Movie Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
By Ron Wilkinson Aug 15, 2008, 10:06 GMT
The animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie runs around 100 minutes and is set between episode II and III with Anakin Skywalker not yet taking on the mantle of Darth Vader. ...more
At the risk of over-doing a good thing, if that hasn’t been done already, Lucas and crew cuts the final link to reality by going full animation with Star Wars. A righteous battle, but one that will appeal to ever decaying audiences
In 2005, “Revenge of the Sith” marked the final episode of the “Star Wars” live action saga. But nestled deep into the lore of the iconic series is the original remark by Luke in the original 1977 “Star Wars” when he questions Obi-Wan about the latter’s battles in the “Clone Wars.” The Clone Wars occurred between “Episode II—Attack of the Clones” and “Episode III—Revenge of the Sith,” both of which were prequels to the original 1977 blockbuster.
If this seems complicated, it’s because you are over 40 years old, in which case you may as well forget about the history and just enjoy the ride.
Lucas is quoted as saying he didn’t want the characters to look “photo-realistic.” This is a smart move, because if the characters are too realistic the audience will always compare them to the real thing: bad news, a distraction. Instead, Lucas and director Dave Filoni made them out-front animated characters, with a touch of Japanese anime’, so they are reborn as an entirely different art form and not competing with the “Star Wars” characters that everybody remembers. The fact is, once the viewer gets into the story and the fantastic animated action, the visual images of the characters fall into the background and their dialogue and actions move to the foreground.
So what is left is the best display of slinking, crawling, pouncing, undulating, pulsating and exploding robotic war machines and every kind of projectile, explosion and James Bond escape routine ever imagined. The challenges, and heroic triumphs, are unlimited.
Central to this film is the character of Jabba the Hut. Certainly one of the most memorable characters of the Star Wars series, Jabba is the most disgusting character ever invented for the animated screen. He is perverted and submerged in earthly delights that he can only enjoy in their total degradation. In “Clone Wars,” his baby son, Rotta the Hutlet, is kidnapped. The child is kidnapped by the dark forces under the leadership of Count Dooku, himself a Dark Lord of the Sith. So Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan Ahsoka Tano must fight off the overwhelmingly outnumbering dark forces while carrying the fragile infant Rotta back to safety.
Only by keeping the powerful Jabba on the side of the Republic can the Dark Forces be held at bay. So Anakin becomes a more complex figure in “Clone Wars.” He is challenged to fight overwhelming forces while being blamed for a hideous crime that he did not commit. He must fight against overwhelming odds not only to save the Republic, but to clear his name at the same time.
In addition to this, Anakin must confront yet another challenge, that of a young, female, Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, who has been assigned to him without his knowledge or consent. Skywalker must take her on, and, as matter of honor, teach her to some day be better than he. In fact, her personality is half way between Anakin’s and Obi-Wan’s, she is more thoughtful than Anakin and is already showing signs of making better decisions than her master.
In this way, “Clone Wars” keeps up the tempo and exposes the audience to new challenges, along with the lead characters. Anakin is once again portrayed as a complex champion who must confront several roles at once. He is no longer the lone knight, but now the father of two children and a man unjustly accused. Ahsoka represents a giant leap forward in improving the positive representation of girls in action cinema. She not only keeps up, but saves her master’s life and the lives of others. She emerges as an equal by the end of the film.
While many will not be as impressed with the animation as with the real thing, this film provides honest entertainment that is entirely suitable for the whole family. It is especially commendable for providing a positive, leadership oriented role model for girls. Plus, the machines are amazing!
Directed by: Dave Filoni
Written by: Henry Gilroy (screenplay), George Lucas (characters, universe and story) and Steven Melching and Scott Murphy (screenplay)
Lead Voices: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor
Release: August 15, 2008
MPAA: Rated PG for sci-fi action violence throughout, brief language and momentary smoking.
Running Time: 98 minutes