My New Found Appreciation for AOTC

I really dislike Attack of the Clones. I find it to be unbearable in some instances. Of all the films, I find it the weakest and I’m always surprised by people who prefer it over The Phantom Menace. I forced myself once to watch it and try to find 10 things to like about the movie.

The script writing is atrocious and we never get to see if Hayden Christensen is a good actor because of it (if you’ve seen Shattered Glass – he is a better actor than most people give him credit for). Natalie Portman works her magic as best as she can, but I feel there are only a few times her skills really get to shine. Ewan McGregor seems to be the only saving grace of this movie. Though there are times that are also halting and a little awkward with him, he seems much more comfortable on a green screen and with funny, jilted, strange dialogue.

While watching one movie every weekend (I lie – sometimes it’s been 2.5 movies in one weekend because I’m really behind) in the Machete Theory Order to prepare for The Last Jedi, I watched AOTC over the Thanksgiving break.

I enjoyed this movie for primarily one reason:

Ewan Mcgregor/Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Ewan McGregor totally steals this movie as Obi-Wan. He is excellent in it and his entire plot line had me riveted. Even when I think I know everything about Star Wars, it goes to show that it’s full of surprises.

Two things that struck my interest this time around:

  1. Obi-Wan’s treatment of Anakin got me pissed off, and
  2. This is the only Star Wars movie where we see an entire plot line that is a mystery.

 

Obi-Wan & Anakin

Obi-Wan derides Anakin constantly in Attack of the Clones. No wonder Anakin wants to throw off his yoke and thinks he is better than Obi-Wan! The entire beginning of the movie is Obi-Wan berating Anakin and emphasizing how young he is.

We are not going to exceed our mandate, my young Padawan learner.

We are not going through this exercise again, Anakin. You will pay attention to my lead.

We will do as the Council has instructed, and you will learn your place, young one.

It’s too risky… and your senses aren’t that attuned, young apprentice.

If you’d spend as much time working on your saber skills as you do on your wit, young Padawan, you would rival Master Yoda as a swordsman.

 

It was starting to get under my skin, and quickly. I could not figure out if this was a normal way for Masters to speak to their Jedi Apprentices or if it was unique to Obi-Wan and Anakin. Even if it was the norm, Anakin clearly did not do well with that kind of instruction.

I’m not sure why I noticed this dialogue more closely than I have in the past but it opened my eyes to the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin and helped me understand why Anakin could have been much closer to Palpatine than the brief glimpses we saw in the movie.

Palpatine was always building Anakin up, telling him how wonderful he was, and how he would become the greatest Jedi Knight. For someone with such high standing in the galaxy to be telling you that…I would want to be more in his presence as well.

This was briefly touched upon when Obi-Wan is talking with Mace and Yoda. They discussed that the padawans were becoming more arrogant of their powers over the years. Perhaps the way Obi-Wan talked down to Anakin was his way of trying to curb that arrogance.

Another thing to keep in mind was that Anakin had been hearing about how he was the “chosen one” since Qui-Gon brought him before the council. So not only does he have great power, he also believes he’s some sort of prodigy.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe Obi-Wan was doing the right thing by criticizing Anakin and taking him off his high horse. But I also think he did it a little too much and he may not have realized it.

Watching Obi-Wan’s interaction with Anakin in AOTC and seeing how it shifts in ROTS (it’s much more friendly and equal in the third episode) helped me empathize with Anakin and how he felt like he was constantly being held back.

 

The Mystery

Obi-Wan’s plot in AOTC is the only plot in Star Wars where we have a mystery. There are subtle mysteries, to be sure, like wondering who Luke’s father is, who are Rey’s parents, etc., but this plot line was very deliberate and elaborate.

It starts with Padmé’s ship being blown up as soon as we open the movie. From there, there are covert directives from a strange bounty hunter to an assassin, along with a Jedi chase. A planet has been lost and cloners are brought into the mix.

If this wasn’t an interesting enough chase of information, the kicker is when Obi-Wan arrives on Kamino to find that Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas had ordered an expansive clone army without any of the Council’s knowledge, and, Sifo-Dyas is dead.

