Site ColumnsBy Caillan
May 17, 2002 - 4:47 PM
When dad rang up on Tuesday night asking if I'd like to go and see 'Attack of the Clones' at 6:30pm on Wednesday, I didn't have to think twice about my answer. The ticket was for two, and once again, I didn't need to think about who to take - the threat of being impaled on a plastic light sabre was too horrendous to bear.
So on Wednesday night my 10 year-old brother and I found ourselves at the Queensland premiere of 'Attack of the Clones.' We arrived 45-minutes early, only to find a massive lineup extending behind a poster for the film. Near the stairs going up to the theatre, there were cameramen and journalists, and a little set-up where celebrities would be interviewed. Brisbane celebrities, that is.
After stationing my brother at the back of the queue, I went and sold my soul for popcorn and a large coke. "Are you sure that's not a mega coke?" the serving girl crooned at me sweetly. "It's only one dollar more." After giving in, I negotiated my way to the queue once more - only this time there were lots more people behind us.
Eventually, we reached the front of the line, when they called Cinema 7. Our ticket said Cinema 8, so I asked someone important (they had a walkie-talkie) when we'd be going in. "Oh, Cinema 8 didn't have to line up," she said, with a smile. With visions of everyone else already being in there, my brother and I rushed in - fortunately, we were still there before many of the other lucky Cinema 8ers.
We'd apparently ended up in the 'celebrity' cinema, because sitting smack bang in the middle was the Queensland Premier. When we sat down, my brother leaned over to me and asked if he was an important man, because he'd seen him on TV. I just sank into my seat and tried to disappear, especially when cameras came into the room and started filming. The only other 'celebrity' I saw was one of the evicted Big Brother 2 contestants - obviously reserved seats at premieres are what you get during your 15 minutes of fame. A 20th Century Fox representative gave a little speech, and we were on our way.
Now, onto the film. Major spoilers lurk herein, so if you haven't seen it yet, and don't want to know details, take the first lightspeeder out of here.
The general consensus from reviews was that it was "better than 'The Phantom Menace," a statement that doesn't exactly inspire confidence. Fortunately, it's an understatement - it was light-years better than 'The Phantom Menace.'
Star Wars films aren't really actors' films - they're more about the epic story, the conflict, and most importantly, the spectacle. And boy, did 'Attack of the Clones' deliver. From the opening credits and the assassination attempt on Senator Amidala, to the non-stop third act, and the ominous ending, it's an enthralling roller-coaster ride.
Obviously, one of the key components of the film is the love story between Anakin and Padme. Both Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman do their best with the dialogue, but some of it is rather stilted to say the least. When Anakin starts talking about how he's irritated by sand, but not Padme's smooth skin, you know you're in trouble. The main problem with this part of the plot is that I felt it started very suddenly - it's a little disturbing that Anakin's been dreaming about Padme since he was nine. But somehow, Christensen and Portman won me over - by the time they kissed prior to their appearance in 'Gladiator II,' I was convinced they were in love. John Williams's fantastic love theme went a long way to help with this.
While Anakin and Padme cavort on Naboo, Obi-Wan drives the thrust of the plot. I've heard complaints that his investigation sequences were slow, but for me they were one of the highlights of the movie. The sequence with Yoda and the younglings was delightful - I loved the sense of wonder when they activated the map. But the best part came on Camino, when he saw all those clones marching onto the transport - wow! The few bars of music that accompany those shots are probably my favourite part of the score. Ewan McGregor was on-the-ball as always as Obi-Wan.
One thing that stood out about the film were the scenes that were actually disturbing. The moment when Shmi dies in Anakin's arms, and her head falls back, is probably the most potent image in the film. Christensen successfully communicated Anakin's intense inner pain without dialogue - this was definitely a case where less is more. Another great 'image' was little Boba Fett picking up his 'father's' severed head in the arena.
The last 45 minutes of the film is one action set-piece after another. From the conveyor belt to the Arena (alas, sans Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix facing off), the Clone battle and the final duel with Dooku, the film doesn't let you take a breath. And this is a good thing, because unfortunately, the political machinations in the Senate aren't really enough to hold your attention - that side of the film really felt too undeveloped to have a big impact, despite Ian McDiarmid's always-excellent performance.
We're treated to several comic one-liners throughout the film. Although not quite up to the humorous banter of the original trilogy, I found some of these quite amusing, like Obi-Wan's exasperated "Why do I get the feeling you'll be the death of me?" to Anakin, and Nute Gunray's "Shoot her, or something!" During the arena scenes, they're to several corny lines from C3P0. I've always been a big C3P0 fan, so they worked for me, but they were pretty bad.
