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If It's Broken, they will Clone it and leave it Broken

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Welcome back to my series of articles where I take a movie that was horrible in some way and postulate on how that movie could have been fixed. Last time I dissected Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Today, I will be doing the same with the sequel, 2002’s Attack of the Clones. Like always, we’ll first take a quick look at the plot of the movie, before I run through what will be thrown out and what we will keep.

Attack of the Clones. Copyright © Lucasfilm

 10 years after the events of the previous film, the Republic is having another political kerfuffle. Former Jedi Knight Count Dooku has now organized a Separatist movement against the Republic. Meanwhile, the Republic hopes to create an army to assist the Jedi and wants the new Senator of Naboo Padmé Amidala to come to Coruscant to cast her vote. But she is almost killed by an assassin who is very likely working for the Separatists. This stirs up all the right people in high places, and the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine assigns Jedi Master and apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to protect her. The Jedi capture the assassin after a second attempt and she is killed by yet another assassin. Anakin takes Padme back to Naboo, where it is hopefully safer than Coruscant. Obi Wan goes to investigate the origin of the weapon used to kill the first Assassin.

Anakin and Padme grow closer, then Anakin goes to visit his mother back on Tatooine who has been killed by the Sandpeople. He kills the sandpeople in a raging fit of saber wielding. It is during this visit that Anakin briefly meets the man who will eventually raise his son, Owen Lars, son of Anakin’s stepfather. Meanwhile, Obi Wan finds out where the dart was manufactured, but the world doesn’t exist on the Jedi maps. Uh oh. Nonetheless, Obi Wan finds the place he’s looking for and surprise! It turns out that a deceased Jedi Knight had ordered a big huge army of Clones many years earlier. The guy who is being cloned is Jango Fett, and it turns out that he’s the second assassin. There’s a fight, Jango and son get away.

Turns out that Dooku was behind the attacks on Padme and is having a large army of droids built for the Separatists. Obi Wan finds out and sends a message to Padme and Anakin, they come and get captured, but Obi Wan has already been captured. Palpatine is then granted powers even beyond what he already has as the Supreme Chancellor, and he gives the order for the Clones to go fight the droids. Meanwhile, there’s a big coliseum fight against some monsters, with Anakin, Padme and Obi Wan trying to survive. A huge team of Jedi appear, and the odds seem a little bit more balanced. But things don’t tip entirely in the favor of the good guys until Yoda and an army of clone troopers arrive.

Big fight happens, and Anakin and Obi Wan face off against Dooku. He schools them both, but then Yoda shows up and shows us that he’s not the frail old thing he had us believe. Ultimately, Dooku escapes with some secret plans for an ultimate weapon called the Death Star, while Yoda has to save Obi Wan and Anakin. Dooku meets up with Palpatine and they celebrate everything going according to plan. The Jedi Council is less thrilled, and Yoda names the upcoming dark times as “the clone wars.” The film ends with Anakin and Padme getting married, secretly.

And that’s the Attack of the Clones film. Unlike my previous deconstruction of Star Wars with Phantom Menace, I fear that this film does not have nearly as good of a plot going on, and thus what I ultimately end up reconstructing will look very different from what was on the screen, as opposed to more or less being the same movie, with surface changes to improve everything. How is this film worse than Phantom Menace, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

My first complaint is the romance between Anakin and Padme. It just doesn’t work at all, as far as I can tell…romances are an interesting animal in most superhero movies I see, where the movie tries to have a supervillain with an evil plot, and a hero trying to stop the evil plot, and then a chick on the side who the hero falls in love with. And while the film sometime succeeds at the villain and hero story, I have never seen a superhero movie that really succeeds at the romance part. And that more or less holds true here. This isn’t a superhero movie, but the formula is still there. An evil villain (Palpatine and Dooku both) with an evil plan (start a civil war and work yourself into a position of power while doing so) is being thwarted by a hero (Obi Wan and Anakin, though really Obi Wan is the one doing all the thwarting).  The elements are all there, including the part where the hero falls in love with a woman in an absurd amount of time. How much time passes from when Anakin takes Padme to Naboo and the end of the fighting? A week? I maybe can grant that there is some time in between Dooku’s escape and the Heroes brooding at the very end, when Anakin is secretly getting married. But even so, it can’t be more than 2 weeks that they have spent together. And we are actually told in the movie that Padme and Anakin haven’t met once since the end of the Phantom Menace. What. The. Crap?

So that’s clearly a problem. How do we fix that? The time skip between the two movies provides us with a significant amount of time that the audience is never privy to (unless you read the novels and the comics and watch the animated shows and play the video games. But It is almost impossible to reconcile all of that with the movies and it make any kind of sense). So why don’t we say that Anakin and Padme did spend some time together during this time skip? I’m not saying that they were together every day. I mean, a senator does have her duties. An aspiring Jedi master doesn’t have much downtime. But if things are as dangerous for Padme as we’ve seen in these first two movies, and she needs protection when she’s in danger, then it stands to reason that during some of these dangerous fiascos, that she would need protection (she can handle herself in hand to hand combat, but political assassins are a little out of her capabilities). So we say that any time her life was in serious danger, Obi Wan and Anakin to the rescue. Is it possible that other Jedi pairs might’ve been assigned to protect her during this time skip? Yeah, I guess it’s possible, but if she’s resistant to the idea of constantly having body guards (as we see she is in this movie), it might be easier to protect her from danger if it was coming from friends she knew than from some dude she’s never met.