This whole time, we have a backdrop of political unrest in the galaxy’s capital – Coruscant. The separatists are leaving the Republic and the only reason Padmé returned was to vote on the Military Creation Act which coincidentally ties into the discovery of the clone army on Kamino. As a seasoned Star Wars viewer who in a twisted way admires Palpatine, I have to wonder if he planned all this on purpose. Did he mean for Zam Wesell to fail in her missions, for Obi-Wan to get a glimpse of Jango, and see the dart? Was he working this entire time to try and figure out a way to get the Jedi to Kamino?

 

It’s enough to make your head spin. Actually, I believe I missed many finer points for the first 10 years that I watched the movie.

This mystery side plot IS the main plot of the movie and I misunderstood this for a long time. I watched the movie focusing on Anakin and Padmé’s romance and cringed so much that it made the movie unbearable.

I found a new appreciation for Attack of the Clones when I watched it last weekend and focused on Obi-Wan’s chase to unravel a large hole in the Jedi’s knowledge. I understood where The Clone Wars took directive from in their short episodes. One of the primary thoughts I had was that Obi-Wan’s plot reminded me of a fleshed out TCW episode. The movie became riveting and I learned more information than I have in the past.

I never thought I’d write this, but I left my viewing of AOTC extremely satisfied and I enjoyed it.

13 thoughts on “My New Found Appreciation for AOTC

    1. That’s very true! It’s almost like a bunch of mini TCW episodes. It’s enough to make your head spin. Did you know that I didn’t know which way Padme was voting on the Military Creation Act until this time that I watched it? I had only vaguely heard of the Military Creation Act as well since it was crammed in there. It’s much more dense than I realized!

  1. I like your assertion that Obi-wan’s mystery subplot is the real plot. The movie would be greatly improved if it functioned more that way. I also like the idea of the mystery plot, and Ewan McGregor really sells his part. But the execution is not well done, because frankly I have never understood and still don’t understand the series of occurrences that lead to the creation of the clones and Obi-Wan’s discovery of them.
    I agree AOTC is the weakest of the movies, and it’s definitely the one I’ve watched the least. But I always appreciate your efforts to appreciate it more!

    1. I had this whole thing typed out about how I think another reason I also enjoyed it was because I went into watching this with almost a tired resignation feeling. I think I was just exhausted from despising it and dreading it each time I watched it. And by losing those feelings, it opened me up a lot more to accepting it for what it is and then enjoying parts of it.

      Well, interestingly, they kind of go into explaining about the creation of the clone army in TCW, but you’re right – it’s left totally vague in the movie. It kind of adds to the mystery though! Except, you expect it to be resolved at the end and understand it better but it definitely does not. I chalk it up to one of those scratching-your-head-moments in Star Wars where they try to brush things under the rug and hope that you shrug your shoulders and move on.

      And – hilarious that you appreciate my efforts to appreciate it more. Love/hate, what can I say? Love because it’s Star Wars, hate because it’s Attack of the Clones.

      1. I never finished watching TCW; I should get back to that. And I stopped watching Rebels when I switched cable service. But I have plenty of time to watch TV currently while I’m feeding haha, so maybe I can catch up.

        It really does matter the mindset you have going into a movie (or any experience). Low expectations generally help me enjoy a mediocre movie more. But I really do wish more people were able to see nuance in things. Very few things are so black and white, perfect or terrible. Even Star Wars lies somewhere in the middle.

  2. I’ve grown to appreciate it more too. There’s a lot of complex things going on beneath the surface and every time I watch it I seem to pick up little things. The cumulative effect over the years is a growing appreciation of it.

    1. This is my first time ever appreciating it within the last 10 years haha! But it was refreshing, for sure. It has potential but I still wish there was less romance (even though that was necessary) and more Obi-Wan and explanations of what the hell is going on. Sometimes even now, I just go “huh?”

      1. I really find myself mulling over the Kamino scenes recently. How good must Ewan McGregor have been at acting against green screen!

  3. Since this is my favorite of the Prequels this post made me very happy! All it will take is a few more viewings and you’ll be able to quote my favorite line with me in a state of sincere appreciation. C’mon, let’s do it together, “I hate sand. It’s coarse and rough and…”

    In all seriousness, I think about the Obi-Wan/Anakin connection often. Obi-Wan is so demeaning to Anakin! You can see Anakin swallowing his resentment each time. It certainly wasn’t an entirely healthy relationship. I’ve always felt a big part of the problem was Anakin sees Obi-Wan as his father while Obi-Wan sees himself as Anakin’s brother. Those are two very different roles with different responsibilities.

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