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:: Star Wars Episode 2: Attack Of The Clones

When it comes to reviewing a movie such as Episode 2: Attack of the Clones, or indeed any film involving trilogies, sequels or prequels, I think it is only fair to state your position on the phenomenon generally at the outset. The first Star Wars film, now named Episode 4: A New Hope, was released the year I was born, 1977. Thinking back to my childhood, my clearest recollections are of Episode 6: Return of the Jedi which was released when I was in year one (1983), The Empire Strikes Back was also just before my time. At that stage, I had a teddy Ewok, my little brother owned a couple of Storm Trooper figurines and I distinctly remember thinking it would be excellent fun to go fanging around the forest on one of those hovercraft racers. To show my age even more, I think I even thought Luke, rather than Han Solo, was a bit of all right, not the whinging pain in the arse he appears to me now.

Of course over the next quarter of a century I revisited those films countless times and was familiar enough with them by the age of 11 for Spaceballs (1987), the Mel Brooks Star Wars parody to become my favourite film for an embarrassingly long period of time, simply due to the fact I understood most of the references. Pizza The Hut, I mean that's pure genius isn't it? By 1999, the release of Episode 1: The Phantom Menace saw me on a sugar and caffeine high waiting up for the first session of the film at midnight to open in Perth. I queued up with Darth Vaders, Storm Troopers, Jedis, Skywalkers and other very excited people who seemed to me on the night to have spent the past sixteen years waiting for this, the next Star Wars instalment to be unleashed on the world for their viewing pleasure, even if they had got day jobs and had children in the meantime.

So with the release of Attack of the Clones, I think it is fair to say that I was by no means a die-hard Star Wars fan, searching the net daily for original boxed set figurines of the characters from the late 1970's, nor was I completely oblivious to the Star Wars phenomenon. With this in mind, I walked into the cinema last week with my very excited friend, feeling pretty special that it was the night before opening night and as the familiar John Williams score burst into my eardrums and as the audience applauded and yahooed, I felt like I was six years old once again. I sat back in my chair, grinning from ear to ear and eagerly waited to be thoroughly entertained.

Attack of the Clones is set 10 years after the events of The Phantom Menace, when the Trade Federation caused major problems on Naboo, Queen Amidala's home planet which eventually led to the appointment of Palpatine (Ian McDiarmind) as Chancellor of the Galactic Senate. Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) has passed the time as a Padawan learner under the guidance of Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) studying the ways of the force. Despite Chancellor Palpatine's assurances of peace and order in the galaxy, the Republic is faced with a growing separatist movement as hundreds of planets and trade alliances have begun joining forces. The Jedi, the enforcers of peace and order in the galaxy are stretched beyond their limits and the increasing presence of the dark side begins to cloud their vision.

Anakin and Obi- Wan are sent to protect Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman), who has completed her term as Queen and has become Senator Padme Amidala, when assassination attempts are made on her life. When a bounty hunter (Leeanna Walsman) gets too close to Padme right under the noses of Anakin and Obi-Wan, it becomes clear that it is too dangerous for her to remain on Coruscant and that the Jedi must not only discover who her enemies are but where they are hiding. Padme is sent to Naboo with Anakin, while Obi-Wan goes in search of Padme's adversaries and in the process, on the planet of Kamino, uncovers a conspiracy to overthrow the Galactic Senate.

As Obi- Wan uncovers hidden clone armies, confronts a feared bounty hunter Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison) and his son Boba (Daniel Logan) and has a run in with a disillusioned Jedi, once his Master, Qui-Gion Jinn's (Liam Neeson) Master, Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), Anakin frolicks with Padme on Naboo until his conscience leads him to his home planet, Tatooine, to confront his past and find his mother Shmi Skywalker (Pernilla August. Obi-Wan's trail eventually leads him to the sunburnt planet of Geonosis and just as Anakin and Padme follow him there, they are confronted by the united forces of Count Dooku, Jango Fett and a gladiatorial ring full of blood thirsty insect-like spectators. It is left up to Yoda (Frank Oz) to come to their rescue and what a rescue it is.

All in all, it would be easy to focus on the unfortunately large amount of things that are wrong with this film, in particular the dialogue, Hayden Christensen's sporadic acting abilities, Anakin's personality, Padme's lack of personality, the entire love story subplot, the occasional hole in the story and the incomprehensibility, at times, as to where it is all headed. There is none of Han Solo's witty retorts and despite the amount of times Padme changes outfits, she simply cannot outclass Leia. But these imperfections are more than made up for by witnessing Yoda whip a light sabre from his belt, the reunion of R2D2 and C3PO, the enduring and uplifting musical score, the much more imaginative and seamless graphics than those in The Phantom Menace and finally the reason we keep coming back to Star Wars time and again, for the action, for good versus evil.

Screening on general release including Rivoli Cinemas, Classic Cinema and Dendy Brighton