Even among many Star Wars fans it’s regarded as the worst of the first six movies, but as it hits fifteen years is Attack of the Clones really that bad? The easy answer is no, it’s not. But there’s a lot more to it than that.
The second episode of the Star Wars Prequels was coming off the emergence of the vocal internet minority that would spend the next twenty years verbally abusing George Lucas because they grew up into “adults” while his Star Wars movies were still meant for kids. While it was never publicly talked about, Jar Jar’s role was greatly reduced mostly due to the “George Lucas raped my childhood” crowd.
But Attack of the Clones was more than just the movie that followed up The Phantom Menace. It gave us what is arguably one of the best pieces of music John Williams composed for all of Star Wars, the “love theme” of Across the Stars. It also gives us what is the best, and most Leia-like, version of Padme in the Prequels.
Attack of the Clones also introduced Star Wars fans to Hayden Christensen. As the years have shown, the Anakin Skywalker of the Prequels is the Star Wars hero that a generation of fans grew up watching. The reception he received at this year’s Celebration in Orlando was proof of that.
Obi-Wan’s storyline in the second Prequel is also perhaps his best of the trilogy, and a side of the character that could be expanded upon if they ever do a standalone Obi-Wan movie. He goes on an old-fashioned detective mission, and his investigation and discovery of the Clone army is one of the highlights of the movie.
Yes, the fireplace scene is still stilted and wooden. But that alone isn’t enough to call Attack of the Clones the worst Star Wars movie. And if that part really hurts you, then you would’ve loved the IMAX cut of the film.
Back in 2002 IMAX movies were limited by the size of the reel of IMAX film. This was long before digital, and all IMAX movies were strictly limited to 120 minutes or so because that’s all that would fit on the platter at the projector. So movies that made IMAX versions back then had to do special edits. Apollo 13 did one, but Attack of the Clone’s was actually superior to the theatrical cut.
They edited out basically all of the slower moments, and that includes the dialog at the fireplace. It moves along at a super brisk pace, and with those edits it’s actually one of the best (and most fun to watch) Star Wars movie. It’s been fifteen years, but now that Disney is recognizing there is an audience for Prequel content maybe they’ll find a way to release the IMAX cut of Attack of the Clones in some format.
Fifteen years later one almost feels sorry for Attack of the Clones. Looking back at the summer of 2002, I don’t recall having the same issues with it so many Star Wars fans do today. I think it deserves another chance, and Star Wars fans should try to evaluate it as the “worst” of the movies.