Continuing my retrospective of the Star Wars movies, I watched Episode II last week. This movie has its share of critics too, and it definitely has flaws. It is better than Episode I, if for no other reason than Jar Jar Binks’ role is greatly diminished. It does take a while to get from Point A to Point B, though.
We begin with an assassination attempt on Senator Amidala. She was queen in the last movie, but apparently on Naboo queens are elected and have term limits. This makes no sense. The assassination was not carried out by the person hired to kill Amidala, but by someone else. Subcontracting an assassination is rather strange.
Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are called in to protect Amidala, and Anakin is really creepy. He immediately tells Amidala she is beautiful and talks to Kenobi about how he dreams of her every night. It does not help that the actors playing Anakin and Amidala do not have a lot of chemistry, so when Amidala tells Anakin to not look at her because “it makes me uncomfortable” it feels like an emphatic rejection. It is difficult to believe they will be an item later. The romance is very forced, to the point that Amidala might as well look at the camera and say “I love Anakin now because the script says so.”
It is good to see Yoda recognize the Jedi have become arrogant and complacent, but this is never followed up on. This should have been emphasized more strongly than it was, and the movie suffers for it.
We see some seeds of Darth Vader planted when Anakin and Amidala are speaking, and he basically supports a dictatorship because he feels democracy does not work. Unfortunately, this is mixed in with a bad scene. Anakin is writing verbal poetry to Amidala, which is incredibly emo to the point it is painful to listen to. The dialogue is absolutely terrible here, but Natalie Portman’s body language is really good. She is shifting uncomfortably in her seat, showing how much Anakin’s emo poem is creeping her out.
A few other random observations:
♣ – It is unusual for a non-Sith to go one on one with a Jedi and hold his own, much less win a fight. Jango Fett does that against Kenobi in the fight on Kamino.
♣ – Watto was a strong personality in Episode I, but is broken down and weak willed when we see him here. It would be interesting to see what happened to him over the last ten years.
♣ – Amidala should be completely horrified by Anakin slaughtering the sandpeople. She certainly should not be saying it is “human” to be angry after Anakin massacred children. This was a poorly written scene that should have played out with someone else, because it makes Amidala look as bad as Anakin.
♣ – R2D2 and and C-3PO are shoehorned into this movie and contribute virtually nothing to the plot. The slapstick comedy is out of place, especially during the final battle.
♣ – Why is no one in the Senate concerned that the clone army was created a full decade before the vote giving Palpatine the authority to create the clone army?
♣ – Why would Count Dooku spill the beans on the Sith’s plot? What if the Jedi had belived him? That was a huge risk. That scene should have been cut out of the movie.
♣ – Amidala and Anakin’s trip to the factory made me think I should pick up a controller. It is a quicktime event! This was obviously designed for a video game tie-in.
♣ – When a Jedi goes at totally nonchalant Count Dooku, Jango kills him and holsters his weapon like a gunslinger. That was really cool.
♣ – The Stormtroopers arrive in nick of time to save the Jedi because of course they do.
♣ – The fight between Yoda and Count Dooku is spectacular.
I like this movie, but it takes a very long time to accomplish very little. The main plot elements were Anakin’s slow turn to the dark side, establishing the romance between Anakin and Amidala, setting up the Stormtroopers, and establishing Palpatine’s emergency powers. It took way too much time to get four things done and it could have been much more efficient. That is why the movie drags at times.