(If you missed Part 1 of the editorial, you can read it here.)
Welcome to “Part 2: Revisiting Attack of the Clones 20 Years Later”, where I’m continuing a nostalgic journey through 2002’s prequel installment. From the Fetts, to Samuel L. Jackson’s colorful request, to Yoda finally in action, grab some Jawa juice and check out Part 2 in our trilogy of articles.
Let’s dive in!
THE FETT FAMILY GROWS
When Boba Fett debuted in the polarizing Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978, and then in Empire Strikes Back, he became an instant fan-favorite. And Jango Fett was no exception.
With Jango Fett’s debut, along with Boba Fett’s origin story as an unaltered clone of his father, Fett fever only grew (and it spurred a lot of other Mandalore content with Clone Wars, The Mandalorian, and The Book of Boba Fett). Jango also inspired an interesting (but often frustrating) Star Wars video game — Star Wars: Bounty Hunter.
Producer Rick McCallum, in Web Documentary “Bucket Head”, notes:
“One of the great things about Episode II is that it really delivers about this mysterious and wonderful character Boba Fett. And also someone as equally mysterious, the character called Jango Fett.”
Temuera Morrison, the man behind Jango Fett, brings a stoic, serious presence and gives us a fantastic, rain-soaked battle against Obi-Wan Kenobi on Kamino as the bounty hunter attempts to escape with Boba.
I love this confrontation. Two great characters colliding in raw battle. The Slave 1 landing pad provides an ominous, storming backdrop to the encounter that still feels unique even now.
I have to admit, with so much more lore created post-Attack of the Clones (and maybe because I’m more sentimental and reflective as I get older) watching the brutal decapitation of Jango at the hands of Mace Windu hits differently when I rewatch it 20 years later. When the film first debuted, and when I was a little tot, it seemed easier to really fall into the grooves of ”good guy” and ”bad guy” while watching Star Wars. However, so many different perspectives were colliding, and the ”good” and ”bad” sides had lots of crossover and blending. Plus, seeing young Boba witness this horrific incident is heartbreaking.
Jango’s legacy continues with Boba Fett, and it’s cool now to see Morrison in The Book of Boba Fett, especially after his comments below from Star Wars Insider issue 57:
“I’m the original bounty hunter. Whatever Boba Fett is, he takes it from me.”
Pretty amazing to witness his portrayal come full circle as he dons the classic Boba Fett gear.
It’s fascinating to see how these crucial moments in Attack of the Clones and his life on Kamino impact Boba as he carved his own path in The Book of Boba Fett. This flashback sequence to open up the series was absolutely fantastic (and even utilized some unused footage from Attack of the Clones).
Jango was gone too soon, but I’m thankful his legacy continues with new Star Wars content!
NEW & FAMILIAR FACES, PLACES
Attack of the Clones brings the return of some familiar faces and places, while also introducing us to a lineup of new destinations and characters.
It’s no surprise that Tatooine once again plays a huge role in the film, and in Attack of the Clones we get to revisit the Lars homestead (after a justifiably icy-cold Anakin interaction with Watto) to meet a young Owen and Beru Lars, along with Cliegg Lars (who had recently been injured on a failed rescue attempt for his wife Shmi).
I remember the joy I had viewing the iconic dinner table in the homestead and watching C-3P0 (now with silver plating!) recognize his “maker” and begin his (cringe-cheesy but wonderfully lovable) banter with R2-D2. The joy’s the same, even 20 years later.
Because I have the privilege of watching with knowledge of upcoming Star Wars projects, I can’t wait to see how this homestead does or doesn’t fold into the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney Plus series debuting in May 2022.
If Kenobi indeed visits Shmi’s grave or the Lars homestead with a tiny Luke Skywalker, I’ll be ecstatic! The opportunity is ripe for psychological and emotional gymnastics for Obi-Wan to navigate as he comes to terms with Anakin’s downfall and the disaster left in its wake (but I digress).
We also get to meet Bail Organa, Leia’s adoptive father (who we see more of in Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One). Jimmy Smits, who played Bail Organa, shared in Star Wars Mythmaking Behind The Scenes Of Attack Of The Clones that he was honored to be part of the story:
”Just to be a part of something that has this kind of tradition and lore was really exciting. The interesting thing about the experience was that, even though I was a fan of the films, I found that there were a lot of people who were true aficionados, who knew everything down to the most minute detail. When I mentioned to some people that I was playing this character, they rattled off who Bail Organa is and who he is related to and the history of each of those people. I had to go to the Star Wars Encyclopedia to figure it all out.”
Then there’s Dexter Jettster and his diner. The throwback diner vibe can be a polarizing topic for some fans, but I enjoy the nod. When shooting the scene, actor Ronald Falk would stand in for the eventual CGI character so Ewan McGregor could have a more authentic sense of interaction. It works fairly well, but 2002-era CGI is definitely apparent (especially in the odd hug between the characters that just seems so strangely hilarious to me).
In addition to new faces, there are some new locations we’re introduced to in Attack of the Clones. We return to Naboo where we experience more than just the Theed palace this time around with glimpses of expansive plains, gorgeous lakefronts, and bustling spaceports. However, the two main introductions to our galactic map are the planets of Geonosis and Kamino.
Kamino, and the clone facilities that are introduced, house so many clone characters that are further developed in the Clone Wars series with many becoming fan favorites in the process (making it even more crushing when a newly-formed Empire destroys Tipoca City in The Bad Batch series opener).
