- "The shroud of the dark side has fallen. Begun, the Clone War has."
The film is set nine years after the Battle of Naboo, when the galaxy is on the brink of civil war. Under the leadership of renegade Jedi Master Count Dooku, thousands of systems threaten to secede from the Republic. When an assassination attempt is made on Senator Padmé Amidala, the former Queen of Naboo, Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker is assigned to protect her, while his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi is assigned to investigate the assassination attempt. Soon the Jedi are drawn into the heart of the Separatist movement, and the beginning of a new threat to the galaxy: the Clone Wars.
Attack of the Clones was the first Star Wars film to use a high-definition digital 24-frame system for most of the its live-action scenes. The film was a financial success, grossing over $600 million at the worldwide box office. However, for the first time, a Star Wars film did not earn the highest box-office sales for the year; Attack of the Clones ended up fourth behind The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Spider-Man.
Nine years after the events of The Phantom Menace, the Galactic Republic is in crisis. A Separatist movement led by former Jedi Master Count Dooku, alias the Sith Lord Darth Tyranus, is threatening the peace, causing the Galactic Senate to debate a Military Creation Act to form a standing army for the Republic's protection. Senator Padmé Amidala, former Queen of Naboo, returns to Coruscant to vote against the Act, even though there are no longer enough Jedi to maintain peace and justice in the galaxy.
Upon her arrival on Coruscant, she narrowly escapes an assassination attempt that claims the life of her decoy, Cordé. As a result, Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine requests that Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, protect her.
That night, the assassin Zam Wesell makes another attempt on Amidala's life, though the Jedi are able to foil her plot. They pursue her through Galactic City, eventually disarming her in the Outlander Club. Upon being questioned by Obi-Wan and Anakin outside the bar, she is killed by a saberdart, fired by a mysterious man, before the Jedi can learn the name of her employer. Returning to the Jedi Temple, Obi-Wan is assigned by the council to track down the assassin's killer. Meanwhile, Anakin continues his task of protecting the Senator, and is asked to escort her back to her home planet of Naboo. Anakin welcomes the opportunity, as he often becomes angry and frustrated by Obi-Wan's criticism, and is glad to have an opportunity to be on his own. Further, he has become infatuated with Padmé, and relishes the chance to spend time with her. Junior Representative Jar Jar Binks assumes the Senator's duties in her absence.
During the investigation, Obi-Wan is led to a mysterious planet called Kamino—missing from the Jedi Archives—where he discovers a secret clone army being developed for the Republic. He is told by Prime Minister Lama Su that the army was ordered some ten years ago by Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas—although Obi-Wan was "under the impression" that Sifo-Dyas was killed before that time. A bounty hunter named Jango Fett was hired as the template for the clones. Obi-Wan meets Jango on Kamino, and believes him to be the killer he has been tracking. He tries to capture Jango, which leads to a titanic one-on-one fight between them. Jango makes use of his blasters and missile equipment, managing to defeat Obi-Wan by sending him plummeting into the raging sea below. Thinking he is dead, Jango departs Kamino with his son Boba. Unable to capture Jango, Obi-Wan places a homing beacon on his ship, Slave I, and follows him to the planet of Geonosis.
Meanwhile, Anakin and Padmé have been spending much time together on Naboo, enjoying each other's company and playfully frolicking in the fields. Eventually, Anakin reveals his deep love for her, vowing to do whatever she requests. However, Padmé resists, explaining that it would be impossible for the two of them to be together, since she is a Senator and he is a Jedi. Anakin is angered by this, and experiences inner conflict between his strong desires for her and his duties as a Jedi.
Anakin is also troubled by a newfound sense that his mother is in grave danger, and he beckons for Padmé to accompany him to his home planet of Tatooine—in the process disobeying Obi-Wan's orders to remain on Naboo. Upon arriving, Anakin tracks down his former owner Watto, from whom he learns that his mother has married a moisture farmer named Cliegg Lars, and travels to the Lars moisture farm. There, Anakin and Padmé find C-3PO, and the droid introduces Anakin to his step-brother Owen. Cliegg tells Anakin the horrible truth, that his mother was kidnapped a month ago by a pack of Tusken Raiders. Anakin travels through the night, and finds her tied and beaten in a Tusken camp. Within moments, she dies in his arms. Enraged and heartbroken, he slaughters the entire Tusken community: men, women and even children. Back at Coruscant, Yoda senses a terrible darkness in the Force as the slaughter continues (Qui-Gon Jinn's voice can also be heard shouting "Anakin, Anakin, no!" during this scene). Anakin then brings his mother's body back to the homestead, where her funeral is held.
On Geonosis, Obi-Wan overhears a meeting between Count Dooku and the leaders of the commerce guilds, and learns that they are behind the separatist movement and have built up a new droid army. He also learns that it was Nute Gunray who ordered the assassination of Amidala, as revenge for the defeat of the Trade Federation at the Battle of Naboo. Obi-Wan transmits his findings to the Council, relayed by way of Anakin and Padmé's ship, though he is surrounded by droidekas and captured before he can finish his report.
