"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones



This is a picture that most people already have an opinion on, that will never change, whether they’ve seen it or not. This is only one of those opinions.

First of all, I enjoyed this picture. I laughed at some of the cornball speeches, the sometimes stiff acting, and a couple bad puns. But you know, I can get into this space ‘n robots shit sometimes, and for one main reason: Dracula. As you know from my review of Lord of the Rings Part 1, I enjoy any picture where some dude has a duel with Dracula. This one raises the bar by making the dude be a little green space-elf/Shaolin monk.

There are some good action scenes in here. The story is fun, starting out like some kind of space detective movie, with a murder mystery, an attack in the night, a chase through the big city. Obi Wan even goes to a space-cafe to get information from an old connection. Then it turns into a romance and then a full-on political picture, but more on that later.

There are lots of nuggets for the trekkies. Even ol’ Vern here enjoyed that feeling of the puzzle pieces starting to fit together, connecting this one to the other ones. You’re finding out where Darth Vader came from, where the empire came from, the stormtroopers, the helmet guy, etc. But most of all it answers that question that all americans have asked since the early ’80s: if Yoda is a jedi then where is his space sword?

And he fights Dracula.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the ClonesYou know what though friends I am going to take this piece to the next level. And I’m 110% serious here. While all the pussy critics are struggling to see who can seem to hate this movie the most, I am going to be the first to say THIS PICTURE IS DEEP. Accidentally, kinda, but it doesn’t matter. You see, the political themes of this picture have striking parallels to what is going on on right now on a planet not, not far away. I think Lucas was going for universal truths about the world and not specific timely commentary, but that’s what he got. There are whole books about how the PLANET OF THE APES pictures mirror the racial struggle, Vietnam war and other issues of their time, whether intentional or subconscious. Nobody will admit it but CLONE ATTACK does the same.

Let’s take a look. First of all we’ve got George W. Palpatine, the leader of a supposed great democracy, who in part 1 took office through manipulation. And he’s very popular despite being obviously evil. (I mean I don’t want to give anything away but I think there MAY be a connection between Mr. Palpatine and the mysterious evil dude in the robe who is played by the same actor.)

Then we got the Space Senate, who are repeatedly said by the jedis to be corrupt, not representing the people but taking the stands that they are paid to take. We believe in Padme’s ideal of the senate as a democratic force but we see that it’s made inneffective by sellout politicians and easily manipulated numb nuts like Senator Jar Jar.

And elsewhere we have the weapons manufacturers (the cloners, the fish people who make robots) eager to take part in the manipulation of intergalactic politics for profit. The cloners have spent nearly ten years preparing weapons for a conflict that hasn’t happened yet! Wow, how convenient that suddenly there is turmoil that all of these weapons can be used for.

Let’s face it, these are all things that we have on this planet, that are especially relevent right now, during the Bush regime. Well, except we don’t have a Senator Jar Jar. Some of our politicians are worse, in my opinion, although they walk better. But the most timely political thread of CLONE MENACE is that when the jedis see a genuine threat – like we earthlings did last september – they take charge of a powerful army and destroy all the enemies they can find. Much to Yoda’s regret. I think many of us feel Yoda-esque about the “victory” in Afghanistan, which like this first conflict of the clone war is said to be only the beginning.

Count Palpatine, just as Bush, Cheney, and Ashcroft, uses the threat as a way to scare the senate into giving him unprecedented powers, and the people willingly give up their democracy in the name of safety. They even talk about “executive orders”. But don’t worry, he loves democracy. He’ll give it back when this all blows over some day in the distant future.

In space the war was all orchestrated and taken advantage of by sinister forces within, while on earth – well, you be the judge. Anybody read today’s headlines? “Bush warned of Osama bin Laden highjacking plot.”

[UPDATE (MAY 27th) – Can’t believe I missed this, but a buddy pointed out a scene where they talk about how appalling it is that the trade federation creature “Nute Gun Ray” stays in office despite what he did in Part 1: Phantom Menace. This of course is a parallel to cases like the many Iran/Contra criminals who were pardoned by Bush I or put into office by Bush II. Apparently one of them even had a hand in the failed military coup in Venezuela.]

