A "must have" for any DVD enthusiast, "Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones" will the movie to own. Unrivaled picture, a plethora of special features and excellent audio quality make this DVD set a winner!
Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Directors: George Lucas
Producers: Rick McCallum
Writers: George Lucas, Jonathan Hales
Features: Widescreen Format (Aspect Ratio 2.35:1), captured/created from the digital source; Audio: English 5.1 Surround EX, Spanish Dolby 2.0 Surround, French Dolby 2.0 Surround; Subtitles: English; Commentary by George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, John Knoll, and Ben Snow; Eight Deleted scenes, with intros from Lucas, McCallum, and Burtt; Full Length Documentary "From Puppets to Pixels;" Exclusive documentary "State of the Art: The Previsualization of Episode II;" Sound documentary, "Films Are Not Released, They Escape;" Three Featurettes explore "Attack of the Clones" general storyline, action scenes, and love story; Comprehensive award-winning twelve-part web documentary series; "Across the Stars" music video featuring John Williams; Theatrical teasers and launch trailer, and twelve TV Spots; Theatrical posters and print campaign; "R2-D2: Beneath the Dome" mockumentary trailer; Photo Gallery with special caption feature; Episode II Visual Effects Breakdown Montage; DVD-Rom weblink to exclusive Star Wars content
Obi-Wan Kenobi - Ewan McGregor
Sen. Padme Amidala - Natalie Portman
Anakin Skywalker - Hayden Christensen
Count Dooku - Christopher Lee
Mace Windu - Samuel L. Jackson
Yoda - Frank Oz (voice)
Chancellor Palpatine - Ian McDiarmid
Jango Fett - Tamuera Morrison
C-3PO - Anthony Daniels
Dex - Ron Falk
"Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" DVD set should be the crown jewel of anyone's DVD collection. Unsurpassed in its transfer quality, "Attack of the Clones" has risen to the top of my reference discs. While the sound is equal to the clarity experienced in "Lord of the Rings," the picture is absolutely perfect. I saw the movie seven times in the theaters (I saw Lord of the Rings eleven times), but none of those viewings even matches the clarity of my first viewing of this DVD. It was like I was watching a totally different movie, as scenes that were dark and obscure at the theater are bright as day on the DVD. Absolutely amazing, but it is something that should not be surprising, this set coming from Lucasfilms Ltd.
I am unable to come up with enough words to describe the love and care Lucas put into this film. The digital-to-digital transfer was spectacular, as you begin to see "Episode II" as it was meant to be seen: on a digital medium. Every frame is crisp and detailed. The sound is clear and free from distortion, with John Williams' score mixed in perfectly with the dialogue. And let's not forget the special features, which amount to six hours of viewing pleasure.
The first is the commentary by George Lucas, Rick McCallum, and Ben Burtt on disc one with the movie. They are interesting to hear as they discuss the technical aspects of the film. Worth listening to, Lucas and company do a good job of explaining how certain shots were done, though there is some redundancy from other special features sections that are on disc 2. There are also trailers and teasers that everyone should remember from the marketing buildup campaign of last year and early this spring. Poster and print campaign materials are also viewable on the second disc.
The highlight of the features are the topnotch documentaries available on disc two. The "From Puppets to Pixels" was about the creation of Yoda and Dex (among others) and the effort it took to digitally create them. I think Yoda has not looked better, and is vastly improved from the sickly puppet used in "Episode I." That Yoda made me think that Calista Flockhart was the body double for Yoda, but I digress.
The second documentary, "State of the Art: The Previsualization of Episode II" goes into how the story was created. Scenes are planned before shooting the film, and then through digital technology, the scenes are pieced together. Quite interesting to see. Also, there is the most fascinating documentary, which is "Films Are Not Released; They Escape", which focuses on what went into creation of the sound mixes. This one was the best of them all in my opinion.
There are three brief featurettes that focus on the storyline, action scenes, and love story in "Attack of the Clones." Though interesting, because they give actor feedback, these are filler in some ways. Nothing is really learned in these featurettes that isn't already made apparent in the film. The twelve web documentaries are worth looking at, but they are woefully short. Just as you start getting involvd in the topic, the featurette ends. But you still need to see them.
