Most of these impacted sharpness, as more than a few mildly soft spots emerged. While most of the film displayed nice clarity – especially in purely digital effects shots – the less defined moments could cause modest distractions.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects emerged, and edge haloes failed to appear. Given the all-digital nature of the production, it came with no grain reduction techniques, and source flaws remained absent.
Blacks largely appeared good, though some crushed darks crept in at times. Shadows also were largely good, though some shots – such as one in Padme’s bedroom – felt a bit dense.
The HDR brought nice range to whites and contrast. The image betrayed the limitations of its source but always remained perfectly watchable and sometimes very appealing.
Ultimately, though, the effects were the stars of the show, and they made this an incredible experience. Throughout the film, elements both loud and soft appeared from all around, and the mix melded together in a clean and believable manner.
A great deal of unique audio cropped up in each speaker, and these pieces moved smoothly from channel to channel, with a presence that seemed to be virtually seamless. Nothing ever felt forced or awkward as it transitioned; instead, the elements cruised past us neatly. It delivered a well-integrated soundfield that added to the film’s overall impact.
Audio quality also seemed to be excellent. Some dialogue showed its looped roots – a few lines didn’t fit the action well – but as a whole I thought the speech appeared natural and warm, and I heard no problems related to intelligibility or edginess.
One area in which the track actually improved over Menace connected to the music. I felt the score sounded a little lackluster at times during that earlier film, but John Williams’ compositions came across as notably more dynamic and lively in Clones. I felt impressed with the bold and vivid music that showed up throughout the movie.
The effects dominated the proceedings and really livened up the flick. Across the board, these elements seemed to be bold and aggressive, but they maintained excellent fidelity and showed no signs of distortion or harshness.
A great deal of effort went into the creation of most of the stems, as much of the film used sounds that don’t exist in real life. They always appeared to be clear and realistic, and they sounded quite strong.
Low-end presence deserves a paragraph unto itself. While Clones cranked my subwoofer almost non-stop from start to finish, the bass never became overwhelming or excessive.
With Menace, I easily selected the best auditory segments of the film, but my choices didn’t seem quite so obvious for Clones. So much of the movie worked so well that I couldn’t decide readily.
The chase through the asteroid belt certainly offered a terrific segment, though, and the entire final 45 minutes or so of the film could be utilized as demo material. I won’t discuss it in detail to make sure I don’t include any spoilers, but that segment of the movie simply cranked out boohoogles of memorable auditory bits.
However, the whole flick really provided a tremendous amount of stellar sound. Clones stands as one of the best soundtracks you’ll find.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ay from 2011? The Atmos audio broadened matters somewhat, whereas even with the drawbacks related to the source, I thought the 4K boasted improved colors and a bit better definition. The limitations of the original photography held back improvements, but if nothing else, the HDR made it more satisfying.
The 4K set mixes extras from the DVD and the Blu-ray, and we locate two audio commentaries. The first comes from the original DVD and features director/writer George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, editor/sound designer Ben Burtt, animation director Rob Coleman, and visual effects supervisors Pablo Helman, Ben Snow and John Knoll.
Although the commentary remains fairly screen-specific – the speakers clearly watched the movie as they spoke - most of the participants appear to have been recorded separately. I get the impression Coleman, Knoll and Helman sat together but the rest remained on their own, though I could be mistaken.
That’s fine with me, as I thought the format allows for a fair amount of spontaneity but it came across as a tight, well-edited piece. As a whole, the commentary offers a lot of very solid information.
Due to the qualifications of most of the participants, technical realms dominate the proceedings, but not to the degree one might anticipate. The discussion moves briskly across effects issues and overall story points, and Lucas becomes a very active speaker.
Lucas talks about a mix of issues that concerned him, such as character and plot points as well as various production challenges. McCallum also contributes notes about that last topic.
The others provide a slew of fun facts about the technical side, and Burtt tosses out good notes that reflected his dual role on the flick. If you liked the DVD commentary for Menace, you should enjoy this one, for the two offer similar material.
However, don’t take that to mean that this one just reiterates information from the earlier track, as it consists of details specific to Clones. It uses an identical format, though, and it comes across as a very similar piece that I thoroughly enjoyed.
