The Force is with the new ''Star Wars'' trailer -- more or less.'s Brian Hiatt takes a critical look at two and a half minutes of attacking clones
Samuel L. Jackson, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

The new ”Star Wars” trailer reveals plot points

One thing’s clear from the newest trailer for ”Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones”: George Lucas hasn’t lost his touch for dialogue. Who else — other than Ed Wood — would make Ewan McGregor intone the line ”Your clones are very impressive”? Or force Hayden Christensen to make frequent use of the honorific ”m’lady”?

But ”Star Wars” isn’t ”My Dinner with Andre,” and Lucas might argue that dialogue isn’t the point. Instead, judging from the new trailer and its three predecessors, the goal seems to be to create images that no moviegoer has ever seen before: a thousand clone troopers massing underneath an orange sky, a battalion of Jedi wielding lightsabers in an all-out war, or a ship zooming through the alien cityscape of Coruscant.

The trailer’s visual dazzle is promising, but after the betrayal of ”Phantom Menace” (which only seems more clunky and sterile as time goes by) ”Star Wars” fans are like cuckolded spouses; we want to believe that Lucas will come through this time, but it’s hard to trust him. The refreshing lack of hype for ”Episode II” (”Phantom Menace” was on every magazine cover in the English-speaking world by this time in 1999) bodes well. So does Lucas’ repeated promise that the movie will be darker in tone.

As a stand-alone preview of ”Episode II,” ”Clone War” (yeah, Lucasfilm actually gives its trailers little names) falls short, giving no hint of the love story seen in previous trailers, while simultaneously letting slip what must be a major plot point. (”They are using a bounty hunter named Jango Fett to create a clone army,” Obi-Wan shouts.) And the rapid cuts, intended to convey the sheer magnitude of what’s in store, end up headache-inducing and nearly incoherent.

Still, anyone who knows their ”Star Wars” lore has to thrill, at least a little, to Yoda’s syntax-challenged proclamation, ”Begun, this Clone War has.” Unlike ”Phantom Menace,” which answered questions that weren’t raised by the original trilogy (who knew, or cared, what Anakin was like as a 10-year-old?), ”Attack of the Clones” will flesh out key areas of the mythos, including the courtship of Luke and Leia’s parents, the descent of Anakin into the dark side, and, yes, the Clone Wars, which were hinted at since the beginning.

So it’s exciting to see touches of the original movies in the trailer, like Natalie Portman’s Padmé decked out in a Princess Leia-style outfit, and Christopher Lee’s Count Dooku (great name there, George) spitting out Darth Vader-style blandishments. (”You must join me, Obi-Wan, and together we’ll destroy the Sith.”) Even more thrilling is that this is the fourth trailer in a row to treat Jar-Jar Binks like a floppy-eared stepchild — while he does pop up in two scenes, only the most pause-button-happy fans are likely to see him. Now we just have to hope that with all that cloning, no one tries it on Mr. Binks.

Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones
  • Movie
  • 142 minutes