Directed by: George Lucas
Written by:George Lucas, Jonathan Hales
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee
Released: May 16, 2002
Grade: B+

Since we last left Anakin, Obi-Wan and Amidala, ten years have passed and the grand Galactic Republic has begun its disintegration.  It has become divided with a growing number of members joining forces with a new movement led by Count Dooku (Lee), known as the Separatists.  Any hope to reach a democratic solution is lost and after the much loved Amidala (Portman) is attacked at the Republic’s head city, Coruscant, she is asked to return back to her home world of Naboo where she will be safe.

Escorting her home is Anakin Skywalker (Christensen), the rising Jedi apprentice who has always had a crush on Amidala but has not seen her since his induction to the Jedi order.  Obi-Wan (McGregor) is hesitant to give a Jedi with little experience such an important task but Yoda and Windu (Jackson) ask it to be so.  Further, Obi-Wan sees arrogance developing in Anakin and doesn’t believe he can be trusted to uphold the Jedi reputation without guidance.

Spending time alone, Anakin and Amidala sense the attraction in one another but Amidala knows that their love cannot ever be accepted and refuses his advances.  Meanwhile, Obi-Wan has travelled to the secret planet of Kamino where he finds that ten years ago, a fellow Jedi orchestrated a massive clone army to be created.  Confused by the massive undertaking, he meets a tracks down a bounty hunter named Jango Fett who he follows to the planet of Genosis.  There, he finds the Separatists developing a similar army of their own, under the direction of Darth Sidious, to destroy the Republic once and for all...

Can you reach a point where you have too many special effects?  Take for an example where Anakin and Amidala have a “roll in the hay” to the backdrop of a waterfall.  Or the gladiator battle scenes towards the end.  Knowing in the back of your head that it’s all a computer generated myth detracts from the excitement and the adventure.  The film’s obvious highlights are the finale’s light saber battles.  These contain few visual effects, no silly looking characters - it’s just two men in one-on-one combat and that’s the valuable spirit that was more evident in the original Star Wars trilogy.

The dialogue is stiff and constricting.  There’s a few sharp one-liners but people are way too serious in what should be a fun movie.  Before entering the gladiator arena, Anakin and Amidala admit their feelings for each other and in what should be the film’s romantic highlight, I was stunned by the lack of passion in their words and actions.  Christensen was selected for the role to play opposite Portman because George Lucas saw a natural attraction between them.  Where was this attraction on screen?  And can I ask the obvious question - how come Portman looks the same as she did in The Phantom Menace?

Favouring the film is a meaningful story that has more substance than the usual Hollywood action flick.  The film takes it time in developing the conflict and characters but the final hour is a fast-paced thrill ride that gives the film an adrenaline charge.  Still, there were very few moments (apart from perhaps the last ten minutes) that generated much audience reaction in my cinema.

Bottom line, where’s the fun and where’s the emotion?  I was entertained by some elements and disappointed by others.  The noticeable absence of Jar-Jar Binks in this film shows that Lucas is listening to the public’s criticisms.  Hopefully, he’ll take many of the above comments into consideration before treating us to the much darker final instalment when released in 2005.