Directed by George Lucas
Story by George Lucas
Initial release 16 May 2002 (Australia)
Box office 649.4 million USD
Produced by Rick McCallum
Music by John Williams
Director George Lucas
Featured song Across the Stars
|Screenplay by George LucasJonathan Hales|
Starring Ewan McGregorNatalie PortmanHayden ChristensenIan McDiarmidSamuel L. JacksonChristopher LeeAnthony DanielsKenny BakerFrank Oz
Adapted from Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the clones
Cast Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Anthony Daniels, Ewan McGregor, Kenny Baker
Similar Star Wars movies, Movies about extraterrestrial life, Action movies
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones is a 2002 American epic space opera film directed by George Lucas and written by Lucas and Jonathan Hales. It is the second installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and stars Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Temuera Morrison, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Frank Oz.
- Visual effects
- Home media
- 3D re release
- Critical response
- Box office
The film is set ten years after the events in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. The galaxy is on the brink of civil war. Led by a former Jedi named Count Dooku, thousands of planetary systems threaten to secede from the Galactic Republic. After Senator Padmé Amidala evades assassination, Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker becomes her protector, while his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi investigates the attempt on Padmé's life. Soon Anakin, Padmé, and Obi-Wan witness the onset of a new threat to the galaxy, the Clone Wars.
Development of Attack of the Clones began in March 2000, after the release of The Phantom Menace. By June 2000, Lucas and Hales completed a draft of the script and principal photography took place from June to September 2000. The film crew primarily shot at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, Australia, with additional footage filmed in Tunisia, Spain and Italy. It was one of the first motion pictures shot completely on a high-definition digital 24-frame system.
The film premiered on May 16, 2002. Critics praised it as an improvement over The Phantom Menace, the visual effects, costume design, musical score, and Ewan McGregor’s performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Despite this, critics lambasted the romance of Anakin and Padmé, the dialogue, most of the acting, and the film's long runtime. The film received positive reviews and was a financial success; however, it also became the first Star Wars film to be out-grossed in its year of release, placing only third domestically and fourth internationally. The film was released on VHS and DVD on November 12, 2002 and was later released on Blu-ray on September 16, 2011. Following Attack of the Clones, the third and final film of the prequel trilogy, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, premiered in 2005.
Ten years after the Trade Federation's invasion of Naboo, the Galactic Republic is threatened by a Separatist movement organized by former Jedi Master Count Dooku. Senator Padmé Amidala comes to Coruscant to vote on a motion to create an army to assist the Jedi against this threat. Narrowly avoiding an assassination attempt upon arrival, she is placed under the protection of Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker. The two Jedi thwart a second attempt on her life and subdue the assassin, Zam Wesell, a shape-shifter who is soon killed by her bounty hunter client before she can reveal his identity. The Jedi Council assigns Obi-Wan to identify and capture the bounty hunter, while Anakin is assigned to escort Padmé back to Naboo, where the pair develop a romantic attraction towards each other.
Obi-Wan's investigation leads him to the remote ocean planet Kamino, where he discovers an army of clones is being produced for the Republic, with bounty hunter Jango Fett serving as their genetic template. Obi-Wan deduces Jango to be the bounty hunter he is seeking, and follows him and his clone son, Boba, to the desert planet Geonosis via a homing beacon placed on their ship, the Slave I. Meanwhile, Anakin becomes troubled by premonitions of his mother, Shmi, in pain, and travels to Tatooine with Padmé to save her. They meet Owen Lars, Anakin's stepbrother and the son of Shmi's new husband, Cliegg Lars. Cliegg tells Anakin that Shmi was abducted by Tusken Raiders weeks earlier and is likely dead. Determined to find her, Anakin ventures out and, finding the Tusken campsite, locates Shmi, dying from torture at the hands of the Tuskens. She dies in Anakin's arms. Anakin, enraged, massacres the Tuskens and returns to the Lars homestead with Shmi's body. After revealing his deed to Padmé, Anakin says that he wants to prevent death.
