After all these years, I’m finally aware of what bothers me so much about Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. It’s the pacing. To put it simply, a completely different film slaps you across the face about half-way through, even more so than any of the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit films.
Attack of the Clones follows two sets of characters on their own plots until they somehow get together for the very end. In the beginning, Anakin and Padmé are on a journey to find love from Coruscant to Naboo, while Obi-Wan is tracking a bounty hunter and slowly unraveling a conspiracy from Coruscant to Kamino (and confronting villain #1). Suddenly, an hour in at almost the same moment, Anakin and Padmé are on a quest to find Anakin’s mother on Tatooine while Obi-wan is on a quest to get to the bottom of a droid army on Geonosis (and confronting villain #2).
Do you see what happened there? We’re still following the same characters, but both their purposes and their settings pivoted simultaneously. It just robs the whole film of its flow. A wonderful reason for maintaining two parallel plots is that you can keep one flowing to bridge the gap while the other pivots. You should never pivot both plots at the same time. Yes, in a film where the chemistry between Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman sparkles like the murky swamps of Dagobah, this is what bothers me the most, the fact that the film comes to a screeching halt and pivots in the span of one transition.
Every time I watch this film, I stop about an hour in and continue the next day. I could certainly watch another hour, but I can never seem to find the energy to invest in a set of new plots without some sort of break. Future filmmakers take note, Attack of the Clones would have been one of the better prequels if it had just maintained its flow. Always stagger the pivoting of your parallel plots to hold the audience’s attention.