Unlike in May 1999, when I saw Star Wars: The Phantom Menace three times on opening day (it just worked out that I had a chance to see it three times) I did not see Star Wars: Attack of the Clones on opening day. After the introduction of Jar-Jar Binks, I wasn't about to see the next installment on opening day.
The dialog sucked. There was very little chemistry between Padmé (Natalie Portman) and Anakin (Hayden Christensen); their love story bogged the movie down. I found watching Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in the rain (what rain!) more exciting than the cold and ham-fisted romance the kids were going through (and that's saying something since Natalie Portman is hot, especially in the white form fitting (ahem) body suit where it was plainly evident the set was a bit chilly). Even the scenery was more lively than their courtship.
Oh! The scenery! It was the scenery of “The Phatom Menace” that kept me there for two additional showings and it's only gotten better. Coruscant (the capital planet of the Republic) is a beautiful planet filled with Gernbackian visions of the future. Naboo, Tatooine, heck, all the planets are beautifully rendered; Industrial Light and Magic (the special effects division of Lucasfilm) could make a killing doing travelogues.
Sometimes, Anakin, I think you'll be the death of me.
Obi-Wan Kenobi, to Anakin Skywalker.
And the action sequences. The chase through Coruscant (with elements from Blade Runner and The Fifth Element that either George Lucas stole or paid homage to) was phenomenal; Jedi Knights are either very brave or very stupid (Obi-Wan Kenobi leaping through a … oh … call it the 200th floor window … to catch an assasin droid, or Anakin Skywalker leaping out of a flying car (“I hate it when he does that,” says Obi-Wan) and falling … oh … call it 2,000 feet … to catch an assasin as she tries to fly get away). Or the sequence where Obi-Wan Kenobi attempts to capture Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison) as a maelstrom rages around them (what rain!).
And finally! We get to see True Jedi's in their prime fighting! And not just two or three—scores of Jedi Knights fighting. We get to see Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson—“Hand me my lightsabre—it's the one with 'bad motherfucker' written on it.”) fighting! We get to see Yoda get down with his bad self and get dirty in a lightsabre duel that proves why he is the master. And unlike Darth Maul (“The most underutilized character in TPM), the apprentice Sith Lord to Darth Sidious in this film will be around for the next one (woo hoo!).
STAR WARS RETURNS today with its fifth installment, “Attack of the Clones.” There will be talk of the Force and the Dark Side and the epic morality of George Lucas's series. But the truth is that from the beginning, Lucas confused the good guys with the bad. The deep lesson of Star Wars is that the Empire is good.
It's a difficult leap to make—embracing Darth Vader and the Emperor over the plucky and attractive Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia—but a careful examination of the facts, sorted apart from Lucas's off-the-shelf moral cues, makes a quite convincing case.
Given this article, and some scenes from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (one where two Jedi Knights take custody of a small child and leave his enslaved mother because “that's not our job” and another one where said two Jedi Knights gang up on one Sith Lord) that yes, a convincing case could be made that the Empire was an attempt to keep the Republic together.