Damn, this one is actually hard. Attack of the Clones is my absolute least favorite movie, as you well know, so picking a scene that isn’t completely full of suck is the opposite of Sophie’s Choice: which one isn’t the worst? One of the major problem with AotC – and the entire prequel trilogy, for that matter – is that it takes itself so damn seriously while at the same time trying to up the campiness ante. The whole sequence with Threepio in the battle droid factory is a perfect example of this, with lines like “This is such a drag!” as his head is being tugboated behind Artoo. I get that the movies were made for children, but they weren’t this inane. That type of tongue-in-cheekiness just doesn’t fit in a universe far, far away and takes me out of the story, which I’m not a huge fan of. Kind of like in The Truce at Bakura, one of the non-canon books of the Star Wars extended universe, Lando introduces Luke to “I think it’s called … hot chocolate,” and I just roll my eyes. Oh, fuck off. Why do that? Ugh. But these moments are interspersed with super serious scenes, and it’s all very tonally jarring. However, there are some scenes that, despite their weirdly weightier feel and uneven distribution among utter stupidity, are still pretty cool.
First, the utter stupidity, to set up the scene: once our main trio – Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme – got together on Geonosis for their gladiatorial execution, I actually checked my phone for the time. It was bad enough that Obi-Wan had spent nearly the entire movie playing intergalactic gumshoe while Anakin and Padme had been making unearned googly eyes at each other for nearly an hour, but now I had to listen to them trade trite quips at each other while they battled creatures for the entertainment of winged insect-people.
That was a very weird sentence I just wrote.
Anyway, in the words of Dumb and Dumber, the movie had to (nearly) “totally redeem” itself with Mace Windu sneaking up behind Count Dooku with his purple lightsaber.
No matter what movie it is, Samuel L. Jackson is going to elevate it; even his cliche “This party’s over” line was just pristine. In that moment, Jackson was Mace Windu, badass Jedi Master extraordinaire, and even Jango, while he’s not necessarily shitting his pants, pretty much looks like he’s thinking, “Well, fuck me.” Nowhere else in the prequels do you really see Mace portrayed as an expert Jedi; sure, he may lead the Jedi Council and discusses politics with the rest of them, but he doesn’t have the same “wise leader” feel that Yoda has. Granted, showing is not necessarily one of the strong points of the prequels, but in this scene? You see that Mace Windu commands respect.
Everything following this scene was pulpish nonsense, so my good feelings end fairly quickly. I feel like George Lucas wanted Attack of the Clones to have a similar feel to Empire, but he’s no Kershner, who managed to perfectly balance humor, urgency, and seriousness. Instead, Lucas got a mishmash of occasionally interesting concepts (on which he never follows through), bad acting, and pure foolishness.