With Stars Episode I: The Phantom Menace getting the 3D upgrade earlier this year and Darth Maul returning to Clone Wars, the Star Wars hype machine is still running at full steam but in amongst all of these Episode I celebrations theres another event going on in the Star Wars galaxy that isnt getting shouted about. This May 16th, Episode II: Attack of the Clones is ten years old. So I thought, given the May the fourth adopted Star Wars day, this was a good time to look back at ten things that make the second instalment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy so great. The Build Up, The Trailers & The Hype The build up to The Phantom Menace was one that was full of excitement for me and in many ways the last time I would experience the build up to a movie in the old fashioned way. Ysee with Episode I, seeing the trailer on the internet was a new thing, the internet as we know it now with all of its film websites and viral campaigns and whatever else was not the same beast back then, Episode I, in large part was still doing it the old fashioned way, the internet and its marketing and spoiler news was just finding it feet. Come 2000-2002 I dont think there was a day that went by without some titbit, set photo or StarWars.com teaser to whet out appetites for Episode II. There were dates and times when the title would be announced and the trailers would appear, there were set photos of Obi-Wan with his longer locks and beard very early on and Padmes white onesie was glimpsed at. New photos of aliens were thrown up on the ever increasing Star Wars fan sites, Lucas himself got in on the act with a fine set of weekly images called George Lucas Selects that week on week sparked discussions about what the images were and countless manipulations to the images to see things in backgrounds and what-not became common place. The build up to Clones was a hive on internet teasing and the build up to seeing that first trailer was immense. My personal memory of first trailer was sitting and looking at the loading screen that had an image of Jango Fett flying off with his jet pack and having dial up internet at the time, waiting for the Apple progress bar to fill before I clicked play. And then it arrived The breathing trailer was great. A flying Mandalorian, Slave One, a bearded Obi-Wan, a teenage Anakin. The sequel to the prequel was coming. Then came the They came before dawn trailer and the build up to this second episode's release was underway. No movie on the planet does exciting build ups like Star Wars. Obi-Wan Kenobi's Cool Window Jump Other than the films opening Coruscant fly by and explosion (that is still reference quality stuff for setting up my home theatre audio by the way) Attack of the Clones was all about catching up with where the galaxy far, far away was at, ten years after the events of Episode I. Seeing new boy Hayden Christensen playing the now all grown up Anakin Skywalker, getting a kick out of Obi-Wan Kenobi all beardy and mastery and catching up with Padme and Jar Jar in his all new (and reduced) representative of Naboo role (love or hate the Binks, his excitement when he sees Obi-Wan and Anakin always make me smile Obi!!) Also all new digital Yoda made his first appearance and that gawky puppet from Phantom Menace was no more. Anyway, its all a mini catch up at the start but from the moment Anakin slices the killer caterpillars from poisoning Padme while she sleeps, the party really begins and its Obi-Wans dive out of the window to grab the droid that delivered the deadly bugs that hits my first highlight in the movie. Theres something effortlessly cool about that jump. Theres no moment of consideration, no discussion. Theres something pure Star Wars about a character just making a leap like that (dismissing the fact Coruscant is full of giant buildings and flying traffic and a number of other dangers). Obi-Wan simply sees the droid and hes out that window, smashing Master Kenobi into pure Jedi awesomeness. Attack of the Clones really begins with this scene. The Zam Wessel Chase I love the flying Coruscant traffic in this scene and I love the placement of the sound effects as it really does feel like classic Star War but really I love this scene because it shows off what an older Anakin Skywalker does. For starters this kid is fearless. The chase is fun, kinetic and well constructed (well other than that weird edit through the electric fence thats always been odd). The way he conducts himself when he jumps out of the yellow speeder and swings around Zams speeder gives us a hero who aint afraid to get his hands dirty and his persistence is something I love Anakin Skywalker for. Along with that we get a deeper feel for the Obi-Wan and Anakin relationship. Little digs at one another and a real sense theyve been doing this sort of thing for a while. I really do enjoy how this chase sequence expands the master and the apprentice and this is one scene that should lend itself to the 3D conversion quite nicely. Anakins Bad Attitude Okay then people, this is where I lose some of you. I personally like Hayden Christensens performance as Anakin Skywalker (bye bye 50% of readers). I like his delivery of about 75% of his Star Wars style dialogue in Attack of the Clones and I like his bratty attitude towards his training and how hes being held back. Lucass choice to have him drop anger on characters at certain times works for me. His snap at an injured Zam Wessel is very well placed I feel and his scowling whenever Obi-Wan questions his methods makes for an Anakin I can see slowly losing his way. I know a lot of the audience wanted a bad ass Anakin Skywalker but if he was, theres no way the Jedi wouldnt have shut him down earlier than they did and the fact we as the audience know hes falling off of the good path works way better for me. Anyway this obviously escalates with the killing of the Tuskens, due to their treatment of Anakin's mother (though what they were doing with her for so long makes me feel uneasy) but the scene where Anakin says hes more powerful than Obi-Wan while Padme packs for her trip is the scene I like Anakin the most for. You really get an insight into this boy's frustrations with the Jedi way of things and its always been a scene I enjoy reaching in AOTC. That said, my favourite moment with Anakin in AOTC is the face off with Dooku at the end. The simple moment where Obi wan suggests Well take him together and Anakin snaps back with Im taking him now is what I love about what Lucas did with Anakin Skywalker. That drive, that aggression and that belief in his abilities makes our lead