Twenty-five years after the first Star Wars film revolutionized Hollywood science fiction, writer-director George Lucas is back with another chapter in the saga set "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far way."
In the three first Star Wars films Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the ragtag remnants of noble warriors known as Jedi knights, battled the sinister Darth Vader, a former Jedi who was seduced by the "dark side." With 1999's Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, George Lucas launched a "prequel" trilogy to trace events preceding those first films: how young apprentice Anakin Skywalker turned against his Jedi masters.
"To me this is one big movie. It's a 12-hour movie in six parts. It's a story about a nice kid who becomes a Jedi and later falls into abyss," Mr. Lucas said.
Anakin was a precocious nine-year-old in The Phantom Menance. Attack of the Clones picks up the story 10 years later and Hayden Christensen stars as the moody teenager.
"I think that sort of younger sensibility (and) immaturity was a lot of what was necessary for the role at this point of his life. Because that's where he deals with animosity in a very youthful, immature way. In a sense, having scenes where he does whine and complain a little too much justified his immaturity and inability to see that he really does need the guidance in his life from Obi-Wan. He's not really capable of following his own instincts as much," he explained.
Natalie Portman, young Queen Padme Amidala of planet Naboo in the first installment, returns as her planet's representative in the troubled galactic senate.
"Obviously, queen is higher than senator but it's a promotion for the lifestyle because you get more time to yourself. You don't have as many official duties. You don't have this ritualized garb to be outfitted in all the time. You can relax a little, fall in love and have some fun," she said.
Handsome Anakin is assigned to protect Senator Padme after an assassination attempt; and though they try to fight it, the two fall hopelessly in love.
How will it all turn out? Why will Anakin "complete his journey to the dark side?" We'll have to wait until 2005 to find out; that's when "Episode Three," the final Star Wars film, is set to come out.
George Lucas has said the inspiration for the Star Wars films has always been the highly-stylized adventure serials of the 1930's and '40's; but the writer/director adds that his goal is much loftier: to create a modern mythology.
"It's a story-telling medium that, through stories, tell people what society expects of them; What are the morals and values; what happens if you do this; What happens if you do that. Originally that was my premise when I started this whole thing and I said 'how can I update that?' I started out studying anthropology and I was always fascinated that the Western was the last sort of mythological genre that actually did that. That sort of disappeared in 1950's. I was curious about why that never reappeared again and if I could create a genre that would mimic that. So I chose as my vehicle a 1930's Saturday Matinee adventure serial, a cliff-hanging kind of thing, and put it in outer space. That was the style of the movie. The acting is of the '30's. The whole thing is kind of a '30's movie," Mr. Lucas said.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones features Scottish actor Ewan McGregor as Anakin's Jedi trainer Obi-Wan Kenobi. Muppet-master Frank Oz is the voice of Yoda and Samuel L. Jackson returns as Jedi Master Mace Windu. The soundtrack music is once again by Star Wars veteran John Williams.