Watching 'Star Wars: Episode II Attack Of The Clones' As An Adult Made Me Realize It's Actually Really Gross & Weird
Let me put this scene into context you. A long time ago (well, about 15 years or so), in a galaxy far, far away (or, Britain, which isn't actually that far away), I went to the local movie theater to watch Star Wars: Episode II — Attack Of The Clones. And when the end credits starting scrolling at the end of the movie, I should have taken my Dad and my brother's horrified silence as a sign that my overall review of the movie ("hey, that was fun!") wasn't exactly something that sat well with them. And, having sat through the full, absurd two and a half hours of the movie recently, I now understand why: Attack Of The Clones is the absolute worst.
It's worth mentioning that I'm by no means a huge Star Wars fan. Growing up, both my Dad and my brother were, and so when the Star Wars prequels started being released, I took it as my chance to try and bond with them more. I appreciated the original trilogy, and my goodness there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the pulpy, operatic goodness of The Empire Strikes Back, but The Phantom Menace and Attack Of The Clones felt like a way for me to share an original Star Wars experience with my family. I really wanted that to be special, you guys. But by the time that Attack Of The Clones happened, it became painfully clear that this just wouldn't be the case.
As a kid, I didn't find too many overall problems with the movie. I mean, sure, it could feel a little random at times, and there were moments that didn't make a whole bunch of sense, and dialogue that even I knew was laughable as a child with no real concept of taste, yet. But it also featured what I thought at the time to be a tragically doomed love story between Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen, who also happened to be very easy on the eyes, which definitely helped).
And melodramatic, tragic romance was totally my thing as a child. So to see that Star Wars was trying to play out the whole Anakin and Padme love story as though it were a classic, epic romance, was a dream to me. "Yes," I thought, as I crammed cinema candy into my mouth, "this is what a galactic battle should consist of: Grandiose gestures of tragic, young love."
But this is clearly the biggest problem with Attack Of The Clones, and one which ruins the movie on various levels. For starters, there's a whole bunch of action sequences in the movie which are clumsily interrupted by Padme and Anakin staring uncomfortably at each other, or just rolling about giddily on grass. Or there's simply Anakin, failing his basic Jedi duties because he's unable to talk about anything other than how hot he is for Senator Padme.
When you want for the movie to simply get going and do it's thing, because damn, you've been watching it for over an hour by this point and barely anything has happened, it teases something slightly exciting, only to crash land the scene into a stinking pit of groan-worthy romance.
And it truly is groan-worthy, guys. I'll get onto the questionable relationship dynamics between Anakin and Padme in just a second. But for now, please marvel at this prime example of supposedly romantic dialogue from the movie:
Anakin: Don't be afraid.
Padme: I'm not afraid to die. I've been dying a little bit each day since you came back into my life.
Anakin: What are you talking about?
Padme: I love you.
Anakin: You love me? I thought we had decided not to fall in love. That we'd be forced to live a lie and that it would destroy our lives.
Padme: I think our lives are about to be destroyed anyway. I truly... deeply... love you and before we die I want you to know.
Sweet mercy, no. The dialogue in this movie is downright bizarre, sometimes. And that's most noticeable in the interactions between Padme and Anakin. They genuinely relate to each other with all the mechanized, automated zeal of a pair of aliens who have discovered this human custom called "love" and are doing their damned best to explore, and express it.
This is made all the worse when you consider that Anakin was a tiny, cherubic child when he first met a teenage Padme, in The Phantom Menace. She even says to him in Attack Of The Clones, "Ani, you'll always be that little boy I knew on Tatooine," which is a sentiment so gross within the context of events in the movie, that I'm honestly dry heaving over here.
And yet, even though she knows it's that same young boy, only older and now hot-cute rather than adorable-cute, Padme still wants to break off a piece of that young Jedi action. And it's so uncomfortably weird, you guys. A fact that is made all the worse by the dialogue of the movie.
When it's at it's absolute worst, it truly emphasizes all the awkward complications of their coupling. Not to mention all of the truly disturbing instances where Anakin is simply lurking about the Senator, and having Padme tell him to please stop looking at her because dude, it's not just inappropriate, it's also really uncomfortable for her.
Anakin: From the moment I met you, all those years ago, not a day has gone by when I haven't thought of you. And now that I'm with you again... I'm in agony. The closer I get to you, the worse it gets. The thought of not being with you- I can't breathe. I'm haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me. My heart is beating... hoping that kiss will not become a scar. You are in my very soul, tormenting me... what can I do?- I will do anything you ask.
Anakin: ... if you are suffering as much as I am, PLEASE, tell me.
How did I ever think this was OK as a child? Let's just all be thankful that the current resurgence of Star Wars movies are as good as they are. And may we never have to relive the prequels, and especially Attack Of The Clones, ever again. Sorry Dad.