When I heard about the title of this film, I groaned harder than when I heard the title The Phantom Menace. But what’s brilliant is that the clones in this film are the good guys! That’s awesome!
What does this film get right? We get to see Jedis being awesome. The chase through the skies of Coruscant with Obi-Wan and Anakin doing the impossible with ease always puts a smile on my face. I liked the investigation that Obi-Wan goes on, with the Caminoans (a great alien design) and Jango Fett. I even enjoy the explanation that the troopers we know from the original trilogy (and, interestingly, never saw without a helmet) were clones! That’s just fun.
I liked Christopher Lee as Count Dooku. He makes a half-assed attempt to woo Obi-Wan to the Dark Side, even feeding him some important information in the process. Was that more strategizing from Palpatine, or was that Dooku really looking for a way to overthrow his mentor? Either way, it works.
Then there’s the romance subplot between Padme and Anakin. Part of me hates it, because, I mean, that dialogue! But there’s a part of me that appreciates it. It’s schmaltzy, but they’re kids for heaven’s sake. Kids in love are schmaltzy. It kind of works. (And Hayden Christensen is a step up from Jake Lloyd, for sure.) On the other hand, Padme handing the reins of democracy to Jar-Jar does speak to some sort of brain injury on her part. Well, we get the totalitarian dictatorship we deserve, I guess.
The main reason I like this film is that it’s the only one with a full-on Jedi battle. A couple dozen Jedi against an arena filled with droid warriors. That’s all the awesome. It’s also the only time in the series that Jackson’s Mace Windu gets anything really cool to do. This leads up to a pretty great light saber duel between Dooku and Yoda. I still think the crowd reaction on opening night to Yoda’s appearance in that hanger might be the loudest I’ve ever heard in a theater.
I can be forgiven for coming out of this film back in 2002 with high hopes for the finale.