While Star Wars: The Clone Wars might fail to please some diehard Star Wars fans, kids (the target audience of the film) will find plenty to love thanks to the fast-paced plot, and lots of battle scenes.
As expected, the movie looks great on Blu-ray’s 1080p picture format, and the massive battle scenes really pop with brilliant colors and lots of explosions. The format serves the movie well, and helps you look past some of the weaker moments of the plot (yes I am talking about Ziro the Hutt).
The film was meant to serve as an introduction to the new animated series that airs on Cartoon Network. While I enjoyed watching it with my sons (who loved the movie), it didn’t make me want to check my local listing for when the series airs. It isn’t a bad movie, but is still a long way from the Star Wars that I grew up watching.
The film’s plot (which basically moves from one action sequence to the next) is a bit silly with Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi racing to get Jabba the Hutt’s baby returned to him before Count Dooku can make it look like the Jedi killed the kid.
Anakin also has to deal with his new Padawan learner Ahsoka Tano (who gives Jar Jar Binks a run for his money as the most annoying character in the Star Wars universe).
Anakin quickly learns how hard a headstrong Padawan can be thanks to Ahsoka’s constant habit of questioning his orders, not listening to him, and referring to him as “Skyguy.” My sons got a kick out of her, but I cringed every time she fired up her lightsaber.
Thankfully, George Lucas (who served as executive producer) and company make sure to fill the film with enough cool action sequences that you want to forgive the film’s weaker moments.
At its core, Star Wars: Clone Wars feels like a Star Wars film or at least as good as the prequels. The movie has several great lightsaber duels (Count Dooku throws down with Anakin in the desert, and Obi-Wan tangles with Asajj Ventress), and major clone/droid battles.
There are a couple of funny moments (mostly thanks to the way Ahsoka has a knack for getting Anakin in trouble), and Yoda pops up a couple of times to give the audience some of his classic pearls of wisdom.
While it takes a bit to get used to and is clunky at times, the animation is gives a fresh new look to Star Wars and its characters and even started to grow on me towards the end of the movie. I enjoyed how the clone soldiers looked, and the sharpness of the lightsaber duel between Dooku and Anakin.
My biggest complaint with the movie is that some of the characters aren’t developed well or seem to be in the movie just for the sake of having them in it (such as Padmé Amidala who pops up for some scenes with Ziro the Hutt).
Asajj Ventress is extremely creepy looking in the film, and I wished she could have had a larger role. At times, she feels more like Darth Maul – looks cool, but not used enough to be cool.
Her character has a huge background in the Star Wars universe (thanks to the first animation series that ran on the Cartoon Network and to the Star Wars books and comics), and I wish she could have carried a bit more weight in the film. At times, it feels like the creators just assumed everyone knew who she was and that was enough to sell how evil and deadly she was for the film.
However, these weaker moments were lost on my sons who sat spellbound for the entire film and wanted to watch it again the minute the credits started to roll.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars was made for them, and on that level the film succeeds. They have been talking about it for days, and the new animated series will become part of our television watching program.
The Blu-ray comes packed with special features that take you into the Star Wars universe and give you a glimpse at what to expect from the animated series.
The features include a video commentary (which is exclusive to Blu-ray); a look at Season One of the new animated series (which features a peek at some of the characters, worlds and vehicles); a feature on the film’s new score; production art; a memory challenge game and deleted scenes.
It is clear the movie will not please all fans of Star Wars (just read my colleague Jeff Swindoll’s review of the DVD), but it does manage to capture the spirit of the franchise and the imagination of kids.
Watching it with my sons was a fun time, and for that reason I would recommend the movie. It isn’t as great as the originals, but it isn’t as bad as some of the prequels.