1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

PT Why does there seem to be a near-consensus that AOTC is worse than TPM?

Discussion in 'Prequel Trilogy' started by JediVision, Dec 24, 2019.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. JediVision

    JediVision Jedi Knight star 3

    Sep 6, 2015
    It seems every time everybody posts their lists of how they rank the movies, AOTC is at the very bottom. I honestly find this baffling. AOTC is borderline awesome, while TPM was and remains a spectacularly ill-conceived and misbegotten train wreck. My reasoning.

    1. It's what we actually wanted. What's beautiful about Obi-Wan's conversation with Luke in ANH is how much information is packed into it ('its so dense!" ha) even while it's organic, realistic dialogue that fits the scene. Just from the few sentences Kenobi utters, we know several things.

    1. There was a large conflict called The Clone Wars
    2. A pseudo-"race" of powerful warriors called Jedi fought collectively in these wars.
    3. One of Obi-Wan's Jedi companions was Luke's father.

    Basically, in this conversation is the entire basis for the Prequel Trilogy, which we were waiting and waiting roughly two decades to finally see, and when we finally got Episode 1, we got...none of it. Anakin was there, but he was a little kid, not fighting alongside Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan was actually in the movie, but he wasn't "in action" the way we imagined him, because, of course, there wasn't really "action" to be involved in; there were no Clone Wars. There was an armed conflict, but it was more of a local skirmish during which Obi-Wan played an incidental role.

    Now, skip to AOTC. Anakin is Obi-Wan's partner, which we always imagined. Anakin, while very young and raw, is clearly very powerful ("powerful Jedi was he. Mmmmmm, powerful Jedi") the Clone Wars haven't started yet when the film begins, but the events that instigate them are taking place, which involves getting to see Obi-Wan doing some cool detective work during which he intermittently gets to be the Jedi badass we always imagined him to be (Jango Fett duel). At the end of the film, the Clone Wars begin in spectacular fashion.

    So, before we even get into the quality of the two products, it should be obvious that based on the premises of the two movies, AOTC is going to be the more interesting film.

    Now, let's get into the quality of the films. TPM is, to put it lightly, a train-wreck. I really don't want to go over all the reasons it's so bad, because it's all been so well-documented and argued to death, but to my eyes, virtually every major criticism levied at it--there's no main character, the pacing is terrible--is valid. 20 years later, and I still don't have a clue how Palpatine's original plan made any sense. The Padme-Amidala reveal scene always irks me because of how clever it thinks it is, when it's actually completely inconsequential. Jar Jar Binks, I don't even need to say anything else about that. And finally, I'm sorry, but Jake Lloyd's performance is just awful. There's no other way to say it.

    I'm not saying all of this to engage in more gratuitous TPM bashing, but just merely to contrast it with AOTC, especially in the spirit of my question. In AOTC, the hook is clear from the very beginning--someone is trying to kill Padme, and two Jedi have been assigned to protect her. Their mission then forks--Obi-Wan is to find the assassin, and Anakin is to continue to protect the Senator's person. Obi-Wan engages in some fun detective work, while Anakin and Padme predictably fall in love. The two stories are both entirely self-contained--they're not intertwined, the way TPM's train-wreck finale famously is--but also complementary, and accordingly converge at the end in a spectacular finale. Begun, the Clone War has.

    Now, of course, there's one thing I left out--the execution of the Anakin/Padme love story. Yes, some of the dialogue is cringe worthy, and Hayden's delivery is stilted. But you know who else poorly delivered some cringy-lines to the person we were seeking to court? You, me, and every other person who has ever fallen in love, ever. That's just the way it goes. Yeah, the words "lyrical" and "elegiac" will never be used to describe this particular love story, but so what? After all, it's the story of a precocious orphaned, demigod warrior who turns to the Dark Side and ultimately ends up murdering his entire Order. It had to be in some way flawed, because it didn't end Happily Ever After, after all.