This lets us take some liberties with the romance. One, we get to start it before the movie even begins. If this thing was under my control, I’d have them kissing all up and down that small space ship as soon as they are alone together onscreen. Show that we aren’t starting with “oh, I haven’t seen you in 10 years” but rather “let me play some Barry White before we kissy kissy.” I’m not saying that they’re already in love when the movie begins. That is where they are at by the end of the movie, but it’s so much easier to get to that point if we start much closer to it, wouldn’t you say? Where are they starting from when this movie begins? I like to think that during one of the adventures where Padme needed protection from the Jedi, that maybe she and Anakin had a fling, but it hasn’t been an ongoing thing. Just enough that they both are interested in each other, but nothing serious…yet.

So that’s something that I think is improved. What else? Let’s talk the first real bad guy that we see in the movie, Jango Fett. Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus hired one Jango Fett to sell his genetic material to provide the Republic with an army of clones while simultaneously hiring Fett to deal with this idealist who is an enemy to the Separatist cause. Jango Fett, a bounty hunter who we see is pretty good at fighting Jedi, hires…a bounty hunter to kill the idealist republic senator, who is friends with the entire Jedi council, but specifically 2 Jedi. Ok, why is a very talented and skilled Bounty Hunter who basically has the body of a god (we can assume as much, since the cloners and whoever it was that ordered the clones, the ever elusive Sifo-Dyas, is happy enough with his DNA to make millions of clones from his body) hiring another Bounty Hunter? The answer is that there isn’t much going on in this film, so we have to stall the movie until we get to what is actually going on. It’s like halfway into the movie when Jango is seen without his helmet talking to Obi Wan. How much sooner would we have gotten to him if we just skipped Zam Wessel? We have to have lots of filler until we get to the climax, and that means, instead of having one bounty hunter that our Jedi can hunt, we get 2, and they trace one back to the other, who they then spend a large portion of the movie hunting…

So that’s a problem, but I actually have an even bigger problem with the presence of Jango Fett. Remember in my reconstruction of the Phantom Menace, I was pretty dead set on not brining in characters from the original trilogy (such as the droids who felt out of place and served no real purpose). That extends to Jango Fett, who really only serves to show us where Bobba Fett came from. Bobba is very beloved by many Star Wars fans (I am not one of them. He speaks like 4 lines in the 2 movies he appears in, and he is defeated by a blind guy while he himself is armed to the tooth…I don’t care if Robot Chicken or the expanded universe says that he somehow survived the Sarlac pit. In the context of the 2 movies he appeared in, he isn’t very impressive.) which is why he is in this movie. If you hated Phantom Menace, you should come back because Bobba Fett is in this movie, and his dad is basically…Bobba Fett. I’ll say again what I said when I explained why the Droids would not be showing up in my own personal Phantom Menace. The franchise of Star Wars is supposed to be a UNIVERSE. We should be seeing all kinds of different interesting characters in this trilogy who we might never see again an entire generation later on entirely different planets. When you keep reaching back into the toy box and dusting off old characters that we’ve already seen (and in the case of Bobba Fett, don’t care about), Star Wars begins to feel less like a large massive universe and more like the same 12 people all on one large stage performing a 12 hour play. In short, No Jango. But where do the clones come from? I’ve given that some thought, and we will cover that when we get to the modified plot. But for now, know that they do not come from Jango Fett. We do not need the origin story of Bobba Fett. He’s a frickin’ Bounty Hunter. Since when do we need to know why he Hunts the bounty? Right after watching Attack of the Clones, we’ll be discussing why Dog the Bounty Hunter: Year One sucks.

That’s a couple of villains that we’ll be throwing away. Who’s next on our villainous side of things? No less than Supreme Chancellor Palpatine himself. He is really not in this movie as much as it seemed he was in the first film. Phantom Menace, as far as villains go, gave us the Trade Federation leaders, who were so boring that they physically were identical, and nobody could tell you anything about either of them individually, or really anything about them together, other than “they’re the bad guys.” Phantom Menace also gave us Darth Maul who spoke even less than Bobba Fett, and we know even less about him. In other words, even though Palpatine wasn’t in Phantom Menace much, in the capacity of a villain or as friendly senator guy, he stands head and shoulders above the crowd because of the villains he shares a movie with.

But Attack the Clones is different. I would say Jango Fett is about on the same level of Darth Maul in that he really has no personality other than he’s evil, but Fett does more in this movie than Maul did in Phantom Menace. And while Phantom Menace may have been a little too mysterious about why things were happening (oh! He’s stirring things up so that he can give himself a promotion) there is no mystery about what is happening. It is very clear that there is a group of bad guys, and this is what they are doing.

Can Attack of the Clones say the same thing? We are told very early in the film that there is a Separatist movement led by one Count Dooku, but we don’t meet the guy until over halfway through the movie. And much like Phantom Menace, the why of these events is still a mystery, but to make matters worse, the what is also kinda hard to follow. Earlier I compared the Star Wars movies to Superhero movies. I will continue that comparison right here. Superhero stories (and Star Wars movies) are a reactionary thing. Villain begins his big plan, and the hero has to stop it. The entire structure of the story is built on that very reactionary setup. If the evil plan of the evil villain is unclear, then the entire structure of the story is wobbly, and we have a crappy movie.

