Attack of the Drones

George Lucas clones convoluted plot, grade-school dialogue and bad acting to create a popular but nearly unwatchable film.

Many people think George Lucas is responsible for the death of American cinema, what with his Star Wars pioneering such trends as the high-concept movie, the sci-fi franchise film and the plotless-piece-of-garbage-with-lots-of-special-effects. I don't think he so much killed American cinema as gave it a horrible venereal disease, but I'd rather not quibble about specifics. What we can all agree on is that he couldn't write his way out of a Babysitter's Club novel. His talent at wordsmithery was well presented recently when he told an interviewer "(The Star Wars films) are not put together by a marketing department. They're purely sort of a creative act that was created to tell a great story."

You could probably spend a day parsing that latter sentence, and it's a good indicator of everything that's wrong with the franchise. First off, obviously, is the fact that the man who writes these movies can't put a decent sentence together. Then the question of the marketing department: yes, it's obvious they weren't involved in the story, although I'm sure Lucas consulted them on the design of every character, costume and space ship.

This is clear because the characters, costumes and space ships are all really cool looking, whereas the story reads like it was written by a guy who'd say "purely sort of creative."

The film starts well, with an exciting sequence full of action and lots of great shots of the futuristic world that, as we all know, is actually an ancient world in a galaxy that is not nearby. Then everything goes horribly, horribly wrong.

There's a gruelingly long middle section wherein next to nothing of interest occurs, unless you think setting up the back-story for the next movie is interesting. With Star Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones (or, as I like to call it, SW:EII--AOTC) you're essentially paying to see the footnotes for Star Wars: Episode III.

Which is sad, because in spite of how cynical I am about the whole Star Wars thing, I was actually really looking forward to seeing SW:EII--AOTC) because I was so turned on by the sexual chemistry between Natalie Portman and that little kid who played Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace. I mean, that was hot, hot, hot!

So, of course, I was a bit disappointed by the fact that, in Episode II, Anakin was played by someone who had (barely) reached sexual maturity. Still, the fact that he talks incessantly about how he's been in love with Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) since he was 10 really make up for it. As do his incessant lascivious stares at her cleavage.

Although, to be fair, it'd be hard not to stare at her cleavage when she's wearing clothes that a stripper would think of as overly slutty. Even though she's an ex-Queen and current senator, it seems that she shops at some outer-space version of Trailer-Mart. Imagine the worst of the old Star Trek series costumes as re-designed by a drunken Pamela Anderson, then make them backless, and you start to get the idea.

Which perhaps explains why Hayden Christensen plays Anakin as a bizarrely wooden teen-aged pervert. It's a truly disturbing performance that almost everyone has complained about. On the other hand, he is going to grow up to be Darth Vader, a guy who's whole shtick is breathing heavily while trussed-up in some kind of space/SM gear, so maybe Christensen's right on the money. Which doesn't make it any less unpleasant to watch him leer at young Natalie Portman.

And, of course, the dialogue he has to work with doesn't help either. Even hard-core fans were laughing at the grade-school Dungeons and Dragons stuff coming out of his mouth.

Besides criticizing the dialogue and acting, I imagine I'm supposed to give some kind of a plot summary, but the plot of SW:EII--AOTC is so convoluted that it's pointless to try to summarize. It's like Lucas is giving the nerdiest fans what they want most: extraneous and excessive details that they can memorize.

On the other hand, he does close the film by giving even the non-nerd audience something they no doubt had been craving throughout the movie: a little action. Once the titular clones start their titular attack, the film really heats up. Plus, as everyone knows by now, there's a really cool light-saber fight with Yoda, who, it turns out, is one bad-ass muppet.

Still, this is hardly enough to save the film, which in spite of how pretty it is, is nearly unwatchable. And yet hundreds of millions of people will go to see it, just like they did the last crap-fest, Star Wars: Episode 1--The Phantom Menace. Everyone I talked to who went to see that one hated it, even the serious Star Wars geeks. But for some reason they felt obliged not only to go, but to go multiple times.

So I'm asking you, please, stop rewarding George Lucas for churning out these wretched things. I mean, what if they gave a Star Wars and nobody came? Would Lucas think about maybe hiring a director and a writer for the next one, like he did with Empire Strikes Back, the only non-sucky film in the series? There's only one way to find out: don't go to this one.