Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones - Movie Review
by Michael Elliott

Artistic Rating: 3.5 Stars
Comments: The Force is back
Directed By: George Lucas
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christiansen, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee
Written By: George Lucas & Jonathan Hales
Rated: PG for sustained sequences of sci-fi action violence
Running Time: 2 hr : 12 min
Scripture References: Ephesians 4:22-24, Colossians 3:5-10, 1 Corinthians 10:13

I don't think I was alone in wondering if perhaps the steam had gone out of the Star Wars franchise following the disappointing Episode I. Nor do I think I'll be alone in celebrating George Lucas's return to form in the highly exhilarating and enjoyable Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

The film opens ten years after we last saw these characters. Senator (formally Queen) Padm? Amidala (Natalie Portman, Where The Heart Is) has returned to Coruscant to vote on an issue of vital importance to the republic and is met with an assassination attempt. Fearing further attacks may be forthcoming, the Jedi high council, which includes Yoda (voice by Frank Oz) and Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson, Changing Lanes), immediately places her under Jedi protection.

Jedi Master Obi Wan Kanobi (Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge) and his young apprentice, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christiansen, Life as a House) are given the task of protecting the senator from those who would do her harm. After another near miss, it is decided that it would be safest if the senator and Anakin would return to her home planet of Naboo while Obi Wan tracks down the would be assassin.

As Obi Wan's investigation begins to uncover a separatist plot that would destroy the fragile republic, Anakin and Padm? alternately explore and then try to suppress the romantic feelings they have for each other. When tragedy touches Anakin, we see the stirrings of the "dark force" within him, foreshadowing what most of us know is coming.

While the title "Attack of the Clones" seems almost designed to invite parody, the clones themselves are an integral part of the story and serve to bridge a gap between this trilogy and the next one.

The digital effects of the Star Wars series continue to improve and those responsible for art direction and production design certainly deserve the kudos they will receive. Once again, the detailed crafting of the various worlds visited in the course of the story is extremely impressive.

Unlike Episode 1, which also boasted of stunning visual elements, Attack of the Clones contains characters and, more importantly, relationships about whom we care. Ewan McGregor seems to be growing confidently into the role of Obi Wan Kanobi. Hayden Christiansen plays Anakin as a brooding, impatient, and highly skilled twenty-year-old which is a vast improvement over the nine-year-old version we were given in The Phantom Menace. There is less Jar Jar Binks, and more of a connection to the original films (Episodes IV-VI). We even see Yoda in a brand new and somewhat amusing light.

As to be expected, there are also thrilling action sequences. A standout is a jet car chase through the heavily trafficked skies of Coruscant. And of course it wouldn't be Star Wars without a light saber duel.

Attack of the Clones also has more of a psychological depth to it as it begins to lay out the course of a good man who turns bad. We see the bad seed planted as Anakin Skywalker receives some "advice" from a false counselor. "Trust your emotions," he is told. This contradicts sound thinking and opens Anakin's heart to the temptation of disobedience as he rejects his understood moral code to act out of passion rather than reason.

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)

Having emotions is wonderful. We would be a pretty bland people without them. They add considerable flavor to our lives. But they must be held in check. They do not rule our spirit nor should they dictate our actions. Many trips to the "dark side of the force" are begun due to an emotional response to a situation rather than a reasoned, measured and godly one.

-Michael Elliott, c/o Movie Parables

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