    To me, it seems like some people combined the lingering resentment of TPM sucking with a handful of really bad lines--sand, "the thought of living without you; I can't breathe" and "decided" that AOTC sucked, almost out of spite. I know such armchair psychologizing and gaslighting is (rightly) looked down upon, but, while know that with art nothing can ever be "objective,"I think in terms of the criteria set up by the Star Wars universe, AOTC is as close to being "objectively" better than TPM in just about every way imaginable. I never, ever watch TPM, and when I do, it's painful to the very end. I watch AOTC all the time, and I think it's borderline awesome.

    As a final anecdotal word, my wife is Ukrainian and had never seen any of the movies before she met me. I decided to do Machete Order, but include TPM just for completion's sake. She loved ANH and TESB, but I was constantly having to explain things to her during TPM to enable her to follow her the story and keep her interest engaged. When we watched AOTC a few days later, she said, completely spontaneously during the Coruscant Zam Wessell chase, "Yeah, I already like this movie way better than the last one."

    So, I guess my question is: Why all the AOTC hate?!

    (Also, I pretty much never cry during movies, but my eyes always water when Shmi dies. Just the way it was so uncompromisingly staged--the way her head grotesquely falls back--combined with Anakin's pure, childlike love for her just makes the whole thing really effective.)
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
    K2771991, astinus4 and Sith Lord 2015 like this.
  2. Princess_Tina

    Princess_Tina Chosen One star 6

    May 10, 2001
    A better question would be, why all the TPM hate?

    Seriously, I agree with you on all the positive things you say about AOTC and couldn't disagree more vehemently with every awful thing you've said about TPM, which in many ways is by far the best of the prequels. I mean it's not even close.

    You couldn't have made a thread about something you like without hating on something else?
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
  3. Oissan

    Oissan Force Ghost star 7

    Mar 9, 2001
    I don't see anything that would suggest that there is a near-consensus that AOTC is worse than TPM. A few people on the internet making a list hardly constitutes the general reception. The two seem to be basically even by most available measurements.

    The rest is really just up to personal opinion. There is next to nothing that would make either of the two objectively better than the other. Your arguments do boil down to just your personal preference as well, as the few things of a movie that could perhaps be objectively measured to at least some extent are all on the technical side, and that isn't really something you comment on in your post.
  4. TheCloneWarsForever

    TheCloneWarsForever Force Ghost star 7

    Apr 24, 2018
    Among many fans, AOTC was initially received better than TPM. It addressed many of the immediate complaints many had - Jar Jar, the "kiddifying" of the franchise that had started with ROTJ, it was "dark" and "gritty", trappings felt more like the Star Wars they knew, with nostalgic locations like the Lars homestead, a properly dressed C3PO. and discount Boba Fett. Fans were pleased that Lucas seemed to be listening to their complaints (whether he actually was or he was just doing his own thing isn't important to this).

    And of course, TPM had reduced expectations so it shielded AOTC from the brunt of the culture shock and dislocation.

    But TPM aged better over time than AOTC did. A lot of the things that made AOTC more "acceptable" were also the fleeting kind. Over time, their effect wore off and the shift worked in TPM's favor.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
  5. christophero30

    christophero30 Chosen One star 8

    May 18, 2017
    the sand scenes? Kidding. I like TPM better but it's probably just nostalgia.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
    dolphin likes this.
  6. dolphin

    dolphin Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 5, 1999
    For me it’s the dialogue between Anakin and Padme which bring the entire film down to 9th of 9 films. With that said I see Episodes 1-6 as something beautiful. A story by Lucas of a hero’s rise, fall and redemption. Masterfully told from the 1000 foot level but with issues closer to the ground. I have no issues with any aspect of George Lucas story. Even taxes and the trade federation.
  7. Deliveranze

    Deliveranze Force Ghost star 6

    Nov 28, 2015
    I think we can discuss the merits of both films instead of a thread dedicated to deciding which sucks more.

    Like I think its unfair that ROTJ gets a lot of slack for things that people don't give to TPM or AOTC, but I don't personally feel insulted if someone likes ROTJ more.
  8. Binary_Sunset

    Binary_Sunset Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Oct 28, 2000
    This is true. I well remember these boards back in 2002. AOTC had a far better reception than did TPM. I remember that even a lot of TPM bashers liked AOTC.