The last act brought several surprises which I wasn't anticipating. First, the revelation that Dooku and Sidious are developing the Death Star was unexpected, but even that was topped by Dooku chopping Anakin's hand and lower arm off in their duel. Now that was a shock! I'd always wondered how Darth Vader developed into half-man, half-machine, but he's on his way now.
Of course, the highlight of the Dooku duel was seeing Yoda wield a light sabre. Both times I saw the film (yes, I went to see it again on Thursday), the audience laughed and tittered as he went into 'bad-ass' mode, only to marvel at his flips and acrobatic stunts. I must say, it was completely amazing, in a geeky, fanboyish sort of way.
But even this was eclipsed by the last sequence of the film - where I just went 'Oh My God.' Those images of the clone troopers boarding the starships and then departing, while Palpatine watched, all to the accompaniment of a beefed-up Imperial March, were totally spine-tingling. And then we see Anakin and Padme getting married on Naboo, accompanied by the surging love theme, and then, the close-up of his cybernetic hand - brilliant! It was at that moment that I knew it was going to be a long wait for Episode III.
As I mentioned, I went to see the film again on Thursday, and it didn't temper my enthusiasm. 'Attack of the Clones' isn't a masterpiece, but it is technically brilliant, the music is fantastic, and above all, it's thoroughly enjoyable. Of course, I'm probably still on my fanboy high after listening to the soundtrack all day, but 'Attack of the Clones' is a worthy installment in the Star Wars saga.
Trek BBS Today
Below are some of the topics currently being discussed at the Trek BBS:
- Is Worf the most-liked character by Trek fans?
- What was Picard's defining moments?
- Post your opinion in one of the many 'Star Wars Episode II' threads in the Science Fiction & Fantasy forum.
More topics can be found at the Trek BBS!
Trek Two Years Ago
These were some of the major news items on May 17, 2000:
- 'Unimatrix Zero' Scribe Writes Article
Writer Michael Sussman described how he came up with the story for the Voyager season six finale, 'Unimatrix Zero.'
The Borg... and cyberspace. It seemed like a natural fit. The Borg are jacked in to a giant network. It'd be easy to imaging some Drones living an interior fantasy life in cyberspace, as their bodies march about doing the bidding of the Collective. Maybe it could be much more than a fantasy life... a cyberspace environment that the Collective doesn't know about.
- Canadian Trek TV Guide Report
The Canadian TV Guide featured a four-page cover story on Voyager's final season, and the Trek franchise in general. The article included speculation from Robert Picardo (the EMH) that Voyager would return to Earth in November sweeps, and several different Internet rumours about Series V. These included a 'Valiant' and a Ferengi-only premise.
More news can be found in the archives.
Today's Television Listings
- TNN will be showing the Next Generation episodes 'Rightful Heir' at 8:00 p.m Eastern Time, with 'The Next Phase' at 9:00 p.m, 'Realm of Fear' at 10:00 p.m, and 'Preemptive Strike' at 11:00 p.m.
- The Sci-Fi Channel will be showing the Original Series episodes 'Plato's Stepchildren' at 6:00 p.m Eastern, with 'A Piece of the Action' at 7:00 p.m.
- In Canada, Space! will be showing the Original Series episode 'The Enemy Within' at 10:00 a.m and 2:00 p.m Eastern time, with TNG's 'Attached' at 3:00 p.m, DS9's 'The Assignment' at 4:00 p.m and Voyager's 'The Fight' at 5:00 p.m.
- In the United Kingdom, the Next Generation episode 'The Quality of Life' at 16:00 GMT, with Voyager's 'Life Line' at 17:00. Thanks go out to the Great Link for this!
Tomorrow's Television Listings
- In Canada, Space! will be showing the Original Series's 'The Enemy Within' at 10:00am Eastern time, TNG's 'Attached' at 11:00am, DS9's 'The Assignment' at 12:00pm, and Voyager's 'The Fight' at 5:00pm.
- In the United Kingdom, DS9 will be showing DS9's 'Ferengi Love Songs' at 14:00 GMT, TNG's 'First Contact' at 15:00, TNG's 'Galaxy's Child' at 16:00, and Voyager's 'The Haunting of Deck Twelve' at 17:00. Thanks go out to the Great Link for this!
- In Australia, TV1 will be showing the Original Series's 'The Enterprise Incident' at 19:30, TNG's 'Identity Crisis' at 20:30, DS9's 'The House of Quark' at 21:30, and Voyager's 'Threshold' at 22:30. Thanks go out to Sci-Fi TV Schedules International!