True confession: ”I’ve never seen ‘Star Wars!”’
When I pitched the idea of having someone who’s never seen any of the ”Star Wars” movies watch ”Attack of the Clones” and write about what they thought, I really didn’t mean me. But after a quick office poll showed that virtually everyone else had seen at least ONE of the franchise’s four prior installments, my editor had no choice but to give me the job.
As word got out that I hadn’t seen ”The best movies ever!!” coworkers started asking me why not. Well, for starters, when ”Star Wars” came out I wasn’t even two. And, anyway, my mom preferred to bring us to films like ”Pete’s Dragon” and ”The Rescuers.” When I asked her recently why she never took me to see any of the ”Star Wars” movies, she said, ”I thought it was a boy’s thing. It was cops and robbers, guns, futuristic. Plus, I saw the first one with your dad and we fell asleep in the theater.” Yup, that’s my mom.
But, then, as time passed, not seeing any ”Star Wars” films became like a badge of honor. It was a great conversation starter, even if those conversations often started with insults directed at my un-film-schooled self.
But now work was calling, so I mustered up as much enthusiasm as I could manage and stood in the three-block-long line on the first Friday after ”Clones” opened. I went with high expectations; I figured if so many people loved ”Star Wars” the movies must be great, right?
Once the lights dimmed, the clap-a-thon commenced. Maybe it was me, but I didn’t get what was so great about seeing George Lucas’ name appear on screen, or glimpsing Yoda for the first time. Watching ”Clones” with no past knowledge must have hampered my judgment. Otherwise, why would I question the audience’s sense of humor as they laughed when Obi-Wan Kenobi told Anakin, ”You’re going to be the death of me”? And what was funny about a frail looking Yoda performing a fight scene and then immediately reaching for his cane afterwards?
And why was I the only one with a case of the giggles when Anakin and his mother were reunited after 10 years — and she waited until exactly THAT moment before dying in his arms? Come on, please tell me someone else thought it was hokey.
My other big problem was the writing. I majored in English, but ”Clones” didn’t use a language I was familiar with. For example, can someone explain what ”the viceroy [something, something] trade federation” means? And when the characters actually did speak a language I recognized, it still didn’t make sense coming out of Yoda’s mouth: ”Much to learn you still have.” No wonder I’ve been seeing so many commercials for the Sylvan Learning Center lately.
In fairness, though, I didn’t hate the movie. Heck, it even captivated my attention for the first hour. The battle between Obi-Wan and Jango Fett was a great action sequence. The scenery when the Senator fled was breathtaking. And that Hayden guy was nice to look at after my attention drifted, even if it would have been better if he’d kept his mouth closed.
Same for Natalie Portman, whose performance triggered the question, ”Is forced, tense dialogue another ‘Star Wars’ joy I’m not familiar with?” Did George Lucas even screen this movie first? How could he let Natalie fall out of a moving aircraft to the sand below where she proceeded to act as if she had broken bones? That is, until a stormtrooper asked if she was okay and she jumped up (Billy Blanks style) and said, ”Yes.” Where’d the girl in agony go?
Coming out of the theater I realized I had more questions than when I went in. Anakin becomes Darth Vader? But I thought he was evil. What happened to Anakin’s mom that she was in such bad shape? And all the inside jokes… I felt lost when everyone laughed at Anakin’s stepbrother and his girlfriend. And when R2-D2 played the hologram of Obi-Wan.
To this day, I still don’t understand the fuss about ”Star Wars,” and I haven’t felt the need to see any of the others episodes. Is there anyone out there who agrees with me? Or if you think there’s another episode that a newcomer needs to see, let’s hear it.