Bad Boys Trying to Be Good
Anakin Skywalker is not your ordinary hero. In fact, he may not be a hero at all. Whether or not you like Hayden Christensen in the role (most critics don't), Anakin Skywalker is clearly headed for trouble in Star Wars—Episode Two: Attack of the Clones. He talks back to his teachers and his elders. He pursues whatever—and whomever—he likes, using every method at his disposal. In his own eyes, he is serving the greater good while wiser, older leaders stand aloof and prove ineffective. But he's dealing in compromise, and as the enemy closes in on the Republic, he's making himself an available tool for the Dark Lord's sinister purposes.
Critics continued to take opposite sides in the debate about whether Episode Two is a good movie. But some critics, and some readers as well, offered similar complaints about mediocre dialogue and bad acting, and looked deeper at the implications of the storytelling.
In his review, Greg Krehbiel claims the film as a great resource for teachers and parents: "George Lucas … has done a service to parents everywhere by creating a clean and meaningful movie for families. Clones is a fantastic film to see with your pre-teen kid. It provides several good opportunities to discuss some of the common trials of the teen years. Lucas has distilled parental lectures about obedience, responsibility, and right conduct into about two hours and 20 minutes of special effects extravaganza. Watch it with your kids. Talk about it. Use [it] to innoculate your children against these all-too-common failings. Who knows. Perhaps it is possible for a teenager to learn from other people's mistakes—before making them himself."
One Film Forum reader found another meaning to Anakin's rebellion: "[For] a Christian, the parallel to the church here is clear: if the individual believer spurns the beliefs/standards of the Christian community, that person moves … outside of that community."
Youth Pastor Matthew French writes, "As a lifelong Star Wars fan I must say that I absolutely loved Clones. This film has a lot to say to Christians. Besides the obvious moral lessons, I think the decline in the Jedi's powers and the strengthening Dark Side is [something] that Christians (especially evangelicals) should play close attention to. The Jedi became arrogant and overconfident, not taking the Dark Side seriously enough. Because of that the Dark Side was able to get many footholds. Christians must not forget that we are battling not against flesh and blood. When we become arrogant and forget that we need to put on our armor, we end up in our own strength fighting battles of the flesh against those we should be working with, not realizing the real enemy behind it all."
"One would need to be blind to not hear religious themes in the entire series," says a writer at Dick Staub's CultureWatch. "For example, in Star Wars—Episode I … we learn that Darth Vader (Anakin) was born of a virgin, not of a Father, but of the midichlorians, the link between every living thing and the Force. The priestly Jedi are aware of an ancient prophecy that a "chosen one would appear and would alter the force forever, bringing balance between darkness and light."
David Bruce (Hollywood Jesus) sees timely relevance to the film's many layered meanings. He points to its story of sinister, stealthy evil that is creeping up on the unsuspecting Jedi Council and the Republic, and he compares it to our own nation's shock at being tricked and deeply wounded by enemies on September 11. He also questions, in view of the recent scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, whether it is healthy for a spiritual leader to vow celibacy like a Jedi does.