Attack of the Giggles
Reverend Antonio Hernández
we are treated to a cartoon Yoda, hopping about like an angel-dusted Kermit

IBA My best friend and I decided to make the harrowing trip to the nearest cineplex to see George Lucas’ latest offering, "Attack of the Clones". Now, I have always been very good about not writing movie reviews, but this is too much. "Attack of the Clones" deserves a good writing-up, the way a murder deserves big headlines.

Many people felt that Lucas’ first "Star Wars" prequel, "The Phantom Menace", was nothing but a demonstration of Lucas shooting himself in the foot. (I’d say he shot his fans’ feet, too.) With "Attack of the Clones", it seems Lucas has basically committed hara-kiri. Sure, it was fun as eye-candy, no one can deny Lucas’ facility with color and movement, but as a movie, it was just plain dreadful.
"Star Wars" fans are always willing to leave the real world at the theater door, and most of us can swallow what Roger Ebert has called "Lucas’ tinny dialogue". After all, to those of us who remember the thrill of seeing the premiere of the very first movie, "Star Wars" represents hope and fantasy. It represents a good "modern myth". It is for these reasons that Lucas has presented the appearance of a rank betrayal with "Attack of the Clones".

George Lucas has one major problem: he is a frustrated animator. He honestly seems to hate making movies, and he is not renowned for his love of cast or crew. All this shows through in "Attack of the Clones", which is the first movie to be shot completely digitally. In this new episode, Lucas moves us with blinding speed toward one of the most laughable endings ever seen in a movie, and all because he can. His actors, though enthusiastic, are left moving about and emoting in a most wooden fashion; you’d need someone of Lord Lawrence Olivier’s caliber to act well in a bare room, which is the challenge these actors had to face. Few of them were really up to it, though Ewan MacGregor is very convincing as a thirty-something Alec Guinness. (aside from the voice) Ed

I have avoided offering a typical description of the movie, because it is such a tired formula that I’ll leave it to the viewer to evaluate it. Let us simply say it involves a whining, bratty teenager and a dopey twenty-something girl who falls for him against all known laws of nature. It then flies blindingly toward the creation of a cloned army, and it seems no one will ever really know who first thought up the idea. Meanwhile, interspersed awkwardly amid the action is the dopey girl falling ever further for the spoiled guy, with both of them spewing some of the most laughable dialogue since Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. We actually had to glare angrily at the theater audience to get them to tone down their laughter.

There is a scene when the spoiled brat finds his mother, tortured and barely alive. After she dies, he begins his slaughter of her captor, but as usual, Lucas seems intent on destroying even this potentially powerful scene. Instead of addressing the situation, Lucas rapidly abandons it for the next scene. We eventually find ourselves dropped into the middle of an ambush of sorts, in which many Jedi Knights are killed, and here is where Christopher Lee was expected to really shine in his role as the ambiguously evil count. Instead he is reduced to standing like a cardboard cut-out, not knowing what else to do.

The very worst moment of the film is near the end, the highly publicized "Yoda fight scene". Yoda, the little green goblin Jedi Master, is supposed to demonstrate "why he is the master." The ridiculous result, in which Yoda takes on the evil count, is more reminiscent of Roger Rabbit than anything else. It is actually a relief when the fight ends abruptly; we are treated to a cartoon Yoda, hopping about like an angel-dusted Kermit and screeching like Ms. Piggy. Of course, he absolutely fails to actually do anything to the bad guy, and here again the audience was howling with laughter. (The few scenes that Lucas intended to be humorous fell flat.)

The ending is certainly lame enough to give away: the goofy girl and the brat are secretly married. We can see why he wants this girl; he’s lost his mommy, and the girl’s always dressed like the sex-kitten of the year. But it is anyone’s guess why the otherwise intelligent, strong-willed (but goofy) girl wants this loser. Long ago in a galaxy far away? Or the domestic disaster of the couple who lives a few doors down?

"Attack of the Clones" is the consummate example of Lucas’ inexplicably vitriolic disrespect for his fans and for his own creations. Whereas "Phantom Menace" was forgiven only because it was the first new "Star Wars" film in two generations, the novelty (and the forgiveness) wore off quickly. "Attack of the Clones" was the proverbial insult added to injury, and we finally see that Emperor George has no clothes. We cannot deny what Lucas has done for the motion picture industry, and he is a genius, just not a movie-making genius. His other problem seems to be that he is hyper-aware of being a genius, and as in all such situations, everyone else winds up paying dearly for it. This latest installment of the Lucas saga is tailor-made for video games and other monster-marketing.

Somehow it seems that we have once again witnessed the torment of a creator who is desperate to kill his creation, cash cow though it may be. I invite all you readers to see "Attack of the Clones" for yourselves, you may come out of the theater calling it "Attack of the Clowns"; I’m giving you fair warning. Anyway, whatever your evaluation might be, it is clear that the "Star Wars" spirit is gone for good. Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to turn my lightsaber into a lamp, and make some curtains from my Jedi robes.

© Rev Antonio Hernandez June 2002 *Independent Buddhists of America May 2002

Jedi Knight-Class

Rev Antonio Hernandez unravels the mythology of Star Wars
To be a good person is to think, speak, act, work, study and live in the right way.

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