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STAR WARS : Episode II – Attack of the DVD clones

Showing fierce determination, Jedi Master Yoda comes to the rescue of Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice Anakin Skywalker. ()

Showing fierce determination, Jedi Master Yoda comes to the rescue of Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice Anakin Skywalker. ()

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     “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” could have been the worst of cinematic disasters in the history of film, and the world would still await the final installment of the prequel trilogy with much anticipation. The movie, however, was a success; in the hearts of fans, as well as at the box office.
     Now that director George Lucas has won back the respect of moviegoers at large, the Nov. 12 DVD release of Episode II is sure to bolster this blockbuster’s status on the timeline of movie history. It is the first all digital-to-digital film to include live-action footage ever to be released on DVD. With 12 hours of additional footage, plus a 142-minute running time for the feature presentation, the two-disc set is definitely worth its weight in Republic credits. The movie alone provides enough displays of spectacular special effects and technological breakthroughs to satisfy the average viewer.
     The plot revolves around the adventures of Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), as the two look to track down the perpetrator of a botched assassination attempt of Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman). The story line has all the makings of a modern murder mystery, and the tone of Lucas’s direction – in which he incorporates a car-chase scene (ala The French Connection) , a hokey love story (ala William Holden and Jennifer Jones), and a gladiator scene (complete with a sci-fi version of the Colosseum in Rome) – lends to a nostalgic flair that compliments the film’s place on the Star Wars timeline.
     The packaging of the movie as a 50-chapter story only enhances the experience of the viewer; as one can skip right from chapter seven’s action packed “Speeder Chase” to the aesthetically breathtaking digitally manufactured landscape of chapter 15’s “Return to Naboo.”
     Twelve hours of special features not only provide plenty of insight into Lucas’s filmmaking process, but also give subtle details of how complex the process of making the modern epic is. Lucas shares eight deleted scenes on the second disc, and though the reasons they are omitted from the movie’s final cut are obvious (some of the dialogue in these scenes is pretty bad), the unfinished backdrops and cityscapes – such as in the third scene “Obi-Wan and Mace – Jedi Landing Platform” – are bland and lifeless without the attention of post-production magic; demonstrating how much attention every frame of this film received.
     Other features are far more entertaining, though. Two documentaries should fuel the die-hard fan’s fire. “From Puppets to Pixels: Digital Characters in Episode II”, a one-hour clip, is the equivalent of the making-of-Star-Wars films the Episode IV generation used to wait up to watch on KTVU – two years after each film was released. “State of the Art: The Previsualization of Episode II” is another keeper, with a running time of 20 minutes.
     The package also includes a 12-part web documentary in its entirety, three featurettes on the elements of the film entitled “Story”, “Action”, and “Love”. And, the topper is a short film that aired on television two months before the release of Episode II: “R2-D2: Beneath the Dome”.
     All-in-all, the DVD is spectacular; and can also be used as a study tool for those learning a second language, as the audio can be enjoyed in English, French, or Spanish. Plus, nearly 15 hours of footage, Jar Jar Binks only receives about five minutes of total screen time.

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STAR WARS : Episode II – Attack of the DVD clones