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Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is a 2002 space opera film directed by George Lucas and written by Lucas and Jonathan Hales. It is the fifth film to be released in the Star Wars saga and the second in terms of internal chronology.

The film is set 10 years after the events in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, when the galaxy is on the brink of civil war. Under the leadership of a renegade Jedi named Count Dooku, thousands of solar systems threaten to secede from the Galactic Republic. When an assassination attempt is made on Senator Padmé Amidala, the former Queen of Naboo, 20-year-old Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker is assigned to protect her, while his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi is assigned to investigate the assassination attempt. Soon, Anakin, Padmé, and Obi-Wan are drawn into the heart of the Separatist territories and the beginning of a new threat to the galaxy, the Clone Wars.

Released on May 16, 2002, Attack of the Clones was the first motion picture to be shot completely on a high definition digital 24-frame system and the first Star Wars film to be internationally out-grossed in the year of its original release.

Plot

Ten years have passed since the invasion of Naboo, and the Galactic Republic is in crisis. Former Jedi Master Count Dooku has organized a Separatist movement against the Republic, making it difficult for the Jedi to maintain the peace. The Republic contemplates creating an army to assist the Jedi, prompting Senator Padmé Amidala, former Queen of Naboo, to return to Coruscant to vote on the matter. Upon her arrival, she narrowly escapes an assassination attempt. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine assigns Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice Anakin Skywalker to protect her. That night, another attempt is made on the Senator's life, although Obi-Wan and Anakin foil the plot and subdue the assassin, who is murdered by her mysterious employer as she is about to reveal vital information. Returning to the Jedi Temple, Obi-Wan is assigned to investigate the identity of the assassin's killer, while Anakin is assigned to escort and accompany Senator Amidala to her homeplanet of Naboo. Anakin, who has fallen in love with Padmé, relishes the opportunity to spend time with her, although Padmé resists her feelings toward him, as that would go against the moral codes of their careers as a Jedi and a senator, respectively.

Obi-Wan's investigation leads him to the remote planet of Kamino, where he discovers that an army of clone troopers is being secretly produced for the Republic. Obi-Wan deduces the clones' template, a bounty hunter named Jango Fett, is the killer he's looking for. After unsuccessfully trying to capture him, Obi-Wan tracks him down on the planet Geonosis. Anakin, meanwhile, has grown troubled with recurring nightmares about his mother, whom he had left behind on Tatooine when he set off to become a Jedi, in grave danger. In defiance of his orders, Anakin convinces Padmé to accompany him to Tatooine to save his mother. There he finds her mortally injured by Tusken Raiders, and she dies in his arms. Seized by a violent rage, Anakin slaughters the entire Tusken community. Anakin tearfully confesses to Padmé, who comforts and forgives him.

On Geonosis, Obi-Wan learns that Count Dooku authorized the assassination attempt on Padmé, and that the Separatists are in development of a new droid army. Obi-Wan relays this information via hologram to Anakin, who transmits it to the Jedi Council, although Obi-Wan is captured mid-transmission. While he holds Obi-Wan hostage, Dooku reveals that the Republic is in fact controlled by a Sith Lord named Darth Sidious. While Anakin and Padmé head to Geonosis to rescue Obi-Wan, Chancellor Palpatine is granted emergency powers to organize the clone army and send them into battle. Shortly after arriving on Geonosis, Anakin and Padmé are captured and sentenced to death along with Obi-Wan. Preparing for what could be their final moments, Padmé finally reveals her feelings for Anakin and they share a passionate kiss. The three are pitted against savage beasts, but manage to hold their own until Jedi Master Mace Windu arrives with a team of Jedi to assist them, engaging and decapitating Jango Fett in the brief battle. After a heated struggle, Jedi Master Yoda arrives with the clone army and collects the surviving Jedi.

Poggle the Lesser gives Dooku the plans to the Death Star. As a large battle erupts between the Republic's clone army and the Separatist's droid forces, Count Dooku attempts to escape. Nute Gunray and Ruune Hakko escape. Obi-Wan and Anakin corner him in a hangar and engage him in a lightsaber duel, but he outmatches and defeats them with his mastery of the dark side of the Force, cutting off Anakin's arm in the process. Yoda engages Dooku in a fierce duel, but Dooku escapes once more, taking the plans for a new "ultimate weapon" to his Sith master, Sidious, on Coruscant. The Jedi are now uncertain of what will become of the Republic, now that the Clone Wars have begun. Chancellor Palpatine oversees the launching of massive clone trooper forces. Meanwhile, Anakin, with a new cybernetic arm, secretly marries Padmé on Naboo.

