Attack of the Midnight Show

I wasn’t going to do it.

I actually went to the midnight showing (actually the 12:15 am showing versus the 12:01 am) of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. I showed up and got in line. Saw a few of the crazies in costume, some playing with toy lightsabers, some dressed to the hilt.

For me, I was dying to see it. I decided around 11:00 pm to see how long the lines really were. Drove over and saw that there really wasn’t on. I got out, asked if I could still buy a ticket, was amazed that I still could and then say the 12:01 am showing line wrapped around the building on the other side. The 12:15 am showing had about twenty people in line and steadily grew.

The crowd I was in was actually pretty subdued. A few were playing “Six Degrees of Separation of Kevin Bacon” and a few read reviews in magazines or newspapers.

One of the local TV station’s vans drove by. I’m sure they caught the crazies for their morning editions. “Look at all those silly Star Wars fans out in line there. Back to you, Bob.“

I’m a spoiler junkie. I knew pretty much how the movie was going to go, but for me it isn’t really the newness of the story so much as being transported to a galaxy far, far away. Which means to me, flashy lightsaber duels, streaking dogfights in space, frightening villains and amazing heroes.

After finally getting all of us in the theater, the lights went down and the cheers began. The trailers before the film were completely unimportant.  I’m pretty sure Matrix Reloaded was one of them, but I didn’t really care. I didn’t want to see trailers; I wanted to see Attack of the Clones.

As the 20th Century Fox fanfare played, cheers. Lucasfilm logo, cheers. A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away, cheers. The Star Wars logo, cheers. As the crawl began.. hushes and hushing. Silence gathered across the theatre as they were ready to listen to this evening’s chapter.

And what a chapter it was.

I got this movie. I mean there are plenty of people who don’t and won’t get this movie, but come on its not that hard to follow. There is a separatist movement causing unrest in the galaxy and maybe even a precursor to civil war. Assassins are after Padme who opposes the creation of an army to fight against these separatists. Obi-Wan and Anakin are assigned to protect her. A second attempt on Padme’s life yields the mystery of a flying backpack man and a deadly dart. Padme, against her wishes, goes into hiding back on her homeworld with the young learner Anakin to watch over her.  Obi-Wan goes in search of the answers to the dart and the rocketman.

Meanwhile, Anakin is in love with Padme and Padme is attracted to him. Why? Have you seen this guy? I knew they had their Anakin when I first saw Hayden’s pic after the announcement that he won the part. Their situation is putting then in close, independent proximity. They talk political philosophies, old times, dreams for the future. Young love. It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t supposed to. I don t think those who were critical of the love story have every really been crazy in love before or maybe they’ve forgotten what it was to be 18-21 and full of life. It’s not logical, it simply is.

Anakin has character flaws. He complains about his master, but he trusts him. He bends the Jedi rules regarding love to suit him. He is skirting the dark side because he doesn’t have full control yet. He wants to be the best. It is this desire in the character, this need to be the best, which has drawn Padme. The moment they kissed was the downfall of the Republic.

On the other side of the galaxy, Obi-Wan, using everyone from shady diner cooks to Yoda’s students, tracks down where the dart comes from and ultimately finds a massive cloned army. He tracks the rocket man and after an all too-short battle in the rain and then an amazing battle in space (love those sonic charges), we are set up for a massive ground battle. Also during this time, we learn that the dark side is apparently clouding the Jedi s ability to use the Force.

Mysterious stuff indeed.

Even better is the ground battle. I’m not talking about the visuals that for the most part were pretty amazing, but the political machinations that have allowed for Palpatine to rise to power and everyone to be in the situations they now face. The separatist movement, the clones, the whole ground battle is multi-faceted:

  • Palpatine now has Emergency Powers, setting up the dictator he will become.
  • The clones are obviously precursors to the more Stormtroopers
  • The Jedi are caught in the crossfire and many are killed crippling their abilities to adequately uphold the law of the Republic.

By the time you reach the end of the film (just like the end of Ep. 1), there are many questions and things to ponder.

Who really put in the order for the Clone Army? It would have been better had the order come from Qui-Gon Jinn instead of Sifo Dyas. However, Sifo Dyas sounds a lot like Sidious. If in regards to the Sith is there always a Master and an Apprentice. Is it possible that Sidious has multiple apprentices?  That he learned from the Sith’s last defeat?  I highly doubt it, but one never knows.

What will be the final blow that pushes Anakin all the way from the light to darkness?  I’m guessing Padme’s death.

What happens that breaks Yoda’s nerve and sends him into hiding on a slimy mudball of a planet? His ultimate realization that the Jedi have essentially handed control of the Republic to the Sith? Well that and whatever else happens crushes his confidence, I would imagine. The Yoda of Episode 5 and the Yoda of Episode 2 are two very different characters. For this to work, something must complete the transformation.

How are the children (Luke and Leia) taken from Padme? I don’t think she dies in childbirth because Leia has some memories of her real mother.

Are Palpatine and Sidious really the same person, or has Sidious grown a clone of himself with independence inhibitors allowing him to control a version of himself that he can step into now that he as assumed power?

Is the long rumored edge of a volcano fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan going to be a reality? Or does Lucas have another plan for how to complete his transformation? I think the volcano battle will take place and will be the lightsaber battle to end all lightsaber battles. Ewan and Hayden know that this is the penultimate battle and really need to blow everyone s socks off here.

What happens to Dooku? Mace Windu? I’m guessing Anakin kills Dooku paralleling the Vader/Luke confrontation from Return of the Jedi. I’m also guessing somehow, Boba Fett kills Mace. It really was set up in Episode II.

What is Bail Organa s part in all of this? His exhibition of frustration in that last shot on the balcony overlooking the clone army with Palpatine was quite indicative of his obvious dislike for the current situation.

How are Anakin and Padme split apart?

Now those are the questions on my mind at the end of the film, plus what we don’t have a clue about that will affect things in the next chapter. I can’t wait for Episode 3, mostly to answer those questions, but also to have the entire saga lay out from beginning to end.  Roughly 12 hours of a galaxy far, far away seems like a great way to spend a Sunday.

Now, if George would just quit mucking about with the prints, but that’s an issue for another time.