Feature Article
 

Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Reviewed by Melissa Minners
 

            Having been a long-time fan of all things Star Wars, it should come as no surprise that I not only watch the films, but read the film novelizations, check out the comic books based on the films, and collect all three.  When I decided to read the novelization of Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, I was inspired to watch the movie yet again.  This time, however, I was determined to watch every special feature on my DVD version of the film.  It took me an entire day to complete it.  When I was finished, I decided that it would be nice to share both the DVD and the book version of the film with G-POP.net’s viewers, some of which – please say it isn’t so! – have never enjoyed the Star Wars experience.  So, travel with me on an adventure that begins a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

             In this segment of the Star Wars series, the Republic is growing weaker and an opposition group has sprung up to challenge the antiquated and often times infuriatingly slow ways of the beaurocracy.  The Separatists, as they are called, are gaining strength as many factions, grown tired of the ways of the Republic, have seceded toward the Separatist movement.  Padmé Amidala, once the Queen of Naboo, has left the throne and now serves as Senator to her homeworld.  Many members of the Republic Senate call for an army to be built to protect the many worlds represented by the Republic.  Senator Amidala, finding this to be a declaration of war of sorts, stands opposed to this proposition.  For her efforts, certain factions have deemed it necessary that Senator Amidala be “taken out of the picture.”  Chancellor Palpatine requests the Jedi Order protect Senator Amidala against all assassination attempts until the proposal can be voted on.  Assigned to this task are Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Padawan Anakin Skywalker.  Though much older than when he first met Padmé, Anakin still harbors feelings toward the senator.  Anakin’s master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, thinks highly of his abilities, but wonders about his impetuousness, believing that he has grown arrogant with the strength of his powers within the Force.  He also worries about the strength of his feelings toward Padmé Amidala, as relationships such as the sort Anakin is thinking of are strictly forbidden the Jedi

            After a foiled attempt on Senator Amidala’s life, it becomes apparent that there is more to the assassination plot than what appears on the surface.  The Jedi Council requests that Ob-Wan Kenobi go in search of the assassin, while Anakin is charged with the duties of keeping Padmé safe.  Padmé and Anakin travel to her homeworld of Naboo, where Anakin and Padmé’s feelings for each other become increasingly apparent.  Both know that such feelings are forbidden, but neither can deny their feelings for one another.  Just as these feelings make things increasingly uncomfortable for both of them, Anakin has a particularly disturbing nightmare about his mother.  Disregarding the Jedi Council’s orders, he travels with Padmé to Tatooine in an attempt to save Shmi from the horrors of his nightmares.  Meanwhile, Obi-Wan has uncovered a disturbing truth about Padmé’s would-be assassin.  The bounty hunter serves as the basis of a cloning process on the world of Kamino.  A world on which a clone army has been created.  To Obi-Wan’s surprise, the army has supposedly been ordered by a Jedi!  The paths of our heroes become perilous indeed as they encounter Darth Sidious’ newest apprentice, the man behind the Separatist movement who just happens to be a former Jedi.

 

Pick your pleasure:               The Novel              The DVD

 

Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Author: R. A. Salvatore

Published By: The Ballentine Publishing Company
 

            I am a self-proclaimed Star Wars nut.  No, I’m not as crazy as some of the folks who dress up in the outfits, though I have been known to have a lightsaber (aka: wiffle bat) duel with my brother-in-law on occasion.  And, granted, I haven’t stood on line for days, weeks, even months for a ticket to see one of the movies.  But I have seen every one of the movies in the theaters, often times more than once.  I also own them all in various versions and formats.  I own various other Star Wars items, such as comic books, cards, figures, etc, but my collection is small, compared to most…mostly due to lack of money and space.  The pride of my collection is my Star Wars book collection.  I even purchased a special bookcase to display them in.  My collection is modest – I only buy what I can afford.  Plus, I don’t just leave these things on a shelf either.  They serve a dual purpose, as I am an avid reader. 

