45:01 – 1:00:00
This 15-Minute Force installment is another quiet one. The first thirty minutes of the movie are balls-out action-packed. The thirty minutes that follow are more sedate, even leisurely, although players are moved to new locations and the plot is pushed incrementally forward.
This chapter begins where the other left off, with Anakin creepily stroking the senator’s nubile flesh and leering at her with open lust in his smouldering eyes. Padme Amidala seems to be into that, however, and kisses her young Padawan protector. She breaks the kiss off suddenly and says, “I shouldn’t have done that.” Playing hard-to-get. Anakin looks confused, possibly blue-balled, and says, “I’m sorry?” with an inflection that clearly communicates that he is not sorry at all.
Meanwhile, at the Kamino baby factory, Obi-Wan is touring the facility with one of the Close Encounters aliens. Clones can think creatively, says the long-necked guide, which makes them superior to droids. When I heard this line of dialogue the first time in the movie theater, I accepted it at face-value. It seemed to make sense then. Obi-Wan and the cloner talk about such things as combat training and growth acceleration, and they pass groups of soldiers at different stages of development, from fetuses (feti?) in glass wombs, to full-grown Polynesian-appearing soldiers. This would have to be a costly process, even if you think only about what it would cost to feed and shelter all of these people. Creativity may be important, but I’d have to see a detailed cost-benefit analysis comparing clone creation to droid production to determine which is superior. Besides that, is creativity something that you really prize in the rank-and-file of an army? Shouldn’t following commands be the most important trait? It would seem that droids would be superior in that regard. What do I know?
Lama Su immediately contradicts the earlier ‘creativity’ comment by telling Obi-Wan that the clones are totally obedient (as opposed to ‘partially’ obedient?) and follow commands without question (which seems to be the definition of ‘obedient’). Like a droid, in other words. My argument seems to have been defeated.
The clones’ genetic structure has been altered to make them less independent than their original host. Ever the investigator, Obi-Wan asks for the identity of the original host. He is a bounty hunter named Jango Fett, and he is there on Kamino. In addition to being paid handsomely, he had also requested an unaltered clone of his own, to raise as his son. Guess what his name is.
Obi-Wan tells the cloners that he would like to meet this Jango Fett, and the scene closes with the Jedi viewing hundred of clone troopers in formation and full-armor. Much more impressive than stormtroopers have ever been.
Back to Naboo, where Anakin and Padme are enjoying a picnic in the tall grass, surounded by waterfalls. They engage in witty banter about Padme’s past love life and Anakin’s disdain for politicians. We learn that Anakin seems to favor benevolent dictatorship as a political structure. Again, I’m no Sith Lord, as far as you know, but I agree with him, if the world were perfect. Benevolent dictatorship would cut through all of the bureaucratic nonsense we have to deal with in our so-called democracy (which is not democratic, in the least: don’t get me started). However, the world isn’t perfect, and dictatorships seem, by definition, to eschew benevolence. Communism doesn’t seem to work either, not in practice, although I understand the appeal of it on paper.
What? I shouldn’t be writing so much about politics in a post about Star Wars? You should have told George Lucas that.
Anyway, Anakin tries to impress Padme by playing around with some really fat cows, and then the two of them roll around in the tall grass, clinging to each other. A roll in the hay, if you really want to reach for the metaphor.
Back to Kamino. Obi-Wan and Jango Fett meet face-to-face. Jango’s mini-me, Boba, is also there. The Jedi and the bounty hunter engage in some coded dialogue, establishing that Jango has been around, possibly even on Coruscant recently. Jango doesn’t appear to be visibly shaken by the Jedi’s sudden appearance. When asked, he says he never met anyone named Sifo-Dyas. He was hired for this job by a man named Tyranus. However, after Obi-Wan leaves, he tells young Boba—destined to die unceremoniously in the Sarlacc Pit years in the future (don’t tell me that he lives in the extended universe: that’s not what I saw on the screen)—to pack their things because they need to get the Hell out of Dodge.
