Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones (Part 3)

Click here for Part 2!

Lucas tries to quickly distract us from how head smashingly stupid Obi is by returning to Anakin and Padme back on Naboo, where they've set up shop at the place Padme is going to be hiding. And by hiding, I mean walking around in public while wearing the least amount of clothes possible. The rest of the Anakin/Padme scenes are going to be very similar: they go on some ultra romantic date while Padme teases Anakin then shuts him down when he starts getting too close. This one is notable though as it's probably the most famous bit of dialogue in the entire movie: Anakin's sand metaphor.  Padme has returned to her Queen Monotone voice and is putting us to sleep about how she used to swim at this beach as a kid, prompting this GEM from Anakin:

“I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything’s soft... and smooth...”.

I've seen smoother lines from guys in rape/revenge movies. I laughed out loud when I first saw this, and I'm laughing out loud while typing this. Padme doesn't laugh though, even when Anakin starts caressing her bare skin and kissing her. The kiss is VERY rough looking, so the movie starts playing this huge orchestral swell to make it seem romantic. Padme breaks the kiss, saying she shouldn't have done that while Anakin looks around shocked. Yeesh.

Lama Su gives Obi a tour of the facility, telling him how the clones are basically super badass fighters and thinkers. When he mentions the person they were cloned from, Obi asks to meet him as he lives on Kamino. This serves as our official introduction to Not Boba, a/k/a Jango Fett. Played by Temuera Morrison, an actor who is now THE voice of Boba Fett thanks to Lucas and his never ending quest to ruin the original trilogy. Wanting everything in his six part saga to be consistent (HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!), Lucas redubbed all of Boba's lines in Empire Strikes Back with Morrison's voice over original actor Jason Wingreen's. Like nearly every decision Lucas made in his nonstop tinkering of the movies, this proved to be most controversial because let's be honest here... Morrison's voice isn't up to par with the walking legend that is Boba. Jango sure because he's just some wannabe scrub, but Boba “THE MAN” Fett?

What about Boba then, you might be asking? How does he fit into all of this? That answer is next revealed to us when the aliens tell Obi part of Jango's conditions to let himself serve as the cloning template was that they make him a completely unaltered clone of himself. All the other clones they've been using growth accelerators and mental reprogramming on, so Jango wanted a baby of his own free of all that. Why did he ask this? BEATS ME! Lucas didn't feel this was worthy of an explanation, since Jango gets no back story whatsoever while Boba, one of the most enigmatic characters in all of sci-fi, is just a stupid clone. Some days I think I should change the title of this blog to “Be Careful Of What You Wish For...”.

Alright, time for another mind numbing Anakin and Padme scene! This time they're having a picnic in front of a woefully fake cascade of waterfalls, Padme boring Anakin by telling him about a boy she had a crush on when she was twelve. Anakin, truly the master of talking to the opposite sex, begins badmouthing politicians and how worthless they are. He then suggests a leader should be appointed to MAKE the Senate think a certain way, which is the equivalent of going on a date with a Catholic priest and telling her how awesome abortions are. Padme comments this sounds like a dictatorship, which Anakin says is FINE AND DANDY WITH HIM while giving her those patented rape eyes.

I don't think I “get” any of this. Like this is obviously meant to be serious, but everything about this is VIOLENTLY wrong! This is supposed to be the most epic love story in the history of love stories, the star-crossed romance that planted the needs for the noble and pure Anakin's tragic descent into the Dark Side, isn't it? Shouldn't Anakin be, like, noble and pure? I don't think having him be a moody punk that throws a fit whenever someone disagrees with him, let alone SUPPORT DICTATORSHIPS was the best approach for his character. And how bad does this make look Padme? What woman would EVER fall for a loser of Anakin's degree?

