Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min.

Release Date: August 15th, 2008 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Dave Filoni Actors: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Daniels, Christopher Lee, Nika Futterman, Ian Abercrombie

 


 

W

here’s the 20th Century Fox fanfare that marks the start of another “Star Wars” epic? Curiously, but purposely, it is absent, since for the first time Warner Bros. has acquired the distribution rights to George Lucas’ new money-fiend, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” Expanding upon the traditionally animated, existing TV series of the same name, this theatrical film is the launching point for a further television show that will boast computer-animated adventures and all of the familiar Jedi ordeals that bridge the gap between Episode II (“Star Wars: Attack of the Clones”) and Episode III (“Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith”). Perfect for fans that just can’t get enough of the franchise, this latest space opera is, sadly, not a friendly flick for anyone who hasn’t stayed on top of the Bunyanesque “Star Wars” timeline.

The Jedi Knights are scattered throughout the galaxy, fighting the Separatists and their droid armies, through the use of diminishing clone trooper reinforcements. But this leaves no one left to keep the peace. Dark Jedi mastermind Chancellor Palpatine (Ian Abercrombie) takes advantage of the situation, ensuring that the forces of evil continually climb, while Senator Amidala (Catherine Taber), the future wife of Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter), attempts to keep the Galactic Republic in order.

Meanwhile, Jabba the Hutt’s son has been captured, forcing him to bargain with the Republic to spearhead a rescue operation. Knowing that free access to the Hutt’s spaceship territory will greatly help their cause, Yoda (Tom Kane) dispatches two Jedi, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor), to search for the missing Hutt larva. A new apprentice, Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), also travels with them – serving as an extra assignment for young Skywalker. Preparing for an inevitable trap, Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka journey to Teth, where a renegade group led by Asajj Ventress (Nika Futterman) has secured a palace stronghold. Unbeknownst to the two Jedi, Sith Lord Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) plans to double-cross Jabba and frame the Republic.

At this point, if the concept of the Force or Jedi Knights needs to be explained, it’s best to just start from the beginning by watching … Episode IV. Actually, this series revolves around the events of Episodes I – III, so whether or not potential audiences are familiar with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader is irrelevant. But countless major events have already taken place, and without at least fundamental prior knowledge to the very expansive “Star Wars” universe, the average viewer will be completely lost.

That’s not to say that “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” doesn’t have entertainment value. The action scenes are fast-paced and explosive, and they’re timed to surface about every five minutes. The animation is excellent when it comes to spaceship battles, backgrounds, textures, and other inanimate objects. And the human and alien designs all match the “Samurai Jack” style of animation used in the original traditionally-animated TV series. Though three dimensions are somewhat more impressive, the overall feel of the film is still that of a flatter cartoon. Will the studio ever attempt an animated “Star Wars” picture along the realistic lines of “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within”?

Just because the famous characters (and items like lightsabers) make an appearance, it doesn’t mean the result is a success. A transsexual Hutt, Laurel and Hardy-styled battle droids, generic dialogue (“Everything is going as planned”), a fragment for a story, and the lack of the unmatchable “Star Wars” theme also fail to help reinvigorate enthusiasm for a property that has grown to astronomical proportions. It may have the “Star Wars” name attached to it, but very little about this oversized cartoon episode warrants a theatrical release.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10