In a roundabout way, that all brings me back to the main two villains. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and Count Dooku. By the end of the film, I understand why Palpatine is doing what he is doing, and it certainly helps if you remember the events of the previous film, where his motivation and methodology more or less remain the same. But why is Count Dooku doing this? We definitely get a vibe from his conversation with Obi Wan that he no longer has faith in the Jedi Order, and has to take extreme methods to set things right…but does he really believe that? Because he’s working with a man who, if you know all he has done so far, and know who he is under that hood (something that shouldn’t be too hard, since you’ve met him in person) then you know he is on a one way trip to trying to set himself up as the ruler of the universe. Do you really think that working with him is a better alternative to the emotionless Jedi order? At least the Jedi will say that they have good intentions, even if they don’t necessarily put their near omnipotence to good use. But Palpatine, if you straightup ask him what he plans on doing, is there any way he can say that he is doing a good thing?

Theoretically, he could be trying to set himself up as ultimate ruler to break the government and start from scratch, making everything better. But this is a Sith Lord. You know this because you are his apprentice. He comes from an order that has the number one motto of “kill or be killed,” which is why you will never see the Sith playing Go Fish amongst themselves. Do you think that a guy who proudly plays the “I killed my master and there’s a good chance I will kill you.” Card has altruistic goals in mind?

Let me put it more plainly. I can never tell what Dooku is thinking or planning. We know that everything that has happened in this movie is a result of his manipulations, but that was all basically in service to his master. Does he, at some point, plan on killing Palpatine and assuming command of the Universe to actually be benevolent, or is he just using the excuse of the Jedi aren’t proactive enough to fix problems so that he doesn’t have to have a good reason why he’s evil?

And it doesn’t really help that the in-universe explanation for the ideological differences between the Sith and the Jedi given in Episode III are not at all referenced or even really applicable here. Does Count Dooku give in to his emotion? From what I can see, he doesn’t have emotions. Part of that is the actor. I don’t want to be the guy who knocks an actor who has been knighted and has been acting since before my parents were born, but I just don’t think that Christopher Lee is doing that good of a job here. In his defense, I guess, everyone in this movie is doing a bad job, be it acting, directing, writing or whatever. Christopher Lee doesn’t display any qualities that we are told by Yoda that the Sith have. What are his reasons for leading the Separatists? He’s working for the dude who is basically in charge of the Republic, so I can assume that politically speaking, he isn’t really that passionate about the Separatist movement. So it’s just the end game he cares about, and that comes back to putting Palpatine in power as the ultimate ruler. So what do the real Separatists believe in? What do the real members of the Republic believe in? We are given a very political backdrop for this conflict to happen within, but we know jack squirt about this backdrop. Is the Republic being unreasonable in not wanting the Separatists to separate (as I am assuming that that is the actual goal of the Separatists)? And if so, is this the first time that we’re seeing some semblance of a less than perfect Government within the world of Star Wars? If the Republic is being hard headed about not letting a portion of the Galaxy form their own separate government, then is Palpatine even wrong to want to take over the Government and establish his own rules? It’s always been interesting to me that, within the context of the Prequel movies, the Jedi aren’t exactly seen as the 100% good guys that a little kid would want them to be. And from that perspective, it makes a great deal of sense if the Republic is an imperfect system that we are still calling the “good guys” much like we do with the Jedi. But why can’t any of the characters acknowledge that? Where is the scene where Padme realizes that the Republic might be wrong about this particular thing? What exactly would happen to the rest of the galaxy if the Separatists did get what they wanted? It seems to me that nobody who worked on this movie actually thought about these questions, or if they did, they maybe thought that throwing some big monsters in a coliseum fight might distract us from those questions.

What else needs to be addressed? Ah yes, the ever-mysterious Sifo-Dyas. Namely, who the heck is he? The weird cloner person on Kamino tells Obi Wan that Sifo-Dyas ordered the Clones 10 years earlier (that conveniently coincides with the timing of the Phantom Menace). Obi Wan knows that Sifo-Dyas was dead before that…I feel like the plot is just clear enough that we can know with certainty that one of two things happened, but I honestly can’t be sure which of the 2 choices to go with. One possibility is that Sifo-Dyas actually did order the Clones, and was perhaps in league with Dooku. But then that begs the question why the weird cloner person on Kamino told Obi-Wan that the clones were ordered 10 years ago, when Sifo-Dyas was already dead. Another option I feel like we can go with is that Sifo-Dyas had nothing to do with the clone order at all. Perhaps Dooku needed some name, any name to use in order to make an order of that size, and then he just came up with the name of some Jedi who had recently died. But then when Obi-Wan questions Jango Fett about who ordered the clones, Jango doesn’t seem to be in the loop with this particular white lie, and he says it was Darth Tyranus (it seems like the Jedi aren’t aware that Darth signifies a Sith warrior, as they never got Maul’s full name, and all they know at this point is that there is another Sith out there). So clearly we have a lack of communication going on here. I guess a third option is that the Cloner lied? But that really just complicates matters even more than they already are, so we will just assume that the Cloners are neutral to the conflict going on around them.

For the fix of this needlessly complicated problem, let’s go with the most simple solution. Count Dooku ordered the clones. No mention of Sifo-Dyas. And since he already has a nickname that he uses, as a Sith Lord, when he orders the clones circa The Phantom Menace, he orders under the name of Darth Tyranus. This makes things very simple for Obi Wan and the rest of the audience. Instead of chasing lose ends that never get resolved, Obi Wan just has to figure out who Darth Tyranus is, and that will not be as confusing as “how did a dead Jedi Knight order the clones? Was he evil? Was he a traitor to the Jedi Order, but still good at heart?” If the basic structure of the film was less flawed, I might be tempted to go with the idea that many Jedi have left the Jedi Order ever since the Jedi believed the Sith to no longer be active. Perhaps the Jedi’s cold distance to everything going on around them bothered some of the less lawful of their number. It’d be kinda neat if Count Dooku and Sifo-Dyas and maybe many more Jedi over the years faked their deaths or left in righteous indignation and then joined up with the Sith, or at the very least, started using their Jedi-powers to do things the Jedi thought were wrong. And while that is still an idea that could be touched on in either this movie or the next, it’s unfortunately not something that we can devote a whole lot of time to, based on how this movie is structured, or will be structured after everything has been fixed.