On Geonosis, Obi-Wan discovers a Separatist gathering led by Count Dooku, whom Obi-Wan learns had authorized Padmé's assassination and is developing a battle droid army with Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray. Obi-Wan transmits his findings to Anakin to relay to the Jedi Council, but is captured mid-transmission. With knowledge of the droid army, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is voted emergency powers to send the clones into battle. Anakin and Padmé journey to Geonosis to rescue Obi-Wan, but are also captured. The three are sentenced to death, but are eventually saved by a battalion of Jedi and clone troopers led by Mace Windu and Yoda; Jango Fett is killed by Mace during the rescue. As the clone and droid armies battle, Obi-Wan and Anakin intercept Dooku, and the three engage in a lightsaber battle. Dooku overpowers Obi-Wan and Anakin, but then Yoda arrives and engages the Count in a duel. Finding he is unable to defeat Yoda, Dooku flees. Arriving at Coruscant, he delivers blueprints for a superweapon, the Death Star, to his Sith master, Darth Sidious, who confirms that "everything is going as planned". As the Jedi gravely acknowledge the beginning of the Clone Wars, Anakin is fitted with a robotic arm and secretly marries Padmé on Naboo, with C-3PO and R2-D2 as their witnesses.
Ahmed Best, Pernilla August, Oliver Ford Davies, Andy Secombe, Silas Carson and Liam Neeson reprise their roles as Jar Jar Binks, Shmi Skywalker, Sio Bibble, Watto, Nute Gunray and Qui-Gon Jinn, respectively from The Phantom Menace, with the latter returning in an uncredited voice role cameo while Silas Carson also portrayed Ki-Adi-Mundi, a member of the Jedi Council. Alethea McGrath portrays Jocasta Nu, the chief librarian of the Jedi Archives. Temuera Morrison portrays Jango Fett, a Mandalorian bounty hunter who provides his DNA to use for cloning purposes in the creation of the clone army. Jimmy Smits portrays Bail Organa, a senator of the Republic, and Jay Laga'aia portrays Captain Typho, the head of security for Padmé Amidala. Daniel Logan portrays a young Boba Fett, Jango's son, who is created from his "father"'s DNA. Leeanna Walsman portrays Zam Wesell, a shape-shifting Clawdite bounty hunter and partner of Jango's, who is given the task of assassinating Padmé. Jack Thompson portrays Cliegg Lars, a moisture farmer who freed and married Shmi, thus becoming the stepfather of Anakin Skywalker. Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse appear as Owen Lars, the son of Cliegg Lars and stepbrother of Anakin Skywalker, and Beru Whitesun, Owen's girlfriend. Ayesha Dharker appears as Jamillia, the Queen of Naboo, and Rose Byrne and Verónica Segura appear as Dormé and Cordé, Padmé's handmaidens and the latter who serves as a decoy to the senator and is killed during an assassination attempt.
A large search for the new Anakin Skywalker was performed across the United States. Lucas auditioned various actors, mostly unknown, before casting Christensen. Among the many established actors who auditioned were Jonathan Brandis, Ryan Phillippe, Colin Hanks, and Paul Walker. Leonardo DiCaprio also met with Lucas for the role, but was "definitely unavailable" according to DiCaprio publicist Ken Sunshine. Co-star Natalie Portman later told Time magazine that Christensen "gave a great reading. He could simultaneously be scary and really young."
After the mixed critical response to The Phantom Menace, Lucas was hesitant to return to the writing desk. In March 2000, just three months before the start of principal photography, Lucas finally completed his rough draft for Episode II. Lucas continued to iterate on his rough draft, producing a proper first and second draft. For help with the third draft, which would later become the shooting script, Lucas brought on Jonathan Hales, who had written several episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles for him, but had limited experience writing theatrical films. The final script was completed just one week before the start of principal photography.
As an in-joke, the film's working title was Jar Jar's Big Adventure, a sarcastic reference to the negative fan response to the Episode I character.
In writing The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas initially decided that Lando Calrissian was a clone and came from a planet of clones which caused the "Clone Wars" mentioned by Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope; he later came up with an alternate concept of an army of clone shocktroopers from a remote planet which were used by the Republic as an army in the war that followed.
Principal photography occurred between June 26, 2000 and September 20, 2000 at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney. Location shooting took place in the Tunisian desert, at the Plaza de España in Seville, London, China, Vancouver, San Diego, and Italy (Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como, and in the former royal Palace of Caserta). At his own personal request, Samuel L. Jackson's character Mace Windu received a lightsaber that emitted an amethyst glow, as opposed to traditional blue and green for "good guys" and red for "bad guys". Reshoots were performed in March 2001. During this time, a new action sequence was developed featuring the droid factory after Lucas had decided that the film lacked a quick enough pace in the corresponding time-frame. The sequence's previsualization was rushed, and the live-action footage was shot within four and a half hours. Because of Lucas' method of creating shots through various departments and sources that are sometimes miles and years apart from each other, Attack of the Clones became the first film ever to be produced through what Rick McCallum called "virtual filmmaking".
