Movie: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

In case you have not noticed, I am much more of a concept guy than I am a fact guy. I am most comfortable arguing about ideas and big, broad concepts that I am about specific facts, mainly because I have no mental capacity to remember exact facts.

Which should explain why there are two additional things from Phantom Menace that I need to add. Both came to me as I was trying to go to sleep this morning. And by “this morning” I mean, yes, this morning, as watching that movie and birthing that giant blogstrocity last night went well past midnight.

1. Padm? Amidala is a dirty old man. A cradle robber. “Born in a mountain village on Naboo 46 years before the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” (here) which means that she was, well, 14 when Phantom Menace takes places (and when Anakin Skywalker is found, freed, and, oh, yeah, nice years old). I have problems with this — she’s the elected queen of the planet at age 14? Fine – I’ll assume that the nerds of the Galaxy are right about that. Still, though — the Queen and later as the Senator / Ex-Queen, she’s getting all hot and heavy in secret with a guy 5 years younger than her. Whooooo, scandal! OK, not really — It’s ten years later, when she’s supposedly 24 and he’s 19, that they get busy and make babies. I just find it hard to believe that she’s suppose to be 14 during Phantom Menace.

You know, maybe part of her attraction to little Anakin later is that she just hasn’t had time to be herself, and he’s the first guy around her that pursues her. Before this, she did her long stint as the Queen, and was more or less untouchable and outside the societal norms. And even later, as she emerges as a Senator, little has changed for her. Too smart, too powerful, too perfect. My dad, when I was heading off to college, told me to ask out the incredible women around campus. The insanely popular ones. The amazingly beautiful ones. He had learned in college (he claimed) that they didn’t go out much, because everyone held that view and because of that, few asked them out. While my dad could have been totally off his rocker, his observation at least appears to have some bearing on Queen Hottie and her reaction to young Anakin as a suitor.

But as the movie rolls on, I wonder more and more how or why they would be together. Granted, I do not claim to understand the affairs of the heart — my master’s degree is in applied violence, not the touchy-feely stuff. But still — she’s about democracy, he’s about totalitarianism. She’s for the people, he’s for relying on the best to look after the rest. She’s about talking, he’s about “aggressive negotiations” and “negotiations with a light saber”. She’s mature and logical and responsible, and he blames everyone else for everything.

2. What’s up with this Trade Franchise thing? Late in the movie, when the war seems to be won by the locals, that Queen Amidala tells the Viceroy that he will likely loose his Trade Franchise. That really was bugging me last night — what the hell is that? So, I sank some time over lunch today to try and figure it out. I’m still nt sure, but I think I found a decent explanation here.

Although a corporation cannot have a senator in real life, suppose corporations could purchase cities or states? If Microsoft somehow made a deal with the American federal government to have local control of Washington State without seceding, would it not merit senate representation? Similarly, the Trade Federation must have acquired some territories above and beyond its originating homeworld, to warrant representation as a distinct body in the Senate as opposed to being a mere special interest indirectly represented by the Neimoidian senator. This would explain the “trade franchise”. It is highly unlikely that a species or planetary government would require a license to conduct trade- that sort of thing is generally considered a sovereign right. California does not need a license to trade with Nevada. However, it is likely that corporations would need licenses- in fact, real life corporations need various types of licenses to do business. We can therefore confidently conclude that the Trade Federation must be a corporation, but one which is so large that it completely controls enough territory to be regarded as a separate entity, worthy of direct representation in the Galactic Senate.

I can live with that description.

Anyway, on to the Attack of the Clones.

And if you suffered through my long piece last night about Stars Wars 1: The Phantom Menace, here, have a cookie. It goes perfectly with the end of the movie, when the clone Army is formed up before the Supreme Chancellor, and is heading out into space. Fleet week, indeed.

The opening text in this movie is also a cause for concern.

There is great unrest in the Galactic Senate. Several thousand solar systems have declared their intentions to leave the Republic.

This separatist movement, under the leadership of the mysterious Count Dooku, has made it difficult for the limited number of Jedi Knights to maintain peace and order in the galaxy.

Senator Amidala, the former Queen of Naboo, is returning to the Galactic Senate to vote on the critical issue of creating an ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC to assist the overwhelmed Jedi.

