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Too much of anything is, by definition, too much. Readjust the syntax of that wise statement and it could be Yoda speaking. But even if the shrivelled Jedi master himself had somehow risen autonomously from the pages of George Lucas' latest script and uttered those words to his creator, it's clear from Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones that they fell on deaf ears. For while it's undoubtedly superior to the first prequel, its director/co-writer/executive producer has OD'd on his greatest passion: CGI.
Directors like Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and Robert Zemeckis know how to strike the right balance: downplay the digitrickery and only use it to service story or style. Not Lucas. He just wants to make a synthi-movie, a lavish cartoon where artificial vistas and CG-aliens occasionally make way for flesh-and-blood thesps - themselves pristinely shot by digital cameras.
Of course, for those who've grown up clacking their thumbs on Nintendo joypads, this won't be a problem, while anyone who loved The Phantom Menace will go ga-ga over this. For all its jarring artificiality, Clones does have its moments: there's the Gladiator-style monster mash, the skyscraping speeder chase and, no doubt wedging itself at the top of 2002's Coolest Scene Chart, Yoda's furious lightsaber showdown with Christopher Lee's Count Dooku. But, once again, action and effects take precedence over script and characters.
Not that most pre-teens will be able, or even inclined, to follow the plot, which involves the aforementioned Dooku leading a movement to split the Republic, assassination attempts on Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), her forbidden love for Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), Obi-Wan Kenobi's (Ewan McGregor) discovery of a clone army being grown on the edge of the galaxy and - - takes breath - - the introduction of vicious bounty hunter Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison) and his offspring, Boba (Daniel Logan).
Which is a shame, because compared with Phantom, the characters are more rounded, the dialogue sharper (well, less dull) and the actors more relaxed. Hell, even the bemulleted Ewan McGregor looks like he's enjoying himself now Obi-Wan's been furnished with a smooth, dry wit. Portman still looks sedated, but at least she's dropped that silly clipped accent, and Samuel L Jackson finally gets to blast some ass.
However, all eyes will be on Christensen, who's been treated to a wonderful character, rich in dramatic irony. Here we have a great hero destined to become an even greater villain, whose very attempts to protect the light push him deeper into the shadows. But Christensen proves incapable of making Anakin's turmoil seem much more than an adolescent strop, while his love scenes with Portman are rendered boring by Lucas' clumsy handling. In fact, given the limited opportunity for adapting them into a videogame, it's amazing George even bothered trying...
Better than Phantom, but still inferior to Episodes IV, V and VI, Attack Of The Clones sadly isn't quite the return to form the die-hards were hoping for. Let's hope it'll be third time lucky...
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