May marks the 40th anniversary of "Star Wars: A New Hope," but it also has another, less joyful milestone: the 15th anniversary of "Attack of the Clones," which was (to our disappointment) released to a theater near you on May 16, 2002.
But maybe it's not as bad as everyone says it is or as bad as I remember it. Maybe it's secretly the best prequel. I hadn't seen it in a long time, so who am I to judge? Turns out, I was right.
I took a stab at re-watching "Attack of the Clones" with the intention of giving it the benefit of the doubt, but it just made me feel like I was getting stabbed in the eyes (and the heart). "Attack of the Clones" is a soulless, disjointed parade of clichés that took everything anyone loved about the "Star Wars" franchise and hid it behind wooden dialogue, junky visual effects, galaxy politics no one cares about, and forgettable characters who don't matter. At least "Phantom Menace" had a cool villain in Darth Maul and sweet Sebulba.
The movie is so unwatchable save for Ewan McGregor's welcome presence, for which he should win some kind of peace prize that it literally took me weeks to watch it. I could only bear it in 20-30 minute intervals. At a painful and unnecessary 2 hours and 22 minutes, "Attack of the Clones" makes watching the depressing ending of "Rogue One" on repeat sound appealing.
Here's why "Attack of the Clones" is the worst movie in the "Star Wars" franchise:
While the script is dumbed down, ridden with cheesy one-liners and sentences that are not authentic for any living creature the has a mouth, it's still hard to follow.
There is so much plot that it’s actually completely plotless. In having too many storylines and new characters, the point of the movie — to showcase Anakin's eventual turn to the dark side — gets completely lost.
One of those plot lines? Anakin and Padmé's love story, which is just as forced as it is uninteresting. It's also terribly portrayed by future Oscar winner Natalie Portman.
If Ewan McGregor can sell a scene of exposition with a computer-generated deli owner, Portman should've been able to sell her love for Hayden Christensen.
“I am haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me” is an actual sentence that Anakin says to Padmé. The progression of their relationship is a total copout.
Padmé's character only exists to die, which will be the thing that turns Anakin into Darth Vader. A character who fears death, especially the death of those they love, is an interesting idea, but Lucas' script makes it incredibly ham-fisted and boring. The romance is supposed to be the thing that makes us care about Anakin, but it actually makes me (and everyone else) hate him.
The movie is essentially just a series of boring things happening. At the end a battle is happening, and then you wake up and realize it’s been over for 20 minutes. Oh, but wait, it’s not over, because the Battle of Geonosis is still happening, and it will never end.
The visual effects are even more botched than the story.
Poor Ewan McGregor spends the majority of the movie exchanging banalities with computer-generated characters.
When Obi-Wan discovers the clone army of Boba Fetts, he does a lot of sitting and standing with these aliens, whose inspiration was probably runway models.
Count Dooku is a pointless villain who comes out of nowhere with no explanation and has no impact on the larger story arc whatsoever. His fight with Yoda made through a 2002 computer feels more choreographed than the opening sequence of "La La Land."
Yoda's flips and tricks make it look like he's trying to win a spot in the Galaxy Olympics.
Jedi touch butts.
One of the most exciting things about the prequels upon release, and “Attack of the Clones” in particular, was the fact that we would get to see Jedi in battle together. But turns out it’s pretty much just Jedi turning their backs toward each other, butt to butt, and blocking lasers with their lightsabers.
Battle droids are useless, and will always be useless — so why are they presented as a threat?
At least Stormtroopers look kind of scary and a few of them can aim.
Right before the Battle of Geonisys, Count Dooku tells Mace Windu that the Jedi are severely outnumbered, and in march a bunch of battle droids. If we learned anything from “The Phantom Menace,” battle droids are easy to kill and only exist in this context as an excuse to use special effects (which suck, even for 15 years ago).
Like this battle Obi-Wan has with Jango Fett after he discovers the clone army. There are no stakes, but they added some darkness and some rain to heighten the drama. It didn't work.
The words "senate" and "vote" are seemingly used more often than the words "Jedi," "star," or "wars," as if politics was what fans loved the most about "Star Wars."
So this movie is great if you like to watch people sit around and talk about politics for nearly three hours. It’s like watching C-SPAN but they have funny costumes.
Besides actual human angel Ewan McGregor, the only other redeeming thing about this movie is the laughable sand scene.
To its credit, it has varied settings and gives us the most vast look at the universe of all the "Star Wars" movies, but that is also in a way its downfall.
We get to see a lot of planets and creatures in the movie — too many to even keep focus.