So, let me see if I have this right. Systems, that choose to be a part of the Galactic Republic, are unhappy, and are talking about taking their marble and going home. Sounds like maybe they feel as if the Republic is not meeting their needs.

And gosh, just about everyone who has ever written about social contracts and what brings people together to form villages / cities / states / nations, usually talks about the want / need for the collective to provide certain things that the individuals cannot — like security, or food, or manpower to make things above and beyond what the individual can make (like a deathstar!).

So, yeah, I guess I can see where these “separatists” are coming from. If you’ve been following along with the conflict in South Ossetia, well, it sounds very similar. Why would anyone want to stick around and give to a larger organization if the larger organization isn’t looking out for their interests?

And really, if people want to leave the Republic, and your answer is to send Jedi Knights and maybe at Army at them, to force them to stay, well, you just don’t get it. They want to leave because of issues, and parking 43,000 troops on the corner of every street might force them to remain, but it won’t resolve the issues and conflicts that are making them want to go.

As we learn in this movie, late in this movie, what they really intend to do is raise and army in order to force the hand of the Republic. They want to force demands on the Republic, to bring about change, just as the Supreme Chancellor tried to covertly do in Star Wars 1: The Phantom Menace.

The issues became so severe, they tried to see them resolved through the diplomatic framework of the Republic. Now that that has failed, they feel that they have no option but to take up arms in an insurgency.

My doctrine, our Army, says that we just don’t do it this way. Treat the problem, not just the symptoms. The Republic needs to invest some effort into identifying what the issues are, and seeking to resolve them if there is to be peace. I’m not saying that the Republic needs to blindly cave in — not at all — but it needs to find out what the issues are and then do it’s damn job — which mean doing things like resolving the disputes and issues raised by the people and member systems of the Galactic Republic.

But hey, what do I know.

As I was watching this, I had a little shift in my views of their world. I’ve made jokes and comments about the Force being unbalanced, about the prophecy of the one that will bring it back to balance. But I’d always thought and talked of it in terms of the Jedi Knights only. But in Stars Wars 1, Qui-Gon Jinn talked about how the midi-chlorians are in everyone. Maybe it really is that the Force is out of balance across the Galactic Republic as a whole.

In the new Batman movie, the DA talks about how things are going to get worse before things are going to get better. I’ll be watching to see how things are at the end of #6. Will the taxation of the trade routes be resolved? Are things better at the end of #6, than they were at the beginning of #1? $10 says no, that things are better at the end of #6 only in comparison to the worse times in the series.

And while we’re talking about the midi-chlorians — what dictates their levels in someone? We know that Anakin is special — his midi-chlorians levels register at unheard of levels, and also that his mom claims he is from an immaculate conception (wink wink!). But what about the rest of the galaxy?

Is it tied to genetics?

Do you think there were doctors and researches out there conducting experiments to try and figure this out? Would they have been looked down on as monsters, the same way the “cloners” from the Camino system are looked down on in this movie? Or the way the Josef Mengele and others were looked down on?

Would you choose a spouse, based on their genes? Or would you abort an offspring, based on genetics? I ask, because the Force in these movies isn’t viewed as something simple like being left or right handed; it’s viewed as something akin to being closer to god / God. You’d think that every parent would want their kid to grow up and be a Jedi Knight.

Or maybe not. Let’s talk some more about those Jedi Knights.

Just what do they do? The so-called ?guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy? are no better off, are performing no better, when this movie starts, then they were ten years prior, during the time of the first movie. In fact, there’s a pretty good argument to be made that they suck even more.

    1. In ten years, an entire clone Army was ordered and made in secret — and they had no clue about it.
    2. In ten years, an entire droid Army was ordered and made in secret — and they had no clue about it.
    3. The taxation issue has not been resolved.
    4. Justice has not been served, with regard to the Trade Federation’s Viceroy. In ten years, he’s been tried 4 times, and the issue of his guilt or innocence is still unresolved. No justice.
    5. In ten years, the Sith Lord has gained influence over hundreds of members of the Senate — the Senate! — and the Jedi Knights have no clue about it.
    6. Oh, and never mind that there are two Sith running around, doing what they will, and the Jedi Knights have no clue.

Do I need to go on?

