Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones George Lucas

It's quite a remarkable feat, but in three years since the arrival of The Phantom Menace, George Lucas has managed to turn a beloved series of films into (take your pick): a marketing movement in hyper-drive, a referendum on digital technology, a crass profit machine, a destination for some of this generation's best actors to do disappointing work in horrible conditions, and a punch line. And he's done this not with the flourish of a wizard behind the curtain trying to marvel his audience with his visual wonders, but with the curtain pulled back and a spotlight pointed right at him, so we can gasp and delight at all he's managing to pull over our eyes. Never in the history of film has a project (movement? cultural industry? cult?) been so well documented, and never has it had such a detrimental effect on the end result. The story, by now, is far too familiar — AOTC moves the Star Wars saga through the romance of Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Padme (Natalie Portman) on the way to the rise of the Empire and of Darth Vader. In other words, it's a bunch of boring exposition linking the movies we love with the tale we want to hear: how Anakin goes bad. With plenty of flash and zippity-do, we watch Obi-Wan play detective, Jar Jar play senator, Yoda kick digital ass and the lovers play house. And as good as the action is (and some of it is quite good), the connecting drama is stilted and the dialogue is beyond cringe-worthy. And on DVD, with the visual impact scaled down, the "drama" sticks out all the more. Lucas still packs in the extras, but unlike the insightful documentaries on The Phantom Menace, AOTC highlights solutions to problems we shouldn't see (how to fix weird Yoda from TPM) and plot holes large enough to drive an AT-AT through (the entire chase/dodge ball scene in the factory, filmed long after principal photography, and then conceived whole by animators). All this overexposure sweeps what little spark remained from the very corners of the magic factory, and shows us the contents of the dustpan. It makes me yearn for the days when Yoda had Frank Oz's hand up his ass. (Fox)