We’ve spent a great deal of time talking about villains, let’s talk about one of the heroes, one General Obi-Wan Kenobi. (How is he a General? Do the Jedi-Knights also get to be military commanders? Based on how the Jedi were really iffy about getting involved in the affairs of the Republic in Phantom Menace, and only seemed to do it if universal danger was afoot, it just seems weird to me that Kenobi was a General in the Clone Wars. If he was an escort who just happened to be really handy with a sword, that makes sense with how the Jedi acted in Phantom Menace. But this is really just Lucas and crew being inconsistent with one line of dialogue in New Hope. Leia referred to Obi Wan as “General Kenobi” in her message in Episode IV. So really the Phantom Menace, by painting the Jedi as eager to stay out of the affairs of the muggles, is inconsistent with the one line of dialogue from A New Hope that could probably safely be ignored in favor of making the Jedi a little less 2-dimensional.) In my reconstruction of the Phantom Menace, Obi Wan really acted a lot more like Qui-Gon Jin did in that movie, as Qui Gon Jin was alas removed from our modified story so that Obi-Wan could have more to do. That was a move that worked well with The Phantom Menace, as it took a cool character and gave him the name of a character who was actually important in the Star Wars saga. But after the time skip between Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, would Obi Wan still be the rebellious hellraiser that he was infamous for being circa Phantom Menace? I imagine not. Can you think of a friend you might have had who loved getting into all kinds of trouble in their youth, but then after becoming a parent, they were suddenly a totally different person? Very strict with their child, and you can’t help but feel as if you are speaking to someone totally different. Same principle is in action here. Obi Wan isn’t a biological parent, but he’s had to abandon a lot of his more maverick interpretations of the Jedi code since taking on an apprentice. Obi Wan might’ve been the type to frequently question the Jedi Council, but he does respect their wisdom, and he is fully aware that Anakin is something of a lose canon before being trained. Obi Wan can no longer afford to act like he once did. He has to be stern, and quash any questionable action Anakin might even consider by throwing some Jedi code number at him when he thinks something a little too wild.

This film will be offering us an Anakin Skywalker who is quite similar to the Obi Wan we got in my reconstruction of Phantom Menace. Lucas was all about making this trilogy rhyme with the original trilogy, and that’s why he had Qui Gon the master die in Phantom Menace, and Obi Wan, the student watch in anger. Just like Luke watching in anger in New Hope. Getting rid of Qui Gon took away a little bit of that irony, but having Anakin become the same kind of Jedi that Obi Wan was I think restores some of that irony. But unlike Obi Wan, Anakin doesn’t quite respect the wisdom of the Jedi order. When they say “no, we can’t win that war that’s being fought over there,” Anakin may say “yes, masters,” But he’s thinking “why the heck not?” That’s where the rhyming can come in. Luke was constantly questioning Yoda’s teachings in Empire Strikes Back, and eventually chooses his own path that is something of a middle ground between the Sith and the Jedi. Anakin questioning everything that his masters are teaching him is where the similarities can come out with this film.

And also, Obi Wan “maturing” into more of a traditional Jedi Master gives the scene where Count Dooku offers him a place by his side a little bit more weight. Dooku was Qui Gon Jin’s master according to the film that we got…but since we don’t have a Qui Gon Jin in this world…why not say that Dooku trained Obi Wan? That really makes quite a bit of sense. Especially if we hint at and possibly show that Dooku is doing everything that he does in order to set right what he sees as a problem in the universe’s government. And if Dooku trained Obi Wan, he knows better than anyone just how hard it’s been for Obi Wan to basically destroy who he once was in order to be the trainer that Anakin needs so that Anakin doesn’t go off the deep end. In many superhero movies (there I go again), when the villain offers the hero a chance to join him, it usually feels weird, since the hero has never once expressed any interest in the villain’s cause. But if Dooku is just trying to fix the government in an “ends justify the means” kind of way, or at least that’s what he says he’s doing, then he knows that Obi Wan, once upon a time, would have at least had the temptation to do the same. Again, it lends that whole exchange a little more oomph.

One final point before I hit up the little things. Those who read my reconstruction of the Phantom Menace might have noticed that I did not include Shmi Skywalker in the modified story. That is mostly because she really doesn’t serve any purpose in that movie. Though I thought the virgin birth thing was interesting, I didn’t think it added anything at all to the mythos or the movie itself. As near as I can tell, putting Anakin’s mother in the first movie only makes things more complicated. It’s unreal how many people I’ve seen complain about why the Jedi didn’t go en masse and free all the slaves on the outer rim (despite the fact that I kinda think that it’s a little bit in character of the Jedi as they are seen to not do this). Shmi’s presence only complicates matters when you look at all that time in between Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. The only purpose she brings to the franchise is pushing Anakin over the edge when she dies in Attack of the Clones. But the problem with that is we actually have to go back to Tatooine and see her die. We have to take time away from the Separatist/Republic civil war and go back to Tatooine to meet the Lars family. Or at least, the people who made Attack of the Clones felt that they had to do that. We don’t have to, since Shmi doesn’t exist in this universe.