Cast

  • Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi Master and mentor to his padawan learner, Anakin Skywalker, who investigates the assassination attempt of Padmé which led him to discover the makings of a Clone Army.
  • Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker: The apprentice of Obi-Wan and known as "the Chosen One". He is believed to be the "chosen one" of Jedi prophecy destined "to bring balance to the Force".
  • Natalie Portman as Senator Padmé Amidala: Former Queen of Naboo, who has recently been elected the planet's Senator.
  • Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Palpatine: A former Galactic Senator from Naboo, who amasses vast emergency powers upon the outbreak of the Clone Wars.
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu: A Jedi Master sitting on the Jedi Council who warily watches the Republic Senate's politics.
  • Christopher Lee as Count Dooku: A former Jedi Master who is now Leader of the Separatist movement as Darth Tyranus, and a suspect in Obi-Wan's investigation.
  • Frank Oz voices Yoda: A Jedi Master of an unknown species. In addition to sitting on the Jedi Council, Yoda is the instructor for the young Jedi Initiates.
  • Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett and Clone troopers: Jango is a former bounty hunter who gave his DNA for use by the cloning facilities on Kamino for the creation of the clone army. In addition to his wage, he requested an unaltered clone for himself to take as his son: Boba Fett.
  • Anthony Daniels as C-3PO: A protocol droid for the Lars homestead.
  • Kenny Baker as R2-D2: An astro-droid, often seen on missions with Anakin and Obi-Wan.
  • Leeanna Walsman as Zam Wesell: A bounty hunter and partner of Jango Fett, who is given the task of assassinating Senator Amidala. Although her appearance is human, she is actually a shapeshifter.
  • Silas Carson as Nute Gunray and Ki-Adi-Mundi: Gunray is the Viceroy of the Trade Federation. He attempted to assassinate Senator Amidala in revenge for his loss against her people on Naboo. Ki-Adi-Mundi is a Jedi Master who is a member of the Jedi Council.
  • Daniel Logan as Boba Fett: Jango Fett's clone and adopted son, who is created from his "father"'s DNA.
  • Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks: A Gungan whom Padmé appoints Representative of Naboo.
E! Online reported that Lucas had allowed 'N Sync to film a small background cameo appearance, in order to satisfy his daughters. They were subsequently cut out of the film in post-production. The end credits erroneously list Alan Ruscoe as playing Neimoidian senator Lott Dod. The character was actually another Neimodian, played by an uncredited David Healey and voiced by Christopher Truswell named Gilramos Libkath.

A large search for the new Anakin Skywalker was performed across the United States. Lucas auditioned various actors, mostly unknown, before casting Christensen. Among the many established actors who auditioned were Jonathan Brandis , Ryan Phillippe, Colin Hanks, and Paul Walker. Leonardo DiCaprio also met with Lucas for the role, but was "definitely unavailable" according to DiCaprio publicist Ken Sunshine. Co-star Natalie Portman later told Time magazine that Christensen "gave a great reading. He could simultaneously be scary and really young." Before filming started, Catherine Zeta-Jones was rumored to have been cast as a Dark Jedi and Ralph Fiennes was reported to have been considered to play a young Grand Moff Tarkin.

Production

Writing

After the poor critical response to The Phantom Menace, Lucas was hesitant to return to the writing desk. In March of 2000, just three months before the start of principal photography, Lucas finally completed his rough draft for Episode II. Lucas continued to iterate on his rough draft, producing a proper first and second draft. For help with the third draft, which would later become the shooting script, Lucas brought on Jonathan Hales, who had written several episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles for him, but had limited experience writing theatrical films. The final script was completed just one week before the start of principal photography.

As an in-joke, the film's "working title" was Jar Jar's Big Adventure, a sarcastic reference to the negative fan response to the Episode I character.

In writing Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas initially decided that Lando Calrissian was a clone and came from a planet of clones which caused the "Clone Wars" mentioned by Kenobi in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope; he later came up with an alternate concept of an army of clone shocktroopers from a remote planet which attacked the Republic and were repelled by the Jedi knights.

