Why Attack of the Clones is Way Better than You Remember

Aatif Rashid
16 min readDec 26, 2019

One of the clearest signs that George Lucas actually cared about his movies is the time he took to make them. Whereas Disney set itself a ridiculous timeline of releasing a new Star Wars movie every year since they purchased the franchise, Lucas took three years between The Phantom Menace (1999) and Attack of the Clones (2002), and then another three between Clones and Revenge of the Sith (2005). Whatever you think of the movies, it’s therefore undeniable that Lucas cared about each one individually. As a result, unlike, say, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of Rings, which was filmed all at once, each Star Wars prequel feels emphatically unique —possessing not just a different plot with new planets and characters who’ve noticeably aged and changed, but often with a completely different visual and cinematic style. I think this is most notable with Attack of the Clones, which, despite its somewhat silly title, is a much more serious film than its predecessor — and I would argue, a much better one.

If The Phantom Menace, as I discussed in my previous piece on the Star Wars prequels, is a silly adventure comedy that achieves an ironic brilliance through Lucas consciously playing with the audience’s meta-awareness of where the franchise is going, Attack of the Clones is simply a genuinely good movie, a thriller and police procedural mashed up with an epic romance that, despite some cheesy dialogue and, shall we say, unsteady acting, achieves with its 40-minute final battle set piece the space-operatic emotional intensity that Lucas was aiming for. I was honestly genuinely surprised how much I enjoyed re-watching this filmperhaps part of it comes from how different it feels from the new Disney products. The Disney directors, J.J. Abrams especially, seem to believe that flooding the screen with flashing lights and loud noises can make up for any emotional deficiencies in a narrative. Lucas, by contrast, gives us a real story, with real tension, and action scenes that feel earned rather than just a default.

More than that, I maintain that on the micro-level, no one can create and direct a thrilling action set piece like George Lucas. He understands the mini-arcs required to make such set pieces thrilling, how action scenes are not just flashing colors and movement, but controlled storylines, each with a beginning…

Aatif Rashid

Debut novel PORTRAIT OF SEBASTIAN KHAN (2019, 7.13 Books). Writes about politics and literature.