Instead, Anakin and Padme go back to Naboo as ordered. And it is here that most of the romantic stuff will happen, kinda like how it did in the actual movie. And then they don’t leave Naboo…at least, not willingly. Anakin might see some dude getting mugged and he gets carried away and kills the mugger or something. That could be all that sends him into his first murder of passion. Or maybe we could actually TIE THIS PLOT INTO THE ONE THAT THE WHOLE MOVIE IS ABOUT. The Separatist/Republic civil war. Remember that? What if the people of Naboo are actually pro-Separatist. But their senator, the chick that Anakin is slowly falling in love with, she is staunchly anti-Separatist. That could be potential for conflict. Maybe the people are sick and tired of their own desires and opinions not being taken into consideration because the Senator has always been a friend of the Republic. Maybe this leads into Anakin’s moment of anger.

And I think that takes care of the issue of Anakin’s first step into a larger world. What are some small things that don’t really warrant full blown points? Ah, the Droids. Attack of the Clones ends with the Jedi fighting an army of droids on the planet that creates these droids. And things don’t look good. And then the Clones come to save the day. Mace Windu and Yoda are all worried because this is the beginning of the Clone Wars…waitaminute, why are they worried? These droids are exactly the same as the droids who were weak and useless enough to fight Gungans in the previous film, and loose, thanks to a kid ACCIDENTALLY destroying them. Are you trying to tell me that the big ultimate threat of this film is a pile of scrap that were destroyed accidentally in the previous film? How is this even a war? You’re on the very planet where they are created. Destroy the droid factories, and you cut off the supply of the droids, at least for a significant period of time. Sure, there are droid factories all over the Galaxy, but that is only really a problem if the droids were ever a threat. I am seriously trying to think of a way to reconcile Attack of the Clones and Phantom Menace, and the threat level of the droids in those 2 movies…can it be done? Did the droids get some unseen power boost in between films? Maybe they’re cyphoning off the Force and using it to become like, Super droids, and that’s why Mace Windu and Yoda are having trouble accessing the Force…Oh yeah, thought we had forgotten about that one, did you, Lucas? Just because you forgot about it doesn’t mean we did. (for the record, that whole little subplot gets jettisoned from my reconstruction of this trilogy. No “oh, we can’t use the force, but let’s not tell anyone” subplot is going to cloud the plot even further in this modification of the Attack of the Clones.) My one other minor nitpick? It goes back to not referencing the Original Trilogy, whenever possible. We’re trying to create a whole new side of the Star Wars universe that we never even saw evidence of in the original trilogy. So Count Dooku showing plans of The Death Star to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is removed. For one thing, it took them…what, 23 years to build The Death Star in secret? But then in between the events of New Hope and Return of the Jedi, they were almost done building a bigger and better Death Star? Not to mention the destruction of Alderan in New Hope was the first time the Death Star had ever been used…in 23 years, or how ever long. That’s a problem. We don’t need to be told that the Death Star is going to be built. If you removed the scene where Dooku has the plans for the Death Star and then removed the scene where they’re building the Death Star at the end of Revenge of the Sith, then I would still believe you if you told me that someone had to build the Death Star. Why? Because we saw the Death Star in the Original Trilogy. No need to tell us that it was built before we saw it…and if you do try and tell us that, chances are, you’re going to mess things up, like you did.

I think that sums up all my thoughts on Attack of the Clones. There weren’t nearly as many things about this movie that I outright liked as was the case with Phantom Menace, but the overall plot isn’t quite as flawed as I at first thought it was. Going through the little things step by step made me realize that the basic structure of the film can be kept, as long as we change surface details, just like we did with Phantom Menace. And with that being said, I think it’s time to treat everyone to my reconstruction for Attack of the Clones.

Several years (I don’t want to come out and say 10, because that makes Anakin 26 now, and that would make Obi Wan 50 when the Attack of the Clones starts. So it’s been less than 10 years, but probably more than 5. All that really matters is that we’ve skipped enough time that Anakin is fastly learning the ways of the Jedi) after the events of the previous film, the Republic is on the verge of Civil War. More and more planets and big names are talking secession from the Republic, but the rest of the Republic doesn’t want this. They lose their power if half of the Republic goes to form their own government, where they are not under the thumb of the seemingly more and more fascist Senate.

Former Jedi Knight Count Dooku (was he given a dishonorable discharge from the order? I never thought that the Jedi Order was something somebody could just walk away from, even if they’re getting older and it’d be harder for them to stick to their Jedi duties. “You have made a commitment to the Jedi order. A commitment not easily broken.” I like to think that Dooku had attempted to interfere in the affairs of the Republic one time to many, and eventually he was ousted from the Order. Perhaps he even had something of a falling out with his pupil, Obi Wan,  and it was Obi Wan’s ultimate allegiance to the Jedi that led to him becoming Jedi Master after his own master was kicked out. This is why the Jedi Council gives Obi Wan quite a bit of leeway in Phantom Menace, because he has proven himself, despite his rougish attitude to the Jedi way of life.) is one of the loudest supporters or Separation, but he has neither confirmed nor denied any official link to the Separatists, who are growing more and more violent with each protest and have even been speculated to be behind a few deaths of people on the Senate. (these people are actually political rivals of Palpatine, though nobody makes the connection)