Back to a continuation of the courtship of the Senator and the Jedi on Naboo. Anakin uses the Force to float some fruit around. The way one does when trying to impress a girl. Then later, sitting on a couch in front of a crackling fireplace, the two make goo-goo eyes at each other. The dance is getting more intimate. Anakin monologues the way only fools in love can. Padme wants to give in to her desires, but she musn’t. We already know that they are going to. Luke and Leia were not created by midichlorians. George Lucas was, in his ham-handed way, trying to build sexual tension between the two characters. Padme and Anakin, I mean, not Leia and Luke, although many would accuse him of that as well.
I don’t think this sequence is very successful. I remember being bored by it the first time I watched the film. I’m less bored with it this time, but not impressed. I tend to blame Lucas’s stilted dialogue and Hayden Christensen’s really awful performance—and that’s probably the crux of the problem—but the truth is that Natalie Portman seems only marginally better than Christensen in these scenes, and I know that she’s a great actor. So, the final blame probably lands on Lucas alone.
At any rate, in this fireplace scene, Padme is the voice of reason and logic, while Anakin continues to think with his little lightsaber. Even if they both want to do the nasty, they shouldn’t. She’s a senator, and he’s a Jedi. It just wouldn’t work. Neither are willing to convert to the other’s crazy ancient religion. Politics and religion just don’t mix. When Anakin suggests they keep their relationship secret, she shoots him down. The scene ends with both agreeing that doing something like that would destroy them both.
Obviously something changes their minds later. We’ll talk about it then.
Back with Obi-Wan on Kamino. Obi-Wan says something to his R4 unit that I missed the first time around. Asking the droid to set up a holographic conference with Yoda and Mace Windu, he says, “Scramble code five to Coruscant, care of the Old Folks Home.” Sick burn, young Jedi Master.
Then that hoary old Star Wars trope: the holographic conference meeting. Those are kept to a minimum in this installment, especially compared to Phantom Menace. Obi-Wan tells Yoda and Windu everything he’s learned in his investigation. A clone army ordered by Master Sifo-Dyas. His suspicions that Jango Fett is the assassin they’ve been looking for. Obi-Wan feels certain that the Kaminoans are innocent dupes in the whole plan to assassinate Senator Amidala. Yoda orders Obi-Wan to bring Jango Fett in for questioning.
After ringing off with Obi-Wan, Yoda and Windu discuss what I’ve been saying all along. The Jedi aren’t doing a very good job. What Windu actually says is that their ability to access the Force has apparently been diminished since they couldn’t even detect the formation of a massive clone army. Windu suggests telling the Senate about this. Yoda says only the Dark Lord of the Sith knows this now, and revealing it would just multiply their enemies. So, button your lip, Master Windu.
A brief scene of Anakin having another prophetic dream about his mother, Shmi the Blessed Virgin, and then the morning after with Padme talking to him about it on one of the lake house’s impressive terraces. Padme is wearing a clingy nightgown and her hair seems artfully bed-mussed. Methinks the senator is giving the Padawan mixed messages.
Thus ends this chapter of the 15-Minute Force, taking us to the one-hour mark of the movie. Since this film is called Attack of the Clones we were bound to meet the clones sooner rather than later. I remember being initially surprised that the stormtroopers were the clones. I thought this dovetailed pretty neatly with the original trilogy, even though it seems obvious now that those stormtroopers weren’t the same clones. Or, at least, all of them weren’t. That the troopers were all clones of Jango Fett, Boba’s clone father, was another nice touch. It explains why the guy who was giving instructions to the assassin Zam seemed so familiar. Plus, it broadens the mythos of fan-favorite character Boba Fett, who never really excelled on-screen.
I believe all of this material about the Kaminoans and the clone troopers succeeded admirably. The love story between Anakin and Padme, although admittedly necessary for the story, fell rather flat. And I end this chapter hungry for more action.
Until next time, Remember: When a Senator of the Republic says “No,” She Really Means “Yes,” and May the 15-Minute Force Be With You, Always.