please friends: it would be nice to play along with the no baggage concept in the comments instead of going over the same prequel discussion for the one thousand billionth time for chrissakes have some god damn respect, manners and honor thanks nerds
Remember in the opening of Star Wars part 1 there were two of these “Jedis” who were sent to intervene in a tax dispute or whatever and they got attacked by robots? Well, we learn in the opening of part 2 that these types of issues are popping off all over the galaxies now. Escalation. These “Separatists,” led by ex-Jedi turned nobleman Count Dooku (Christopher Lee, CIRCLE OF IRON), are trying to secede from the Republic and it’s getting to the point where there just aren’t enough Jedi to fly around and baby these fuckin whiners, so some of the people in the Senate are talking about finally making a “Grand Army of the Republic” to give them the smackdown. In other words, they’re saying “this means star war.”
Padme Amidala (still Natalie Portman from LEON) is no longer Queen of Naboo, but she’s become one of their Senators, and is the leader of the opposition to the army-making proposition, so some sneaky no-account motherfuckers are trying to kill her. In the first scene her ship gets blown up and she gets killed, except it turns out it’s one of her doubles and she was on a different ship with her new head of security Captain Typho (Jay Laga’aia, DAYBREAKERS). This was kinda cool because she had all those doubles in part 1 and she just used them for sneaking out and seeing the world, but this is the logical conclusion of that concept. They’re there to get assassinated in her place. That’s gotta be a hell of a feeling, that it’s somebody’s job to look like you and take an explosion for you, and then the poor girl apologizes. (They just leave her body on the landing platform. Bus your table, people.)
This takes place about ten or so space years after part 1. We know this because little Anakin is all grown up now, a pretty boy with his pretty Padawan braid and I guess the kid must’ve wanted too much money or better hair so they replaced him with Hayden Christensen from the Jeff Wincott movie STREET LAW. Little O. Wan Kenobi is still played by Ewan McGregor (HAYWIRE) but has also aged, he has long hair and shaggy beard now and gets to be the Master and say Qui Gonn type shit like “Be mindful of your thoughts,” which in this movie is Jedi for “keep your dick in your pants.”
You see, Anakin was freed from slavery only to grow up in the repressed Jedi order where love is against the law. So when Kenobi and Skywalker are sent to protect Senator Amidala the boy is all sweaty and nervous in the elevator like he’s on his way to lose his virginity to a hooker. And when she sees him she says the most ingeniously emasculating thing she could:
She cuts him right down, but in my opinion it’s a front. Her words say “oh hello there little boy, do you still like Pokemon?” but her eyes say “Yummy!”
I’m not making this up, man. Check out how she looks at him in that same scene:
He’s too young and inexperienced with girls to pick up on it though. He doesn’t notice that she wants to jump his bones, he only notices that she’s verbally slicing his dick off, bagging it up and putting it in the freezer. He’s so bummed he resorts to bro talk with Jar Jar.
(By the way, I didn’t want to say this before because I didn’t want to sound racist, but in my opinion Jar Jar is not one of my favorite characters in these movies. So I like the joke where he starts to blabber about something and Senator Amidala just cuts him off in the middle of the sentence and tells him “I don’t want to keep you.”)
(Jar Jar does get one good laugh where he’s not the butt of the joke though. Obi and Ani get into an argument about something and they cut to a shot of Jar Jar looking uncomfortable and swallowing. In fact, all editors should probly keep this handy to insert into any movie that needs an extra reaction shot.)
Kenobi told Anakin not to trust politicians, which includes Senator Binks as well as the Chancellor (Ian McDiarmid, GORKY PARK), that creepy old man from Naboo that was his boy scout leader or whatever. But we can see the lady senators like ’em young too. This gal is a cougar. Tell me how this conversation is appropriate for an old woman like her to have with a young kid she used to babysit:
She pushed him away when they were packing her luggage, but as soon as they’re away from the other grown ups she starts planting seeds. Shit, Captain Typho even tried to warn Kenobi when he worried that Anakin would “do something foolish.” Typho said, “I’d be more concerned about her doing something than him.” Sure enough, they go hide out on Naboo and she starts dictating the security strategy, i.e. “I was thinking I would stay in the lake country. There are some isolated places out there.”
Isolated places = romantic villas with gorgeous views overseeing the water. The type of place maybe Typho knew she had a history of “doing something” at.
In the senator’s defense, she probly has never known another way to live. She was the queen when she was just a little girl. She had soldiers and handmaidens and politicians waiting on her hand and foot (not sure if she had separate footmaidens or not). Her whole life the people have loved her, asked her to lead them, she’s had those decoys giving their lives for her. She’s like Tiger Woods.
I’m not condoning the developmental disruption she may be causing in these young men. I’m just saying it’s a miracle she’s not way worse, sitting on a mountain of death sticks, living it up like Gardullah the Hutt. Also, if I was Anakin I probly would’ve gone to the lake country with her too, I’m not gonna lie. I mean I don’t know how he grew up around this blue Jedi lady and still fixates on the girl he hasn’t seen since he was ten, but he’s got his type I guess and I have mine. Mine’s blue.
And it makes sense that Padme goes for the boy, because you can tell that in this world he’s considered super hot. I know this because when he chases the shapeshifting bounty hunter into a night club all the ladies check him out.
Anyway, Ani and the Senator eventually kiss and then she regrets it and this seems to turn Anakin into a blue balls grouch. But also he goes home and tries to rescue his Mom who was kidnapped by a tribe of what they call Sand People but she dies in his arms so he murders the whole tribe. He’s going through alot.