    Consequently, I think it rather funny now when I see the lists of SW movies that place AOTC on the very bottom.
    Tonyg, Dagobah_Dude, dolphin and 4 others like this.
  9. Thrawn082

    Thrawn082 Force Ghost star 6

    Jan 11, 2014
    The Anakin/Padme stuff seems to be a big sticking point for many. AOTC spends so much time on it, and many find it hard to sit through.

    Also we only get the beginning of the Clone Wars at the very end, there's no lightsaber duel even close to as cool as the one in TPM, here's nothing like the pod race to add some excitement in the middle, the effects/CGI seem WORSE than in TPM, etc.

    And another major complaint that I often here is simply, it's boring and forgettable overall.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
    dolphin and Doompup like this.
  10. innocence and experience

    innocence and experience Jedi Knight

    Dec 23, 2016
    As somebody who has pretty much loved or at the very least liked every movie, i’d agree in the hate for Attack of the Clones is baffling to me. But the same also applies to The Phantom Menace for me too.

    Both films have a lot going for them personally. The strengths of TPM are

    + the “coming of age” type adventure that we see with Padme, Anakin and Obi Wan.
    + a type of charm and innocent fun (out of all the movies, TPM feels the most like a Christmas one to me for this reason. Like I would sit and watch this bad boy instead of an actual Christmas movie if I was in the mood).
    + the music. But then again AOTC also has fantastic music.
    + having a completely different feel to the galaxy. There was still shadiness, but pre-Wars the galaxy felt a different place to what it would become and it was nice to see that.
    + the last act is pretty much nonstop intensity. I’m not just talking about the duel, I’m also taking about Anakin bringing down the ships and Padme storming the palace. I can get that Jar Jar might be grating to people and some of the jokes/antics didn’t work for everybody, but to me it all comes together in speculator fashion.

    In fact the only thing I don’t really like about TPM is the pod racing excluding the last minute lol, it was always boring to me even as a kid.

    In regards to AOTC, the strengths are I feel

    + Dark foreboding feel. This is just before the crap hit the fan. Everything is about to change and you get that sense of dread throughout the whole thing.
    + the forbidddn/starcrossed lovers aspect with Anakin and Padme. The lines may be meme worthy but that doesn’t take away from how compelling this romance was for me, because I knew it wasn’t going to work due to their circumstances (and the OT) and like a train wreck I couldn’t take my eyes off to see how it would unfold.
    + like I said above, the music is top notch. Especially Across the Stars.
    + for their time, the CGI is impressive. Even if it looks slightly dated now (and I was very young when I first watched this anyway) I still think most of it holds up.
    + Anakin flirting with the dark side as Shmi dies. Music plays a big part but this was the “oh crap” moment in the movie as we see the wheels finally begin to turn for his character.
    + another movie where the final act comes together rather nicely. I love the arena battle and seeing Padme hold her own against the creature, I love seeing all the Jedi come together to save the trio, I love the confrontation with Dooku etc.

    I mean, it is all opinion anyway. A lot of things the people hate the prequels for I actually love. A couple of things here and there may be cringe worthy but it’s easy to gloss over for me.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
  11. Prisic Duskleap

    Prisic Duskleap Jedi Master star 3

    Jul 24, 2014
    I love all three prequel films equally. They're all great under appreciated films. And disney sw has made me appreciate them even more.

    As far as AOTC goes. It's such a unique film in the saga. Which is probably why it's the PT film I watch the most.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2019
  12. HaloWithStyle

    HaloWithStyle Jedi Knight star 2

    May 11, 2015
    I was 13 when AOTC came out and I loved it and I loved the love story in it. I even thought the conversation at the fire was beautiful lol.
  13. IHeartKenobi89

    IHeartKenobi89 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 17, 2019
    All Star Wars movies have their flaws.
  14. Princess_Tina

    Princess_Tina Chosen One star 6

    May 10, 2001
    They definitely are. I'm really blown away by how good they are and how well they stand up to repeat viewings.