New to the Blu-ray, a second commentary collects material from archival sources. This one features George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, Ben Snow, John Knoll, composer John Williams, stunt coordinator Nick Gillard and actors Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid, Temuera Morrison, Natalie Portman, Jimmy Smits, Samuel L. Jackson, Hayden Christensen and Christopher Lee.
As was the case with the new Phantom Menace track, this one mixes outtakes from the 2002 commentary sessions with other period interviews. The topics follow the same lines as what we heard in the 2002 commentary, so we learn about sets, production design, effects, characters and story, cast and performances, stunts, action, costumes and other visuals, editing, music, and a couple of other topics.
The new commentary offers a good complement to the original one. It’s nice to hear from the actors – Jackson’s rant about his purple lightsaber is a hoot – and we get a mix of additional perspectives and stories here.
The piece has a little dead air, but we find less than we encountered during the occasionally spotty Menace track. This ends up as another useful, enjoyable commentary.
Found on the 2002 DVD, From Puppets to Pixels runs 52 minutes, 21 seconds and mostly offers behind-the-scenes footage of work as it happened. Interviews blend with these shots in a way that keeps the emphasis on the actions, but very few “talking head” shots occur.
We hear from George Lucas, animation director Rob Coleman, digital modeling supervisor Geoff Campbell, visual effects supervisor John Knoll, concept design supervisor Doug Chiang, editor Ben Burtt, stunt coordinator Nick Gillard, actor Christopher Lee, animator Kevin Martel, lead animator Linda Bel, and animation supervisor Hal Hickel.
“Pixels” mainly focuses on four different effects challenges: Yoda, Dexter Jettster, Taun We, and the digital version of Obi-Wan used in some shots. A few other issues receive attention as well, so for example, we learn a little about Christopher Lee’s double and the way digital effects helped blend the two men together onscreen.
Otherwise, the show mostly documents the four topics I mentioned. Although “Pixels” seems pretty entertaining and informative, it comes as a moderate disappointment after “The Beginning”. I found the latter to offer one of the all-time great DVD documentaries, as it provided a wonderfully candid and lively view of the production.
With its smaller scope, “Pixels” can’t do that, and it becomes somewhat monotonous at times. I can only stand so many shots of people sitting in front of computers!
But I don’t want to slam “Pixels” simply because it doesn’t match up to “The Beginning”, as very few DVD documentaries equal that excellent program. I enjoyed “Pixels” as a whole, despite some slow patches.
The experiential presentation helps make it more enjoyable. I always like programs that offer looks at work in action, and this one nicely mixes narrative information with appropriate visuals.
Probably its best moment comes when we watch Lucas and the animators struggle with “The Widowmaker”, a key Yoda line that they found difficult to accurately deliver. Ultimately, “Pixels” provides an entertaining and involving documentary for those with an interest in effects.
Another documentary, State of the Art: The Previsualization of Episode II lasts 23 minutes, 28 seconds and provides a look at the prep work done for the film’s visual effects. It brings notes from Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, visual effects supervisors Ben Snow and John Knoll, animation director Rob Coleman, editor/sound designer Ben Burtt, pre-visualization supervisor Dan Gregoire, and concept design supervisors Eric Tiemens and Ryan Church.
“Art” seems like a more traditional documentary than “Pixels”, as it provides standard interview shots and less “experiential” narration. Nonetheless, it comes across like a good look at the topic.
After a general introduction to the subject, we examine the work done for three specific segments of the film: Speeder Chase, Droid Factory, and Clone War. The program concludes with “George’s Science Experiment”, a closing discussion of the use of digital technology.
Obviously the focus here remains on technical domains, but “Art” manages to avoid becoming too dry or stiff. Instead, it offers a lively and involving discussion of the ways effects shots are planned and executed. It brings out a lot of good information and does so in an entertaining manner.
Films Are Not Released, They Escape provides a solid 25-minute, 39-second documentary about the audio of Clones. It delivers comments from George Lucas, Ben Burtt, supervising sound editor Matthew Wood, sound effects editor Bruce Lacey, foley artist Dennie Thorpe, and re-recording mixers Gary Rydstrom and Michael Semanick.
After a general introduction, the program progresses through seven different areas: sound recording, sound design, ADR, sound effects editing, foley recording, alien language creation, and final mix. As I alluded earlier, I find sound design to be very interesting, and “Escape” offers a fine look at the subject.