All this doesn’t make it a great movie but it does make it more interesting and smarter than most critics will notice. They see this as a big, dumb, empty computer movie but really, I mean can you deny it? It’s the first movie to clearly address “the war on terrorism.”

And in general I think people are being way too hard on this movie anyway. It’s funny to watch people complain about the cornball non-ironic dialogue they praised two weeks ago in Spider-Man and two decades ago in the other star trek pictures. Yeah, the delivery makes a difference, but if it’s so bad then doesn’t that make this a movie that missed the mark instead of the shocking, foul, BATMAN AND ROBIN-like pile of shit people make it out to be?

I’m not one of those “turn off your brain” morons but I can’t believe how many film snobs complain about an alleged lack of character and story in a good yoda picture like this one but have no problem with soul-less, story-less, character-less garbage like SNATCH. I mean tell me you’re not being dazzled by dumb gimmicks on that one, please. I guess it’s all about what you expect and what you want and how smart and tasteful you are, or want to appear. It’s all subjective. So nobody’s gonna be talked into enjoying this one. I thought it was some pretty good space shit, though.

AND NOW A WORD ABOUT DIGITAL PROJECTION. I Wrote a piece on this topic for The Ain’t It Cool News, but I don’t know if they’ll use it, so here’s a start. I got to see YODA VS. DRACULA projected digitally with a brand new Boeing Digital Projector at the Cinerama. I sat in my favorite place in my favorite theater, to watch this highly anticipated nerd movie on this state of the art machine that they just busted the cherry on.


Don’t listen to George Lucas, don’t listen to the hype. The idea that digital video jumps off the screen and looks more vivid than film is a huge load of horseshit. True, there are no scratches or splices. Instead, there’s fuckin pixels! It just looks like a giant tv, or computer screen. The credits look like a video game. The thx and boeing digital logos looked like screensavers. The movie itself looked digitized, like a Quicktime trailer or something. Sometimes you can forget about it in the dark parts but in the light and especially when there’s words on the screen it can be real distracting.

It didn’t ruin the movie for me but it was far inferior to real film projection. And even if they perfect the technology it’s still gonna be made out of squares. I don’t think it’s ever gonna look as good.

Remember that scene in CLONE ATTACK where the clone trooper went to pull Natalie Portman out of the sand, but they were obviously standing in front of a green screen with a digital picture of sand, and then she started walking funny to try to imitate walking in sand, but it looked totally phoney? And you were like, what is this HR Pufnstuf bullshit? Is this what it has really come to, that we can spend $120 million to make a film that is entirely shot on digital video, full of spectacular computer animated space ships and robots and all manner of soldiers and aliens and beasts and flying whatnots, an epic multi-planet story with cities and factories and crowds and… and we can’t get out a couple fucking BAGS OF SAND and make Natalie Portman walk through some sand?

I mean it’s fucking sand! SAND!

It’s humbling to us humans, it brings us right down to earth. Yeah, Dr. Frankenstein, you can create life. But can you walk through sand?

Well, that’s exactly what digital projection is. It doesn’t ruin the movie, but it makes no damn sense, and it’s no substitute for the real thing. Not even close.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2002 at 7:10 am and is filed under Action, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

36 Responses to “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones”

  1. I wasn’t sure where to put this but I know alot of the regulars on here would really enjoy this so ill just post the link here. It’s honestly the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while, this guy just nails everything that is so bad about Phantom Menace.


    Hope Vern doesn’t mind linking to another film website, but it’s not really a review site so I didn’t think he’d mind.

  2. Haha, you beat me dieselboy, because I just searched out this entry to post the same thing. RLM’s shtick gets a little tiresome but his criticisms are spot-on.

    Again, to anyone else reading this, if you ever had any interest in STAR WARS you should really watch that review.

    I started watching his STAR TREK videos a few months ago… if you’re a Trekko, you’ll find them very good as well.

  3. Hey Dieselboy, I don’t have a problem with anybody linking to other movie sights, including other review sights.

    As for this guy, everybody’s linking it so I guess I should check it out to see what the big deal is, but I have to say that I don’t have any cell in my body that thinks it would be a good idea to hear 70 minutes of complaints about The Phantom Menace in the year 2009. It’s almost the year we make contact, people.

