STARRING: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Temeura Morrison, Pernilla August, Frank Oz, Ahmed Best, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels

2002, 142 Minutes, Directed by: George Lucas

Description: Ten years after Episode I, Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), now a senator, resists the creation of a Republic Army to combat an evil separatist movement. The brooding Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is resentful of his stern Jedi mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), tormented by personal loss, and showing his emerging "dark side" while protecting his new love, Amidala, from would-be assassins. Youthful romance and solemn portent foreshadow the events of the original Star Wars as Count Dooku (a.k.a. Darth Tyranus, played by Christopher Lee) forges an alliance with the Dark Lord of the Sith

If you (like my wife) literally fell asleep within the first fifteen minutes or so of the latest Star Wars movie, Attack of the Clones, and only woke up before the last forty minutes or so, the truth is that you wouldn't miss much.

Not much, that is, except the dullest dialogue since, um, the last Star Wars movie and the most unconvincing screen romance since, well, I don't know.

I almost said Titanic, but even the teenage couple in that movie came across as more convincing. At least they didn't seem to fall around like clumsy mannequins without any facial expressions or real emotion. The last forty minutes or so the movie begins to pick up: there is a fan-pleasing scene in which Yoda kicks butt (to put it bluntly). And that's about it.

If you stayed awake (like I forced myself to) the chances are that by then you wouldn't really care any more about what was happening on-screen. You'd be wondering how it ever came about that one day you'd complain that the latest Star Wars movie was so dull after having the original movie turn you onto science fiction back in the late-1970s.

"A huge chunk of the movie feels as if one is trapped in an endlessly dull business meeting . . ."

As you exit the theatre you'd be arguing with your companions over which one was worse: Phantom Menace or this one. Actually I think that Phantom Menace was better: at least it had that pod race that thrilled one for five minutes or so before it became overlong.

Also, it had a very exciting light sabre duel towards the end that slowly built up in momentum. Whereas the light sabre duel in Phantom Menace freed up action and movement thanks to the athletic Ray Parks (as Darth Maul), in Attack of the Clones they seem as stilted as that first duel between Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars. It feels like a step back.

In general, the action sequences in Attack of the Clones lack a point of focus: they are all over the place and never build up any excitement whatsoever.

I suppose at some fanboy level one could argue that this one is better than Phantom Menace: it didn't have Jar-Jar (but although he was annoying as hell, at least he - it? - wasn't a lifeless zombie) and there's no sign of that annoying kid who couldn't act. Instead we have an annoying teenager who can't act. I know my father's Dracula (Christopher Lee) stars in this movie, but in seems as if all blood and life has been sucked from everybody in it! Instead, for a huge chunk of this movie, it feels as if one is trapped in an endless business meeting.

It's that bad, yes. The characters talk endlessly: all dull plot exposition. Despite this, you would have a hard time following what is going on. And don't try applying any logic to it. That way anger and the Dark Side of the Force lies as Yoda would say. The bad guy (Count Dooku - yep, that's right) appears only about halfway through the movie - not a good sign. The plot is just plain confusing

Sure, the effects are great. Sort of. None of them feel real, pretty much like most computer generated effects do nowadays.

Composer Williams seems to be rehashing musical cues and tunes from past Star Wars movies in much the same way Lucas is rehashing old sequences.

A similar asteroid chase scene in Empire Strikes Back is much more exciting - it didn't have a sleepwalking Ewan McGregor in it, that's why! Nothing we've seen here is new or even done better.

Maybe it's unfair to compare this movie to the original beloved movies, but the point is that even compared to recent blockbusters Attack of the Clones come short. The people in Spider-man for example seemed a lot more alive than this lot! And at least Spider-man ran 21 minutes shorter than this movie - Attack of the Clones at almost two-and-a-half hours (even though it feels longer) is the longest of all the Star Wars movies . . .

I'll get a lot of hate mail for this, but Attack of the Clones is dull, dull, dull. I never thought I'd say that of a Star Wars movie, but the original Star Wars Trilogy (that includes the oft-reviled Return of the Jedi) had a certain energy, simplicity and life. They were FUN, damn it! This one is like slogging through maths class late on a Friday afternoon . . .

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