Now that the Jedi council knows of Dooku's army, Jedi Master Mace Windu leads a team to Geonosis. Unbeknownst to them, Anakin and Padmé also make their way there to rescue Obi-Wan. Meanwhile, Representative Binks calls for Chancellor Palpatine to be given emergency powers, with which he can call the recently discovered clone army into battle.
Back on Geonosis, Count Dooku tries to persuade Obi-Wan to join him, warning him that Darth Sidious is now in control of the Senate. Obi-Wan refuses to believe him, saying that the Jedi would have known if that was the case. Anakin and Padmé arrive on the planet, but are quickly captured by Jango Fett and sentenced to death, joining Obi-Wan in the Geonosis arena, where they are to be executed. In the high stands, Count Dooku, Nute Gunray, Rune Haako, Poggle the Lesser, Jango Fett and Boba Fett watch the start of the planned execution. The trio are forced to battle a reek, a nexu and an acklay while in chains. During their struggle, Mace Windu arrives with his Jedi strike team, and they battled Dooku's droid army in the arena. Upon seeing so many Jedi in one place, Jango Fett jetpacks down to the arena floor, and engages Windu. After a short struggle, Windu manages to kill Jango due to his jetpack malfunctioning, but defeat for the Jedi still seems imminent. Yoda unexpectedly arrives with the Republic's new clone army, but only a handful of Jedi had survived. Those killed include Sta-Den Eekin, Sephjet Josall, Sar Labooda, Khaat Qiyn, Que-Mars Redath-Gom, Fi-Ek Sirch, Nicanas Tassu, Coleman Trebor, and about 160 other Jedi.
An even larger battle erupts outside the arena between the Republic's clone army and the Droid Army of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Nute Gunray and Rune Haako subsequently retreat in Gunray's ship. Poggle the Lesser entrusts Count Dooku with the early plans for the Death Star. Dooku attempts to escape, but Obi-Wan and Anakin track him to a secret hangar, where they engage him in combat. Unfortunately, they are no match for Dooku's now-revealed mastery of the dark side and the lightsaber combat style that he employs. He fires Force lightning at Anakin, injures Obi-Wan and cuts off Anakin's right arm. Yoda appears just as Dooku is about to escape, and the two masters of the Force go head-to-head in a fierce duel. Dooku, realizing he can't defeat Yoda, attempts to topple a large pillar on Obi-Wan and Anakin as a distraction. While Yoda uses the Force to divert the pillar, Dooku flees in his solar sailer. Flying to an industrial sector of Coruscant, he meets up with his master, Darth Sidious, who is pleased that the war has begun as planned.
In the Jedi Temple, Obi-Wan, Mace and Yoda ponder Dooku's warning that Darth Sidious is controlling the Senate. Yoda is hesitant to believe this, stating that the dark side is capable of creating fear and mistrust. He and Windu agree that they should nevertheless closely monitor the Senate. Meanwhile, Chancellor Palpatine and a number of senators, including Bail Organa, oversee the launching of massive clone trooper forces.
Principal photography lasted from June 26 to September 20, 2000. Filming primarily occurred at Fox Studios, Sydney, with additional location shooting in Tunisia desert. During the Tunisia shoot, the final scene intended for Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith was shot to avoid returning to the country for a single scene. Other filming locations included the Plaza de España Seville in Spain, and in Italy at the Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como and the Caserta Palace. Pick up shots took place in Ealing Studios.
In December 2001, it was rumored that members of *NSYNC were filmed as extras in Attack of the Clones. In the following days, the story gained momentum and it was reported that three band members—Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, and Chris Kirkpatrick—were given parts as Jedi and Naboo citizens by producer Rick McCallum. Lucasfilm later confirmed the news but denied the rumor that it was done by George Lucas as a favor for his daughters Katie and Amanda, who were fans of the band. Also, Justin Timberlake acknowledged that he and Lance Bass were not involved, but that Joey Fatone's brother Steve was. Many Star Wars fans reacted negatively to the news, many seeing this incident as further evidence of Star Wars "selling out", similar to some Star Wars fans' reactions to Jar Jar Binks or the Ewoks. On January 12, 2002, a Saturday Night Live sketch showed a satirical "first look" at Attack of the Clones, wherein the movie was forced to grind to a halt to allow for *NSYNC to perform an impromptu musical number entitled "I'm a Jedi Knight in these Jedi Days." Joey Fatone later announced that the singers' parts had been cut from the film because of the negative fan reaction. However, Lucasfilm's Lynne Hale denied this, saying that it was up to Lucas, and that "the final edit of the film is what he determines it will be."
In the lead-up to release, Lucasfilm released another series of web documentaries, and experimented with other promotional tools, including Episode II Select, Ahmed Best's on-set videos, Star Wars: Connections and R2-D2: Beneath the Dome.[source?] On May 11, 2002, TV Guide released three different covers to promote the film.
The film's soundtrack was released by Sony on April 23, 2002.
