Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
USA, 2002. Lucasfilm. Story by George Lucas, Screenplay by George Lucas, Jonathan Hales. Cinematography by David Tattersall. Produced by Rick McCallum, Lorne Orleans. Music by John Williams. Production Design by Gavin Bocquet. Costume Design by Trisha Biggar. Film Editing by Ben Burtt.
Vast improvement on Episode One of the Star Wars series’ adventures continues the story from The Phantom Menace ten years later with a grown up Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), hotheaded and ready for love. Political stability in the Republic led by shady Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) threatens to crumble at any second thanks to a wayward Jedi General (Christopher Lee) having gone astray and trying to lead as many star systems who are part of the Republic away from the democratic way of government as is possible for him to do. The situation comes to a head when an assassination of Senator Amidala (Natalie Portman), formerly Queen of Naboo and now a representative of her home planet in the Republic capital, is attempted and comes very close to succeeding. Jedi knights are assigned to her as bodyguards, her old friend Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and the previously mentioned Anakin, who has grown quite a bit since he last saw her, and now even seems to insist that he is in love with our fair heroine. Many more questions that were raised in the original Star Wars trilogy are answered here than were provided by Episode One, but most importantly the action sequences have been upped quite a bit, in place of the endless dialogue that left the first installment feeling far too serious for its own good. Christensen does a fair enough job with the role, but whatever shortcomings he appears to have as an actor seem unfair to point out in the face of his having probably the worst dialogue in all of grand science-fiction film history to utter; his love scenes with Portman are of mawkishly tepid design. He’s much better in moments where he hints at the eventual change that his character will undergo to become one of filmdom’s favourite villains of all time. McGregor, on the other hand, does a superb job in the now-lead role of Obi-Wan Kenobi; the character has blossomed to center stage, and McGregor meets every aspect of the challenge with incredible panache. The visual effects in this film series seem to get bolder and more beautiful with every attempt; it looks fantastic, sounds great, has some stony moments, runs a bit too long, but on the whole is entertainment worth watching again and again.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Visual Effects