There are rumblings within the Republic that an army might be drafted to keep talk of secession from leading to anything serious. This only further causes panic and even riots on some of the smaller worlds. There are many separatists who are entirely non-violent and are merely sick of the Republic for a variety of reasons. They don’t want a war, and it frightens them to think that there are some in the Republic who are considering a military response just to quash talk of secession. Padme Amidala, no longer the liaison to the Senate, but a full on Senator, has come to Coruscant to participate in the talks. Padme has not firmly come down on one side or the other. She’s something of a wildcard, as far as this political hot topic is concerned. She is friendly toward the Republic, especially since her friend and political ally Supreme Chancellor Palpatine has turned it into a force of good, instead of the large bureaucratic stagnant political machine that it was under Vallorum. On the other hand, she feels that Palpatine and all who oppose the Separatists are taking things too far, and she feels they shouldn’t be threatened into staying with the Republic. Minutes after her arrival to Coruscant, she is almost killed by a masked assassin (not Jango, but his identity will be revealed later in the movie) who Palpatine suggests is working for the Separatists. Padme says that this doesn’t make since, because she hasn’t been opposed to the Separatists like many of the other, more hidden senators. Palpatine tells her of the rumors that she was leaning toward supporting the Republic Unification, even though he knows that she hasn’t yet made her choice. “The Separatists likely see your political prowess as a threat to their cause, and thus, this assassin.”

Palpatine urges Padme to take a bodyguard with her, someone who will be equipped to handle an assassination attempt if it is to happen again. She doesn’t like the idea of being bogged down with a body guard until Palpatine suggests Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker and his apprentice Anakin Skywalker. Palpatine has no actual authority over the Jedi Council, as they are not under the command of the Republic. If they consent to a request, that’s fine and good, but they can just as easily say that this isn’t something worthy of their attention and that would be the end of it. But they don’t do that. They see that there is going to be a Civil War no matter what happens, but if they enter the fray, they can perhaps cut down on the casualties. Obi Wan and Anakin are assigned to protect Padme, and Obi Wan can’t help but notice a strong kind of tension in the air as soon as they meet up with the Senator from Naboo. Nonetheless, Anakin and Padme more or less keep their cool while in the presence of Obi Wan, and now it’s time to play the waiting game. If the assassin returns, they’ll be ready for him. Sure enough, the Assassin does attempt to strike again, and Obi Wan gives chase while Anakin stays with Padme (if they both go, there could be a second assassin who will finish the job). Obi Wan captures the Assassin, but his prey is still very eager to not be caught. Obi Wan doesn’t draw his saber because he wants this man alive to talk and hopefully give away who hired him. So it’s a hand to hand fight, and much to Kenobi’s surprise, the assassin is able to match him, move for move. During the fight, Kenobi senses he is about to be taken from behind, and narrowly dodges a speeder that the assassin jumps on and makes his getaway. Obi Wan and Anakin report their news to the Jedi Council. Is it a Sith warrior? No, he was good, but he wasn’t…spiritually attuned to the Force. Obi Wan says that he displayed a variety of fighting styles that make placing his point of origin very difficult. Obi Wan tells the council that he wore an armor that resembled the metal work of the people native to the Kamino system. The council says that they are stretched incredibly thin, trying to maintain peace in the most volatile parts of the Republic. They need Jedi in all corners of the Galaxy in case a full on war breaks out, and the Jedi can then be there to keep things under some kind of control. “We cannot spare any other Jedi at this moment” They tell Obi Wan. Obi Wan (reluctantly) suggests that he and Anakin split up. Obi Wan will go to the Kamino district where he may be able to track the mystery assassin. (he doesn’t want Anakin to go because it’s quite dangerous. If any old fool could find the Kamino district, then we’d have clones all over the place. No, it’s a place that’s hidden very well behind many obstacles, and only the most cunning and those who already know where it is can go there.) And Anakin will escort Padme back to Naboo, where she claims that she will be much safer than on Coruscant, though she fears that these attacks are not so much to kill her, but to keep her away from the Senate talks, though this is dismissed by Palpatine and all of her other allies. The Jedi Council agree, and they split forces. Much like in the actual movie, Obi Wan warns Anakin not to do anything foolish (and unlike in the actual movie, Anakin did not foolishly tell Obi Wan how he felt about Padme. They’re trying their best to keep that under wraps, though someone who is really in tune with the Force could probably sense something going on there.) and to stay with Padme at all times. Anakin doesn’t have to be told twice.

Anakin and Padme go to Naboo, but Anakin can automatically see that it’s not as rosy and happy time as Padme was letting on. In fact, when they land near the capitol building, many of the citizens who are nearby look kinda pissed at Padme. Anakin has a bad feeling about this. 

Meanwhile, Obi Wan has made it through meteor showers and big honkin’ monsters that eat space ships and has finally arrived at some wretched hive of scum and villainy deep in the Kamino system. He’s in disguise, as a warrior monk from the Republic would not be welcome in a place like this, even though he could probably take anyone who would not be happy to see him there. Bear in mind, this is a place for very dangerous very smart people. And he hopes that he can find out if there was someone from this part of town who might have a reason for wanting a Senator from the Republic dead. Sure enough, the assassin shows up, and removes his mask/helmet thing (it’s been raining outside)…and Obi Wan is shocked to see the face beneath.