    Other movies that came out in 1999 that I don’t see anybody making 70 minute videos about: Wing Commander, Baby Geniuses, The Mod Squad, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, Instinct, Wild Wild West, The General’s Daughter, The Haunting, EdTV, The Astronaut’s Wife, Mumford, Mystery Men, Bicentennial Man, Inspector Gadget, Bats, Love Stinks, My Favorite Martian, Jawbreaker.

    I had to look those up and to be honest I forgot most of them existed. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do ten years after thinking a movie wasn’t very good.

    I know Star Wars means alot to people, but I think TEN GOD DAMN YEARS is more than enough time to find one or two new passions and interests to distract you for a while. THE BLUES BROTHERS is probly my favorite comedy of all time, but I can generally go a couple years at a time without stopping to ponder BLUES BROTHERS 2000.

    I say let it go. It’s better for your mental health and especially for the internet.

  4. Hmmm… trouble is, there’s this little thing called “DVD” where you can watch films years after they’ve come out. If my rants against that terrible, terrible film “Episode 3” and the people who recommended it to me (including YOU Vern!) sounded kinda fresh, like for example I’d watched it last month for the first time, then that’d probably be why.

    With respect, I’m still gonna ignore your advice (as in all fairness I probably should’ve done with the Episode 3 review in the first place) and check this out though. I’m pretty much “over” the whole Ewan MacGregor lava-surfing thing, but it might still be pleasantly cathartic.

  5. Also I quite liked “Mystery Men”. Just on the off-chance that anybody cares (which they probably don’t, but oh well. If you can’t post random stuff on the Internet that nobody’s ever going to read, where CAN you post it?)

  6. Maybe nobody makes 70 minutes long complaining videos of Wild Wild West and Mystery Men, but many people suddenly say about them: “Y’know, they are not nearly as bad as their reputation. In fact, they are pretty watchable!” (And especially for Mystery Men it’s true!) So maybe this will happen in a few years for the Star Wars prequels too.
    But I seriously forgot that The Haunting existed!

  7. I did spend the 70 minutes watching it, and while it’s funny and pretty entertaining, he doesn’t say anything anybody hasn’t heard before. Basically it boils down to The Phantom Menace having some bad storytelling and focusing on effects over drama, which I’m sure everyone already agrees with, even if they like the prequels.

    I look at the prequels the same way I look at Indy 4. I enjoyed all of them, but I understand people being disappointed since they had plenty of time and all the resources possible at their disposal to come up with something mind blowing. Instead they’re either pretty fun effects movies, or the worst things humanity’s ever done, depending on your perspective.

  8. I thought I would only watch the first 10 minutes but then sat there enthralled and watched the whole 70. It’s an amazing critique that deconstructs character, story, and filmmaker with brutal precision. He doesn’t focus on the easy targets, like Jar Jar Binks or Jake Lloyd. Instead, he explains why Qui-Gon Jinn is a fucking idiot, why the intergalactic trade dispute is highly illogical, how the movie hamstrung itself by forgetting to come up with a protagonist. All under the guise of some schmoe from Milwaukee with a funny voice who keeps women tied up in his basement and murdered his wife. Believe me Vern, this guy is Striving For Excellence.

  9. Hehe bizarrely I didn’t regret it. It’s a black comedy dressed up as a 70-minute movie review. The whole thing is a kind of very very very black humor (“I haven’t seen anything this disappointing except my son”, “I watched this movie with a team of cheerleaders who came up with one unanimous conclusion: that if I let them go they wouldn’t take anybody”, “Here we are in my basement”, etc). It’s probably a helluva lot more entertaining than any of the movies CJ Holden just named would be to most people.

    Still like “Mystery Men”, though.

