Best of
"Spider-Man & 
Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones"
By Mira Harber

     The two big action films this summer are aimed at the same audience, but with oh-so-different results! Spider-Man is based on the Marvel cartoon character featuring a nerdy teen-aged boy (Tobey Maguire) who becomes a Super-Hero after being bitten by a genetically altered spider. Spider-Man is fun, quirky and clever. The special effects and set designs are way beyond comic book imaginations and the acting is terrific. There is even a good STORY (something George Lucas forgot to put into his budget). Spider-Man's identity remains a mystery to all but a few, but his goal is the usual Super-Hero fare - help those in need, foil the bad guys, save the city, and especially save the girl. This movie-plot is the stuff that mythology is made of - the story of a boy becoming a man "with great gifts comes great responsibility". Spider-Man's evil nemesis, the Green Goblin, is played great relish by Willem Dafoe (an amazingly buff 46 year old man) having a riot, chewing up the scenery and wreaking havoc, as evil villains are prone to do. The damsel-in-distress is played by Kirsten Dunst as the red-haired girl-next-door that Tobey has loved since they were children. As Spider-Man he is forced to avenge his uncle's death and unwillingly betray his best friend. Lots of really good story lines here, and plenty of opportunity for the sequels, which I'm sure will follow. If you've got one action film to see this summer, make sure it's Spider-Man.
     Now, before I get into discussing the latest installment in the Star Wars saga, let me say that I was a big fan of the first three movies (Episodes 4,5&6) I especially loved The Empire Strikes Back, particularly the character of Yoda. I'm not alone in this feeling, and I think it's no accident that the reason can be attributed to the fact that in The Empire Strikes Back there is a story of truly mythological proportions that transcends the actors playing it.  The Empire Strikes Back became part of the fabric of modern American life  - "Feel the Force Luke" was once the catch-phrase on everyone's lips. I think that the reason the Star Wars franchise continued to interest so many different people was largely because of this episode. Well written, witty characters with personality, portraying iconic characters - now there's a reason to see a movie.
     I think that movie is the reason why so many people keep hoping that one of the ensuing Star Wars movies was going to again reach those heights. This is not the movie. One of my colleagues gave Attack of the Clones the shortest review in memory "Save Your Money". I won't be quite that short, but I will say that if you came for a story, go back and read the Spider-Man review - there's enough story-line there for two movies!
     Attack of the Clones has great special effects, particularly the chase scene early in the film. The three lead actors are not given much to do, and believe me when I say, they don't do much except sleepwalk through their lines. Impulsive, young Anakin Skywalker (a wooden Hayden Christensen - see him giving a much better performance in Life as a House) chases the masked bad-guy through the fabulous futuristic city in a fancy futuristic car. Portents of the future - a very Jesus-looking-like Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan MacGregor) says "Anakin, some day you'll be the death of me". The future written large in a car chase.  Hmmmm…There is a so-called love story between now Senator Amida (Natalie Portman) and Anakin Skywalker, which is about as exciting as a glass of water. Now there three actors have all proved themselves to be quite capable and skilled in their art - too bad George Lucas didn't spend some money on writers and a decent plot. Attack of the Clones feels like a long, drawn out special effect advertisment. I can see it now - 'Buy your very own purple light sabre as used by Samuel Jackson in Attack of the Clones'. The movie may be feeble, but the light sabres are great. 
     It's worth sitting through the slow first two-thirds of the movie to see the fight scene between tiny Yoda and the treacherous Count Dooku, a former Jedi knight gone bad. Now that's the stuff that good action movies are made of - an actually interesting story line, great characters, and great action. Too bad there wasn't more of it in the movie.
     If you're like me, and anyone else who's ever seen the Star Wars movies, you'll probably be finding yourself in the theatres this summer watching Attack of the Clones . Just don't expect too much, and remember that you're enduring Episode 2 because you know it's all a set-up for Episode 3 - Anakin Skywalker goes bad and becomes Darth Vader. 


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