Later, on Naboo, Anakin and Padme go horseback riding, or whatever kind of riding is done on whatever kind of creature lives on Naboo. Padme comments on how beautiful the planet is, and how she hates leaving but duty demands that she does. Anakin tells her that he knows exactly what she’s talking about, but he’s not thinking of a planet’s beauty. Before this conversation can continue, an arrow comes from out of the woods. Anakin catches it in mid air, and runs after the shooter. He finds Padme’s butler or someone who works within the capitol building. He is yelling about freedom from a corrupt Republic, even as the police or whatever takes him away. Anakin and Padme go inside. Padme is devastated that the far reach of the Separatists goes even as far as her home world. Anakin comforts her, but he’s thinking of how he can root out the Separatists on Naboo and find some way of getting rid of them.

In the bar in the Kamino system, Obi Wan is shocked to see that the Assassin looks exactly like him. Nonetheless, Obi Wan keeps his composure, and is able to discreetly follow the doppelganger to a space station still in the Kamino system, but squeaky clean, unlike the dive he just came out of. Obi Wan is able to sneak around, before the Assassin sees him, and he is soon surrounded by soldiers in white armor with their faces obscured. Fans of the original trilogy would recognize these guys as Storm Troopers.

Later, on Naboo, after Padme is asleep, Anakin rifles through the personal effects of the Butler who tried to kill Padme earlier. He finds contacts with several other middle class citizens on Naboo, and one in particular who is supposed to be meeting with the Butler on this very night. Anakin finds the meeting place, and more importantly, the man who is supposed to be meeting with the Butler. Anakin uses his mind-tricks to discern where the Separatists are meeting, and who is the top banana at this shindig. It’s really important that Anakin used his mind tricks here, as Anakin is much more comfortable with light sabers and physical force (no pun intended). He is impressed with himself for using the more subtle approach, but his work is not over yet. Anakin finds the headquarters of the Naboo chapter of the Separatists. Turns out, it’s huge. They don’t like being part of the Republic, and it seems that their opinions are not being heard by Senator Amidala, or anyone else who they thought they could trust at the Senate on Coruscant. Anakin sees one man step on to the stage, and he proclaims that their attempt on Senator Amidala failed, but they will have plenty of opportunities to try again as long as she believes that she is safer here than on Coruscant. Hearing all of this works up Anakin into quite a rage. Before he even knows what’s hit him, he’s on the stage with a Saber to the guy’s throat. 2 dozen weapons are pointed at him now, but he is ignoring them. He tells the leader that all the attempts on Padme will stop, and that if they don’t, a squad of Jedi Knights will hear about it. The guy says that they will do whatever they must until they have independence, and this basically signifies to Anakin that he must kill them all or keep attempting to save Padme from their attempts…and he knows that sooner or later, he won’t be fast enough. The saber flies, and screams echo throughout the chamber as shots begin to fire.

In the Kamino System, Obi Wan is led to none other than Count Dooku, who Obi Wan had heard was vocally supporting the Separatists, but he had hoped that it wasn’t true. Dooku identifies the Assassin as OB1. “He was something of a failed experiment here. We were curious if a Jedi’s abilities could be cloned in exactly the same way as someone else’s talents or skills…we didn’t quite manage what we were looking for, but we found that he is quite loyal, though you’ll never hear him say that. In fact, you won’t hear him say anything.” Dooku reveals that he has been orchestrating the attacks on various members of the Senate who oppose the notion of secession, and has been leading the Separatists for years. Shortly after his last encounter with Obi Wan is when he first became the leader of the separatists. (As it turns out, when you get a dishonorable discharge from being a Jedi, the Jedi Council does something wicked that essentially neuters your ability to access the Force. They don’t throw this around willy nilly, but whatever it was that Dooku did that was bad enough to get him kicked out of the Jedi was also bad enough to warrant a power down for him. But little did the Jedi Council know that he had already been practicing in the ways of the Sith. So all that nonsense about only 2 Sith at a time? Not the case. Dooku has clearly been involved with Palpatine since at least the time of Phantom Menace, and maybe even before. There have been more than one Sith at a time, but they’re just not as massive an organization as the Jedi, because they don’t want to be discovered.) Dooku explains that Civil War is not his goal, but merely another step in his plan. He tells Obi Wan that he has been working with someone working deep within the Republic for over a decade (or however long it’s been since Phantom Menace), and everything that has happened has been in service of securing themselves into a position of power so that the Galaxy can be restored to a just and honest system. (It’s important that Dooku comes across as actually caring about the way the Universe is run. If his acting is as cardboard as the model Millennium Falcon you have hanging in your room, then we can never buy that this is a Sith who gave in to his emotions. He has to be emotionally invested in the Universe and it has to be a strong enough investment to push him to do bad things that will end in a good way.) Obi Wan tries to think of who could be Dooku’s ally in the Republic…the only person who would have the kind of power to do what Dooku is talking about would be Palpatine, but that doesn’t make sense. The Jedi Council meets with Palpatine quite often, and nobody has ever sensed anything wrong about him, or even that the force is working within him. Whoever it is, it must be someone the Jedi have never met with. Dooku tells Obi Wan that OB1 will be the leader for the clone army that has been in development ever since roughly the time Obi Wan took on an apprentice (it was exactly this time, as that was when the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine was able to pay for this clone order). Dooku explains that the clones are not taken from the genetic material of just one being, like OB1. Instead, these clones have been continually a work in progress since the order was made. They might have the resistance to high levels of heat that you could find from someone on Tatooine, and the resistance to much lower temperatures like you might find from the natives of Hoth. “For 10 years, these useful traits have been spliced into the genetic material that we used to create this army. By now, we’ve acquired a dozen different traits that will make our clone army nearly invincible.” Dooku tells Obi Wan that the galaxy has been ready for Civil War after decades of social stagnation at the heart of the Republic. All it took was a little push from him and his ally. And the final push will be sending the Clone army to attack the Senate on Coruscant. (this is pretty much just as bad as Dooku’s monologue in the actual movie, where he explains the plans of the Separatists and the Sith, but there’s really not many better ways to convey this information to the audience. So alas, we must make allowances for clichés.) Obi Wan is left in a cell on Kamino, as Dooku, OB1 and the entire clone army leave. Fortunately, OB1 did not search through Obi Wan’s robes, and thus, Obi Wan is able to send a message to Anakin and Padme.