Filming

Principal photography occurred between June 26, 2000 and September 20, 2000 at 20th Century Fox Studios in Australia. Location shooting took place in the Tunisianmarker desert, at the Plaza de España in Sevillemarker, Spain, in Italy at the Villa del Balbianellomarker on Lake Comomarker, and in the former royal Palace of Casertamarker. At his own personal request, Samuel L. Jackson's character Mace Windu received a lightsaber that emitted an amethyst glow, as opposed to traditional blue and green for "good guys" and red for "bad guys". Reshoots were performed in March 2001. During this time, a new action sequence was developed featuring the Droid factory after Lucas had decided that the film lacked a quick enough pace in the corresponding time-frame. The sequence's previsualization was rushed and the live-action footage was shot within four and a half hours. Because of Lucas' method of creating shots through various departments and sources that are sometimes miles and years apart from each other, Attack of the Clones became the first film ever to be produced through what Rick McCallum called "virtual filmmaking".

Like The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones furthered technological development, effectively moving Hollywoodmarker into the "digital age" with the use of the HDW-F900, developed by Sony and Panavision, a digital camera using an HD digital 24 frame system. This spawned controversy over the benefits and disadvantages of digital cinematography that continue to this day as more filmmakers "convert" to digital filmmaking while many filmmakers oppose it. In contrast to previous installments, for which scenes were shot in the Tunisian desert in temperatures up to 125°F (51°C), the camera would still run without complications. Lucas had stated that he wished to film The Phantom Menace on this format but Sony was unable to build the cameras quickly enough. In 2002, Attack of the Clones became the third film to be released that was shot entirely on a 24p digital camera (preceded by 2001's Jackpot and Vidocq). Despite Lucas' efforts to persuade movie theaters to switch to digital projectors for better viewing of Episode II, few theaters did.

Effects

The film relied almost solely on digital animatics as opposed to storyboards in order to previsualize sequences for editing early on in the film's production. While Lucas had used other ways of producing motion-based storyboards in the past, after The Phantom Menace the decision was made to take advantage of the growing digital technology. The process began with Ben Burtt's creation of what the department dubbed as "videomatics", so called because they were shot on a household videocamera. In these videomatics, production assistants and relatives of the department workers acted out scenes in front of greenscreen. Using computer-generated imagery (CGI), the previsualization department later filled in the green screen with rough background footage. Burtt then cut together this footage and sent it off to Lucas for changes and approval. The result was a rough example of what the final product was intended to be. The previsualization department then created a finer version of the videomatic by creating an animatic, in which the videomatic actors, props, and sets were replaced by digital counterparts to give a more precise, but still rough, look at what would eventually be seen. The animatic was later brought on set and shown to the actors so that they could understand the concept of the scene they were filming in the midst of large amount of bluescreen used. Unlike most of the action sequences, the Battle of Geonosis was not storyboarded or created through videomatics but was sent straight to animatics after the department received a small vague page on the sequence. The intent was to create a number of small events that would be edited together for pacing inside the finished film. The animatics department was given a free hand regarding events to be created within the animatic; Lucas only asked for good action shots that he could choose from and approve later.



In addition to introducing the digital camera, Attack of the Clones emphasized "digital doubles" as computer-generated models that doubled for actors, in the same way that traditional stunt doubles did. It also furthered the authenticity of computer-generated characters by introducing a new, completely CGI-created version of the character Yoda. Rob Coleman and John Knoll prepared two tests featuring a CGI-animated Yoda using audio from The Empire Strikes Back. Yoda's appearance in Empire also served as the reference point for the creation of the CGI Yoda; Lucas repeatedly stated to the animation department that "the trick" to the animation of the CGI Yoda was to make him like the puppet from which he was based, in order to maintain a flow of continuity. Frank Oz (voice and puppeteer for Yoda in the original trilogy and The Phantom Menace) was consulted; his main piece of advice was that Yoda should look extremely old, sore, and frigid. Coleman later explained the process of making the digital Yoda like the puppet version, by saying, "When Frank [Oz] would move the head, the ears would jiggle. If we hadn't put that in, it wouldn't look like Yoda." Because of the acrobatics of the lightsaber fight between Count Dooku and Yoda, 80-year-old Christopher Lee relied on a stunt double to perform the most demanding scenes instead. Lee's face was superimposed onto the double's body in all shots other than closeups, which he performed himself. Lucas often called the duel crucial to the animation department, as it had such potential to be humorous rather than dramatic.