The least fulfilling featurette was the "Across the Stars" music video featuring John Williams. This video was merely taking the trailer and adding in scenes of John Williams conducting the orchestra. It was really similar to the "Jerry Maguire" video that had snippets of dialogue from the movie while the song played. I was half expecting Renee Zellwegger to say, "You had me at hello." This would have been better if it had focused more on the conducting side than on the movie trailer snippets. But that's just me being picky. Also, the video is not in 5.1 sound, but in 2.0, which I found disappointing.
To round off the plethora of special features we have the trailer for the R2-D2 mocumentary, but the actual mockumentary itself is not included. There is also a quick montage of visual effects that moves to a rhythmic beat. There is also a ton of photos in the galleries with stills and other photos. The DVD-Rom features link to a forum site, and more still galleries for Star Wars fans to enjoy.
The story of "Episode II" begins ten years after the conclusion of the first. Padme Amidala is no longer queen, but is now Naboo's Senator. She is leading the opposition group in the Senate to creating an army to fight a growing separatist movement, led by Count Dooku. Anakin, meanwhile, has grown in his training and is a gifted Padawan under the training of Master Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi. When an assasination attempt is made on Senator Amidala, the two Jedi are brought in to protect her. Padme is asked to leave the capital and return to the safety of Naboo with Anakin, while Obi-Wan searches for the bounty hunter seeking her life.
Obi-Wan tracks the bounty hunter to Camino, where cloners are making a massive army of clones. Anakin and Padme are getting closer and more romantically involved, going against his Jedi code of nonattachment. Yoda and Mace Windu realize that the Dark Side of the Force is clouding their vision and that they were unable to see this army being created. When Obi-Wan is captured, it is up to the Jedi to free him, along with Padme and Anakin. The battle that ensues is one of the most impressive sci-fi war sequences filmed.
"Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" was a vast improvement over the first film. Now many would say that's not saying much, but I think that it does hold up well with the episodes four through six. Without any "Yippees!" and Jar Jar reigned in, "Attack of the Clones" is a good addition to the Star Wars series. This DVD is definitely a tribute to that statement, and there was one surprise that was unexpected, but noticed only because I had seen the movie seven times in theaters.
There is a scene where Anakin starts showing his dark side tendencies, but is still struggling with his feelings. Amidala tries to soothe him, and these two lines were added to the end of that sequence. Amidala states, "To be angry is to be human." Anakin replies, "I am a Jedi, I am better than that." These two sentences were not in the theatrical film, but I think add a lot to the scene. Whether there were other such additions, I cannot be sure, but this one definitely stood out.
Many have criticized the wooden love story and the frigid acting. Yes, there is some of that, but they fail to realize that none of the Star Wars movies have had superb acting. Just watch Episode Four again and tell me that you don't see some horrible acting by Luke, Hans Solo, and Leia. Now I am not trying to dog the original trilogy, but bad acting should not be a reason to hate Episode II. The love story seems awkward, but was it really great in the first trilogy between Luke, Leia, and Hans? People remember the nostalgia, but forget the stilted love story in that movie. No, the love story is not a criticism that holds merit with me either.
"Star Wars Episode II" needs not be taken as an individual movie, but as a part of the whole. A more apt title would have helped the story, but there is no doubt that in this film the plot thickens. Some will never forgive Lucas for Jar Jar, but I think we see that even he has a part to play in the whole picture of the story, and his role in the ascendancy of the Emperor is fitting.
I will give "Attack of the Clones" my rare five star rating. "Why," you might shout at me? Well, I take the quality of the DVD, along with the magic of Star Wars and I say that this film was pretty much perfect. There are possibly some editing that I would do on certain scenes, but I would definitely not want to see vast parts of the movie changed. I think the actors do a good job in their roles, and that Lucas has redeemed himself as a director and writer since his last film. We shouldn't begrudge Lucas forever for creating "Episode I." In fact, taken within context of the entire series that I have seen so far, it is making more sense and "Episode I" is actually tolerable. I eagerly await 2005, when "Episode III" comes to theaters, because I plan on seeing it. Despite all the complaints and criticisms, I imagine all the other Star Wars fans will too!