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Firas Al-Atraqchi: Lucas Unleashes the Clone Army

George Lucas Unleashes the Clone Army
By Firas Al-Atraqchi

Defying critics and the worried jitters of millions of fans, George Lucas' second instalment in the Star Wars universe of prequels delivers one hell of a laser punch.

From the opening scenes of the futuristic-looking (perhaps Bladerunner-inspired) city of Coruscant to the arid desert terrain of Tatooine, Lucas manages to completely do away with the criticism the much-anticipated Episode I received.

Perhaps fine-tuning his skills as a master storyteller, Lucas cuts down on the childish babble of Jar Jar Binks and elevates the story to one of adolescent angst and forlorn love.

In this episode we learn of the origin of the Clone Wars and the nurturing of the relationship that leads to the birth of Luke and Leia Skywalker in Episode IV. Our own Vancouver-born Hayden Christiansen sizzles as the older Anakin Skywalker, apprentice to Master Obi Wan Kenobi.

Christiansen has this peculiar motion of the eyebrows that allow us to see into the mind of the soon-to-be Darth Vader, ruthlessly evil minion of the Dark Side of the Force.

Israeli-born Natalie Portman reprises her role as Padme Amidala, now the Senator of the Naboo to the Republic Senate. She scorches the scenes as she uses her beauty and child-like innocence to wreak havoc with Anakin's rigid Jedi training.

Speaking of training, just watch out for Yoda. The newly digitized Yoda will leave many in the theatre (I won't spoil it for you!) gasping.

However, it's the battle scenes where Lucas proves once and for all that not only is he a master storyteller, but a brilliant military tactician as well.

True, most of the battle sequences are digitized, but the planning and structure of every explosion, every Jedi light sabre swing and the formation of military units exhibit a genius military mind that Lucas seems to have hidden from his fans.

By far the best action sequences I have ever seen in a science-fiction film. Or any other genre for that matter.

Lucas has never made it a secret that Star Wars is all about the battle between the forces of Good and Evil. In Episode II, however, he seems to deliver more blunt political commentary every so often.

We hear Kenobi tell Anakin how corrupt politicians are and that their loyalties lie with those who fund them. We hear Anakin deliver the line that politicians must sit down and talk to resolve their differences and do what is in the best interest of their people.

For someone who has seen Star Wars - Episode IV more than 120 times, this instalment has already become my favorite.

And I have seen it only two times in the past 24 hours.

- Firas Al-Atraqchi is a Canadian journalist living on the Pacific Coast

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