Plot: Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is now a Jedi in training, under the guidance of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and while the two have an odd couple vibe, they also make a good team. Anakin is brash and impulsive,while Obi-Wan is more reserved and by the book, but he also allows Anakin some freedom to take risks, though that trust is often stretched thin. The two are soon assigned to protect their old friend Padme (Natalie Portman), who is an assassination target because of her political beliefs and determined methods. While Obi-Wan travels to find the source of the threat, Anakin remains with Padme on Naboo, where a romance begins to bloom, even though the two have very different world outlooks. But who is behind the plot to kill Padme and how do all of these threads weave together?
Entertainment Value: This is a rough one, easily the worst of the prequels and a mess of a movie. Attack of the Clones delivers us Hayden Christensen as Anakin, one of the most misguided casting decisions ever and while he doesn’t sink this one alone, his presence dooms the movie. The rest of the movie is by no means passable, as we have a dull, drawn out narrative that manages to nearly ruin the coolness of Boba Fett and has some of the most awkward, stilted dialogue ever. I love bad dialogue, but while this is terrible, cringe level stuff, it doesn’t often entertain, so it just plain bad, rather than camp or over the top stuff. I do like a few scenes in Attack of the Clones, as Christopher Lee is a total bad ass as a sith lord, but what could have been an epic moment, as we finally see Yoda in combat, is tanked by low end visual effects. The CGI Yoda looks abysmal in the action scenes, as if two video game characters are in a duel, so what should have been epic is instead laughable. Some of the production design elements are impressive, but the entire movie has a false, hollow texture, so it always feels like green screen and never like actual locations. A few passable scenes aside, this one is a total mess and worse than that, is a total bore.
Anakin just couldn’t catch a break in the prequels, first played by Jake Lloyd and then handed to Hayden Christensen, who does the impossible and makes Jar Jar seem like a charismatic presence. Christensen has zero charm or presence, stumbling through his lines and of course, the scenes with Natalie Portman rank among the most cringe level attempts at cinema romance ever. If his role wasn’t the central element of the movie, even an effort this miserable wouldn’t be a concern, but as the lead, he is an anchor around the neck of the entire movie. Natalie Portman is monotone, but has good presence, while Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits, Ewan McGregor, and others turn in solid, but forgettable work. The coolest part of Attack of the Clones is Christopher Lee, who manages to make the horrible script seem effective at times, not to mention he looks killer with a light saber. He and McGregor seem to be the lone cast members going all out, as most of the others seem lifeless or just going through the motions. In the end, Attack of the Clones does little more than remind us that things can always be worse and help us appreciate The Phantom Menace.