The storming, water planet is missing from the Jedi Archives in Attack of the Clones which spurs one of my favorite scenes involving a certain Jedi Master and a group of laughing younglings:
Yoda: “Lost a planet Master Obi-Wan has. How embarrassing. How embarrassing.”
Kamino has a clean, sterile aesthetic, with creatures of specific inspiration. Lucas, in Star Wars Mythmaking Behind The Scenes Of Attack Of The Clones, shares:
“The Kamino design was a very deliberate nod to the classic alien of Close Encounters. Steven [Spielberg] had done a lot of research on that film and really drew from descriptions by people who had supposedly seen them. We wanted to do homage to Steven, but even more to that alien everyone has described.”
In Star Wars Insider issue 66, Erik Tiemens, a concept design supervisor on the film, notes this:
“The use of white, almost iridescent passages in the beginning is not so much a metaphor for heaven, but [rather] the sense of control, power, and the ultimate loss of individuality.”
A fascinating note when once again envisioning the story arcs of clone troopers explored in the Clone Wars series when they navigate individuality and purpose (and the ongoing, unsettling notion of inhibitor chips that precisely controls and manipulates).
As for Geonosis, it’s anything but sterile. The new planet, modeled after African termite mounds, is alive with towering hives and organic tunnels carving through the rock. Further in Star Wars Insider issue 66, Erik Tiemens shares:
”There was a conscious effort to push the metaphor of hell and the underworld on Geonosis through the use of hues saturated with burning reds and choking warm grays.”
For the droid factory sequence, Tiemens says:
“The enormous shaft, layered like a Swiss watch pulled apart, with no end in sight, brings to mind some kind of diabolical pit. Soulless robots being stamped out by the thousands provide a great set to exploit scale and vulnerability for our main actors.”
We also learn this is actually where the first idea of the Death Star came to be, with the iconic superweapon being passed off from Geonosian leader Poggle the Lesser to Count Dooku as the battle rages outside. Some feel like this moment is fan-pandering, but, to me, I say: pander away!
If you haven’t watched Clone Wars (stop everything you’re doing and do so) it features a crazy arc spotlighting Geonosis after this film. Spoiler alert: it may include zombies…
MACE WINDU AND HIS PURPLE SABER
Tell me you didn’t gasp when you first saw Mace Windu’s purple lightsaber in action. I mean, it’s purple!
Lightsabers were blue, red, or green. In all honesty, I still geek out over the yellow one Plo Koon had in the Jedi Power Battles video game I owned for my PlayStation, but that’s beside the point… When Mace ignited his purple lightsaber at the throat of Jango Fett, everything changed.
Samuel L. Jackson’s infamous interview on the Graham Norton show where he explained the real reason he wanted a purple lightsaber is iconic. Check it out:
It’s also fun (and important) to remind myself to not take Star Wars so seriously sometimes and that many of the actors are fans themselves who just can’t wait to be part of the universe — and stand out in the process!
YODA IN ACTION
This moment though. It still gives me chills!
The score, the slow sweep towards Yoda as he reaches for his lightsaber, the knowing anticipation the entire production created here for viewers (yes, yes, maybe it is a little heavy-handed to the audience, but still incredible). Relive it:
With Yoda being entirely CGI for the first time (still voiced by Frank Oz), it provided an opportunity to finally get the little green master his epic lightsaber battle moment (since, new versions of The Phantom Menace have replaced the puppet Yoda with a CGI version to match the rest of the trilogy).
Although the duel isn’t long (the Yoda versus Sidious duel that we get in Revenge of the Sith is fire), it still gave audiences what they’ve craved for so long.
But how did it work?
In Star Wars Mythmaking Behind The Scenes Of Attack Of The Clones, Rob Coleman, Industrial Light and Magic animation director for the film, recalls:
“One of the longest conversations I had with George Lucas about this movie concerned that fight between Yoda and Count Dooku. We had discussions about how Yoda would move–was it going to be reminiscent of martial arts or something else? We also talked at one point about his standing stationary in the room and using only the Force to fight Dooku, but George wanted him to be more active than that. He wanted to show this more powerful, physical side of him. But until it evolved, it was difficult to visualize a fight between these two unlikely adversaries: an eighty-year-old man who was about six foot five, and an eight-hundred-year-old creature who was three feet tall.”
But as we see — size matters not.
UNLEASH THE JEDI
Up until this point I could only dream of a huge battle with multiple Jedi.
George Lucas, in the ”Story” Featurette on the Attack of the Clones DVD, notes:
“This is the heyday, the golden age of Jedi. We see Jedi in large battle scenes battling as a large group. We’ve never seen that before.’’
From instant fan-favorite Aayla Secura, to Kit Fisto, to Luminara Unduli, and Barriss Offee, there were so many Jedi characters battling in front of our eyes on Geonosis during a dangerous rescue mission and confrontation with Count Dooku that it was hard to fathom.
It was such a major moment to see all the Jedi ignite their lightsabers as terrified Geonosian spectators flee the arena. I still love it, picturing my little self awe-stuck watching so many new, cool characters appear (RIP Coleman Trebor, you really did try).
Watching as the Jedi began their reluctant transition to commanders and soldiers is cool but also foreshadows an inevitable path for so many of our favorite characters (looking at you, Order 66)…
There’s still much more to explore about the film. Check out our third and final editorial exploring Attack of the Clones coming out next week, with a focus on the ferocious creatures, epic score, new vehicles & ships, and more!