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An Earnest Film about Balance (or Lack Thereof)
AOTC is my second favorite of the Star Wars films and I found it wondrous and unusual. I didn't catch all the nuances at first, but that has made subsequent viewings all the more enjoyable. What I appreciated most about the film is that it has few pretensions, but it is not without subtlety. Padmé, Anakin, and Obi-Wan all quickly establish their positions along with complex (and sometimes strained) relationships. In particular, the theme of balance is stressed repeatedly (especially in terms of Anakin) where he tries to balance his love for his Master with his frustration (and his ego) in addition to balancing his love for Padmé and his mother with his duty as a Jedi. Padmé herself faces a similar conflict in terms of her professional and personal life (since as a Senator, she can't very well get involved with a Jedi of all people).

Splitting the story into two main arcs was a good choice on Lucas' part, since there's a constant reinforcement of the brewing war as a backdrop to Anakin and Padmé's seclusion in a romantic paradise. No matter how isolated they are at the moment, there's no ignoring the fact that their retreat is temporary and, at some point, they will have to come back to the real world. Here, I'll express what may be an unpopular sentiment and state that I like the romance. It's fated to end badly, but it's handled very honestly. Anakin is always clear about how much he likes Padmé and never tries to hide it but, more importantly, he treats her with respect and desists when she tells him to. His caring for her remains, even if she says she can't be with him, and it is this interplay of maturity and immaturity in his character that makes him fascinating. One moment he can be complaining about his Master but later, he's reassuring Padmé not to be afraid as they face imminent death while trying to save the aforementioned man.

Obi-Wan himself is another intriguing character, clearly uncertain about how to train Anakin and perhaps, at times, overcompensating (though well-meaning). Palpatine plays a minor (but important) role and the deference with which Anakin treats him starkly contrasts with his more combative relationship with Obi-Wan.

My criticisms, though few, would be that some of the deleted scenes should not have been cut and that the droid factory should have been. But, overall, highly recommended.
Interesting. So you find the characters interesting through their contradictions, which shows their real morals. What about the storyline itself? Say, how it progresses, or its pacing, etc.
comment #17033 Tuckerscreator 30th Nov 12
I do wish the word limit was longer because I like the storyline very much as well.

One of my favorite things about AOTC is that it basically sets up how Palpatine came to power without revealing its hand completely. He really is a brilliant villain because he can both adapt to changing circumstances (as seen in TPM) and engineer situations with a favorable outcome over several options.

Take the assassination of Padmé for example. If she dies, then Nute Gunray will be placated and Palpatine is rid of yet another dissenting voice in the Senate. At the same time, though, her survival can be used to further tempt Anakin and exploit his weaknesses. We see this take root early in AOTC when he suggests that Obi-Wan be the one assigned to protect her (although I didn't realize Palpatine's true motivation until I saw ROTS).

It's similar with the Jedi. The use of a clone army may be morally ambiguous and may very well have been done under some questionable circumstances (Sifo Dyas being killed almost ten years ago and not having informed the Council of the order), and yet...what choice do the Jedi really have? With intelligence coming in that the Separatists have a huge droid army and are poised to attack, the Senate is clearly alarmed and their only option at that point is to accept the clones since the Republic does not have a unified army capable of repelling the Separatists. And if the Jedi refuse, well then it's easy enough for Palpatine to paint them as traitors and have the citizens of the Republic turn on them. Then he can simply have the Senate take the clone army itself (since the clones were ordered specifically "for the Republic"). Barring that, he could always let the Separatists overrun the Republic and then rule it as Sidious. The film is really ingenious in how it sets up this dilemma because there is so much deceit and confusion clouding the situation, that the Jedi can't be certain of what is going on. Nor, with a war going on, are they really going to have the time or capability to investigate as deeply as they'd like (especially since Jango is dead and Dooku is working for Palpatine — their two main leads).

In terms of pacing, I think it develops well, although the ending can be a little action-heavy, which would have been remedied by the removal of the droid factory sequence. In my opinion, it doesn't add all that much to the film. I would have much more greatly appreciated the scenes of Padmé visiting her family, or the extended Naboo arrival dialogue. Obi-Wan's investigation being intercut with Anakin dealing with personal quandaries was a good move, I think, in that they both progress together in terms of intensity, with Obi-Wan unravelling more of the Separatist plans while Anakin's happier moments with Padmé gradually give way to the much darker situation his mother finds herself in.

But...yeah, I really love this movie. I get a huge kick out of a lot of tiny things too. Like Padmé clenching her hands after she and Anakin first kiss or the dress she wears during the fireplace scene. Or the yin yang symbol made of clouds that we see following Anakin's nightmare.
comment #17034 RedHudsonicus 30th Nov 12
Wow I'm a little caught out by the all the positive evaluations of the prequels going around, but you make a very persuasive argument for your opinion. This makes me want to rewatch them now and look out for some of these things
comment #17036 TomWithNoNumbers 1st Dec 12
I like this review, and in general I think you're right about pretty much everything here. The only issue I have with this movie is that theoretically it comes off perfectly as you described, but in reality watching the movie I can't help seeing the flaws in execution. Sometimes it's cheesy and ham-fisted, which tends to detract from the really good elements that are indeed written into the movie.

I think Attack of the Clones is a pretty heavily flawed movie, but on its thematic grounds it really does hold its own. There's value in it as a Star Wars movie, which is why I'm never willing to say the prequels "ruined" Star Wars despite the fact that I see them as inferior to the originals. (And I don't place blame on Hayden myself, I don't think he's a bad actor...he was SUPPOSED to be playing a young, emotionally-troubled, "angsty" teen according to the script.)

Anyway, nice to see someone focusing on the positives of this movie for once.
comment #17051 JobanGrayskull 3rd Dec 12
"his love for his Master"

What love? All we see is Darth arguing when Obi-wan is present and bitching about him when he's gone. They laugh while reminiscing in the elevator, but that's just the thing. We never see them as friends. We're only told they were friends. That's bad drama.
comment #17094 tublecane 6th Dec 12
@tublecane

I disagree. Anakin arguing with Obi-Wan reminds me more of a young man complaining about his parents or teachers. One important point to consider is that Obi-Wan is not just Anakin's friend but also his Master, his teacher, mentor, and parent/guardian all rolled into one. Think of all the complaining that young people do about their parents/teachers/employers/etc. at that age and it's not surprising that Anakin gets frustrated with Obi-Wan. It's probably exacerbated by the fact that AOTC shows us that this is Anakin's first mission alone, meaning that he's never taken on an assignment by himself and is going to be eager to prove himself and his independence.

They're friends, but they're also much more than that because Obi-Wan is, above all, an authority figure for Anakin. And there's tension in that Anakin sees him as a father -figure while Obi-Wan doesn't really fit the mold (ROTS has him refer to them as brothers). I do think, though, that Anakin's love for him shines through, considering the number of times he goes to save Obi-Wan. They were never going to have the easy partnership of Luke and Han due to their hierarchical relationship, but I think the presentation of their relationship is the most logical one Lucas could have chosen, given the circumstances.

Also, considering Palpatine's constant ego-stoking and Anakin's own abilities, it's not surprising to me that he becomes frustrated with Obi-Wan.
comment #17124 RedHudsonicus 6th Dec 12
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