Star Wars: Episode II—Attack Of The Clones

Featured In Issue 161, November 2011

WSR Score4
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
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George Lucas
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A Jedi shall not know anger. Nor hatred. Nor love. Set ten years following the events in "Episode I," Star Wars: Episode II—Attack Of The Clones finds Padmé Amidala (Portman), now a senator representing Naboo, the target of an assassination attempt in an effort to prevent her from casting her vote against the formation of an army to protect the Republic. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor) and his apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Christensen) are assigned to serve as bodyguards and protect Padmé from further assassination attempts. Anakin escorts Padmé to her home planet, and soon a romance develops, an act forbidden by the Jedi Order. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan finds himself in the midst of an intergalactic mystery in an effort to track down the bounty hunter hired to assassinate Padmé. Kenobi's travels lead him to the water planet of Kamino where he finds—unbeknownst to the Jedi Council—that a clone army has already been created for the purpose of defending the Republic. Haunted by nightmarish visions of his mother on Tatooine, Anakin disobeys his instructions and travels back to the familiar desert planet in an effort to help her. What Anakin encounters leads him down the destructive road of the Dark Side, setting up events that unfold in Episode III, including his transformation into Darth Vader, the Emperor's rise to power, the births of Luke and Leia, and the downfall of the Republic. Continuing the Star Wars Saga tradition, Attack Of The Clones delivers over two hours of sheer entertainment and fun, highlighted by dazzling visual effects and sound design, a writing and acting style patterned after 1930s and '40s era science-fiction and cliffhanger serials, and a demonstration of why Yoda is THE Jedi Master. (Michael Coate)

Special features include commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, John Knoll, and Ben Snow and commentary from archival interviews with cast and crew, including Ben Burtt, Hayden Christensen, Rob Coleman, Nick Gillard, Pablo Helman, Samuel L. Jackson, John Knoll, Christopher Lee, George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ian McDiarmid, Ewan McGregor, Temuera Morrison, Natalie Portman, Jimmy Smits, Ben Snow, and John Williams.

The new Blu-ray Disc 1080p AVC transfer exhibits subtle refinements in resolution and clarity. As in the previous DVD review, the picture, originated in high-definition 1080p/24 frames per second and framed in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, has a generally slight, soft character, but details are capably depicted throughout, particularly during close-ups and medium shots. For instance, hairs that stray away from Padmé's gravity-defying hairstyles are clearly discernible, as are clothing textures like Obi Wan's linen robe. Colors are vibrant and superbly balanced, with natural fleshtones, vivid hues, and deep, solid blacks. The chase through the airborne streets of Coruscant is impressive, with excellent shadow delineation and vibrant splashes of color provided by neon animated posters and taillights on space vehicles. Shadow detail is further appreciated in a completely blackened environment, such as when assassins try to take out a sleeping Padmé. Her room is believably dark, with just enough light to allow key elements to be seen. As Padmé and Anakin sit by the firelight, visual information is warmly rendered, then drops off into deep, smooth, and endless blacks. Many scenes, which are entirely computer generated (particularly those in The Clone War sequence), can have a lack of contrast and color saturation, but with where technology is at today, these scenes are quite seamlessly combined with the live-action elements shot against blue screens. Previously, Lucasfilm and Fox hyped the DVD edition of Episode II as "the first major live-action motion picture captured and created directly from a digital source." This edition of Star Wars: Episode II—Attack Of The Clones, remains one of the best examples of how good a production utilizing an all-digital pipeline can look in a home theatre setting but for the purposeful softening of the imagery through digital filtering. (Suzanne Hodges/Michael Coate/Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ Surround EX soundtrack, as would be expected, is nothing short of excellent. This is an aggressive, prominent film soundtrack that can be loud and possibly bright at times, even with Re-EQ engaged. Dialogue sounds abundantly natural and very nicely placed with the visuals. The music recording is excellent as well, with a nice, palpable low-end foundation and remarkable distinctiveness of the orchestra. Like the other Star Wars movies, sound design is the prominent factor in the creativity behind this soundtrack. The various effects, from the familiar light saber to the myriad of new sounds crafted for this movie, all have a unique and distinctive character of their own. As anticipated, spatiality is generous and often aggressive in nature throughout, with the split surrounds equally effective with directional pans and rendering of atmosphere. You'll surely get lots of panning in the opening sequence, as well as the nighttime chase on Coruscant. And then much later on in the film, there is a lot of directionality in the battle on Geonosis, as Yoda and the clones come to the rescue. The back surround sees equal effectiveness with both overhead panning and other instances of directional effects, as well as in enveloping the listener from behind. The low end is powerful, at times, with extremely deep and intense extension, sometimes at sub-25 Hz frequencies. This is an amazing soundtrack, following the heels of Episode I and the creative legacy of sound in the Star Wars Saga. (Perry Sun/Gary Reber)