Director:  George Lucas

Starring:  Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman

WARNING: This review contains spoilers!

It’s impossible not to be overwhelmed the first time you see Attack of the Clones: the film is a dizzying whirl, whisking viewers from planet to planet, bombarding the senses with sumptuous visual detail, breathtaking visual effects, and all-enveloping soundscapes. It makes it difficult to see past the glossy surface, and find the story beneath. The film works better on subsequent viewings, where it’s easier to pay attention to the developing romance, the political plotting, and the echoes from past and future adventures. It’s also a very different experience seeing the film at home on video than it is seeing it in a theatre. Some special effects that were unconvincing on the cinema screen fare better cut down to a fraction of their original size. (Interestingly, on the commentary track George Lucas acknowledges that many shots contain too much detail for the viewer to process, comparing the use of these very dense shots (in this instance, the conveyor belt scene) to a “tone poem”). Other sequences (Obi Wan and Anakin chasing the bounty hunter through the Metropolis-like landscape of Coruscant, for example) have a less visceral impact at home, simply because they no longer command as much of the viewer’s field of vision.


Attack of the Clones was shot entirely on high-resolution digital video, and has been transferred to disc without a celluloid intermediary step, and it looks simply stunning. There’s no film grain, no dirt, scratches or any signs of wear and tear at all. Many sequences feature a colour scheme that is generally realistic and subdued, but these are often contrasted with patches of intense colour (the garish adverts that contrast so starkly against the drab greyness of Coruscant, and the blazing lightsabers in the climactic duel sequence, for example) that are simply dazzling. George Lucas discusses his use of colour in one of the documentaries on the second disc, but by then you should have noticed that he has a great eye, and knows how careful use of tone and colour can subtly alter the focus of a shot, and the effect it can have on the overall feel of a scene. Detail on the disc is exceptionally good: you can admire the skin textures on aliens like Dexter Jettster and pick out individual raindrops hitting the landing platform on Kimino! It’s also a transfer that copes incredibly well with scenes that traditionally pose real problems for DVD compressionists, like smoke and dust clouds.

There are a few minor flaws –sometimes you don’t feel that you’re extracting all the picture information that might be possible (a slight uniformity on the sand dunes of Geonosis, for example). There’s also some minor aliasing (jagged diagonal edges - on the blinds in Yoda’s meditation chamber, for example), some fleeting moiré patterning (in the sky as Anakin takes off on his speeder bike to rescue Schmi, for example), but these are likely to vary from set-up to set-up, and aren’t very distracting. There are occasional signs of excessive edge-enhancement (something that The Phantom Menace disc was criticised for), but it should only be apparent on large display devices.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital EX audio mix (at 448kbps) is terrific, second only to the awesome power of The Lord of the Rings among recently released blockbusters. There are several scenes with elaborate, demonstration-quality audio, including some scenes featuring bass effects that you will feel more than hear, even if you don’t have a subwoofer! (Three scenes are particularly effective: the deep rumble as Amidala’s Royal Cruiser lands on Coruscant; the sonic charge explosions in the Geonosis asteroid field; and the penetrating roars of the arena beasts). The disc is THX approved (naturally), and there’s a THX Optimiser available to fine-tune your settings to get the most out of the disc.

The disc’s elaborate animated menus are very similar to those used on The Phantom Menace – the same font, the same sort of layout. As before, there’s a random selection of different menus when you load the disc, each one taking its theme from a different location. They're well-organised, and it's easy to find anything you want to see or revisit. There are a couple of disappointments in the presentation: Fox have opted to use player-generated subtitles for the few scenes where aliens speak in their native languages, and the layer change (placed between Slave 1 and Obi Wan’s starfighter arriving at Geonosis) is a little awkward.

One point against the Region 2 disc is that the BBFC has insisted on a one-second cut to remove a headbutt during the fight between Obi-Wan and Jango Fett. As is now often the case, the BBFC offered Fox the chance to release the disc uncut with a ‘12’ certificate, but the company opted to retain its theatrical ‘PG’ certificate by cutting the film. At the moment it is not known whether the Australian version of the disc will be uncut. (The review discs were coded for Region 2 only, suggesting that Region 4 will get their own version). The Region 1 release will, of course, be uncut.

There have been a number of small tweaks made to the film for the DVD, (in addition to those in the film’s digital theatrical presentation, which was itself different from the film prints, because they had be made some time before the digital version was delivered!) Some of these changes are discussed on the commentary track, (at one point Lucas is astonished that the version of the film they’re watching as they record the track includes the sparks he'd added to Jango Fett’s backpack after he’s trampled by the reek only the day before!) The differences are generally incidental – an additional line or two here and there to develop a theme, or to  clarify a particular point for the benefit of the audience, or adding a nuance that almost subliminally alters the subtext of a scene.

The film is supported by a commentary track by director George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, Sound Designer / ‘Film Editor’ Ben Burtt, ILM Animation Director Rob Coleman, Visual Effects Supervisors Pablo Helman, John Knoll and Ben Snow. As with The Phantom Menace disc, each contributor is identified by an on-screen subtitle whenever they’re speaking, (an idea that really should be adopted for all discs with commentaries by several contributors).

The only other feature on disc one is an Easter Egg: the production credits [2’22”], which are interwoven with some nice outtakes, which we won’t spoil for you here.



Unless explicitly stated, DVD screen captures used in the reviews are for illustrative purposes only, and are not intended to be accurate representations of the DVD image.   While screen captures are generally in their correct aspect ratio, there will often have been changes made to the resolution, contrast, hue and sharpness, to optimise them for web display.

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