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Attack of the Clones Has the Best Opening Scene of the Prequel Trilogy

It all began one foggy afternoon on Coruscant…

Lais Borges/Inverse; Lucasfilm
Celebrating the Prequels

If there's one thing Star Wars' Prequel Trilogy lacks, it's atmosphere. This is partly due to the trilogy's overreliance on bland digital effects, most of which have aged poorly and make it difficult to ever become fully immersed in its glossy, pre-Fall of the Republic era. There are, however, moments of graphic beauty littered throughout the Prequel Trilogy, including the opening scene of 2002's Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.

The film opens with Senator Padmé Amidala's (Natalie Portman) ship arriving on Coruscant — the planet's metropolitan lights reflecting off the vessel's silver surface as it approaches. Director George Lucas then shows Padmé's ship soaring above the clouds of Coruscant and past the tops of its tallest skyscrapers before descending into the fog that awaits below. It's a sequence ripe with mood and eerie tension, the latter of which explosively paid off when Padmé's ship is bombed in an assassination attempt that claims the life of her decoy, Cordé (Veronica Segura).

Attack of the Clones throws you headfirst into its twisty central political conspiracy.

20th Century Fox

As Padmé stands over Cordé's body, herself surrounded by a thick fog that limits her field of vision, Attack of the Clones launches into a political conspiracy plot that not only covers the creation of the Galactic Republic's Clone Army but also features a subsequent, nighttime assassination attempt on Padmé. Despite the promising nature of its story, Attack of the Clones ultimately fails to maintain the tension and intrigue of its Coruscant-set first act.

That doesn't, however, make the film's opening any less effective. Attack of the Clones' brief prologue is, in fact, one of the Prequel Trilogy's best moments. It's patiently paced and artfully composed — so much so that it leaves you wishing the rest of Attack of the Clones was as stylish and atmospheric. Even more importantly, the sequence sees the Star Wars franchise boldly broaden its cinematic palette in just a few short minutes.

The opening of Attack of the Clones is the rare Star Wars sequence that feels like it could have been ripped right out of a sci-fi noir.

20th Century Fox

When he was originally thinking about 1977's Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, Lucas was famously inspired by everything from Japanese samurai films and classic Hollywood westerns to the colorful sci-fi films of the 1950s and '60s. While the first four Star Wars movies leaned all the way into those influences, one classic genre that eluded Star Wars for a long time was film noir. That's what makes the opening of Attack of the Clones so striking. When it begins, the film looks, feels, and moves like a sleek sci-fi blockbuster crossed with a 1940s crime thriller.

Unfortunately, the Star Wars movies that have followed Attack of the Clones haven't really taken advantage of the noir possibilities introduced by its opening. To date, only Andor and The Mandalorian Season 3 have come close to doing so. One can, nonetheless, hope that the franchise will decide at some point in the future to dive deeper into the noir side of its galaxy. If Attack of the Clones' opening is any indication, it's the rare corner of the series that still feels unique and relatively unexplored.

This article is part of the “Celebrating the Prequels” series, a two week-long series of articles about the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy leading up to the 25th anniversary of The Phantom Menace.

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