A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Attack of the Clones is the second prequel in the epic Star Wars saga; it isn't the most intense of the series, but there are still moments of striking violence (including a beheading and an amputation) and a few very emotional moments. The death of a major character's mother on screen is a particularly dark and disturbing sequence that may upset children. Kids able to handle the stronger moments will especially enjoy several exciting and imaginative sequences, from a white-knuckle chase in a flying car to battles against surreal space monsters. One of the film's central plotlines is a blossoming romance between two of the lead characters. Though their interactions are relatively tame, there's some mild flirting and a few substantial kisses.
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What's the story?
The second film in writer/director George Lucas' trilolgy of prequels to the original films, STAR WARS: EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES picks up 10 years after the events of The Phantom Menace. Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christiansen) is a Jedi student under Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan MacGregor). After an attempt on the life of Senator (and former Queen) Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), the pair split up to protect Padme and investigate the assassin. Their paths converge again on the planet Geonosis, where the evil Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) has finalized plans to launch an all-out war on the Jedi and the Galactic Republic.
Is it any good?
After The Phantom Menace, this film represents a significant improvement in every department, from plot to character and even in computer-generated special effects. Like the second film in the original Star Wars trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back, Clones introduces an ever-growing darkness into the prequel trilogy and splits up its leading cast to pursue separate adventures before reuniting them for a desperate stand against evil.
The climactic battle on Geonosis is a high point, as is a skirmish between Kenobi and the mysterious Jango Fett (Temura Morrison). However, the issues that plagued Menace are just as pronounced in Attack of the Clones, especially dialogue, which continues to clatter on the floor as soon as it leaves a character's mouth. Although Lucas worked with a second screenwriter on this film (Jonathan Hales), the most painful sequences, in which Anakin and Padme excruciatingly fall in love, seem to be pure Lucas. A subplot following Obi-Wan in galactic gumshoe mode trying to solve a key mystery is far more successful. If nothing else, the spectacle on display in Clones insures that it's easy to ignore the more squirm-inducing attempts at a romantic subplot and instead enjoy the big battles.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones' violence, including the death of a lead character's mother. What makes more of an impact -- violence or loss? Why do movies have such a powerful impact on us?
Do the special effects look realistic, or is it obvious that they're fake? Which movies have done special effects really well? What goes into creating special effects? What kind of training do special effects creators undergo?
Who are the heroes in this movie?
- In theaters: May 16, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: November 12, 2002
- Cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson
- Director: George Lucas
- Studio: Lucasfilm
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Robots, Space and Aliens
- Run time: 142 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: sustained sequences of sci-fi action/violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.