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Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones

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While The Phantom Menace rang those box office tills, the fans who judged it found it seriously wanting. Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones is George Lucas' last defence against eternal damnation in fandom hell. And it's half successful.

So what's good about it? Banished - - almost - - are the politics that plagued the first film, replaced by a definite sense of adventure. The improved action doesn't hurt either, with a certain small, green Jedi master picking up a lightsaber and providing one of the few sit-up-and-cheer moments of recent cinema.

But then there's the dialogue, carved out of cliché - - multiple variations on "'my young Padawan learner'" still grate - - and delivered with all the emotion of a malfunctioning droid. Plus Lucas' all too apparent shortcomings as a director, especially his lack of chemistry with actors. Just take a look at the supposed grand romance: Natalie Portman proves a yawn and newcomer Hayden Christensen is sadly miscast, his expressions ranging from blank to constipated.

Result? A suspended sentence: we'll await Episode III.

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