First of all, let us begin by stating that like Episode One, Clones must be seen at least twice or not all all.  There is too much too absorb for one viewing.  That said, Clones is a roller coaster ride from start to finish, but it is meant for Star Wars fans, not novices.  One needs to see the other movies first, unlike Episode One, but then again Lucas warned of this in many ways.

    If you are a Star Wars fan you will be overwhelmed by nods to Empire Strikes Back.  There are too many too count.  Like Empire, the best scenes are bookends, placed in the first and last half hours.   But although this movie is modeled after Empire, it is truly unlike any other SW film before it.

    Neon glows and "extra" filled streets make the first half hour in the capital city of the Republic incredible to watch.  After the first chase scene, which will leave you breathless, your heart will barely stop beating just in time for act two.

    The action never really stops in Clones as you jump from scene to scene to scene like you are riding an avalanche, except there is no resolution at the end.  You leave the theater asking why, what, where and when.  It does not have a solid cliff-hanger ending like Empire, which was surprising, however, it leaves you guessing in other ways which are not apparent until after you are in the car and realize the movie is only half over and you owe Lucas another $8.50.

    A huge nod for use of previously rejected ship designs.  If you have the Episode One DVD, which is one of the best ever created (including upwards of 20 features), you will quickly notice designs taken off the cutting room floor for use in Clones, from the Jedi fighter to many of the Naboo transports.
    Although a masterpiece of CGI, Clones has fatal flaws which stick out like a sour thumb.  The greatest of this is ILM's constant attempt to have real characters "riding" CGI characters.  It is apparent that this was to be a theme in this movie.  In such, the CGI team fails miserably at this on every attempt.  The idea should have been scrapped.  At no point does this look or feel real.  in opposition to this, the controversial move to make Yoda a fully CGI character instead of a puppet goes off flawlessly.  Yoda breaths life to the screen and at no point leaves you wishing for a puppet.  Kudos go to ILM for intentionally  the CGI movements on puppet movement, which they should do more often.  It works.

    Script wise, Clones carries itself well.  There is so much action that the romance included never slows the movie down.  The cascading scene writing works; however, little details still haunt things and for no apparent reason.  In the first few scenes we are introduced to the Senator's (former Queen) security guard, but for no reason.  He doesn't appear in the movie the rest of the way or do anything.  Furthermore, the whole apprentice thing is carried too far.  Everyone is everyone's apprentice.  OK, we get it.  Sometimes it is better to minimize.

    The final battle should have been slowed down a bit.  CGI characters seem to rush through things.  It was the slow movement on Hoth that made Empire great.  Doom could be felt approaching.  Here, it leaps on top of you to minimize screen time.  Slow things down and drag out the battle and it would have been even better.  Dialogue and death were needed to make it feel more real.  You tend to not care when a CGI character gets blown away which makes things more of an exercise than a battle.

    Clones is best when it is dark and on that stage is succeeds.  There is so much irony and so much betrayal here that you wonder who is playing who, and people will undoubtedly be taking guesses until 2005.

    Episode 2 is not Empire, but then again nothing will be.  On its own, it is a solid entry into the SW universe.

    | copyright, 2002 |