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My first impressions of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

When I first saw posters and merchandising for Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, I was immediately confused by the weird-looking stormtroopers, which I later found out to be the clone troopers. I was confused by two things: first, I had thought that stormtroopers were a uniquely Imperial thing; and second, I didn't understand why the clone trooper helmets resembled the Mandalorian helmet.

I've been a big Star Wars fan since even before I can remember, but I really got into the Expanded Universe when I was in my early teens, starting with Kevin J Anderson's Jedi Academy Trilogy and going on to Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy, I was pretty into the Star Wars Universe. I even had an encyclopaedia; Bill Slavicsek's A guide to the Star Wars Universe. And in it was an entry on the Clone Wars, which stated that it was a galactic conflict where the Jedi fought evil forces. And under the entry for Boba Fett it was stated that his armour was that of Mandalorian warriors, evil warriors that were defeated by the Jedi during the Clone Wars.

By the time Attack of the Clones came out, I had completely lost interest in the Expanded Universe so my impression of the Clone Wars and Mandalorians were pretty much based on Slavicsek's limited entries. So when I saw Mandalorian-looking stormtroopers, I immediately thought that these stormtroopers were the foot soldiers of the Mandalorians, and they would be the antagonists of the film. But what I didn't get was, why the stormtroopers would be fighting the Republic, which was obviously going to become the Empire. Stormtroopers are completely loyal to the Empire and to Emperor Palpatine, so how could they have been on the other side of the Clone Wars?

Having stormtroopers be clones as strongly suggested by their nearly identical appearances to clone troopers also nullified the purpose of the faceless stormtrooper masks of the original trilogy. Each stormtrooper is identical to the next one because they're wearing the armour and have their identity wiped out by Imperial Army propaganda and training. You don't need to be a genetically bred clone to be completely loyal and complacent to authority. Besides, it was amusing to see personality in the small talk between two stormtroopers in Star Wars. I know that clones are just like twins but the in-your-face message you get from stormtroopers=clones was that stormtroopers are not only identical in their uniform and ideology but also in their breeding and genetics. How lame is that? We're not all idiots that need to be told that stormtroopers don't have individualities, that was established in the original trilogy without any explanation about their backgrounds.

On top of that, I really disliked the idea that stormtroopers are derived from Mandalorian warriors. It gave too much credence to Boba Fett and I didn't like it. Sure Boba Fett is cool and all, but stormtroopers could be cool in their own unique way; they are the pinnacle of loyalty. Not everything has to be connected, you know. I guess the prequels kinda sucked in that it gave too much meaning to secondary characters like Darth Vader and Boba Fett; I mean why does the Universe have to revolve around these two characters?

But I digress

I hadn't seen any trailers for Attack of the Clones for some reason so I absolutely had no idea that the clones were going to be led by the Jedi. So imagine my surprise at the cinema…. Well, actually, I must confess, I was pretty impressed. Not by the story but by a swift efficient army of clone troopers; it was like seeing stormtroopers actually hit something!

As much as I like the clones (especially how they've been depicted in The Clone Wars TV series), on hind sight, it was a pretty lame idea to have the Grand Army of the Republic be completely composed of clones. As I mentioned above, my expectations for the Clone Wars was that Mandalorians were going to be featured heavily as one of the Jedi's primary adversaries. And I had this vague notion that clones may be part of the bad guys. Let's face it, clone armies in fiction are almost always used by bad people. So it fits with convention that a brutally evil force possibly led by Mandalorians would be breeding clone super soldiers to wage war on the Republic. And the Jedi have to fight them. So I was immensely disappointed when I found out that the evil forces threatening the Republic were none other than the retarded droid army that was only good for comic relief for five year olds (I shouldn't have to say more than, 'uh, uh, that doesn't compute, you’re under arrest' and 'roger roger').

Finally, the name Clone Wars suggests that the Republic fought clones. It is kind of odd to call a full scale war after your own soldiers, especially if that war was a galactic conflict that pretty much threatened the existence of the Republic. You don't call the Zulu Wars, the Red Coat Wars. No, it's called the Zulu Wars. Why? Because the British Empire fought the Zulu! So the Clone Wars is thus called because the Republic fought the Clones.

I really wish George Lucas had consulted me before he wrote the script…

[Note 04 Jan 2012: I must give credit where credit is due, I had forgotten about my thoughts about the Republic fighting clones until I saw the Plinkett Reviews on Red Letter Media. If you have not seen Plinkett Reviews, then I urge you to go watch them!]

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