Posts Tagged ‘touch of brimstone’

Star Wars: The Attack of the Clones



Big time! I mean, the previous Star Wars installment, The Phantom Menace, set simultaneous records for worst movie and stupidest title, but Attack of the Clones may have usurped both crowns.

To be fair, Clones didn’t start sucking until the opening title sequence, which these days is a major accomplishment for Hollywood. As best I recall, the plot involved some evil guy named Count Dooku (seriously), who’s out to assassinate Amidala, the former Queen of Naboo, and who is being protected by the Jedi Council under the leadership of Mace Windu. Clearly, George Lucas has got to stop letting his kids name his characters. (I’d suggest he take away their script writing privileges while he’s at it.)*

Ten years have elapsed since Phantom, and we find young Anakin (“Ani”) Skywalker has matured from an annoying, smart-ass brat into an obnoxious, whiny teenager. Amidala, who used to be the duly elected Queen (however that works) of Naboo, now has to content herself with being Senator until the Monarchy’s term limits clause gets overturned in court. On the positive side, she’s now responsible for her own makeup, but unfortunately brought her hair stylist into the sequel.

The sexy Senator is arriving in Coruscant for a hugely critical vote deciding the right of the Galactic Government to create a massive standing army for the purpose of keeping the Republic together by slaughtering anyone who disagrees with them. Padawan (“Jedi twerp”) Anakin will finally get to see Amidala again, after having explicit dreams about her every night for the last decade. Amazingly, he manages to greet her without his light-saber prematurely discharging. Patience, you see, is Anakin’s weakest characteristic (next to his inability to deliver believable dialog).

Well, quicker than you can say, “Is that a light saber in your pocket?” someone tries to kill our nubile Queen-turned-Senator, so she is immediately sent back to her home planet. Obi-Wan sends young Ani and his raging Jedi hormones along for protection. Representing Naboo at the upcoming, vastly-critical Vote of Galactic Importance will be her hand-chosen successor, the beloved Jar Jar Binks. (Naboo uses the same Senatorial process as New York.)

I found the rest of the movie a bit confusing. Okay, I found Partial Differential Equations back in college a “bit confusing”: this movie was a mess. While on Naboo, Anakin and Amidala roll around in the grass but resist scratching each other’s itches, if you get my drift. Obi-Wan races off to some other planet to do something. The camera cuts back to Naboo, where Amidala, dressed in full dominatrix regalia, has apparently just finished telling Anakin that despite the candlelight, the intimacy, and the cleavage, she thinks they should stay “just friends.” Anakin then spends the night moaning and twitching in his sleep, which he later explains is because he was dreaming of his mother. Hmmm. After his scant ten year absence, Ani decides it would be good to see ol’ mom, Shmi Skywalker, again–perhaps to get some of his capes washed. So, despite strict orders delivered in a convincing monotone by former actor Samuel Jackson, he and the young braless senator rush off to Tatooine. (The location budget on this film must have been extraordinary.)

Meanwhile, in another movie, Obi-wan finds out something about a plot of some kind involving clones.

Ani and Ami arrive on Tatooine, where Ani meets his beloved former slave-master, the big Jewish insect Watto. (Did I mention Lucas should stop letting his kids name his characters?) Watto had sold Shmi to lonely, sweaty moisture farmer Cliegg Lars who “married” her (wink, wink). Our young heroes, along with plucky little R2D2, rush to Lars’s moisture farm where they meet–who else?–C3PO! (Amazing that back in Episode IV neither ‘droid remembered ever having been there. My bet is they have Microsoft operating systems.)

Alas, poor Anakin’s mom is not there. While she was out picking mushrooms–which I hear are common in lifeless desert locations–she was abducted by a bunch of horny Tusken Raiders. Well, Ani’s capes aren’t going to wash themselves, so he sets out to rescue her, and he succeeds admirably except for the fact she’s dead. This is a turning point for young Ani, at least to judge by the music, as he proceeds to slaughter (off-screen) the entire tribe of Tuskens, including their pet Rodents Of Unusual Size that had wandered over from the “Princess Bride” set.

