“I Don’t Like Sand”: Re-Watching Attack Of The Clones

It was a much bigger group that I sat down with to watch Attack Of The Clones, eight at one point. The chance for having meaningful discussion of the film is somewhat limited in the circumstances, but that’s OK: much fun was had anyway, simply because Clones is such an easy film to ridicule.

Obviously I wish that things were different, but Clones just misses the mark so much, more than Menace and maybe more than Sith. Every scene and every other line of dialogue is ripe material for kind of joke, and there were jokesaplenty the other night.

Since this film, indeed the entire trilogy, has as its backbone the fall of Anakin, the romance plot with Padme is incredibly pivotal. You need to see a love affair that’s powerful enough to make you believe that both participants will go down that path, despite the realisation that it might well destroy them, and others.

And it’s just a catastrophe on screen. The performances, the dialogue, the way the narrative unfolds. The music is good, and that’s about the only positive. If anything damns Lucas as a poorly thought of director, it is stuff like this, since he simply must have been told – by actors, writers, anyone else who was on set or doing the editing – that this was not a good product. Yet, this is what made it into the final cut.

But that’s all been said and done. What about Clones’ other key relationship, that between Anakin and Obi-Wan, apprentice and master? The two only get part of the first and part of the third act to actually share the screen, but I do think there are a few good scenes and sequences in there. Very early a potentially fascinating dynamic is hinted at, with Obi-Wan maybe being a bit too pally-pally with Anakin in private and then struggling to assert his authority in public. They have halfway decent back and forth at moments, like during the under-appreciated speeder chase (“I know you don’t like flying” “I don’t mind flying, but what you’re doing is suicide!”), that approaches some of the stuff from the original trilogy.

But then the decision is taken to split them, and the plot, up. And I just don’t like it. The climax of this trilogy will be Obi-Wan vs Anakin in Mustafar, but the work hasn’t been done in setting up the relationship enough, in my opinion, to make that final encounter all it could be. How much better would it have been if we had seen them together, working together and showcasing that bond, before the inevitable breaking? Indeed, throw Padme into the mix as well and you have something approaching the trinity of the original films. Have them all go chasing after Jango Fett, and then Anakin’s mother, and then Count Dooku. Have Obi-Wan attempt to put himself between Anakin and Padme to provoke some decent conflict.

It’s all a pageantry of the mind at this point of course. I sought out some other opinions:

I think while it was stronger than the rest of the movie, McGregor hauled those scenes along by the scruff of their neck. I’m not sure if that wouldn’t have grated through the whole movie.

I’ll fully acknowledge that Ewan McGregor outdid Christianson.

The whole trilogy might have worked better of Obi Wan and Anakin were the same age and rank and training or buddy copping together.

Yeah. It’s a huge problem with the prequel trilogy. Luke is separated from Han in TESB, but it feels more natural when they reunite in ROTJ because remember their shared adventures before their split up. Similarly, the camaraderie between Anakin and Obi Wan in The Clone Wars feels genuine because they have episodes to build up their relationship (and it’s a help that Anakin is played completely differently than in the movies)

I’ll second a plug for the underappreciated Clone Wars show.

I don’t think it would have overly improved it and I think it would only make you ask why is Obi-wan putting up with this obviously crazed murderer.

Well, I’m sure they would have worked around it somehow.

I think it’s good to split them up. Note that whenever Obi-Wan and Anakin are apart, Anakin gets into trouble. And not like mischief trouble, I mean tempted by the Dark Side trouble.

 I actually really like detective Obi-Wan. Not sure how it’d go with Anakin there.

As cool as it would have been to see more obi wan and anakin interaction, it was necessary to seperate them both for the plot and anakins development. The awful love story sadly weakens anakins story but adding more obi wan wouldn’t have fixed it without making a drastically different movie


Other thoughts:

– That is some convoluted plan from Darth Sidious. There are so many beats and unlikely circumstances that need to occur for it all to work out, and it just does. To focus on a single point, it’s strange how the film namedrops Jedi Master “Sifo Dyas” as the man who ordered the Clone army created, and then never mentions him again. The inference is that he’s a made-up figure to cover for “Tyrannus” – Dooku – but then the EU decided he was actually real. All very odd.

-Early on Mace Windu declares that the Jedi are “keepers of the peace, not soldiers”, which is fair enough. But why are they the ones investigating the attempted assassination of Padme, instead of some kind of police service?

-A lot of us have been watching Jessica Jones recently, and that show sprang to mind at the, meant to be comedic, moment, when Obi-Wan gets “Elan Sleezebaggano” to “go home and rethink” his life. Mind control is a little dodgy for heroic characters when done in such a manner.

– It’s so hard to refrain from talking about the terrible romantic dialogue, but instead let’s mention how utterly creepy towards women Anakin comes off throughout Clones. Maybe that was intentional, but it was the wrong way to play it in my view: Anakin leering at and inappropriately touching Padme at different moments does not a good character make, and leaves you feeling so awkward watching it.

-While the Geonosis lightsaber/laser fest is a bit much, the conveyer belt scene sucks and that asteroid chase is trying (and failing) to be the same sequence from Empire, I think that the earlier action set-pieces – the speeder chase and Jango/Obi-Wan fight – are fairly decent.

-On the conveyer belt sequence, that moment the camera zooms up on Padme scrambling around inside the big container always makes me laugh, it just is framed so ridiculously. What kind of direction do you give there? “Scramble faster!”

– C3PO is the Jar-Jar Binks of this film, and his involvement in the last third should be reviled just as much.

– Choice quote from a housemate who arrived just as the arena fighting was reaching its zenith: “Why are there dinosaurs?” Why indeed.

– Most of the CGI has dated poorly enough, which is surprising, and some of the special effects work is weirdly cheap. Many of the backgrounds, like in the Jedi Temple, look like matte paintings.

–What I have dubbed “Frog Yoda” might be the single, non-romantic, thing that I dislike intensely about Clones. Have that fight be just about Force powers and you might have got me on-board. The jumping lightsabre nonsense was unpalatable when I first saw it, and is unpalatable now.

-That being said, take a look at Christopher Lee’s face whenever Dooku is using Force lightning. There’s no performance there: it’s like Lucas just told him to put his hand up and started shooting.

– Here’s a debatable one: I think Anakin killing the Sand People, or at least killing the whole lot of them, was a bad choice. It makes him look too bad, too soon, and further makes the Padme romance more nonsensical. If they have to do stuff like that, better for Anakin to keep it secret.

So, that’s behind us forever. Next up, the Sith get some vengeance.

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1 Response to “I Don’t Like Sand”: Re-Watching Attack Of The Clones

  1. Pingback: Review – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens | Never Felt Better

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