Padme just gapes at Anakin for several moments, then... starts giggling? She concludes he's just teasing her and gives him a look like “oh, you are SO in boy!”. You go Padme, hope hooking up with Anakin goes well for you. No way falling in love with a psychopath like him could EVER go wrong. This scene drags on as the two lovebirds end up actually rolling together through a grassy field, something so trite that even Nicholas Sparks wouldn't dare to write it. Geez, do you realize we haven't even crossed the fifty minute mark of this fucking thing? Over half of this movie has been Obi dicking around looking for clones while Anakin tries to reenact a Harlequin romance novel. I don't think I can even remember what the plot was at this point, something about a mystery person that SO isn't Count Dooku trying to kill Padme? Does that sound right?

Taun We, the alien who first met with Obi when he landed, takes him to meet Jango and Boba. In case you're too dumb to have figured out who Jango is by now, Lucas includes a scene where Jango's telltale armour can be seen in a closet before Boba closes the door. Obi asks Jango about Sifo-Dyas, but Jango says he was hired by a man named Tyranus to sire the clones. Ooh, the plot thickens! No wait, there has to be a plot first so it to thicken. Because this scene was just TOO EXCITING, Lucas cuts back to Naboo. We see Padme, sitting on a couch with Anakin by a romantic fireplace, is now wearing a leather corset that wouldn't look out of place in a Playboy pictorial.

Anakin begins to pour his heart out to Padme, delivering what is EASILY the most underrated bit of dialogue in the entire film. And by that, I mean it doesn't get mocked ANYWHERE near on the scale of what it should:

“From the moment I met you, all those years ago, not a day has gone by when I haven't thought of you. And now that I'm with you again, I'm in agony. The closer I get to you, the worse it gets. The thought of not being with you... I can't breathe. I'm haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me. My heart is beating, hoping that kiss will not become a scar. You are in my very soul, tormenting me. What can I do? I will do anything that you ask...”.

That snippet from an emo poetry slam is made INFINITELY more entertaining by Christensen's high school drama club level of delivery, as it feels like that one kid that's just in class for a cheap credit emoting his way through lines he doesn't understand. Matter of fact, this entire scene feels like a high school play: jilted line delivery and shitty lighting. Portman isn't doing much better here, also employing the start/stop method between each word to give it more gravity. She says he does have feelings for Anakin as well, but their love can never been due to their career paths.

So she has feelings for Anakin now, eh? Based off... what exactly? That roll in the grass they took? The time Anakin talked down to her in front of the queen? Anakin's pervert vision making her feel uncomfortable? I remind you, aside from when Anakin was a little boy, these two have known each other for like four days MAX, probably even half that. They have absolutely nothing in common and no shared interests other than their physical attraction for each other, so it makes zero sense than Bella would have any feelings for Edward other than lust. Hold on, Bella? What movie am I watching? I'm so bored I can't remember!

Thankfully, Obi shows up to remind me this is a Star Wars movie. Obi reports to Yoda and Mace about the clones and his “suspicion” Jango was behind Padme's assassination attempt. He brings up how Sifo-Dyas had died more than ten years ago and couldn't have possibly placed the order for the clones, but the heads of the Jedi Council are more concerned with Jango. Good call, that whole “clone army created around the same time Palpatine became chancellor” thing can't POSSIBLY be important at all. Yoda orders Obi to capture him and bring him to Coruscant for interrogation, which marks the first time in history I'm looking forward to a stupid CGI action scene because I'll take ANYTHING to break up how fucking dull this movie has been.

Oh, spoke too soon. We can't have two Obi scenes in a row, that'd be preposterous! Anakin has another vision of his mother being tortured, so he tells Padme he HAS to go save her. Padme says she'll go with, marking yet another genius idea in her long history of Einstein-like levels of brilliance. What better place to go when you have people trying to kill you than Tatooine, home to villainous scum and more bounty hunters than a reality TV channel? It's nearly impossible to choose who the single stupidest character in the entire prequels is, but Padme is definitely making her case in this film.