He comes home and meets his new step dad Cliegg (Jack Thompson, WAKE IN FRIGHT, FLESH + BLOOD) who just got his leg chopped off failing to catch the kidnappers. I should note that my man Joel Edgerton from ANIMAL KINGDOM, WARRIOR and ZERO DARK THIRTY is in this part of the movie, but is never called upon to be badass. That’s too bad because this section of the movie seems like it could’ve been turned into a whole space western where they have to work together to track these “Tusken Raiders.” They gotta carry ol’ one leg Cliegg along ’cause he knows how to find them and Edgerton is like the young guy in UNFORGIVEN trying to prove himself. But a guess a Jedi doesn’t need help from an old one-legged man so Anakin does it himself, and it doesn’t take as long as in a western ’cause he has a speeder bike instead of a horse. But it’s a pretty cool montage.
I’ve been focusing on Anakin and his love story, but Kenobi has a whole separate mystery plot where he follows a trail of clues to a creepy waterbound facility decked in all white like DMX’s apartment in BELLY where some aliens are baking an army of clones that they claim were ordered by the Jedi. He thinks he’s gonna have to break into the place and then they say they’ve been expecting him. He plays along but he’s gotta be worried they’re gonna ask him to pay. They’ve been pumping out babies for ten years and training them, something like that has gotta cost bank. Not to mention how much do you tip?
There’s also more action in this than in the first one. Kenobi’s top badass moment is when he jumps out a window and grabs onto a little flying robot high above the city planet. It’s the start of a big chase scene through FIFTH ELEMENT type sky traffic that establishes the Kenobi/Skywalker team’s dynamic. Skywalker is very skilled and very cocky about it, Kenobi complains about it but lets him do it because it seems to be working. There is some funny banter, awkwardly delivered.
Kenobi also gets a good face off with a bounty hunter played by Temuera Morrison (ONCE WERE WARRIORS, THE MARINE 2). The fight is good but partly because of the long buildup where they stare each other down while having a mundane conversation in front of a kid and an alien. Their mouths make small talk while their eyes say “bitch are you for REAL? Do you think I don’t know who you are?”
There’s also a JOHN CARTER type monster gladiator scene that erupts into a giant battle with numerous Jedis wielding glowing “lights saber” space swords and then into a huge battle between armored clones and flying bug people and robots teamed with Count Dooku. It’s like a star war only on the ground. It’s mostly computer animated but nice to look at and in my opinion a successful one-upping of the Gungan battle last time. But the best action gimmicks are actually in the first part where they’re fighting the monsters and have to figure out different ways to beat them while unarmed and chained to poles.
By the way, note that as soon as Padme puts on a half shirt she turns all badass. I guess she knew how to shoot and rappel in the last one. Now she knows how to pick the lock on handcuffs! Where was that Queen sneaking off to when she switched clothes with the handmaidens? I bet she was sneaking out with that boy she talked about from the young senator camp or whatever, stealing speeders. Climbing out the palace window at night, tipping over those animals the Gungans ride on, hopefully not scrawling racist graffiti on the sacred Gungan Buddha heads. Whatever it was she was getting herself into more trouble than we realized.
Another thing about her bellybutton. When she accompanies Anakin to the humble Lars home to have dinner with the relatives she takes off her robe and shows her fuckin belly! I’m not saying I got a problem with it, but she should know better than to bust that shit out in front of these farmers. They’ve already gotta be uncomfortable that he brought this old lady with him, and they have to tell him his mom might be dead, and now they’re in burlap robes and she’s wearing an expensive dress that she probly bought for clubbing.
By the time Anakin gets back with his mother’s corpse Padme’s covered up, so I’m assuming somebody took her aside and had an awkward talk with her about it.
Anyway, it erupts into a land-based star war against Count Dooku, and I’ll say this about that old bastard: at least he’s not racist. He’s not a racial separatist. He works with all different aliens and robots and shit. He’s down. In fact, it’s nice that most of the races get along in these Star Wars pictures. In the working class areas of Tatooine or the big city of Coruscant there’s total integration. Obviously Naboo is racially segregated, but they seem to be making some inroads with the Gungans, electing Senator Binks and everything.
The only blatant racist I noticed was Cliegg, who calls Tusken-Tatooinians “mindless monsters” and Anakin (who in addition to knowing that members of this race tortured his mother to death may remember some of them shooting at him when he was a podracer) calling them animals. I think the movie disagrees though, judging by how crazy it makes him look when he rants about hating them and killing “the women… and the children…” I mean, how can you hate this whole race when they got one guy who’s supposed to be on watch that dozes off while standing up? They’re just like us!
I guess the one other instance of racism is the deal with the cloners. Why they gotta blame everything on the Latin guy? Cypher Diaz or whatever.
There’s alot of the good shit in this one, including some more good Kenobi action and the first time I’ve seen Christopher Lee have a sword duel with a little person and the first time I’ve seen him do a flip. In that sense it’s a historic movie. But overall I believe it is more problematic than part 1. The biggest problem once again is the corny dialogue that Anakin has to say and the actor being too stiff to pull it off. This time it’s a rotation of insipid romantical platitudes, unsubtle political discussions and belligerent whining about life not being fair. ‘Cause he’s a teen now, or a twentysomething or whatever. So he’s sullen.
I haven’t seen those TWILIGHT movies yet so I don’t know how it compares, but it doesn’t seem like writer-director George Lucas and co-writer Jonathan Hales (Dallas, THE SCORPION KING) pulled off whatever it is that makes a successful steamy young person romance. I don’t know if it’s the chemistry or the guy not being smoldering enough or what. Or maybe they just shoulda had a romance song on the end credits like TITANIC and then all the pieces would’ve come together. I don’t know.
Still, an enjoyable mix of impressive and crappy. I like it.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.