Review Date: May 07, 2002
Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas, Jonathan Hales
Producers: Rick McCallum
One other person who did stand out, but in a very good way, was Ewan McGregor, who really comes into his own as Obi-Wan Kenobi in this picture. He's entirely believable, he's stoic, he's very much a mentoring type, and the interaction between him and Anakin, was definitely one of the finer human points of the movie. The buildup of antagonism between the two also gives you a true sense of what's to come. The chemistry between Christensen and Portman, on the other hand, wasn't as palpable, but it was still pretty good, especially during the scenes in which they rolled around in the fields a la THE SOUND OF MUSIC. In their defense, I will say that they weren't helped by the fact that they had to deliver some pretty clunky romance dialogue. Of course, being the great thespians that they are, they still managed to pull it off without looking too much like soap opera goofs. As for Christopher Lee, well, he's always great as the bad guy and he solidified that even further here, while adding juice to the flick in the process. Great stuff!
But what blew me away the most? Well, it's simple really...the action scenes! Yes, most of us got a little pumped by the "pod race" sequence in THE PHANTOM MENACE, but what did that have to do with the movie really? Not much, right? Well, not only are the action scenes entirely delectable in this go-around, but they're also very much related to the development of the story, which actually drives you deeper into the action and visual mastery. One of my favorites comes right off the bat and features Anakin and Obi-Wan chasing an assassin through the skies on a super-duper glider. This scene kicks all kinds of ass with an amazing backdrop, zooming traffic throughout, death-defying moments and me muttering "cool" on more than one occasion. It's one of those scenes that I immediately wanted to see again. It also lead to the other interesting aspect of this tale. Once we get past the introduction of the issues, the movie separates into two distinct plotlines, one which features the budding romance between Anakin and Amidala, and another centering on Obi-Wan and his search for the bad guys. This section of the film also worked for me, because each side of the story was interesting on its own and ideally inter-mixed. Sure, the romance stuff got a little "thick" at parts (again, this might've been because of the bad dialogue), but I liked Christensen enough to follow him all the way through, and McGregor more than held his own with his side of the story.
And speaking of which, his narrative also featured the introduction of yet another cool baddie to the STAR WARS milieu: Jango Fett. This dude was as badass as they come and the confrontation scene between he and McGregor was yet another keeper. The Boba Fett cameo was also cute and certainly quite foretelling of the future. All of which lead to the final hour of the film which is basically...all-out action! Yeah, I was pretty content with the film up to that point, but the final sixty minutes really got into the true STAR WARS of it all, to the point that I could barely even look down to reach for my next cheese-infected nacho. It starts with a very cool CHICKEN RUN-esque scenario in a manufacturing factory, packed with many tense moments, then a GLADIATOR-type execution piece in a giant forum featuring some of the cooler special effects from the film (and is it me, or did one of those crazy man-eating beasts resemble a certain dinosaur from Lucas pal Steven Spielberg's JURASSIC PARK franchise?) and ends with the beginning of what seems to be a balls-out war between the clones and the nasties. What else did I like? I loved that C-3PO brought some much-needed humor into the mix, I had a blast when Yoda pulled out his lightsaber and started kicking that baddie bootie like he was a strapping 18-year old puppet again (although I'm still not sure how he requires a cane in one scene and then turns into Bruce Lee in the next), I liked how some of the aliens from another planet very much resembled a particularly favorite character of mine from THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (Jack Skellington, baby!), I think I speak for everyone when I thank George Lucas for somehow getting Portman's character to run around in half a shirt through the latter portion of this movie (nice!), I dug the Death Star "cameo" and last but certainly not least, I adored the booming score, which is a constant reminder of the power of the series and the music therein. I'm still humming it as I write this...very infectious!
So what didn't I like? (damn...this is turning into my longest review ever!) As in THE PHANTOM MENACE, I didn't much care for the actual behind-the-scenes bickering about politics and such. I understand that this topic could be engaging to some, but in my case, politics bore me to death and don't make for a particularly interesting subject matter. Jar-Jar Binks also sucked the big one, although I do want to thank Lucas personally for reducing his screen-time to next to nothing. The dialogue was also pretty stilted in some scenes, especially the more person-on-person stuff between characters. And one major plot point which I also didn't "buy" as much as the rest of the film featured Anakin's resolution with his mother. This turn of events didn't generate the required emotions for me when it occurred, and I think that had to do with the fact that Anakin's character didn't invest enough time or emotion into his mother beforehand (he barely seemed to mention her before the incident). But these are all pretty small points, which are certainly made up for by all of the other more concrete points, mentioned before them.
Overall, this movie will definitely satisfy all major STAR WARS fans, it will likely be enjoyed by girls as much as boys this time around (gotta love that "love" angle) and is thankfully, in my opinion, not as targeted to kids as was EPISODE I ("Eeeeeew, they're kissing, mom!") The movie provides us with a stunning visual world, developed characters to whom we can attain a greater emotional attachment and many out-of-this-world action sequences that should paste smiles across the faces of millions of movie fans across the world. Lucas is back, the Empire is around the corner and yeah...I'm super-stoked for the next installment!