(This review was written as a guest critic at www.christiananswers.net in 2002)
For every generation there are a group of movies that are so incredibly new and exciting that we take them with us as we grow older. These are the movies that we can all remember who we were with when we first saw them and how we felt, even if the details of the film are not clear. For my parents Star Wars might fall into this category, as I'm sure it would for many people their age. However, although the new addition to this series does have somewhat of a timeless quality to it, I'm afraid it would never fit in my list.
Not a "bad" film by any means, Episode II is a little transparent or flat as far as the script is concerned. As in the original films, Episode II is at its best when the action is going strong, but unfortunately this one seems to fall short once it stops. If action were enough, and it is extremely good action, then this film would be fantastic. The problem lies in the scenes leading up to the fantastic final forty-five minutes.
Much of the plot focuses on Anakin, who has now grown into a young man; a young man who is plainly in love with Senator Padme, our Queen Natalie Portman from Episode I. What could be an endearing love story ends up dry and predictable. Often I felt myself wondering when they would go back to Obi-Wan Kenobi, a much more entertaining character thanks to the ever talented Ewan McGregor.
With a great cast of actors, most seem to rely too much on the idea of Star Wars and never really make it their own. The three exceptions would have to be Ewan McGregor, Sam Jackson, at the top of his game when allowed to stretch his muscles in this humble role, and last but not least Yoda, with thanks to Frank Oz and more advanced puppets.
As great as the action is I could not help but notice that it is extremely violent. There is not a lot of blood and guts but the violence still seems a bit extreme for a PG rating, which is something you might want to take into consideration before taking any young children to see Episode II.
Aside from the violence the film does a good job of staying fairly clean but the subject matter can still be rather dark at times. Episode II deals with the abuse of power to a great extent and although there is something to be learned from this it seems that we end up watching a great deal of the characters abusing their power rather than the ones which are good. As in all movies about good and evil, evil must be portrayed, as Satan is portrayed in the Bible, but Episode II realizes that evil is often more interesting to an audience and so they choose to focus on it.
The Attack of the Clones is entertaining at points, long at others (over two and a half hours including the previews) but worth seeing in the theatres if you plan to see it at all. Before taking the kids, make sure that they are mature enough to handle some tense and frightening scenes as well as violent battles. As far as finding a strong message in this film, well, may the force be with you.
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 7/10