Well, it’s better than The Phantom Menace
. But George Lucas’ latest chapter suffers from onerous self-importance, with endless scenes of galactic politicians standing around stroking their chins and talk, talk, talk, talk, talking. Our eye keeps wandering from the characters to the backgrounds and visual effects (where Lucas’ interest clearly lies). In the foreground is a bland, half-hearted teen romance between a petulant Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen, sullen and snotty) and Senator Padme Amidala (Lucas can now boast of having gotten not one, but two
wooden performances from the remarkable Natalie Portman). Ewan McGregor’s subtle, assured Obi-Wan Kenobi and a rousing last half-hour (with even Yoda wielding a light-saber) aren’t enough to save the film from its own leaden solemnity.