Meanwhile, in that other film, Obi-wan discovers a missing planet which holds the key to something. He arrives on the planet, a water-covered world buffeted by incessant rain, much like Seattle. He’s taken to meet the Prime Minister and finds out they’re manufacturing clones by the kajillion at the behest of bounty hunter “Boba Fett’s Dad.” Obi-wan promptly overstays his welcome by getting into a fight-to-the-death with Fett, which both manage to survive. Fett then flees to yet another planet, with Obi-wan in hot pursuit.

Back on Coruscant, the soon-to-be-evil Chancellor Palindrome needs only for one of the thousands of Senators to step up and request the Chancellor be given War Powers, enabling him to command his massed Army o’ Clones. Only one Senator is stupid enough to do this. (We should have known all along that Jar Jar would be the cause of this entire disaster.)

A blur of other things happens, involving some more planets. At about this point, Lucas writes himself into a corner: Amidala is in trouble and only R2D2 can save her. Due to bad placement by the prop manager, he’s too far away to help. Not to worry, because it turns out R2D2 CAN FLY! Yes! Just like the monstrous, Japanese rubber turtle Gamera (but with less plot consistency), R2D2 can spew fire from his appendages and hurtle himself across space like a rocket-powered garbage can! Seems like that could have come in handy during the first four Star Wars movies.

Ami, Ani, and Obi are captured by the evil simian dragonflies of Planet Somethingorother, under the command of Count Dooku. Ami admits to Anakin that she’s always been attracted to immature, delinquent jackasses, thus giving him a new reason to live. Count Saruman, er, Dooku, sentences them to death, and so they are handcuffed and dragged out to the center of a great coliseum to be summarily Executed By Critter. Amidala picks her lock with her teeth and narrowly escapes being killed by a giant saber-toothed rat, which fortunately manages to tear the midriff from her outfit. Ani and Obi do a bunch of Jedi Chan gymnastics, narrowly outsmarting the mindless creatures trying to kill them. Dooku’s gigantic robot army is then sent in to try to kill them (guns have been outlawed on this liberal planet), resulting in a slapstick sequence involving C3PO that is the funniest thing this side of a Pauly Shore movie. (At this point, Threepio did deliver the movie’s best line: “What’s going on? I’m so confused! I want to go home!” To which I yelled, “Me and you both, Brother!”)

Unfortunately for the bad guys, the Great Clone Army of the Republic, under the command of General Yoda H. Schwartzkopf, arrives just in time to keep the movie from slowing to something understandable. A vast amount of death and mayhem, suitable for children of all ages, ensues.

The movie reaches its anticlimactic climax in the great light-saber fight required by California law. Count Saruman easily defeats the hapless Ani and Obi using the same lighting bolt finger technique he mastered in The Fellowship of the Ring, but then must face Yoda. With the spine-tingling words, “You dark side evil have become yes!” Yoda whips out his own light-saber and sets upon the Count like a wind-up, spinning, wrinkled Muppet hopped up on goofballs.

Ultimately, the good bad guys win, while the bad good guys get away (I think; by this point it was hard to know who to root for). For reasons never explained, Amidala marries Anakin and the movie ends–about two hours twenty-three minutes after it should have.

I generously rate it four vacuums. God knows how many it would have gotten if Natalie Portman had kept all her clothes on. (But to be fair, if you wanna see Celebrity Dominatrix done right, the crown still belongs to Diana Rigg!)


*Lest you think I’m kidding about the names, consider these babies:  Lott Dod, Plo Koon, Orn Free (seriously), Ask Aak, Kit Fisto (probably stolen from a porn movie), Depa Billaba, Pooja and Ryoo Naberrie, Sio Bibble, and my personal favorites, Dexter Jettster, Nute Gunray, and Elan Sleazebaggo.

I wish I were kidding.