    Yeah, I couldn’t remember “The Haunting” either. Can’t say I ever saw it or wanted it…

  10. Owen Wilson gets beheaded in THE HAUNTING. So at least there’s that.

  11. Anyone know where the footage of Lucas panicking comes from by the way? Is that a DVD bonus feature? I’ve never seen any of that stuff before. Some of it is edited to take advantage of context, but there are some moments in there where I actually thought “poor George…”

  12. It comes from the two disc.

  13. Wow, Vern, that’s a really surprising sentiment… don’t take me the wrong way here, but heck, how many of the films of SEAGOLOGY are from more than ten years ago? Would you have listened if someone told you that after twenty years it would be too late to still be talking about ABOVE THE LAW? Or did you have something to say about it and wouldn’t let yourself be silenced by those who said it was a silly dream to deconstruct a bunch of old B-movies?

    Good criticism is good criticism, and I don’t think you should dismiss this review so casually.

  14. M Casey – I would argue that talking and thinking about movies are different from just spending 70 minutes complaining about one. It’s pretty entertaining, but most of it is so nitpicky that if I didn’t think the thing was supposed to be mostly a parody of talkbacker obsession it would wear thin.

    Vern talks about old movies — we all do. But it seems like complaining about them on this kind of level ought to have a statute of limitations. Now, if you have something worthwhile or new to say, great, say it. There’s little in the whole 70 minutes which qualifies as either interesting or thoughtful. Its just complaining. As I said, I still found it entertaining enough to watch most of it, because the guy is pretty funny. But I can definitely understand why Vern’s tired of people harping on and on about the minutia of something which dissappointed them years ago. I sincerely doubt Vern will be talking about TRANSFORMERS with this kind of bitter fixation in a decade, especially if its just to complain that the plot makes no sense.

  15. I second M. Casey, not only because he is right but because good movie reviewing can be entertaining and cathartic, and valuable all by itself. I read Vern’s reviews not just because he actually has a flash of brilliance occasionally (which he does, more often than occasionally) but because he’s funny as hell. Still, I would not value this web sight as highly if he were merely funny.

    Ditto for the Star Wars serial killer dude. Also for Roger Ebert, by the way. Ebert is a brilliant guy.

    Why do I like movie reviews that are well-written, funny, have interesting insights and sometimes oblique references to seemingly unrelated topics, ideas, and etc? Because anything that is well-written and thoughtful is vauable on its own merits. I don’t think when a GOOD movie reviewer reviews a particular movie that their comments pertain simply to that movie by itself. They are commenting more on the general question, “what is good? what is art? why does this suck, when this other thing rules?”

  16. I get why you guys would get mildly defensive about Vern’s comments, but come one, we’re not talking about some forgotten gem or a bad movie that had some value that revisiting it reveals. Phantom Menace was a lousy movie that no one really likes. It’s been done. A lot. Every point has been made, every facet talked about. The on-line crew hae worked every possible angle, and pop culture has completely digested and shat out every aspect of this movie. Lucas and Jar Jar have been the punching bag of every sitcom from South Park to Spaced to the Simpsons. What next, some debate about how convincing the Ewok suits are?

    And shit, if you’re going to argue over a Star Wars movie, why not rant and rave about Clones. It was much much worse.

    On one hand I get it. Menace was sort of a watershed moment for the pop culture of the Double Ought Decade and most of the major movements of geek culture have some heritage in Menace, the build up, the release and reaction. But it’s exhausting man. It seems like the big movies these days get released and within a week every one has finished with it and start demanding for the next hit (e.g. All those bullshit Batman 3 rumors and fan art that clogged up the net within a month of Dark Knight).

    Maybe Menace isn’t that big a deal to me because of my age, Star Wars isn’t the epic of my generation, so I don’t really care one way or the other. But I’m sick of having to listen to people go on and on about it. I’m with Vern, let’s move on.

  17. I actually thought that the guy’s jokes about killing people were satire, as if the only idiot who would spend this much time whining about a movie would be a psychopath.

    This guy doesn’t say ANYTHING. Sorry, Gwai Lo, but this ain’t “It’s an amazing critique that deconstructs character, story, and filmmaker with brutal precision.” He says the characters suck and the story sucks and it’s because they spent too much time on effects. Holy shit! I’ve never thought about it that way!