Early on in this movie, we again hear Samuel L. Jackson says, “We’re keepers of the peace, no soldiers.” But really, in the ten years since the first movie, what exactly have they done to keep the peace? From the looks of it, it probably costs a pretty penny to fund their little operation, probably with tax dollars. But the people sure aren’t getting anything back from their investments.

And before leaving the subject of Jedi Knights, I have to ask: Do they have immunity?

Late in this movie, Anakin and Obi Wan and Queen Miss Hottie / Senator Little Miss thing are on Geonosis. While there, these three raise all kinds of hell, killing all kinds of folks. It’s no wonder that when they are detained, they are subjected to justice by being placed in coliseum where three beasts — a reek, a nexu and an acklay — are expected to carry out their death sentences.

If the Jedi Knights, and the members of the Galactic Senate, are held to the same legal standards for the Republic and for the worlds they visit, it’s no wonder they’re sentenced to death. Of course, we’re suppose to feel for them, to hope for their salvation, their rescue. Never mind what they did.

And speaking of the ones who describe themselves as keepers of the peace and not soldiers, why is it that when the Galactic Republic stands up their clone Army, the control of the Army is handed over to the Jedi Knights? WTF? They Jedi Knights want us to believe that they’re lovers, not fighters, even though their street creds seem to all be based on their ability to knock skulls and kill people.

One last Jedi Knight topic, and then I’ll move on, I swear. How long does a Jedi Knight live, if they were to die of natural causes? Yoda is one old mofo when he finally kicks it — 900 — but he’s not human. Would a human Jedi Knight live more than the normal life expectancy? If you ran the Jedi Council, would you want to start training a new Yoda, or a new human? A 60 year investment, or a 900 year investment?

Did I say that was the last Jedi Knight topic? I lied. One more.

Why would Obi Wan assume the sanctity of the master archives? The Jedi Knights, or the Republic, or someone keeps a giant HAL9000 with all of the information of everything. Ol’ Obi Wan wants to find out about Camino, but cant understand why there’s no entry for it.

Like there’s never been a covert operation in the 25,000 year history of the Galactic Republic. Like the freakin’ Supreme Chancellor didn’t send him and Qui-Gon Jinn on that covert mission at the beginning of the Star Wars 1 – a mission that he sure sure hope there would be no record of in the master archives.

Does the Galactic Republic not have an intelligence service? Secret safe houses? Ghost detainees? Oh, wait — scratch that last one.

Jedi Knights — not that smart.

There are some things that I am really starting to enjoy about this series. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen the movies a few times, or seen then over the years. Or maybe it’s all of the integration they’ve had into our culture.

Take the space ships, for example. I mentioned last time that they seem to defy gravity. They are also, apparently, loaded with all kinds of extra features.

Early on in this movie, Obi Wan leaps through a window and grabs onto a small droid that is trying to fly away. The droid is a little bit bigger than a basket ball, and seems to be a special-purpose droid built for delivering small payloads — in this case, lethal centipedes.

But ol’ Obi Wan grabs hold of it, mid flight, and it’s engine has enough thrust to propel itself with 200+ pound Obi Wan handing underneath. Maybe, just maybe, the droid weighs the same as Obi Wan, so it’s nice to see that it packs twice the thrust capability that it actually needs.

And I am loving how the Supreme Chancellor is able to zip around all over the place, hold all these secret meetings, record all these secret messages and do all this stuff. I bet Pres. Bush can;t go take a dump without the Secret Service writing it down in a log book somewhere. And isn’t the Supreme Chancellor also dealing with the separatists, and assassinations and stuff? You’d think that they’d keep pretty close tabs on him like all the time or something. But noooo, he can sneak off for secret meetings any time he wants. The Force must be really, really strong in him, huh?

I liked this movie more than the first one. And that’s probably because there are better armies in this one. And Queen Miss Hot Momma has some awesome outfits — that always helps.

Oh, and before I forget, the absolute best quote of this movie is, “I’ve been dying a little bit each day since you came back into my life.” And yes, that was Queen Hottie Momma saying that to her boy toy, Anakin.

Did you really read all of this? Here, have another cookie. I was going to put in a Chad Vader clip, but Robot Chicken is much better.

Alright, time for some BSG S04, and then to bed. Gosh, and to think that when I started this, before lunch, I was worried that it would take me until 2100. And it’s only a bit past 2000! My lucky day!

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