness is downright eerie, a scene blatantly ripped out of Gladiator is exciting, and Yoda kicks cosmic ass. Best of all, I think Lucas has finally got most of the backstory out of the way, which means that the next installment should be nothing but fun. Attack of the Clones may not be the best movie I’ve seen, but it did manage to do the impossible: it got me excited about “Star Wars” again.

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