Like The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones furthered technological development, effectively moving Hollywood into the "digital age" with the use of the HDW-F900, developed by Sony and Panavision, a digital camera using an HD digital 24-frame system. This spawned controversy over the benefits and disadvantages of digital cinematography that continues as more filmmakers "convert" to digital filmmaking while many filmmakers oppose it. In contrast to previous installments, for which scenes were shot in the Tunisian desert in temperatures up to 125 °F (51 °C), the camera would still run without complications. Lucas had stated that he wished to film The Phantom Menace on this format but Sony was unable to build the cameras quickly enough. In 2002, Attack of the Clones became the third film to be released that was shot entirely on a 24p digital camera (preceded by 2001's Jackpot and Vidocq). The cameras record in the 16:9 HDCAM format (1080p), although the image was cropped to a 2.40:1 widescreen ratio. The area above and below the 2.40 extraction area was available for Lucas to reframe the picture as necessary in post-production. Despite Lucas' efforts to persuade movie theaters to switch to digital projectors for viewing of Episode II, few theaters did.
The film relied almost solely on digital animatics as opposed to storyboards in order to previsualize sequences for editing early on in the film's production. While Lucas had used other ways of producing motion-based storyboards in the past, after The Phantom Menace the decision was made to take advantage of the growing digital technology. The process began with Ben Burtt's creation of what the department dubbed as "videomatics", so called because they were shot on a household videocamera. In these videomatics, production assistants and relatives of the department workers acted out scenes in front of greenscreen. Using computer-generated imagery (CGI), the previsualization department later filled in the green screen with rough background footage. Burtt then cut together this footage and sent it off to Lucas for changes and approval. The result was a rough example of what the final product was intended to be. The previsualization department then created a finer version of the videomatic by creating an animatic, in which the videomatic actors, props, and sets were replaced by digital counterparts to give a more precise, but still rough, look at what would eventually be seen. The animatic was later brought on set and shown to the actors so that they could understand the concept of the scene they were filming in the midst of large amount of bluescreen used. Unlike most of the action sequences, the Battle of Geonosis was not storyboarded or created through videomatics but was sent straight to animatics after the department received a small vague page on the sequence. The intent was to create a number of small events that would be edited together for pacing inside the finished film. The animatics department was given a free hand regarding events to be created within the animatic; Lucas only asked for good action shots that he could choose from and approve later.
In addition to introducing the digital camera, Attack of the Clones emphasized "digital doubles" as computer-generated models that doubled for actors, in the same way that traditional stunt doubles did. It also furthered the authenticity of computer-generated characters by introducing a new, completely CGI-created version of the character Yoda. Rob Coleman and John Knoll prepared two tests featuring a CGI-animated Yoda using audio from The Empire Strikes Back. Yoda's appearance in Episode V also served as the reference point for the creation of the CGI Yoda; Lucas repeatedly stated to the animation department that "the trick" to the animation of the CGI Yoda was to make him like the puppet from which he was based, in order to maintain a flow of continuity. Frank Oz (voice and puppeteer for Yoda in the original trilogy and The Phantom Menace) was consulted; his main piece of advice was that Yoda should look extremely old, sore, and frigid. Coleman later explained the process of making the digital Yoda like the puppet version, by saying "When Frank [Oz] would move the head, the ears would jiggle. If we hadn't put that in, it wouldn't look like Yoda." Because of the acrobatics of the lightsaber fight between Count Dooku and Yoda, the then 78-year-old Christopher Lee relied on a stunt double to perform the most demanding scenes instead. Lee's face was superimposed onto the double's body in all shots other than close-ups, which he performed himself. Lucas often called the duel crucial to the animation department, as it had such potential to be humorous rather than dramatic.
The soundtrack to the film was released on April 23, 2002 by Sony Classical Records. The music was composed and conducted by John Williams, and performed by the London Voices and London Symphony Orchestra. The soundtrack recreates "The Imperial March" from the film The Empire Strikes Back for its first chronological appearance in Attack of the Clones, even though a hint of it appeared in the previous movie in one of the final scenes. A music video for the main theme "Across the Stars" was produced specifically for the DVD.
On March 15, 2016, a limited edition vinyl version of the soundtrack was released. Only 1,000 copies were pressed initially.