character something more real than simply a bad seed we know is going to end up on the dark side. I really like Anakin Skywalker here and the fact this moment is revisited in Revenge of the Sith and Anakin is much more controlled and cautious is a nice little arc for the ever growing young Jedi. Watto This next highlight is quite a personal one but the return of Watto, in this very small scene has stuck with me since I first saw AOTC back on the first midnight screening of it back in 2002. For starters I love Watto, so seeing him again was nice but this was probably the first time a digital character felt more than just a great special effect to me. Now Im not saying CGI effects hadnt impressed me up until this point, of course they had but something about the realisation in this digital creations performance when he says Annie, little Annie? feels so incredibly real to me. Its a fine mix of great voice work and subtle animation but the first time I saw this I knew computer generated characters could offer everything a human performance could and honestly even with the Gollums, the King Kongs and whatever elses that have followed since none of them have felt quite as human as this tiny moment and I cant really explain why... I just love it. The Clones Ahhh Troopers. Who doesnt love em? From the first time we saw them in the trailers to the first time you see them in the actual film its great having the troopers back and Lucas really shows off what this army can do in AOTC. When this newly formed Clone Army is revealed on Kamino, it was almost as if Star Wars had arrived all over again. The Boba Fett-ish redesigns for prequel trilogy look great in AOTC. The all digital clones with their variant colours and their assigned Jedi squad leaders really opened up the scale of this prequel universe and everything Lucas has done with them since Ive enjoyed, especially in the Clone Wars animated series where theyve really given a great deal of personality to these future turncoats (grrr Order 66 grrrr). On top of that it offered all Star Wars collectors the chance to buy a ton of them and building clone armies is super fun. Jango & Mean Little Boba So after years of rumours and speculation we finally got to see who the Clones were cloned from and it all turned out to be a Kiwi in a silver mandalorian armour and in turn we found out Boba Fett is also a clone but an unaltered one and a son of Jango Fett. In AOTC Jango gets to do all the stuff we never really saw Boba doing in the Original Trilogy but always imagined he could. Flying about, dropping amazing electric guitar bombs from Slave 1 and spinning guns like a cowboy. Also with Boba Fett we got to see the Fett attitude on the face of a child. Git im Dad shows the enjoyment little Boba gets from the hunt and even though it would have been nice to see little Boba in Episode III, the development through the Clone Wars series has been great so far. Essentially they seem to be making sure everyone in the Galaxy pisses off Boba Fett before we meet him again in A New Hope. Basically it was a great way to have more Boba Fett and who couldn't be happy with that? Geonosian Battle Attack of The Clones may fall into third place in my prequel listing but I can safely say I've seen the final act the more times than any of the scenes in the other prequels (okay maybe not more than Maul vs Obi-Wan and Qui Gon but its close). From the moment Anakin and Padme hit the arena any issues with the pacing of Attack of the Clones I may have disappear because Lucas serves up one hell of a ride, what with the three arena monsters, Anakin and Obi-Wans dialogue with each other Good job and Dooku and Nute Gunray bickering about how soon Padme will die. Then we kick off with Jedi galore and get to see the smiling Kitt Fisto, Obi-Wans kick ass take down of the Acklay, the cool as hell Mace Windu This partys over and the demise of Jango Fett. But it doesnt stop there. When Yoda turns up with the clones and the gunships Episode II explodes into full on war. Lucas get criticised for his direction but there are very few directors who can handle this many threads in an action sequence and make each and every element feel important to the story as a whole and he doesn't even stop there. A Ton of Great New Jedi I mentioned it before but the introduction of a load of new Jedi in Episode II was a delight. Episode I obviously gave use new faces but they were all sitting down and being moody. Here they do what Jedi do best and throw droids around with the force, cut things in two with their lightsabers and lead clonetroopers into battle. Ive already mentioned Kitt Fisto (who doesnt love that guy?) but glimpses of greatness from all the Jedi like Plo Koon, Shaak Ti and Aayla Secura is a real highlight in Attack of the Clones. As a Star Wars toys collector as well, AOTC meant we could finally get tons of Jedi to play with and even more troopers and I dont know about you Star Wars collectors out there but a shelf full of troopers and a load of cool Jedi is a great enough sight to put a smile on your face. Yoda So in the closing of the film we get the great face off : Dooku vs Obi-Wan and Anakin. Sith lightning, slicing of limbs and Dooku proving to be the most interesting of Sith apprentices. However the real show stopper in Attack of the Clones is of course Yoda with a lightsaber. Every time I see this moment I think of how the audience exploded in the cinema (I also have fond memories of the leaked footage of this from the Star Wars Celebration event as well). That cool as hell force pull of Yodas saber is great and even if the Dooku dialogue is 50% terrible in this sequence the spectacle far outweighs it. Then comes the flipping and the spinning and I'd forgotten to even mention the stopping of the Sith lighting. Honestly the last lightsaber duel of Attack of the Clones is just a masterclass in Star Wars action and that added to pretty much all of the final act makes Attack of the Clones an eventful middle act of the prequel trilogy. Okay, so there you have it, a ten year celebratory look back at Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Revisting here was a whole lot of fun and even though the film has its issues (a whole lot of ropey dialogue, a not 100% convincing romance and a runtime that feels a little bit too long... oh and C-3po) the sum of all of the individual set pieces in this second episode hold a great deal of fond memories for this Star Wars fan and the last ten years of rewatches have been nothing but a joy. May the force be with you on this Star Wars May the 4th to the Revenge of the 6th weekend.