Worst to First: Ranking the Star Wars Movies
Happy Star Wars Day, everyone! To celebrate May 4th (“May the Fourth be with you”, get it?) I’m going to rank all eight of the live-action theatrical Star Wars films from Worst to First. As usual, you’re invited to play along. Reader rankings will be shared in a follow-up post. I have a bad feeling about this, but let’s get to ranking.
8. Attack of the Clones (2002)
Box Office: $302,191,25 (#6)
Adjusted For Inflation: $459,788,400 (#8)
RT Score: 65%
Episode #: 2
Summary: At the risk of spoiling the suspense, my rankings will largely reflect my preference for the original trilogy over the prequels that followed. I don’t hate the prequels. I just feel they were poorly executed by George Lucas. The story of the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker had potential. But Uncle George didn’t map out his trilogy in advance and the end result was an uneven mess. Many will point to Episode One as the low point with each prequel improving relative to the reduction in Jar Jar Binks’ screen time. But for my money, the middle chapter is where the prequels truly bottom out.
While I appreciate the fact that Lucas saw fit to sideline the ever annoying Mr. Binks in the second movie, he made up for that by turning up the volume on the already shrill C-3PO to the point that I had to question my fondness for the character. But that was far from Clones‘ biggest problems. There’s the ridiculous CGI light-saber duel between former puppet Yoda and the ancient Christopher Lee or the Sifo-Dyas subplot that goes absolutely nowhere. Those are missteps to be sure, but they are not the movie’s fatal flaw.
The reason I rank Attack of the Clones lowest on the list is that the movie – and really the whole prequel trilogy by extension – is centered around a love story that doesn’t work at all. Hayden Christensen takes over the role of Anakin in this movie and he is more petulant teen than bad-ass Jedi knight. Natalie Portman has never looked more bored on screen than when she is sleep-walking through her would-be romantic scenes. Adding to the “ick” factor is the fact that the last time we saw these characters Padme was a young adult and Anakin was ten. (Technically, there is only supposed to be a five year age difference between these two characters, but the casting does not convey that.)
The actors aren’t helped by George Lucas’ notoriously terrible dialogue. There’s a reason Lucas usually has collaborators. He’s a wiz-bang idea man, but not a gifted writer. To call Lucas’ dialogue “clunky” is an understatement. But even by the low standards of Star Wars scripting, Attack of the Clones contains some howlers. I doubt even the most ardent prequels apologist is going to argue in favor of the infamous “sand” speech.
Next: The Phantom Menace