Music

The soundtrack to the film was released on April 23, 2002 by Sony Classical. The music was composed and conducted by John Williams, and performed by the London Voices and London Symphony Orchestra. The soundtrack recreates the "Imperial March" from the film Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back for its first chronological appearance in Attack of the Clones, even though a hint of it appeared in the previous movie in one of the final scenes. A music video for the main theme "Across the Stars" was produced specifically for the DVD.

The CD originally shipped with a bonus PC screensaver. Four different soundtrack covers, each sold separately, were distributed at the time: one featuring Yoda, another featuring Anakin and Padmé, a third featuring Jango Fett, and the fourth featuring the film's final poster art. A Target-exclusive CD included a 14th track as a bonus track.

Themes

Lucas has noted that Palpatine's rise to power is very similar to that of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany; as Chancellor of Germany, the latter was granted "emergency powers", as is Palpatine. Comparisons have been made to Octavian — who became Augustus, the first emperor of Rome — and to Napoleon Bonaparte, who rose to power in Francemarker from 1796 to 1799. Octavian was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of political opponents well before he was granted tribunician powers; Bonaparte was appointed First Consul for life (and later Emperor) by the French Consulate after a failed attempt on his life and the subsequent coup of 18 Brumaire in 1799. Some have drawn parallels to the American Civil War, likening the Separatists to the Confederate States of America; the official name of the Separatist group is the "Confederacy of Independent Systems". The name of the government Army, the "Grand Army of the Republic", is the same in both Star Wars and the American Civil War, and both Palpatine and Lincoln took extensive war powers and suspended many civil rights.

Clone troopers march onto their starships.


War journalism, combat films, and footage of World War II combat influenced the documentary style camera work of the Battle of Geonosis, even to the point that hand-held shakes were digitally added to computer generated sequences.

In the film, the Geonosians have their own style of capital punishment. The scene depicting this method takes place in the Geonosian arena with the condemned chained to a pole, awaiting execution, which is carried out in bloody fashion by assorted carnivorous beasts. Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padmé were sentenced to be executed in this method. This scene was influenced by an execution method employed by the ancient Romans at the Colosseummarker where lions and other dangerous predatory animals were permitted to have their way with condemned prisoners.

The prequel trilogy films often refer to the original trilogy in order to help connect the films together. Lucas has often referred to the films as a long poem that rhymes. Such examples include the now-famous line of "I have a bad feeling about this", a phrase used in each film, and battles, namely lightsaber duels, that almost always occur over a pit. As with Attack of the Clones, The Empire Strikes Back was the middle film in a trilogy; therefore, of the original trilogy films, Empire is the object of the most references in Attack of the Clones. In both films, an asteroid field is the backdrop of a major star battle in the middle of the film. Obi-Wan Kenobi escapes Jango Fett by attaching his spacecraft to an asteroid in order to disappear from the enemy sensors; Han Solo uses a similar tactic by attaching the Millennium Falcon to a Star Destroyer in Empire. As a retcon, John Knoll confirms on the film's DVD commentary that Boba Fett, who would later catch Solo in the act in Empire, "learned his lesson" from the events of Attack of the Clones. In another scene, Obi-Wan asks Anakin, "Why do I get the feeling you're going to be the death of me?" This is an allusion to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope where Anakin, as Darth Vader, kills Obi-Wan aboard the Death Star.

Release

After a teaser trailer premiered with the film Monsters Inc., a new trailer for the film aired on the Fox Network on March 10, 2002 between Malcolm in the Middle and The X-Files, and was made available on the official Star Wars Web site the same day. The outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas from Chicagomarker predicted that U.S. companies could lose more than $319 million in productivity due to employees calling in sick and then heading to theaters to see the film.

Attack of the Clones was screened out of competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, before getting a worldwide theatrical release on May 16, 2002. The film was also later released in IMAX theaters; the film had not been filmed for IMAX but was "up converted" with the digital remastering process. Because of the technical limitations of the IMAX projector, an edited, 120-minute version of the film was presented.

Before the film's release, there was a string of controversies regarding piracy. In 2000, an underground organization calling itself the Atlas Group, based in Perth, Western Australiamarker offered a copy of the screenplay, with an asking price of US$100,000, to various fan sites and media organisations, including TheForce.Net. The scheme was subsequently reported to Lucasfilm Ltd. by the fan site.

A pirate copy was allegedly made at a private showing, using a digital recorder that was pointed at the screen. This copy spread over the internet, and analysts predicted up to a million fans would have seen the film before the day of its release. In addition, authorities seized thousands of bootlegs throughout Kuala Lumpurmarker before the film opened.

