|George Lucas is finally back on track. "Attack of The Clones," the fifth film in the Star Wars saga and chronologically the second picture in the series, thankfully has more bite than the Muppet-laden, godawful "Phantom Menace" and "Return of The Jedi."
After "The Empire Strikes Back" (the best in the series), Lucas took a dramatic departure from an adult storyline towards more of a Disneyland adventure punctuated by Ewoks and the articulately Ebonic Jar Jar Binks, a Stepin Fetchit stereotype.
Enter "Attack of The Clones," a darker and more solidly constructed adult storyline. Lucas loosened the writing reins and let screenwriter Jonathan Hales contribute to the screenplay. As a result, the pair came up with a motion picture that rivals "The Empire Strikes Back."
"Attack of The Clones" takes place 10 years after the events of "The Phantom Menace." Queen Padmé Amidala of Naboo (Natalie Portman) is now a senator (because of term limits), and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) has now become an accomplished, but overconfident apprentice of master Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).
Obi-Wan leaves Padmé and Anakin to go after Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), a bounty hunter whos been paid to kill Padmé by rogue Jedi, Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) leader of the separatists and chief architect of a plan to build a clone army to take over a galaxy.
Anakin escorts Padmé back to Naboo and the pair began a forbidden love affair which starts Anakin down the path to the dark side as he begins to let love, hate and revenge motivate him. Star Wars fans with appreciate and savor the drama as pieces of the saga finally fall into place as the creation of Darth Vader, the Death Star and the Rebel Alliance are foreshadowed.
As a bonus, Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and Master Yoda (Frank Oz) get extended lightsaber duty during the films super-climatic third act in an arena.
If the film suffers from any major flaws, it is its marathon ending which runs 15 minutes too long. Filmed entirely with digital cameras, the 21st century technology surprising makes the picture crystal clear and mesmerizing. It also makes the background appear weirdly synthetic and littered with digital graffiti. Too much of a good thing.