Star Wars: The Clone Wars
As war sweeps through the galaxy, the Jedi Knights are stretched too thinly to maintain order. Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi are fighting a desperate battle against a Clone army. Instead of reinforcements Yoda sends them a young trainee, Ahsoka with instructions that Anakin shall be her mentor. Meanwhile, Jabba the Hutt requests the Jedis aid to save his kidnapped son…
Relax. George Lucas didn’t sneak in another Star Wars chapter while you were sleeping. Not a real one, anyway. This is the movie spin-off of the animated TV series “Clone Wars”, and a pilot for the next CG series of half-hour “mini-movies”. In the grand chronology of things it’s roughly Episode 2.2, but this is about filling in gaps, without impacting the greater arc of events in the live action universe. If it smacks a little bit of fan fiction, presumably that will be fine with the fans themselves – especially the younglings who aren’t burdened with too many expectations.
It’s easy to be condescending, but Lucas always made the Star Wars movies for kids, and in a way the cartoon is closer to the old Saturday Morning serials that were his inspiration.
At first the animation seems unduly block-y, but the stylized graphics won me over. The figures aren’t lifelike, their chiseled features and slightly jerky movements are drawn to resemble puppets or clay figures; the lunarscapes have the look of oil paintings. Oil paintings with armies of dirty, tattooed storm-troopers marching through them, and scuds of red and blue rocket-fire. With director Dave Filoni’s dynamic camera moves, the overall effect is more reminiscent of cutting edge computer games than other animated films.
The same is true of the script, unfortunately. Character is rudimentary, and would barely pass muster if it weren’t for our familiarity with them. (Matt Lanter and James Arnold Taylor imitate the voices of Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor, respectively, though Christopher Lee, Samuel L Jackson and Anthony Daniels do the honours as Dooku, Mace Windu and C3PO. The storyline is equally basic – its internal logic just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Jedi padewan Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein) the most dynamic of the antagonists, though personally I preferred baddie Ziro the Hutt – voiced by Corey Burton to suggest a malignant Truman Capote.
Old time Star Wars fans who were disappointed in Episodes I – III aren’t likely to rate Clone Wars either, but the younger generation who are growing up with Anakin, not Luke, won’t mind a bit.