Star Wars: The Clone Wars Reviews
A long time ago in a living room far, far away...
Star Wars: The Clone Wars, because the space between Episode II and III had interesting story potential and because George Lucas wanted more money following the prequel trilogy. We kick off the original stand-alone Star Wars movie (albeit animated) with a narration over b-roll replacing the opening crawl, and then we get (wait for it), a boring political scene that's relevant to the plot, but it doesn't bring the story to a screeching halt, and instead of long discussion, we meet up with Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) and Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter, who proves not be be robotic like Hayden Christensen, but in fact, full of character, one of the ways this is better than the whole prequel trilogy put together). They lead a battle that gets set up in two episodes of the show this movie launches, aired six months, then 19 months later. When the Separatist army falls back, Obi-Wan and Anakin get their supplies from a ship they sent off before the battle, and along with the new supplies comes Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), who was assigned to Anakin as his padawan learner, continuing a master-apprentice line that started with Count Dooku, who taught Qui-Gon, who taught Obi-Wan, who taught Anakin as best he can. This movie alone does a better job of showing those two as friends and Anakin as the man Obi-Wan would describe to Luke in A New Hope, but that's a different discussion. The plot moves quickly (this was supposed to be four TV episodes before George Lucas decided on a theatrical release), going from Christophsis to Teth, Tatooine, and Coruscant telling the story of Jabba the Hutt's son who got taken. Jabba doesn't know who it was, he doesn't know what they want. He has a particular lack of skills, and instead of looking for them and finding them, Jabba hires bounty hunters, then the Republic. It's lower stakes than the other Star Wars movies, but again, four episodes converted to movie. They tell it great, and we get better development of Anakin in this movie alone than the prequels, and the show that followed really helps too. What they meant well in, but failed to do was animate the characters decently. The action in lightsaber duels, space battles, and ground battles were great to look at, but the characters look unforgivably stiff in close up shots. I won't dwell on that, because it was a primitive, new system of animation. What I can forgive for being different though is Kevin Kiner's soundtrack, which does its job right throughout, and is used appropriately. The humor also works well, and the way the clones and battle droids are humorous is a great contrast to humans vs. machines: the clones are funny when they're listening to Ahsoka's story and when some make good one-liners, but when droids do an action that evokes laughter, you get a sense of how bumbling and incompetent they are. It seems to undermine their legitimacy as a threat at first, but they still do plenty of damage to the clones to remind us why they're taken as a threat. Overall, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, as the original stand-alone Star Wars movie (featuring Anakin Skywalker from the movies, contributing to the Skywalker saga) does its job by launching the TV show that followed and giving us a better Anakin Skywalker than any of the prequels ever did. Hayden Christensen was coarse, rough, and irritating, and he showed personality nowhere. Not Matt Lanter, he was the opposite of that: energetic, entertaining, and showing personality at every turn.
To kick off the first ever CGI Star Wars TV show, what does George Lucas do? He has what was originally planned as a story arc for the TV show released in theaters as a movie. As a Star Wars fan, I didn't see any problem with an animated film or TV show. As a fan of animation, I think that early on it may take getting used to, but looks amazingly realistic after a while. The plot centers around the kidnapping of Jabba the Hutt's son Rotta, which still makes for a nice story, even if it's a small one in a massive fictional universe of Jedi and Sith, etc (I could go on all day about things like that, but I won't here). There are rather familiar characters like Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Commander Cody, with new ones like the clone Captain Rex, and Anakin's new padawan, Ahsoka Tano (voice of Ashley Eckstein). Most of the voice acting is done by lesser known actors such as James Arnold Taylor, Matt Lanter, Dee Bradley Baker, Nika Futterman, etc (Again, I could go on all day, but won't). These are actors who provide cartoon voices. I think they're cool, but there are three well-knowns: Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, and Anthony Daniels, as Mace Windu, Count Dooku, and C-3PO, reprising prior Star wars roles (Thank the maker Hayden Christianson didn't return for Anakin). John Williams is credited for the original Star Wars themes, but Kevin Kiner did a fine job with new ones, and injecting older ones. The droids are made to be more humorous, making for humorous dialogue, but in the end, The Clone Wars is just the start of a larger series. The force wasn't that strong with the first two prequels, but certainly is stronger here.
Did no one at Lucasfilm mention to George that it was a freaking stupid idea to make these garbage cartoons?