Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones ★★★½

I can't emphasize enough how amazing it feels to watch a series of movies so thoroughly compound upon each other to dissect a very specific and singular theme.

You may criticize a lot of the film's methods of conveying that theme as heavy handed and unsubtle; but consider that the majority of its viewers still can't grasp what the hell these movies are about. In Attack of the Clones, just like in Phantom Menace, you watch the real time failure of liberal democracy, and this time even the manufacturing of consent. This movie is so interesting for capturing the political strife that intensifies into all-out war. The final scene of the movie depicts the beginning of war as the ultimate tragic ending. The point of no return on the road to fascism.

It's fair to say George Lucas is not especially gifted at writing dialogue, even if I'd argue that it's just as often great as it is terrible, but his overarching stories are stunningly well defined and executed. Had some brave soul successfully pushed their way into collaborating with Lucas years ago, these might have been better than the original trilogy.

Still more to praise because John Williams is such an auteur unto himself. Somehow the Star Wars films are simultaneously his most well recognized work and what I'm always surprised to see his name on. His music in these films has always been unique amongst the rest of his work, but especially in the prequels it's the most experimental I've ever heard him. His music not only elevates these films, it's an integral part of what makes them work.

Also Lucas' direction here is incredible. Sure, the dialogue scenes are extremely basic and shot for efficiency. And you're right, he wanted to get them done and out of the way as quick as possible. But the stuff that Lucas was passionate about pouring all of his creative energy into were the dialogue-free scenes of action and drama. What Lucas lacks in his words, he makes up for in his vision. And in all three of these movies, he is in total control of what we see on the screen.

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