It leads us through all of the challenges created by a film such as Clones in a brisk manner but it still manages to cover them well. The glimpse of the looping sessions seems fun, and the view of how they invent alien languages also works especially well. The show really lets us see how much work goes into this area, and it’s a valuable look at the subject.
Actually, “Escape” highlights a theme that shows up in all of these documentaries: just how heavily involved Lucas becomes in each area of the film’s creation. He really seems to micromanage things, and he appears to dictate virtually every decision related to the movie, no matter how small. Whether or not this makes the movies better I can’t say, but I felt amazed at just how deeply occupied with matters he becomes.
(By the way, am I the only one who thinks it seems strange that Lucas pronounces many Star Wars words differently than everyone else? For example, he calls it “Nay-BOO” instead of “Naa-boo”, and he refers to “Doe-koo” instead of “Doo-koo”. Since they’re his babies, shouldn’t we all use his pronunciations? Instead, he becomes the odd man out, as we never hear his versions anywhere else. He also calls lightsabers “laser swords” most of the time.)
An Episode II Visual Effects Breakdown Montage gives us a succession of “before and after” shots from the film. The three-minute, 32-second piece seems compelling as it lets us quickly watch the progression of these scenes.
Next we find a collection of Interviews. These run a total of 21 minutes, 30 seconds and feature Chiang, Knoll, visual effects supervisor Ben Snow, and actors Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Samuel L.Jackson and Natalie Portman.
This set of interviews covers locations, sets and visual design, various effects, stunts and action, and acting in front of a blue screen. Plenty of good notes appear here, with the actors’ remarks about blue screen performances the most interesting of all.
Nine Deleted/Extended Scenes last a total of 11 minutes, 49 seconds. Of these, “The Lose Twenty” and “Anakin and Ruwee” are the most intriguing.
“Ruwee” lets us meet Padme’s father, and “Twenty” delivers a bit more exposition about Count Dooku. Neither needed to be in the final cut, but they’re interesting. The others are enjoyable as well, even if the fights look silly due to the lack of finished effects.
More materials appear for this film’s Collection. In this 54-minute, 53-second compilation, we examine “Dexter Jettster Maquette”, “Zam Wesell Speeder Concept Model”, “Youngling Outfit and Helmet Costume”, “Zam Wesell Costume”, “Shaak Maquette”, “Anakin Outland Peasant Costume (With Cloak)”, “Anakin Outland Peasant Costume (Without Cloak)”, “Padme Outland Peasant Costume (With Cloak)”, “Padme Outland Peasant Costume (Without Cloak)”, “C-3PO Costume”, “Tusken Raider Woman Costume”, “Tusken Raider Child Costume”, “Geonosian Maquette”, “Ackklay Maquette”, “Nexu Maquette”, “Reek Maquette”, “Padme Trip to Geonosis Costume (with Unusued Headdress)”, “Jango Fett Costume”, “Super Battle Droid Maquette”, “Geonosis Arena Maquette”, “Republic Gunship Model”, and “Clone Trooper Maquette”.
“Video Commentaries” bring info from John Duncan, Trisha Biggar, Mark Siegel, Gillian Libbert, Doug Chiang, Danny Wagner, John Knoll, concept sculptors Robert Barnes and Mike Murnane, and droid unit supervisor Don Bies. They flesh out what we see and add useful notes.
Not found on the prior DVD or Blu-ray releases, we find three featurettes, and Conversations: Sounds in Space spans six minutes, 19 seconds. Here we encounter notes from Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood.
As expected, they give us more info about their work across the various films. After “Escape”, some of this becomes redundant, but it still turns into an engaging chat.
Discoveries from Inside goes for four minutes, 34 seconds and features film historian JW Rinzler with Skywalker Ranch Costumes Archive Senior Manager Laela French. They give us a tour of some iconic Star Wars costumes in this fun little clip.
Finally, The Art of Attack of the Clones takes up six minutes, seven seconds with remarks from Chiang, Tiemens, and Church. They give us a good overview of various visual design choices.
After 18 years, my opinion of Attack of the Clones remains in flux. I didn’t care for the flick much when I saw it theatrically, but I found it to seem substantially more compelling during my subsequent viewings. The 4K UHD delivers excellent audio along with a nice array of bonus materials and visuals that seem good but become restricted by the nature of the source. I think Clones is a stronger movie than commonly believed.
To rate this film, visit the orignal review of ATTACK OF THE CLONES