Lucas has noted that Palpatine's rise to power is very similar to that of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany; as Chancellor of Germany, the latter was granted "emergency powers", as is Palpatine. Comparisons have been made to Octavian – who became Augustus, the first emperor of Rome – and to Napoleon Bonaparte, who rose to power in France from 1796 to 1799. Octavian was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of political opponents well before he was granted tribunician powers; Bonaparte was appointed First Consul for life (and later Emperor) by the French Consulate after a failed attempt on his life and the subsequent coup of 18 Brumaire in 1799. References to the American Civil War can also be discerned.
English scholar Anne Lancashire describes Attack of the Clones as "thoroughly political in its narrative", to the point that interpersonal relations are made subordinate to the political drama that unfolds, and "a critique of the increasing role played by economic and political appetite in contemporary First World international politics in general". In this political drama, the Trade Federation, the former idealist Dooku and Palpatine "[represent] the economic and political greed and ambition (...) of the political and business classes", while the Jedi have become a force of aggression, and the cityscape of Coruscant has devolved into a dystopian environment that references 1982's Blade Runner.
War journalism, combat films, and footage of World War II combat influenced the documentary-style camera work of the Battle of Geonosis, even to the point that hand-held shakes were digitally added to computer-generated sequences.
The prequel trilogy films often refer to the original trilogy in order to help connect the films together. Lucas has often referred to the films as a long poem that rhymes. Such examples include the line "I have a bad feeling about this", a phrase used in each film, and lightsaber duels which almost always occur over a pit. As with Attack of the Clones, The Empire Strikes Back was the middle film in a trilogy, and of the original trilogy films, The Empire Strikes Back is the object of the most references in Attack of the Clones. In both films, an asteroid field is the backdrop of a major star battle in the middle of the film. Obi-Wan escapes Jango Fett by attaching his spacecraft to an asteroid in order to disappear from the enemy sensors; Han Solo uses a similar tactic by attaching the Millennium Falcon to a Star Destroyer in The Empire Strikes Back. As a retcon, John Knoll confirms on the film's DVD commentary that Boba Fett, who would later catch Solo in the act in The Empire Strikes Back, "learned his lesson" from the events of Attack of the Clones. In another scene, Obi-Wan asks Anakin "Why do I get the feeling you're going to be the death of me?" This is an allusion to A New Hope where Anakin, as Darth Vader, kills Obi-Wan aboard the Death Star. Also, Count Dooku cuts off Anakin's arm, similar to when Darth Vader cut off Luke Skywalker's hand in The Empire Strikes Back.
After a teaser trailer premiered with the film Monsters, Inc., a new trailer for the film aired on the Fox Network on March 10, 2002 between Malcolm in the Middle and The X-Files, and was made available on the official Star Wars web site the same day. The outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas from Chicago predicted before the film's release that U.S. companies could lose more than $319 million in productivity due to employees calling in sick and then heading to theaters to see the film.
The film premiered as part of the inaugural Tribeca Film Festival at the BMCC Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St. in New York City at a Sunday, May 12 set of screenings benefitting the Children's Aid Society, a charity supported by George Lucas. Attack of the Clones was then screened out of competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, before getting a worldwide theatrical release on May 16, 2002. The film was also later released in IMAX theaters; the film had not been filmed for IMAX but was "up converted" with the digital remastering process. Because of the technical limitations of the IMAX projector, an edited, 120-minute version of the film was presented.
Before the film's release, there was a string of controversies regarding copyright infringement. In 2000, an underground organization calling itself the Atlas Group, based in Perth, Western Australia offered a copy of the screenplay, with an asking price of US$100,000, to various fan sites and media organizations, including TheForce.Net. The scheme was subsequently reported to Lucasfilm Ltd. by the fan site.
An unauthorized copy was allegedly made at a private showing, using a digital recorder that was pointed at the screen. This copy spread over the internet, and analysts predicted up to a million fans would have seen the film before the day of its release. In addition, authorities seized thousands of bootlegs throughout Kuala Lumpur before the film opened.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones was released on DVD and VHS on November 12, 2002. The DVD features an audio commentary from director George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, editor and sound designer Ben Burtt, ILM animation director Rob Coleman, and ILM visual effects supervisors Pablo Helman, John Knoll, and Ben Snow. Eight deleted scenes are included along with multiple documentaries, which include a full-length documentary about the creation of digital characters and two others that focus on sound design and the animatics team. Three featurettes examine the storyline, action scenes, and love story, and a set of 12 short web documentaries cover the overall production of the film.
The Attack of the Clones DVD also features a trailer for a mockumentary-style short film known as R2-D2: Beneath the Dome. Some stores offered the full mockumentary as an exclusive bonus disc for a small extra charge. The film gives an alternate look at the "life" of the droid R2-D2. The story, which Lucas approved, was meant to be humorous.
