Tag Archives: Anakin Skywalker

STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES – A Review by Frank Mengarelli

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The galaxy has begun to divide amongst the Republic and the newly formed Separatist Movement, led by former Jedi Master who was trained by Yoda and mentored Qui Gon Jinn, Count Dooku (perfectly played by Christopher Lee). ATTACK OF THE CLONES follows in line with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK as the transgressive center of the trilogy.

Like the rest of the prequels, the film has its recurring base of people who champion to dismiss the film at all costs. Yes, some of their points are valid, but some of them are ridiculous just to be ridiculous. We know people hate the prequels, but that will never stop the ones who love the films from continuing to do so.

The darkness of Episode II is very subtle, and upon first glance, it’s hard to pick up on due to the films cinematic glossiness. The first being the forbidden love between Padme and Anakin Skywalker. We know how this is going to end, and watching the beginnings of their courtship is the equivalent to looking for a gas leak with a match.

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For me, the most fascinating aspect in which Lucas included in the film is Anakin’s motivation for accepting the dark tendencies he feels. Anakin’s mother gets kidnapped by Tusken Raiders, and he returns back to Tatooine to save her. He approaches the camp, and finds his Mother, who has been gone for months, beaten, bloodied, and chained up face first on a rack.

Anakin’s mother dies in his arms, and then he proceeds to kills every single Tusken Raider in the village. Including the women and children in a fury of anger. Yoda and Qui Gon call out to him, but that can’t stop him form seeking vengeance.

Anakin’s mother was being raped. Repeadly. There is not another sound explanation as to why she was still alive, or why she would be chained up face first against a rack. This was the spark that lit the dark fire inside of Anakin.

While, at times, the second act featuring the overly romantic love story between Padme and Anakin can drag it’s feet, it is all worth it for the final act that a lot of us have waited our entire lives to see: an all out Jedi battle.

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At least thirty Jedi, led by Yoda and Mace Windu, backed by the Republic’s new Clone Army descend upon the Separatist hub planet of Geonosis and wage war against the Geonosians and the Separatist’s droid army.

The film includes my favorite (yet widely unpopular) light saber duel featuring Yoda facing off against his former Padawan turned Sith Lord, Count Dooku. This is the moment when we are shown exactly why he is the head of the Jedi Council, General of the Republic’s Army, and how powerful he is with the Force.

ATTACK OF THE CLONES remains an imperfect film, aside from some clunky dialogue and misguided casting, I’ve come to wholeheartedly accept the film, and still marvel at George Lucas’ unbelievable command and vision behind the camera.

STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE – A Review by Frank Mengarelli

It’s no secret that many high brow cinephiles have their knives out when it comes to STAR WARS, but in particular the prequels.  To be fair, my film snobbery overflows onto big blockbuster franchises, but STAR WARS, all aspects of it; the films, the novels, the video games, collectibles are so ingrained in my life since childhood that it’s fair to say I will never have as much passion for anything as I do for STAR WARS.

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THE PHANTOM MENACE is a stark contrast from the original trilogy, and that’s exactly what it is supposed to be.  Yes, there are many missteps, including the casting of some actors, and the dialogue at times is lackluster and unintentionally laughable but there is so much more at stake when you look at the big picture.

Set decades before A NEW HOPE, Episode I shows us the beginning.  We see a vibrant and fertile galaxy before the desolate dilapidation that the Empire brings to not only the aesthetics but also thematically in the original trilogy.  This is a time of prosperity, a time when the Jedi oversaw peace in the galaxy.

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But.  This is also the beginning of the galaxy being divided in a full-out war.  Planets pitted against each other by fear and economics.  All the workings of seminal STAR WARS villain, Emperor Palpatine, who in Episode I is nothing more than the affable senator from the peaceful planet of Naboo.  His Sith alter ego, Darth Sidious, does all the dirty work.

I know.  Jar Jar Binks is the go to hangup.  Yes, Jar Jar is annoying until you get over it and embrace him.  Liam Neeson as the Jedi Master who is the hierarchy of the Skywalker lineage more than makes up for Jar Jar.  As does John Williams’ AMAZING score, particularly DUEL OF THE FATES which loudly surrounds the greatest lightsaber battle in the STAR WARS saga: Qui Gon Ginn AND Obi Wan Kenobi versus fan favorite, Darth Maul.

Yes, THE PHANTOM MENACE is the weakest of the STAR WARS saga, but it is also a solid foundation of what’s to come after.  The chaos that engulfs the galaxy.  The tangible rise of Palpatine’s dark powers.  For all of Lucas’ faults, he does an excellent job guiding the camera through the birth of galactic turmoil.  His casting of Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson, and Terence Stamp are wonderfully perfect additions to the series, and his vibrant aesthetic is a pleasant contrast from the darkness of the original trilogy.