Obi finds the Fetts are about to depart Kamino on Jango's ship, this incredibly awesome Slave I. Obi and Jango engage in what is a VERY cool fight due to the fact it's hand-to-hand, necessitating effort on Lucas' part to direct it. It is a shame the green screen behind them is SyFy Channel levels of fake, but compared to everything else we've endured so far this is like a freaking Tony Jaa movie. I could have used SO many more minutes of this, but eventually Jango gets the best of Obi and escapes on his ship, but not before Obi can throw a tracker device onto it. I am SO sad that's over, especially since the next scene is Anakin and Padme landing on Tatooine. Get ready folks, things REALLY go downhill from here on out.

Anakin tracks down his old slave master Watto, who now runs a little roadside stand selling junk. Watto tells him he sold Shmi years ago to a moisture farmer named Lars, who freed her and married her. Lars, eh? That name sounds familiar... The lovebirds go to the Lars' moisture farm, where we see C-3PO outside working. C-3PO has gotten an outer shell upgrade since we saw him last, but it's a dingy gray one and not his more familiar goldenrod one. But hey, that's an extra toy Lucas can sell now! C-3PO takes them inside to meet the Lars family, consisting of Cliegg, his son Owen, and Owen's girlfriend Beru.

Before we get into the Lars drama, I want to stop to talk about one of my biggest problems with the prequels: its miscasting of extremely important characters, which is on full display with the characters that would grow up to become Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru in A New Hope. I call them extremely important not because they have any affect on this movie, but because they're in the original trilogy. They aren't miscast in the aspect they're bad actors, as it's impossible to tell who's a good or bad actor thanks to the direction, but rather their age. Owen and Beru here are played by Joel Edgerton, aged 26, and Bonnie Piesse, aged 17. In the film they're playing characters in presumably their early 20s, possibly even late teens. In A New Hope, which is only 22 years after this movie, they are now in their sixties. Damn! Either Tatooine is like the planet in Interstellar where time passes differently or Lucas never even thought about trying to tell a story with consistency.

What about that minor character named Obi-Wan Kenobi? Actor Ewan McGregor was 29 when this movie was filmed, and his character certainly looks around that age. Jump ahead to Episode IV where Obi is now played by the legendary Sir Alec Guinness, age 62. Obi's age jump I really don't have much of a problem with because you could make the case all the hardship he went through aged him prematurely, but it still is jarring when you stop to think about it.

Cliegg tells Anakin that his mother was kidnapped by Tusken Raiders over a month ago, and the rescue party they sent after her was slaughtered. Anakin knows he can do better though, heading out to the Raiders' settlement. Because this scene is in danger of creating some tension, Lucas breaks it by going back to Obi, who was tailed Jango to a nearby planet. He sneaks around, finding a giant factory creating the most feared enemies in all of Star Wars: the dreaded BATTLE DROIDS. OH NOES! He overhears an elderly man talking with Nute Gunray about signing a treaty, which in the past has always worked out smashing for the Trade Federation.

Nute says he won't sign until Padme is dead, as he's still angry with her over... what? What is his motivation here? He blames her for all the bullshit in the last movie, even though there's like half a dozen people more responsible for... wait, he got off scot free we've learned. The Trade Federation didn't lose their license and he didn't get imprisoned, I would call that a win. The elderly man is revealed to be the elusive Count Dooku, played by master thespian Christopher Lee. He should need no introduction as he's been acting since the 1940s and has nearly THREE HUNDRED credited roles in his filmography. The man is a consummate professional, it's just a shame it took over an hour for us to even see him. I bet he would have been a great villain if a decent writer had penned this story.

Dooku and Gunray arrive at a meeting with other aliens, the various races pledging their support to his Separatist movement.  Okay, now we're starting to get some- ah dammit, back to Anakin. Mirroring his master, the young padawan also sneaks into the enemy territory. He finds his mother tied up inside a tent, cruel cuts all over her face. What do you think the Raiders were doing to her for a month? I suspect that's a question I NEVER want answered. Anakin unties Shmi... just in time for her to DIE IN HIS ARMS. What the fuck? Were those ropes magically keeping her alive? Were they coated in valuable “keep this minor character alive so the main character can discover her a moment too late” juice? That’s REALLY expensive, how the fuck did the raggedy ass Tusken Raiders afford that stuff?