            Having read almost the entire series prior to Vector Prime (minus the Young Jedi books, of which I am missing a couple), and completing the New Jedi Order series plus a couple of the new “older” fill-in adventures, I was now ready to continue reading the events of the Clone Wars series.  Next stop – Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones by R. A. Salvatore.  On the very first day of reading the novel, I completed 119 pages.  Now, some of you are probably saying – so what?!  You’re a Star Wars nut and loved the movie.  Of course you’re breezing through the book.  Well, let me tell you – this novel is not just a retelling of the movie!  Often times, reading the novelization of a movie is disappointing.  Either scenes are left out of the book that were in the movie, or scenes are added that don’t truly fit, having been copied from the original screen play without the edits.  But this novelization is on a whole different level than most.

            Throughout this segment of the Star Wars adventure, we begin to see the path toward darkness that inevitably claims Anakin Skywalker.  We begin to see how tragedy, as well as his inner passions, lead him perilously close to the Dark Side of the Force.  Episode II illustrates the beginning of Skywalker’s path toward that ominous end which will culminate in his becoming Darth Vader, a Dark Lord of the Sith.

            R. A. Salvatore is one of the most gifted storytellers of the day.  In creating the novelization of Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, R. A. Salvatore set about doing it the only way he knows how.  He recreated the story.  Not to say he changed any of George Lucas’ vision.  The scenes that take place in the movie are perfectly described in the novel.  Action scenes, such as the fight between Dooku and Yoda are made even more energetic and exciting due to the amazing detail with which they are described by Salvatore.  Lucas’ entire movie is written within the pages of this novel, but with a twist.  Movies don’t often have a great deal of time for character building.  We can only guess what is going on in the minds of the characters.  What Salvatore does for this novelization only serves to make George Lucas’ movie more enjoyable.

            Throughout the beginning of Attack of the Clones, Anakin’s mother Shmi Skywalker is only discussed.  We never actually see her until Anakin attempts to rescue her from the Sand People.  R. A. Salvatore tells us about Shmi’s life just prior to being captured by the Tusken Raiders.  We also are given glimpses as to what it was like for Shmi in captivity.  More attention is given to Padmé’s life outside the Senate.  We are shown glimpses of her home life and the reasons that Padmé is more vulnerable to Anakin’s presence than she would like to be.  We learn that Anakin is not such a spoiled teenager as he appears to be in the movie, as we are given more insight into his thoughts, hopes, and horrifying dreams.  Much more attention is paid to Obi Wan and his misgivings for his beloved Padawan’s future.  We see Yoda more clearly through the eyes of Salvatore, who allows us to glimpse the various thoughts that plague the Jedi Master.  The relationship between Jango Fett and his son Boba is explored in detail, giving us insight into the boy who would some day become one of the most feared bounty hunters in the galaxy.

            The fact that Salvatore manages to do this without destroying the continuity of the events within the movie is simply incredible.  I was already in love with the characters in this film.  Salvatore made me fall in love with the story all over again.  The background insight given for each character is perfectly written.  It was almost as if these were characters HE had created, rather than characters created through George Lucas’ vision.  Salvatore’s descriptive nature allows for some of the most beautiful love scenes ever written for a Star Wars novel.  His action scenes leave you on the edge of your seat in captivated wonder.  Even though you are already aware of the outcome, you still find yourself completely absorbed in every nuance of the scene.  The fact that he was able to fully describe the scene in the droid factory, where so many things were happening simultaneously and in such a short span of time, is testimony to the effort that Salvatore put in to this novel. 

            Perhaps, you’ve never seen the movie…please don’t tell me you’ve never seen it!!  Perhaps you’ve seen it but really didn’t like it – say it isn’t so!  The novelization of Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones by R. A. Salvatore will certainly bring you around!  The novel is well-written, the building of characters was insightful and tastefully done, and the action scenes are intense, to say the least.  Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones by R. A. Salvatore makes a terrific addition to any Star Wars fan’s collection and a great read for any science fiction fan out there!

 

Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones DVD

Lucasfilm Ltd.