A book version of the movie was written by R. A. Salvatore. It includes scenes created by Salvatore and unique to the novel. The book's Prologue describes Anakin, while flying to Ansion with Obi-Wan, having a nightmare of his mother turning into glass and shattering. The following pages relate the events leading up to Shmi Skywalker's capture by Tusken Raiders and Cliegg Lars's loss of his leg while attempting to rescue her. These scenes give a more detailed insight into Shmi's life on the moisture farm and her relationships with Cliegg, Owen, Beru, and C-3PO than can be provided in the film. Interspersed with these events are scenes of Senator Amidala on Naboo prior to her departure for Coruscant to vote on the Military Creation Act. She discusses with her sister the question of retiring from politics to start a family and receives reports about the unrest (briefly mentioned in the film) among spice miners on Naboo's moons. The book also delves more deeply than the film into the father-son relationship of Jango and Boba Fett, making Jango's death more emotionally meaningful (however, it also makes several inaccuracies concerning Jango. For example, the author referred to his armor as "gray", when it is actually white with blue accents.). The first of the Boba Fett series of young adult novels draws upon this material.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones was released on VHS and DVD on November 12, 2002. The VHS included six deleted scenes and a segment of Star Wars: Connections. This would be the final VHS release of any kind for Star Wars in the United States. As such, there is no way to acquire a full VHS set for the Prequel Trilogy since there would not be one for Revenge of the Sith. However, it did receive a VHS release in the UK and in Australia. The DVD contains certain elements edited or added in by George Lucas that make the DVD a slightly different version from its theatrical release.
- Disc 1
- DVD Menu themes based on planets from the movie: Coruscant, Kamino and Geonosis
- Available subtitles: English
- Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1 EX), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
- Commentary by writer-director George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, animation director Rob Coleman, and ILM visual effects supervisors John Knoll, Roger Guyett, and sound designer Ben Burtt
- DVD Credits with Blooper reels
- Disc 2
- Main DVD Menu's theme is based on the Jedi Library
- Eight exclusive deleted scenes with introductions of George Lucas, Rick McCallum and Ben Burtt
- "From Puppets to Pixels: Digital Characters in Episode II": all-new full-length documentary about the creation of digital characters in Episode II
- "State of the Art: The Previsualization of Episode II": witness the vital role of the animatics team
- "Films Are Not Released: They Escape" sound documentary
- Three featurettes examining the story line, action scenes, and love story through behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and filmmakers
- 12-part Web documentary
- "Across the Stars" music video: an original composition by John Williams crafted exclusively for this DVD
- Exclusive production photos
- One-sheet posters
- International outdoor campaign
- Trailers and TV spots
- "R2-D2: Beneath the Dome" mockumentary trailer
- ILM visual effects breakdown montage
- Exclusive DVD-ROM content
- Production photo gallery
- DVD-ROM content includes a free trial of Hyperspace
On April 7, 2015, the Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox, and Lucasfilm jointly announced the digital releases of the six released Star Wars films. As Lucasfilm had retained digital distribution rights to Episodes I thru III and V thru VI, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released Attack of the Clones for digital download on April 10, 2015.
Despite the Walt Disney Company's 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd. and the release rights to all future Star Wars films, Fox was to retain original distribution rights to Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, which they co-produced and co-financed, in perpetuity in all media worldwide. Fox was also to retain theatrical, nontheatrical, and home video rights worldwide for the franchise's five subsequent films, which Lucasfilm produced and financed independently, through May 2020, at which time ownership was to transfer to Disney. This complex relationship between Fox and Disney, particularly in regards to Fox's perpetual rights to Episode IV, was to create an obstacle for any future boxed set comprising all nine films. On December 14, 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced that it was acquiring most of Fox's parent company, 21st Century Fox, including the film studio and all distribution rights to A New Hope. On March 20, 2019, the deal was officially completed. On April 12, 2019, a Blu-ray box set containing the nine main installments of the Star Wars saga remastered in 4K was reportedly announced to be in development for a 2020 release.
The film grossed $310,676,740 in the United States and $338,721,588 overseas, a huge financial success which nevertheless was overshadowed by the even greater box-office success of The Phantom Menace. Also, it was not the top grossing film of the year, the first time a Star Wars film has not had that distinction. The films that out-earned it were Spider-Man, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, all of which enjoyed a more favorable critical reception as well.
Initial reviews of the film were mixed, with general admiration for the action sequences and special effects, and criticism of the more traditional cinematic elements such as character development and dialogue, particularly with respect to the relationship between Padmé and Anakin. The marketing of the film reacted to this by downplaying the subplot by the time of the DVD release and emphasizing Yoda's popular fight scene. The dialogue was noted to be "leaden" and "flat" by critics. The acting was also disparaged by some critics for these same characteristics.
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- "Anthony Daniels: Remembering That Galaxy Far, Far Away"—The Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine 1
- Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga: The Official Collector's Edition
Notes and references
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones on Wikipedia
- American Cinematographer: George Lucas Interview - Discusses the role of Episode II in digital filmmaking (Backup link)