Well, Anakin's pissed. He fires up his lightsaber and begins slicing and dicing Raiders, while we hear Qui-Gon Jinn's voice scream “Anakin, noooooo!”. This isn't actually something Liam Neeson recorded for the film, but a clip they cobbled together from his line in Episode I. Neeson had to sign off on it though, and I've always wondered what he got paid for that.  Yet another question I'm sure I don't want to know the answer to. As Anakin begins to hack his way through the village, which the camera goes out of its way to establish contains children, we cut back to Coruscant where Yoda tells Mace he can sense that Anakin is in terrible pain. I thought the Jedi couldn't sense stuff anymore due to their mysterious inability to access the Force anymore? Interstellar sensations seem like one of the first things that would be inaccessible to them. Worried for Anakin's safety, Yoda mobilizes a team of Jedi to go check on him. Hahah, just kidding. Yoda doesn't do JACK, because fuck Anakin right? He's a big boy, I'm SURE he'll be fine.

Obi tries to report his latest random discovery to the Jedi Council, but Coruscant is too far out of range for his communicators. He tries to call Anakin on Naboo, but learns he's gone to Tatooine instead. He comments “I do hope nothing has happened to him” with all the emotion of a guy that accidentally put a dime instead of a nickel in the parking meter. He sends a message to Anakin, unaware he's being watched by an evil looking escapee from Disney's A Bug's Life. Anakin doesn't get the message though, as he's occupied bringing his mother's body home to the Lars farm. Padme tries to console him with Hallmark greeting card platitudes, but Anakin ignores her and starts ranting about how one day he'll be all powerful and able to stop people from dying. If you pause this scene at just the right moment, you can see George Lucas' reflection on one of the machines winking at you.

Then things start getting weird as Anakin suddenly blames the whole thing on Obi, accusing him of “holding him back”. I do not follow your train of thought here, Ani. He tells Padme how he killed ever single man, woman, and child at the Raider camp while a brief snippet of the Imperial March plays. What's Padme's reaction to this? Run for her life from this young Joker in the making? Nah, she just sits next to him and tells him “to be angry is to be human”. Oh yeah, that would have been my response too. Still AN HOUR to go people!

Later everyone gathers to hold an impromptu funeral for Shmi, having buried her not too far from the living area. Huh, that's weird. I sure as hell never saw Shmi's tombstone in A New Hope but if I took the time to point out these kind of inconsistencies this review would be longer than this goddamn movie. R2 arrives to break things up, informing Anakin of Obi's message. Anakin watches it and relays it Coruscant, Obi saying he's on the planet Geonosis and has discovered Nute is behind the assassination attempts. Before he can say anything else, his transmission is cut short by an attack from a destroyer droid.

Mace orders Anakin to stay on Tatooine and guard Padme while they finally get off their ass and deal with Dooku. Anakin is TOTES CHILL to obey for once because fuck Obi, but Padme talks him into rescuing his teacher since they're closer to Geonosis than the Council. They depart, taking C-3PO with them because... uh... huh. I've never thought about that before. Sure, C-3PO IS Anakin's droid technically, but he left her with Shmi and her marriage to Cliegg gave him control of her estate. Plus, we saw C-3PO doing stuff on the farm and helping out, so I imagine Cliegg had come to rely on him to help run his business. Dick move there Ani!

The Jedi departing Coruscant, Palpatine is now left alone to further his machinations. He meets with a host of alien leaders, Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan among them. Bail is played by Jimmy Smits, another actor that should need no introduction. It's kind of funny how the best actors in this film are the most underutilized, and by funny I mean horribly sad. The senators are worried about the Separatists now that they have the backing of the Trade Federation's FEARSOME droid army, the Kinyen senator saying they need this newly discovered clone army to protect themselves. Okay, I can believe senators being this fucking stupid about how convenient this all is, but the Jedi have no excuse AT ALL.

Click here for Part 4!