Home media

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones was released on DVD and VHS on November 12, 2002. George Lucas edited or added certain elements that make the DVD slightly different from its theatrical release. The DVD features an audio commentary from director George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, editor and sound designer Ben Burtt, ILM animation director Rob Coleman, and ILM visual effects supervisors Pablo Helman, John Knoll, and Ben Snow. Eight deleted scenes are included along with multiple documentaries, which include a full-length documentary about the creation of digital characters and two others that focus on sound design and the animatics team. Three featurettes examine the storyline, action scenes, and love story, and a set of 12 short web documentaries cover the overall production of the film.

The Attack of the Clones DVD also features a trailer for a mockumentary-style short film known as R2-D2: Beneath the Dome. Some stores offered the full mockumentary as an exclusive bonus disc for a small extra charge. The film gives an alternate look at the "life" of the droid R2-D2. The story, which Lucas approved, was meant for laughs.

The DVD was re-released in a prequel trilogy box set on November 4, 2008.

Adaptations

Two novels based on the movie were published, a tie-in junior novel by Scholasticmarker, and a novelization written by R. A. Salvatore, which includes some unique scenes. A four-issue comic book adaptation was written by Henry Gilroy and published by Dark Horse Comics.

Reception

Attack of the Clones received generally mixed reviews. On the Rotten Tomatoes review site, the film received a 66% favorable rating. There was general admiration for the action sequences and special effects, but criticism of the more traditional dramatic elements, such as character development and dialogue, especially with respect to the relationship between Padmé and Anakin.

Critics called the dialogue "stiff" and "flat." The acting (particularly by Christensen and Portman) was also disparaged by some critics. Conversely, other critics felt fans would be pleased to see that Jar Jar Binks plays only a minor role. He in fact makes a motion in the Galactic Senate to grant Palpatine emergency powers — unknowingly assisting Palpatine's rise to power. Additionally, Jar Jar's attempts at comic relief seen in The Phantom Menace were toned down; instead, C-3PO reprised some of his bumbling traditions in that role. Despite reports, McGregor did not refer to the film as "unsatisfactory". He did, however, use the word in reference to the swordplay when comparing it to the climactic duel in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith as it neared release.

Roger Ebert, who has praised all of the other Star Wars films, awarded this edition only two out of four stars, describing the first half as too dialogue heavy and slow-paced, while deriding the romantic sentiments of Anakin and Padme as clichéd. He also regarded most of the performances as "flat" and "stiff."

In following suit with the previous installments in the series, the Academy Awards presented Attack of the Clones with a nomination for Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, John Knoll, and Ben Snow for Best Visual Effects at the 2003 Academy Awards. Natalie Portman was also honored at the Teen Choice Awards, and the film received an award for Best Fight at the MTV Movie Awards. In contrast, the film also received seven nominations from the Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture, Worst Supporting Actor, Worst Supporting Actress, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Screen Couple and Worst Remake or Sequel. It took home two awards for Worst Screenplay (George Lucas) and Worst Supporting Actor (Hayden Christensen).

Box office

The film grossed $310,676,740 in the United States and $338,721,588 overseas, a huge financial success that nevertheless was overshadowed by the even greater box-office success of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. It was not the top U.S. grossing film of the year, the first (and only) time that a Star Wars film did not have this distinction. The films that out-grossed it were Spider-Man, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, all of which enjoyed a more favorable critical reception as well. Adjusted for inflation, Attack of the Clones is the lowest-performing Star Wars film at the North American box office.

Notes

  1. Here We Go Again: The Digital Cinema Revolution Begins DVD Special Feature, [2002]
  2. State of the Art: The Previsualization of Episode II DVD Special Feature, [2002]
  3. From Puppets to Pixels: Digital Characters in Episode II DVD Special Feature, [2002]
  4. Cagle, Jess (April 29, 2002). "Yoda Goes Digital-and Conquers Too," Time Canadian Edition, page 48.
  5. From Puppets to Pixels: Digital Characters in Episode II DVD Special Feature, [2002]
  6. "The Beginning" Making Episode I Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace DVD documentary, [2001]
  7. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones DVD commentary featuring George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Rob Coleman, Ben Burtt, Pablo Helman, John Knoll and Ben Snow, [2002]
  8. Starwars.com article
  9. Corliss, Richard and Jess Cagle, (April 29, 2002). "Dark Victory," Time Canadian Edition, p. 49.


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