Distributed By: Fox Home Entertainment
 

            Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones is my favorite episode of the prequel trilogy.  Gone is the whiny little child Anakin that most people really never could relate to.  In his stead is a handsome, somewhat brooding Jedi Apprentice Anakin with a romantic sort of flare.  Obi-Wan Kenobi is much more like the Obi-Wan of A New Hope fame.  Padmé's character is more mature and less stiff than in The Phantom Menace.  This movie contains a bit of everything for a Star Wars fan.  This movie contains a mystery with loads of action and adventure.  It also contains a love story – one of the most elaborate love stories ever portrayed in any of the Star Wars films.  In The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, the love story between Han and Leia is established, but on a less grand scale…far less detailed than that of Padmé and Anakin in Attack of the Clones.  Another plus for Episode II is the fact that viewers get to see not one, not two, but a plethora of Jedi in action.  And of course, who can forget that this is the movie in which we watch Anakin takes several steps toward the Dark Side.  A path he will complete in Episode III.

            For Attack of the Clones, George Lucas used digital technology to the utmost.  Whole scenes were digitally animated.  The herky jerky scenes with Jar Jar in The Phantom Menace were now a thing of the past.  Lucas’s team were able to create thrilling action sequences such as the battle on Geonesis and the Yoda-Dooku duel – yes, we finally get to see Yoda in action! - through the advancement of digital technology.  Each creation was fluid and realistic to the viewer.  Most times, it was impossible to tell which was digital animation and which was real.

            The DVD version of Attack of the Clones is a must-purchase for all Star Wars fans!  For the low price of $19.99 U.S. dollars, Star Wars fans receive a two-disc DVD set containing a spectacular movie and an incredible amount of extra features.  It is almost impossible to view all of the special features on this DVD in one day.  In fact, there is so much extra content that the special features section is contained in a separate disc from the movie.  Each of the special feature sections contain elaborate menus depicting scenes from the movie. 

            There are eight deleted scenes which contain introductions by George Lucas, Producer Rick McCallum, and Ben Burtt explaining why these particular scenes had been cut from the movie.  I wasn’t surprised to note that many of the scenes were ones included in the novel version of Episode II.  Often times the scenes were cut in interest of time constraints.  In addition to deleted scenes, viewers can check out Dexter’s Diner where they will find behind the scenes photos complete with captions and the theatrical posters and print campaigns from all over the world.  Also available for viewing are From Puppets to Pixels, a documentary that fully details the creation of digital characters such as Yoda and Dexter Jettster and State of the Art: The Previzualization of Episode II, a documentary that explains the animatics team’s role in the creation of elaborate scenes throughout the movie.  Films Are Not Released: They Escape is a documentary in which Ben Burtt reveals to viewers the great lengths to which the movie sound team will go to obtain some of the sounds heard in the Star Wars movies.  Three featurettes contain mini-documentaries about the movie’s storyline, action scenes and love story.  They contain behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew.  Also available to the viewers is a twelve-part documentary that was shown exclusively to members of the website www.starwars.com.  With each chapter, viewers learn more and more about the film-making process as well as how locations were chosen, how wardrobes were chosen, digital cinema, visual effects, and actors takes on their characters. 

            After viewing all of the documentaries and featurettes, viewers can check out the Across the Stars music video which contains clips of the movie mixed with footage of the scoring session with composer John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra.  There are also several trailers and TV spots for Episode II as well as a preview to the mockumentary R2-D2: Beneath the Dome.  Placing this DVD into your computer unlocks special Star Wars content that are only available through the DVD-ROM website.

            The DVD version of Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones is an incredible buy for all the features you get.  Not to mention that this is a movie one will want to watch many times over just to get the full effect.  I have never watched a Star Wars movie once without noticing something I didn’t see the first time I watched it.  The DVD is available in both Full Screen and Wide Screen format – each format sold separately.  If you don’t already own this DVD, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!  Run, don’t walk, to your local video store and buy Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones today!

 

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