There is a lot of great stuff in Episode II, even if it’s always been kind of the redheaded stepchild. This is, as I’ve said before, mostly because its brother Episode III refused to even associate with it. If Lucas had connected them more tautly the way ESB and ROTJ are, it would have been far stronger.
But anyway, even though there is an element of very plastic visuals, it’s also grandiose and there’s loads of visuals I just love. Ewan McGregor is always stellar. Literally, he is one of the heavenly bodies! (wink, wink.)
And while Hayden Christensen is awkward to watch, a struggling teenage actor with next to no help from the director, they do have some moments. And one moment is just before the arena battle.
Anakin grinds this line out between his perfect white teeth, much as he does every other line in the movie, and his utter resentment cracks me up. Mostly because Lucas’ writing makes his poor hero more split personality than Alan Tudyk on Dollhouse. In the very same breath, Anakin says Obi-Wan is like his father, and then adds that he won’t go rescue him. He claims this is because Mace Windu told him not to rescue Obi-Wan — but he was already told to stay on Naboo. In fact, if you pay attention, he was going to defy the Council’s order (“guard Padmé”) and leave her on Naboo to go after his mother; she just happened to insist on joining him. So when it comes to his “father,” why was defying the Council suddenly impossible? I have no idea. Because Star Wars was a better franchise when it was a collaborative effort and not a one-man word-explosion?
Anyway, Obi-Wan’s response is priceless. Who knows how long he’s been out chained to a post in the middle of the arena in the burning daylight in his 12, 13 layers of thick heavy clothing? And there’s grousing, grouchy Anakin. “We transmitted your message to Coruscant and then we decided to come and rescue you.”
Obi-Wan rolls his eyes upward, toward his bound wrists, and back to his Padawan now shackled to a stake himself. “Good job.”
Absolutely. It’s one of those warm playful moments where you almost get to see the relationship between them, and then of course they proceed to do some happy fighting and whatnot. It’s the last good part of the movie before the vomit-inducing travesty of (shudder) Yoda lightsaber.
The more I sit here looking at this picture, the more infuriated I am that Lucas denied us a chance to see Obi-Wan’s fine biceps. Ugh, George, ugh.
Honorable mention: The map reader scene. Obi-Wan is hot and this map reader is cool; also, there’s a cameo of the name “Liam.” However, Obi-Wan’s question is stupid, unless he was deliberately testing these kids and not actually confused. Yoda’s response is stupid, the younglings would have been more lifelike portrayed by animatronic cardboard cutouts, and the kid’s tone of “Freaking duh, Master” sums up the whole thing well. Before E3 came out, though, I was pretty thrilled by this scene because of Yoda’s “dangerous and disturbing, this puzzle is” and “meditate on this, I will,” leading to the inevitable conclusion that there was a mole in the Jedi, some traitor whose nefarious deeds would no doubt come up in Episode III . . . but Lucas cut E2 off cold and none of this buildup went anywhere.