    I like Phantom Menace, and unless you’re Paul you should have no problem with that. It doesn’t matter. In the time this idiot spent on his critique, he could have made a decent short film. But he didn’t, and he will life forever long in internet infamy (for about as long as assholes watch those FRED videos) until someone actually does something. Hey, some boner in Uraguay made a stupid robots destroy cities film and got signed by Sam FUCKING Raimi. Please tell me you can do better.

  18. Well I haven’t checked out the video yet, I don’t mean to be criticizing this specific guy, and obviously I’m not saying you’re not allowed to talk about old movies. It’s just this one specific pop culture phenomenon has gotten tiresome. I just don’t think it’s healthy to spend so much of your life thinking about a movie you hate.

    I get it. People waited years and years dreaming about these prequels. They came out, they hated them, they dissected every molecule of them, they re-dissected them, that guy who waited in line at the Cinerama for a month to see *the second one* has been dead for years now. In fact that show that was mentioned, Spaced, had an episode sort of lovingly teasing the character about how he needs to get over Phantom Menace. That show was made years and years ago! The guy has gone on to star in a whole bunch of movies, etc.

    Seagalogy is not a good comparison, because I love Seagal movies and try to make an argument for them, and try to get people to look at them in ways they maybe haven’t before. If it was about how I think those movies suck then what would be the point in obsessing over it? That would be a stupid book and somebody would be right to tell me I should expend my energy on something else.

    And I don’t mean to criticize Paul, especially since he just watched the movies recently. I’m just saying that I’ve read alot of talkbacks and I’ve hung around alot of movie nerds and in general I’m sick of people finding excuses to complain about George Lucas. The internet is like my sadsack buddy who never stops complaining about his ex-wife. I know my buddy could be so much happier if he could make peace with his failed relationship, but more importantly I’m gonna cut my ears off like Chopper if I have to hear about it one more time. That’s all I’m saying.

    Thinking about this today I had a terrifying thought: the only way nerds moved beyond Joel Schumacher was by having a new, good Batman movie. So the only way to stop the endless Star Wars negativity might be for somebody to make a new one that most people like. And I don’t see that happening any time soon.

    But I should watch the video, it sounds like maybe it’s something more clever than just more complaints.

  19. Somehwre maybe 3-4 minutes into the thing it really began to dawn on me that it was really was way more than just a review of Phantom Meanace. Sure he critiques that movie throughout the thing but that certainly couldn’t hold my interest for 70 minutes. There is a lot of sub-text/ side plot to the thing about him being a psychotic serial killer that keeps women tied up in his basement *while reviewing Star Wars all day on a series of tubes called the internet. I really didn’t find it to just be 70 minutes of griping, but if people are sick of hearing about Star Wars that’f fine, although this is something a bit more in depth and interesting than a typical movie review.

    And thanks for the tip on this dudes Star Trek reviews which are also spot on and fucking hilarious and continue the motif of the psychopathic movie reviewer.

    But Vern is still my go to guy for all things movies.

  20. Vern, I watched Chopper for the first time the other day. Great, great movie.

  21. Wait a second, Vern, have you seen Spaced?

  22. This is my favorite prequel for a simple reason: It doesn’t suffer of the overload of boring, stagey, awfully written expositionary dialogue scenes that completely sunk Phantom Menace, and were a huge problem in the first half of Sith.

    For whatever flaws AOTC has, at least is moves forward with good momentum, and it’s *cinematic*. Both are critically important for a popcorn movie. AOTC didn’t bore me. PM bored me to death and SITH was boring on the first half (and kicked ass in the second half).

  23. You know, he does have other film reviews, this guy. You’ve got your Star Trek films, and some others, I’m sure. They’re hosted over at Youtube under RedLetterMedia – which is kind of an online comedy troupe, with all sorts of individuals skits outside of these reviews. So, it’s not like it’s just some random angry internet nerd waving his cane around in the air.

    Also, harping on a bad movie – especially one that’s part of a series of culturally beloved film – never, ever goes out of style. This is internet film criticism 101, guys. Come on.

  24. Vern, I love your reviews, even when I disagree with them, or I wouldn’t be coming here; but you seem to have missed the point of the Internets. (Yep, all of ’em.) Every unhealthy obsession you can imagined is catered for (I would suppose, I don’t know this for a fact and would probably be a much more bitter person if I did.) Why not this one?