    When I did the 9-movie marathon at the local AMC, the prequels were definitely the ones that held my attention the best. It's not even close!! [face_dunno]
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2019
  15. SlashMan

    SlashMan Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 5, 2012
    This is pretty accurate. Somehow critical re-evaluation of The Phantom Menace meant that the hate had to be leveled somewhere, and I guess Attack of the Clones was the scapegoat. It's weird because when "angry reviews" were a fad on the internet, Phantom Menace was always the target of hate, then it just switched somehow.

    For most people, it probably comes down to the acting. Though for me, I'm not sure what's intentional or not. If you imagine that Anakin is an awkward teenager that never talked to girls in his life, Christensen's romance lines are probably pretty accurate.
    Dagobah_Dude and Sithblade11 like this.
  16. Princess_Tina

    Princess_Tina Chosen One star 6

    May 10, 2001
    Bingo. He's spent 10 years doing Jedi stuff, you know, missions and stuff, he's not going to know how to be smooth with the ladies. It seems so obvious to me I can't believe nobody else gets it. And then with Padme being sort of an academic/technocrat type, well, obviously she's bound to be a bit awkward, too.:rolleyes:
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2019
  17. greytstar

    greytstar Jedi Knight star 1

    Dec 17, 2015
    Everybody was shocked back then to see Amidala flirting with the, suddenly, not so young boy, but for me, both made an excellent couple and the storyline developed as it should. Hayden Christensen was a good actor too, I don´t know why some critics were so rude to him, he was playing a young jedi apprentice who grew up in an arid and desert planet, not a teenage from downtown LA in the 00´s.

    Apart from this, the clone wars themselves were presented less spectacular than many expected for so long, I think this is the major weak point in the film, yet it just provided enough and imo it should be rated just next to TPM as both movies have their pros and cons
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2019

    QUIGONMIKE Jedi Master star 2

    Jan 5, 2009
    I like both movies but I do admit that when you see peoples ranking lists that AOTC ends up at the very bottom quite a lot. Usually, TPM and AOTC are the bottom two in lists. Thats crazy to me since Im a prequel-fanboy. The only issues I have with TPM is that they started Anakin too young, not enough Darth Maul, and Jar Jar is very irritating. Thats really about it. The rest is good with me. With AOTC, the only issues I have are the dodgy love scene dialog, the droid factory video-game sequence and a few pacing concerns. Thats about it.
  19. Mindless Monster

    Mindless Monster Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 4, 2014
    I'm happy for the re-evaluation TPM has gotten, because it's a very solid film that didn't deserve the over-the-top hate it received out of the gate and for a good portion of its 20 year existence. It's Star Wars version of The Hobbit. I think part of the reason it has surpassed Clones in popular culture, is because the zeitgeist says "film good; digital bad." AOTC - I guess infamously - was the first major Hollywood blockbuster shot digitally and that results in a softer image. TPM outside of Jar Jar's antics(which I love), has less of a "cringe factor", than AOTC. Also the lightsaber duel and the pod race are more iconic than anything in AOTC.

    Now, for me, AOTC has a much richer story, is tonally more balanced, and features the best climax of any Star Wars film. It's my favorite Star Wars film, and this really triggers people when I tell them this. AOTC is why I'm still a fan. Initially, I wasn't a fan of Sith, because I think in some ways it failed AOTC. It didn't resolve the Sifo-Dyas mystery, and that was a big deal to me at the time. However, I've made peace with that and now rank ROTS second, even though it's still difficult to watch because it's such a depressing film. But I digress...

    I think AOTC is tragically misunderstood. It's a B-movie with a Hollywood-sized budget. It's all in the title. The dialogue stylistically makes sense. It doesn't mean people have to like it, but there's an intent to it, and isn't just a case of Lucas "not knowing how to write dialogue." It's such an ambitious film, I really feel Lucas swings for the fences and a lot of it lands, but some of it doesn't. Hopefully someday it'll get it's day in the sun, like TPM has, but I don't mind being the one person to die on the hill of it being the best of the six Lucas films.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2019
  20. Samnz

    Samnz Jedi Master star 3

    Sep 4, 2012
    First of all, I like both movies. I think they are both very well made and neither of them deserves any kind of hate.

