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Weekly Column by Andy Grieser
Column by Andy Grieser

May 31, 2002

When I was just a little gamer — okay, it was even before the public had embraced video games — I found an action figure abandoned at a construction site. Who would leave a white-clad woman (whom I incorrectly assumed was the Bionic Woman) in a dirt pile? I took her home; Princess Leia became the first in a vast collection of Star Wars figures.

I don’t remember actually seeing Star Wars for the first time, though it must have been soon after my find. I remember HBO playing it again and again in those early days of cable. I learned the lines to the movie by heart. I fell in love with George Lucas’ universe, which simultaneously combined every little boy’s favorite fantasies: fast vehicles, spaceships, the Knights of the Round Table, guns, robots.

And so it is that I went into Attack of the Clones, perched at the edge of 30 (sigh) but still able to conjure the wide-eyed fantasies of my inner child.

I am not an objective reviewer. A 12-inch talking Darth Vader doll and Darth Maul action figure/drink cup (from that Taco Bell promotion) guard my desk. Boxes of the original toys sit in my closet. I listen to John Williams’ "Battle of Yavin" piece when I want to get inspired — and get chills at the same time. I’m listening to it as I write this.

So, I’m forgiving of Lucas. I tried my best to defend The Phantom Menace as a sort of introduction, and I enjoyed most of Attack of the Clones. Most of it. And I saw ways it could have been much, much better. Yeah, I know: It’s George’s universe, and what I think isn’t important.

If you believe that, look at Boba Fett: an incompetent bounty hunter whose only success was guessing how Han Solo would escape from a star destroyer. Seriously — go back and check the movies if you don’t believe me. And yet the guy had so many fans that George inserted him into the Star Wars Special Edition and Episode II.

I think what’s most missing is the audience surrogate. The original trilogy had multiple surrogates, most notably Han the unbeliever, to whom everything had to be shown, and Luke the inexperienced, who was learning as the audience did. Attack of the Clones (and even The Phantom Menace) are populated by true-believers who take their universe in stride. Hell, Watto even mouths off to Jedi master Qui-Gonn in Episode 1. No big whoop. Except that it is, to us.

Beyond that, the love story is paced slowly. I honestly expected it would pick up intensity to match Obi-Wan’s storyline, culminating in stormy consummation a while Obi-Wan fought Jango Fett. You know, ratchet up the stakes for both plots. Instead, I found my mind wandering during the "romance" scenes and then snapping back to the movie for Kenobi.

I did understand where they were going with Anakin’s whining. He’s 16! Hayden Christensen’s performance has gotten a lot of flack, but come on, I know I was a whiny-ass bastard at 16. Most of y’all were, too. I just wish we’d been able to see the fury take over when he tore apart the Sandpeople. Instead, Lucas pulls his punches. We should be horrified at our hero’s actions, but they lose impact when they go unseen. Episode III had better take an abruptly dark turn to reflect Vader’s character. It has to be dark no matter what — I look forward to that.

Don’t agree with me? Tell it to me in the forums. Otherwise, I’ll be over here playing Jedi Knight II.

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