Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Still Strong with the Force

One has to wonder if putting Star Wars: The Clone Wars in theaters was nothing more than a marketing ploy to make money and sell toys. Though it's being released as a stand-alone film, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is actually just the big screen launch of an upcoming Cartoon Network series by the same name.

The ‘film,' which takes place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, follows Generals Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they fight alongside the clone troops of the New Republic. The Separatists, led by Count Dooku and controlled by Darth Sidious, have kidnapped Jabba the Hutt's son. The Jedi send Skywalker and his new Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, to save the stolen slug.

Fans of the almighty saga will immediately notice differences between the films and this new animated series. The Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare, which has always preceded the Star Wars films, is gone - and in its place is the Warner Bros. emblem, which shouldn't make a difference, but it does. It just doesn't feel like Star Wars.

Then there's the score. Legendary composer John Williams' contributions to the Star Wars universe are limitless, but his beautiful signature tracks are scarce here. Also missing is the initial crawl, that is, the scrolling text that explains any story necessary in order to jump right into the action.

We still get the backstory, only in the form of a World War II-inspired newsreel clip. A voice straight out of 1940s radio explains that the Clone Wars have swept through the galaxy and the heroic Jedi Knights are struggling to maintain order and restore peace.

After the WWII newsreel ends, the story picks up in the middle of a large battle. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are leading their clone troopers into battle against the Separatists' droid army. The action sequences are on par with anything you've seen in the live-action Star Wars films, and the animation is smooth and super-stylized.

Soon thereafter the audience is introduced to Ahsoka Tano, Anakin's new Padawan learner. She's a feisty little one, but she'll soon learn some respect. Ahsoka is cute, adorable, and precious. And that's not a bad thing. Ahsoka will finally allow sisters across the world to join in the fun of playing Star Wars with their brothers. No more playing the damsel in distress, the princess chained to Jabba - now girls can engage in epic lightsaber duels as Ahsoka Tano, their own female warrior.

The animation, while not on the same level as recent films like Wall-E or Kung-Fu Panda, is smooth and beautifully colored. The backgrounds almost look as realistic as many of the backdrops in the prequel films. The character animations, however, tend to be as wooden as the acting of the prequels.

While Star Wars: The Clone Wars doesn't include Jar Jar Binks, there is one new character that will probably join the list right behind Binks as one of the most hated characters in the Star Wars universe. Ziro the Hutt, Jabba's drag queen uncle, is a strange and pointless addition to the universe. Aside from Ziro, fans may be bothered by some of the film's misplaced humor. Ahsoka is mainly to blame for saying annoying things, such as giving Anakin the nickname of "Sky-guy." She's young, and while she doesn't deliver any "Yippees" like Jake Lloyd's Anakin in The Phantom Menace, it will still no doubt anger fans wishing every film was as dark as The Empire Strikes Back.

Overall, diehard fans of the universe George Lucas created will no doubt find some subtle charm in this animated introduction to the Cartoon Network series, regardless of the lack of real story. For those casual fans, Star Wars: The Clone Wars will be a fun, entertaining romp through familiar territory. As a film, this just doesn't compare to the six-film saga (nor does it mean to) but as a premiere for a television series, the quality of animation is superior to other cartoons out there.

Ultimately, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is geared solely toward children. It's light and fluffy and fun - the kind of fun that will hopefully hook a whole new generation of bright-eyed kids who love to dream of galaxies far, far away.

It's hard not to love Star Wars, it's even harder not to smile when you see Yoda or hear the familiar beeps of R2-D2.
Reviewed by: adam
5 Comment(s)
Dishon said...
Saw it last night. Nearly messed my pants when Plo Koon actually pulled out his lightsaber. I'll die a happy man.
Andy said...
Clone Wars is exactly what Lucas wanted it to be. Who are we to question him? He has made enough off of the Star Wars franchise already. If he wanted Clone Wars to have an $80 million weekend then it would have. Lucas was just having fun and only wanted it to have a $15 million weekend.
Adam said...
Yeah, this should have never been released as a film - as a TV premiere it's awesome, but it really doesn't belong on the big screen.
Shea said...
Ha ha... oh Andy. Your knives are so sharp.
Adam said...
Upon second viewing, I really enjoyed this a lot more. It isn't suited for the big screen and I think the negative reviews are a reflection of misplaced expectations, the majority of people had no idea that this was really just 3 episodes of a TV show put together. If it would have been advertised that way, as a "sneak peek" at the upcoming TV series, I think it would have been received better.

The show will be great I think, can't wait. Also, this is the first time I've looked at Anakin and felt like I really liked him - he's more of a combination of Luke and Han Solo in this one.