Episode Two continues the story of the origins of Darth Vader and the chronicles the beginnings of the Clone War. It's a decade or more since Anakin left home, and we get a new actor in his place as a young and inexperienced padawan. The Republic is more unstable, and things are changing for the Jedi, too.
This movie needed a better title. The movie is constructed like a detective story for Obi-Wan and Anakin, and that almost works. It's not so much the Attack of the Clones, but the sort of "The Clones Just Kinda Show Up" and surprise, they're actually helpful - at first. The movie starts putting the pieces together at a very slow pace, and while its interspersed with some action sequences, it grinds along in low gear. There's several interlaced subplots, and none of them get a satisfactory treatment because there's too much ground to cover. You have to tell the political subplot as the looming threat to the peace and security of the Republic; you also have a blossoming romance; and a mystery to solve. You also get treated to some sumptuous new visuals and yet more costumes and alien races. It looks great the first time you see it on a big screen, but it's a complex mechanism that once again collapses under the weight of all that exposition and lame dialogue.
The best performances come from Ewan Mcgregor, and Yoda finally kicks into high gear as well since he switched from puppet to CGI presentation. Once again, there are too many characters for the average somebody to keep up with or care about. Samual L Jackson is a good actor, but why do we need more Mace Windu? He doesn't do more than lead the cavalry charge at the end of the film. These dangling secondary characters ultimately hurt the flow of the film. Everybody demands screen time from Lucas' already overtaxed script. The script itself is pretty sub-par. Hayden Christiansen is just wretched as Anakin. He's not so much cocky and obnoxious as sullen and child-like obnoxious. I disliked him from the moment he opened his mouth. There was never a more unlikely and poorly handled romantic couple as Anakin/Padme. Their scenes are excruciatingly bad, and I don't believe their love for a new York second. This cuts the rug out from under the whole character of Anakin. I think if they'd played him as a Han Solo type, cocky and overconfident, but a 'sunny' individual, it would make the fall from grace much more believable. Instead, we must endure the 'rebel teen angst' problem. When I saw this film, I was well out of my teen years, and it wasn't interesting because I've seen it done better elsewhere.
Natalie Portman finally gets into an outfit she can move in, near the end, and it helps her whole energy level. She's actually pretty cute beating up the bad guys and shooting guns, but it's too little, too late. She can't save the horrible romance scenes.
Christopher Lee does his Saruman-like best as Dooku, but he's not around enough to make a difference. There was an opportunity lost with that character. He truly could have been a good guy that was just as baffled as his Jedi brethren as to who was behind it. That would have been interesting. But that's not how it ends up.
Once again...not enough robots. The team of R2D2/C3PO don't do anything much, and the levity is sadly lacking in this grim trudge through various subplots. The action sequences are long and drawn out, not sharp and short. There's no tactics, just a bunch of fights, no forethought and no one except Obi-Wan is using their heads.
It's dull and lifeless as a film, because there's just too much to cover. As I said in my Phantom Menace review, these movies needed to be a 12-episode miniseries on HBO or similar network to cover things adequately. Then the romance could have developed naturally, and the teaming of the characters would have been created, rather than everybody splits up on their own missions.
I love the whole Star wars universe, but again was disappointed. In short, it was all a grand and epic failure, with a big budget.