    Heck, I thought the Filmist put it better than I could.

    I think people are kinda missing the point about this short film as well. While it’s framed around a review, it’s more a black comedy about this obsessive internet troll in his basement. So yeah, it’s worth watching, although it gets into heavy-going once it goes into detail about the films’ plots and the story of the guy himself takes a back-seat.

    Tuukka – I thought all three prequels were fatally flawed – I can’t think of a single likeable character or interesting story arc between them. I can’t pick the worst of the three films, because 99% of all of them left me frankly befuddled that they existed or that anybody would ever want or try to make a film this bad (we’re talking a similar reaction to “Transformers” here, another movie that I saw against my own better judgement on the advice of others.) I can point out the BEST one though – there’s one five minute sequence near the end of “Attack of the Clones” – it’s the light-saber battles sequence – that had me riveted. I think that one sequence – Anakin and Dooku fighting in the dark especially – contained more character and symbolism than the rest of all three movies combined. I think this irritated me more than anything, because if the rest of the movies had been that good, they’d have been masterpieces. Instead it was a reminder of what might have been.

  25. Brendan – I’ve only seen that one episode, because somebody wanted me to watch it. Haven’t seen the rest of the show.

  26. Okay, I watched part 1 and it was really good. The links I saw on Chud and shit made me think it really was just a dude talking about the movie, like a commentary track. I agree, this is a good use of the internet. And hopefully the end of the Phantom Menace discussion because unless you can put this much effort into it why bother anymore?

    By the way, Qui Gon is a calm and wise mentor prone to following hunches that other people think are foolish and believes in some controversial scientific theories. Also he invented the force ghost and says the word “mindful” alot.

  27. *bows to Vern*.

    I particularly like the “controversial scientific theories” part.

  28. ChopperSullivan – vehemently disagreed, sir! This video review isn’t so much an angry fanboy screed as a clinic in Hero’s Journey storytelling. And the character he does is what holds it all together. I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy was working writer in the industry. But bah, I don’t really want to spend time arguing about it. Personally I couldn’t stop laughing at how witty and insightful it was for 70 minutes straight, but humor is subjective I guess.

  29. If it was the episode I’m thinking it was, with the Matrix agents showing up to hassle the crew, then you saw one of the show’s weaker episodes.

  30. Yeah, sorry Gwai Lo, didn’t mean to come off so angry. I enjoyed the piece, thought it was funny as hell, I just don’t see anything he said that people haven’t commented on already.

  31. Oh Christ. I just read this review and…*gasp*….Vern you hated Snatch??? How?? I mean….that’s just not possible. If any movie needs to be put through the appeal process it’s that one.

  32. I think it’s easier to like Snatch if you haven’t seen Lock, Stock… before. I don’t hate Snatch, but I think we can all agree that it feels like Frankensteined out of deleted scenes from Lock, Stock. (Kinda like the Ron Burgundy “sequel” that was on some DVD editions.)

  33. I can see why someone would hate SNATCH. It really is a soulless movie, but unlike Vern I enjoyed those “dumb gimmicks” he talked about! I seem to remember a pretty good soundtrack on that one too…

  34. Yeah, I might try that one again some day. That seems like a good candidate for the appeals process.

  35. Phantom Menace guy released his Clones review.
    it’s even longer, and funny/insightful as hell.

  36. I continue to be a bad trekkie, cuz I just rewatched this thing and I like it a great deal. Yeah it’s the worst of the STARs WAR, but that’s like saying london broil is only like the 6th best cut of cow meat. I’d prefer filet mignon (VI, III), tender steak fajita strips (V), or porterhouse (IV), I’m still gonna eat the hell out of some medium-rare london broil, and it’s still way better in most recipes than your grocery store’s ground beef, which is what poor people and stupid people eat, unless it’s the 97% fat-free grass-fed ground beef, or ground sirloin, or ground buffalo, which is quite good, maybe better than ATTACK OF THE CLONES in my metaphor in my opinion.

    Alright I’m hungry.

    Bring on the 3D re-release!

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