In the expansive galaxy of Star Wars, one movie often stands in the shadows, overshadowed by the glow of its iconic siblings. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, despite its initial lukewarm reception, deserves a second look. In this exploration, we delve into why this installment, initially met with mixed reviews, holds the mantle of the most underrated Star Wars movie.

Why Attack of the Clones Didn’t Charm Initially?

In 2002, when Attack of the Clones debuted, it faced significant challenges. The internet was in its infancy, limiting discourse channels, and franchises were not as revered as they are today, with original ideas often preferred over sequel-heavy productions. The film’s venture into the digital realm, a novelty at the time, was met with skepticism, compounded by the remnants of The Phantom Menace’s reputation aimed at a younger audience. These issues persisted into Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, further tarnishing their standing. George Lucas, a visionary visual storyteller, faced criticism for clunky dialogue and an unconvincing love story between Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala. Elements like the peculiar character Dex Jettster felt out of place, and the overwhelming events seemed chaotic without future context, resulting in lukewarm ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

Attack of the Clones: A Lynchpin in Star Wars Storyline

The unspoken space between the onset and culmination of the Clone Wars served as the foundation for Star Wars’ future, with Attack of the Clones laying the groundwork for this pivotal period. The film’s narrative development became instrumental in shaping the Star Wars landscape, influencing subsequent characters like Ahsoka Tano and themes in The Mandalorian. Despite initial criticisms, Attack of the Clones unintentionally birthed concepts begging for exploration, making it an indispensable Star Wars movie rivaling the significance of even The Empire Strikes Back.

Rediscovering the Hidden Charms

The Cinematic Brilliance of Attack of the Clones

Amidst the criticisms and initial resistance, Attack of the Clones emerges as a hidden gem within the Star Wars saga. Critics and fans alike often focus on its flaws, but there’s a distinct charm and brilliance woven into its narrative fabric.

  • Pulp and Melodrama: A Retro Aesthetic

Attack of the Clones, when revisited, reveals itself as a fun, pulpy B-movie. Its essence draws inspiration from melodramas and genre films of the 40s and 50s, tapping into a cinematic era that greatly influenced its creator, George Lucas. Akin to James Dean’s performance in “Rebel Without a Cause,” Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of Anakin Skywalker mirrors the over-the-top emotions and broodiness emblematic of the era.

  • Film Noir Undertones: A Cinematic Homage

The film noir influence in Attack of the Clones is palpable, particularly in Obi-Wan’s detective storyline. The aesthetic, characterized by scenes set in the nighttime and themes of political corruption, mirrors classic film noir elements. Its cynical narrative about good people being drawn into corruption resonates deeply, making it a faithful recreation of the genre.

  • Design Aesthetic: Nostalgic Touches

The design aesthetic of Attack of the Clones pays homage to the 50s Americana, with nods to classic cars and diners. The Aliens of Geonosis and the colosseum scenes evoke a nostalgic feel reminiscent of Ray Harryhausen’s work, adding a touch of classic cinema to the Star Wars universe.

  • Memorable Sound Design and Visuals

Despite its shortcomings, Attack of the Clones boasts incredible sound design and visually stunning sequences. The scenes on Geonosis and the epic lightsaber battles showcase the technical prowess of the filmmakers, elevating the film beyond its narrative flaws.


In conclusion, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones stands as a testament to the complexities of franchise storytelling. While it faced initial criticisms and backlash, the film’s significance in shaping the Star Wars narrative cannot be overlooked. Its exploration of pulp and melodrama, homage to film noir, and nostalgic design aesthetic add layers of depth and charm to the Star Wars universe.

Attack of the Clones, with its flaws and hidden charms, deserves a second look from fans and critics alike. Its role as a crucial lynchpin in the Star Wars storyline, coupled with its cinematic brilliance, makes it the most underrated Star Wars movie, worthy of appreciation and reappraisal in the pantheon of the galaxy far, far away.