The DVD was re-released in a prequel trilogy box set on November 4, 2008.
The Star Wars films were released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on Blu-ray Disc on September 16, 2011 in three different editions.
On April 7, 2015, Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox, and Lucasfilm jointly announced the digital releases of the six released Star Wars films. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released Attack of the Clones through the iTunes Store, Amazon Video, Vudu, Google Play, and Disney Movies Anywhere on April 10, 2015.
On September 28, 2010 (2010-09-28), it was announced that all six films in the series were to be stereo-converted to 3D, and re-released in chronological order beginning with The Phantom Menace which was released on February 10, 2012 (2012-02-10). Attack of the Clones was originally scheduled to be re-released in 3D on September 20, 2013 (2013-09-20), but was postponed due to Lucasfilm's desire to focus on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. However, the 3D presentation of the film was shown at Celebration Europe II in July 2013.
The film received mostly positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 65% based on 244 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones benefits from an increased emphasis on thrilling action, although they're once again undercut by ponderous plot points and underdeveloped characters." On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 54 out of 100, based on 39 critics, which indicates "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.
Numerous critics characterized the dialogue as "stiff" and "flat". The acting (particularly by Christensen and Portman) was also disparaged by some critics. Conversely, other critics felt fans would be pleased to see that Jar Jar Binks has only a minor role. Additionally, Jar Jar's attempts at comic relief seen in The Phantom Menace were toned down; instead, C-3PO reprised some of his bumbling traditions in that role. McGregor referred to the swordplay in the film as "unsatisfactory" when comparing it to the climactic duel in Revenge of the Sith as it neared release. ReelViews.net's James Berardinelli gave a positive review, saying "in a time when, more often than not, sequels disappoint, it's refreshing to uncover something this high-profile that fulfills the promise of its name and adds another title to a storied legacy."
Roger Ebert, who had praised all of the previous Star Wars films, gave Episode II only two out of four stars, noting "[As] someone who admired the freshness and energy of the earlier films, I was amazed, at the end of Episode II, to realize that I had not heard one line of quotable, memorable dialogue." About Anakin and Padme's relationship, Ebert stated "There is not a romantic word they exchange that has not long since been reduced to cliché." Leonard Maltin, who also liked all of the previous installments, only awarded two stars out of four to this endeavor as well, as seen in his Movie and Video Guide from the 2002 edition onward. Maltin cited an "overlong story" as reason for his dissatisfaction and added "Wooden characterizations and dialogue don't help."
Following suit with the series' previous installments, the Academy Awards nominated Attack of the Clones' Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, John Knoll, and Ben Snow for Best Visual Effects at the 2003 Academy Awards, but the award ultimately went to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Natalie Portman was also honored at the Teen Choice Awards, and the film received an award for Best Fight at the MTV Movie Awards. In contrast, the film also received seven nominations from the Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture, Worst Director (George Lucas), Worst Screenplay (George Lucas), Worst Supporting Actor (Hayden Christensen), Worst Supporting Actress (Natalie Portman), Worst Screen Couple (Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman) and Worst Remake or Sequel. It took home two awards for Worst Screenplay (George Lucas) and Worst Supporting Actor (Hayden Christensen).
The film grossed $310,676,740 in North America and $338,721,588 overseas for a worldwide total of $649,398,328. Though a huge financial success, it was nevertheless overshadowed by the even greater box-office success of The Phantom Menace three years earlier. It was not the top grossing film of the year, either in North America (where it finished in third place) or worldwide (where it was fourth), the first time that a Star Wars film did not have this distinction. In North America it was outgrossed by Spider-Man and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, both of which received a less favorable critical reception as well. Worldwide, it was also outgrossed by Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, though Attack of the Clones performed better than The Chamber of Secrets in North America. Adjusted for inflation, Attack of the Clones is the lowest-performing live-action Star Wars film at the North American box office, though is still among the 100 highest-grossing films of all time when adjusted for inflation. It sold an estimated 52,012,300 tickets in the US in its initial theatrical run.
Two novels based on the movie were published, a tie-in junior novel by Scholastic, and a novelization written by R. A. Salvatore, which includes some unique scenes. A four-issue comic book adaptation was written by Henry Gilroy and published by Dark Horse Comics.
The third and final film in the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith, was released on May 19, 2005. There, Anakin's transformation into Darth Vader is complete and a dying Padme gives birth to a healthy Luke and Leia, thus establishing the story of the original Star Wars.