The next day, on Naboo, Anakin is back at Padme’s room, and he hasn’t slept at all. He is on the verge of a mental breakdown, and he confesses what he did to Padme. He tells her that he discovered the Separatist’s headquarters, and found that they had several backup plans to eventually kill Padme, and he knew that he had to kill them all if he had any hope of preventing her assassination. (I’m strongly on the fence about this. On the one hand, I feel like Anakin’s first step toward the dark side is better if it ties in with the plot of the rest of the movie. On the other hand, it still basically says that Padme is totally ok with her man being a murderer, even if that’s maybe something that a Jedi is expected to do, as we see even Yoda kill a few people in the next film. This could be handled entirely differently…like, Anakin just tells her that he had to use his Jedi powers to scatter the Separatists, and he felt bad for misusing his abilities…) Padme is shocked at what he is telling her, but she realizes that Anakin has done this out of not only devotion to his job of protecting her, but also out of love. (much easier to swallow this scene if he just told her that he misused his powers to empty the nest of Separatists and is uncomfortable with that but he did it anyway to protect her, and not that he just became killer of many many people.) And Padme knows from their past experiences that she loves him as well, but she knows she cannot act on this, because of their duties they each must live for. Before anything else can be said, Anakin receives a message from Obi Wan. Things are about to get worse.

Anakin and Padme return to Coruscant to warn the Senate meeting and the Jedi Council. From here, things kinda sorta progress as they did in the movie. The Jedi, being headquartered on Coruscant, are able to immediately respond to the threat to the Senate. As far as everyone can tell, the goal is to kill everyone in the Republic government, and then the Separatists have no opposition. Of course, Palpatine, pulling Dooku’s strings, is counting on the Jedi being there to prevent the death of many of the Senators, and he knows that he’ll be safe, because the Clones are likely programmed not to attack him. A huge fight erupts between the dangerous Clone soldiers and the Jedi, and then Obi Wan arrives (it really isn’t hugely important how he escaped, as long as he did, but there would be some BS reason how he got away that we would get real quick). He engages in Dooku in a light saber duel, (yeah, there is no Yoda/Dooku scene like in the actual movie. Sorry. I loved that scene when I was a young teen, and I’m sure everyone else did too. But this really needs to be Obi Wan’s victory against his former Master, and not Yoda’s victory against his former pupil. This isn’t Yoda’s story. He’s there, and in Episode 3 he represents a certain kind of philosophy, in much the same way that he does in Empire Strikes Back, that, up until now, the entire Jedi Council has represented, but this isn’t his story. Whereas Obi Wan, well, it’s almost his story more than it is Anakin’s, though that’s certainly debatable.) and Dooku eventually looses and is killed (Palpatine is right there, and when he sees that Obi Wan’s youth is going to win out over Dooku’s age, he no doubt has a part in weakening Dooku from a distance, not unlike how he killed the Trade Federation officers in Phantom Menace). OB1 escapes, as do all of the clones who are not killed. This really gives the Senate a jolt of how urgent this whole matter is. Many of the Senators who were considering giving their support to the Separatists are now firmly on the side of the Republic, and those whose loyalty to the Republic was never in doubt, they are now more convinced that a military reaction is not a bad idea. With all that has happened, the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is able to secure a Republic post on Kamino and sets up an ongoing order of clones from the Kamino system from the same genetic material that Dooku used for his clones.  Yoda and Mace Windu congratulate Obi Wan on rooting out the source of the Separatist’s aggression, but they are all aware that the war is far from over. In fact…it’s just beginning. The film ends with Padme and Anakin on Naboo, and Anakin telling Padme that he didn’t realize it, but he’s in love with her, and he thinks he has been for quite some time. Padme tells him that she knows (more rhyming with Empire Strikes Back). They embrace and kiss, roll credits.

That about covers it. No more useless droids being placed as more important than they actually are. We don’t have the lingering Count Dooku gets away thing, that ultimately only culminated in a letdown in Revenge of the Sith. Other than that, and a few other fairly minor changes, this remains quite a bit closer to the original movie than I actually thought. It all mostly stems from giving some motivations behind some of the characters, and taking out a few scenes and characters to replace them with better scenes and characters.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 24 January 2012 03:14 )  
Author Profile: RJD

RJD has written fan letters, reviews, and examinations of various qualities, mostly on the Tavern.

Comments  

 
0 #2 RJD 2012-01-18 01:24
I enjoyed Phantom Menace the best...looking at all of them now, it's very hard to "enjoy" any of them...but recently, I was actually able to make it through Phantom Menace...it's much harder for me to resist turning off the tv with Attack and Revenge...
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0 #1 kacangpool 2012-01-17 09:01
ok, i finally found time to read the entire article, ck. i pretty much agree with all of it. i hate the useless droids too
* ugh * :-x having said that, i enjoyed attack of the clones more than the other two prequels (just like i enjoyed 'strikes back' more than the other two movies from the original series).
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