My life changed drastically the day I first saw Attack of the Clones. It was the first day the film opened, May 16, 2002, and I had been awake for quite some time. The day before, May 15, I spent more than 12 hours outside the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City, waiting for a midnight screening of the latest Star Wars movie. Then I went to sleep, woke up, and graduated from university. “Today is a day we have been waiting for a long time,” said one speaker at the graduation ceremony. “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is finally in theaters today.” Everyone laughed, and the quote was etched in my memory.
Graduating from college is a life-changing event, but Attack of the Clones made a deep impression on me long before and after the movie was finally released. Leading up to its predecessor, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, is how I found websites that feature films. Surfing sites like Countingdown.com, Rebelscum, TheForce.net, and many others, not only did I get my daily fix of Star Wars gossip, I unknowingly opened the door to what would eventually become my life, writing for sites like the one that you are now reading.
But that was as an observer. During the build-up to Episode II, I was a participant. Balancing a part-time job and full-time school, I started working for a few sites, most notably Countingdown.com. Although I had written reviews for my high school newspaper and wrote about movies for college, this was my first time doing it “professionally”. And I’m looking forward to it. I’d write posts about Star Wars here and there while also doing some of my first press junkies, and by the time graduation and the speaker was joking about the movie, I knew the next step. I wanted to write a review somewhere when Episode III came out—a goal I achieved three years later at a medium-sized newspaper in southern New York.
But Attack of the Clones was the linchpin. The film came out at the right time to set everything in motion. And wow, the memories of seeing Attack of the Clones are strong. Stronger, for me, than any of the other two prequels. As I mentioned, I waited all day on the sidewalk for the midnight film screening at Manhattan’s legendary Ziegfeld Theater. If this rings a bell, it’s because Triumph the Insult Comic Dog created the legendary Star Wars geek sketch for Conan O’Brien, a drawing I’m literally in (a fact I wrote about at length in a separate article you can read through this link.)
The wait was special, but the screening was even better. As you can imagine, more than a thousand rabid Star Wars fans sitting in the same room were ready to see the next chapter in the saga, electric. Everyone jumped out of their seats when the Jedi stormed the Geonosian arena. Minutes later, when Yoda lit his lightsaber, the whole room shook. I left that Theater at such a high point that, despite getting up at 8 am for graduation, I seriously considered seeing the movie again at 3:30 am.
However, Attack of the Clones lost some shine in the following years. The memory of waiting and watching the movie far outweighed the film itself. Oh, there are some great characters, excellent action beats, and a dynamite finale, but for the most part, the story is complicated, the performances wooden, and the tempo terrible. Some of the dialogue, especially between Anakin and Padmé, is chilling. For my money, it’s the worst Star Wars movie yet (although 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker is currently putting it to the test).
Yet this now 20-year-old film still means the world to me. Not because of the movie itself but because of what it represented in my life. Professionally, my excitement and anticipation for Attack of the Clones have given me a career path I follow today. Personally, it’s even softer. The first time I kissed the woman who would eventually become my wife, the love theme for Attack of the Clones, John Williams’ “Across the Stars,” played randomly on the radio (an old XM station called CineMagic if you’re wondering). While kissing, I thought, “Wow, this will be a great story when we marry.” When we married 12 years later, we played “Across the Stars” after being declared husband and wife.
Never forget: movies are art, and art means different things to different people. Attack of the Clones isn’t a great movie, but it holds a great place in my heart. It is a prism that, when I look through it, shows me my past, present, and future. The Padmé for my Anakin. It’s part of who I am—t
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Editor’s Note: The release dates in this article are based in the US but will be updated with local Australian dates as we learn more.