    Ultimately, while I started out liking AOTC the least out of the Prequels, I also rank it now as my favourite film in the Saga. AOTC has found a great way of merging a compelling plot with distinct character work.

    After all, each of the characters gets a lot to do. We are all aware of the things that Anakin is faced with, his attachment issues, the death of his mother and how he swears that such an occurence will never happen again. But there is also Padmè, who has - just like Anakin as well - to deal with the timeless issue of finding a balance between professional ambition and the duties society puts on you on the one hand, and her private needs and the desire to love on the other. Obi-Wan, while carrying a lot of the story, also gets challenged. Contrary to Anakin, who clashes with the ideals of the Jedi on a more personal note, Dooku challenges Obi-Wan's alliance to the Jedi by pointing to the institutional failings of the Order. Each of them is, ultimately, given potential to grow...or fall.

    Add that to a really engaging story of a brooding war, the general sense of foreboding darkness and arguably George's most interesting directing in Star Wars and you'll end up with an awesome film - that's sorely misunderstood.

    I just think TPM is the more traditional film, it's more conventional and people realized that most of their disappointment was rather superficial and a result of them imagining their own movie long before. Getting past that, TPM is just too classicly made to be hated in 2020. AOTC is more challenging, it's also deeper in my eyes and brutally honest. While satisfying what people initially wanted to see, many have not discovered its beauty and depth. But some of us have and I'm glad to see so many of them on these boards nowadays.
  21. Skywalker Family

    Skywalker Family Jedi Knight star 3

    Mar 15, 2017
    I remember when AOTC first came out it got love. Then everyone turned. I still have articles where it is being noted that is it better then TPM.
  22. Visivious Drakarn

    Visivious Drakarn Jedi Master star 3

    Apr 20, 2013
    This is an interesting topic with some quite impressive thoughts, so I'll be very brief.

    The PT is still a trilogy that requires some understanding, especially considering the fact that AOTC was made as a romantic film with the protagonists being complete amateurs in love. So the dialogue and all the awkwardness fit the story Lucas is telling. The main criticisms were pointed at that, of course, without the context of the story.

    And there's the popular CGI comment that plagued the movie. I said that in past tense because after the first excitement of the ST being made in real sets, practical effects manner, these new movies returned to CGI form making the same critique for the AOTC look hypocritical. And thus it was dropped or converted to bad CGI.
    Tonyg and KyleKartan like this.
  23. Shadao

    Shadao Jedi Master star 4

    Oct 31, 2017
    The issue with AOTC has less to do with actual badness and more to do with the fact it doesn't have a lot of action. TPM had an invasion of Naboo that happens shortly after Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan take a drink. But AOTC didn't really have action for quite some time until the car chase scene. Before that, it was all about politics of the Separatists who we don't see until near the climax.

    Peace before the War suffice to say, and it works against the film's reputation. Thus, AOTC doesn't grab people's attention like the other Star Wars films and consequently, people have a lot less to remember it for. If the rest of the film were more like the Battle Arena with the giant monsters or the Slave I space battle, then people would remember it more fondly.
  24. Princess_Tina

    Princess_Tina Chosen One star 6

    May 10, 2001
    Demonstrably false. The movie literally opens with a humongous explosion - a vile and cowardly attempt on Senator Amidala's life. The Coruscant sky chase follows just a few minutes later - and then there's a short confrontation in the cantina. And this is just the beginning of the intrigue!! I am on the edge of my seat every time I watch it.... [face_nail_biting]
    Tonyg, Deliveranze and Count Yubnub like this.
  25. Shadao

    Shadao Jedi Master star 4

    Oct 31, 2017
    Perhaps so but it's also clear that AOTC was designed to more of murder mystery plot as tension rises than engaging into open warfare with the enemy. Thus it feels like the film is building up to something as opposed to taking you straight into the action right away that most Star Wars films do.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.