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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Being a great fan of George Lucas's epic space opera series, it's been
a great experience to watch the entire saga (yes, including the
often-problematic but substantially rich prequel trilogy),
understanding how it all comes to be and learning more of the universe
that he, the creator has invested for the last 30 years. However, when
it comes to the Expanded Universe, I'm not nearly as enthusiastic as
its big brothers though there are lots of action-packed and
character-driven stories to be found in between. In this case, The
Clone Wars (not to be confused with Genndy Tartakovsky's brilliant 2D
Clone Wars microseries) chronicles not only the major war itself but
rather the journey of all the characters, both minor and major which
Lucas hasn't had time to develop in the movies.
When it comes to the recent abomination that is the Clone Wars animated series (it's basically three pilot episodes combined into one), there's a greater fear that George has once again mangled with things he shouldn't have thought of: many fans will believe that it would set a bad impression on the upcoming TV series in terms of how awful and upsetting the movie has been during its run at multiplexes (of course, I haven't watched it but I have the impression that it'll be just as notorious as the Holiday Special). So, now that the new series, under the steady hands of Avatar director Dave Filoni, has made its TV debut a few days ago: what's my verdict for the first two episodes? Surprisingly, despite some minor quibbles, they turn out to be much better and more polished than expected, thanks to good (if not spectacular) storytelling and light-hearted (sometimes serious) tone of the show.
Animation wise, the characters are inspired by the models from Thunderbirds, so there's no doubt they look like stiff puppets without strings. However, there are some compliments to be made from the animators at Singapore to make them slightly more believable in terms of facial expressions (maybe not as realistic as Pixar's but hey, it's just a TV show and for me, it's already pretty darned impressive), further enhanced by brilliant voice acting, oddly ou-of-place but beautifully orchestrated soundtrack (a good thing since I've been extremely tired of synthesized music these days) and the usual Star Wars-esquire sound effects. Perhaps one of the show's most astonishing features is characterization: here, we dwell deeper into the actual heart of characters (which I admit is missing in the prequels): for example, each clone trooper has distinct thoughts and personalities which make them much more as individuals as reflected by the Jedi Masters, rather than just mere tools. It's a touching quality that will eventually place an emotional weight on the movie series, especially Revenge of the Sith. Best of all, some of the elements from the much beloved classic trilogy are implemented in this series, probably to attract purists who have longed to recapture their magic moments, even if it may not entirely succeed in certain levels.
Like every show on television, The Clone Wars is not without its flaws: part of the initial concepts of the TV series can be a little childish, considering that it is specially made for kids and the Battle Droids can get a little bit irritating, especially in the first episode where they are mostly portrayed as dim-witted cannon fodders: a major complaint amongst older viewers and stuff. But then again, if you can pass over that feeling of throwing yourself out of the window after hearing 'Roger, roger' for a hundredth time, you will surely enjoy what George and Filoni deliver for the next, um, hundred episodes!
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a well made and well directed show that
expands upon the classic movies before it, and it mends the wounds The
Prequel Trilogy inflicted for many longtime fans of the franchise. The
show isn't always smooth-sailing: some of the episodes focusing on too
much on politics of 'Trade Negotiations' and 'Separatist *stuff*' can
become tedious like these subplots; that were in The Phantom Menace.
Despite some of the inherent flaws of The Prequels, The Clone Wars doesn't get weighed down by its unfortunate burden; it makes new stories more relevant to The Original Trilogy than many fans saw coming, like cryptic clues about what's to come in Episode IV: such as the power of the force, the afterlife of Jedis and the impending doom The Dark Side may unleash if The Republic doesn't fight back against The Sith Lords.
The Clone Wars can afford to expand upon areas where The Prequel films could not do before: thanks to the flexibility of television serial-storytelling. There's breathing room for the story arcs to come full circle and leave you satisfied with what's to come. We see a lot of classic Star Wars stuff that sometimes teeters between plot-relevance to fan-service, but most of it is all there for a reason and does not go to waste.
This show is what Star Wars fans have been wanting since The Prequel Trilogy finished; and even up against the newly released Star Wars Rebels cartoon it still holds up very well.
One thing the prequels were missing was a twist and a new side to some
of the characters. For example, is Obi-Wan really as "cerebral" as he
appears in the films. When was Anakin ever given any kind of a
responsibility, or how many contrived ways can we bring back a popular
Ahsoka gets a lot of hate but she actually isn't that bad of a character as we go on. The humor regarding the battle droids is pretty awful but putting minor things that are irksome behind the show is not terrible. I do like how it goes into on how the clones might too be people with personalities.
We didn't get a chance to know the Jedi in the prequels very well so I'd recommend this for that purpose. Going into season three you actually get some insights on this Chosen One philosophy. Anakin's nicer qualities are given a chance to shine if that's one of the things that constantly bothered you in the prequels.
The characters they meet on the different planets can either be entertaining or very bothersome as so to speak. I'd give it a mixed rating, but if I had to be specific on what some of the good parts are I'd say the last eight episode of season five are really good.
If you're a prequel basher with nothing better to do with your time, please accept the fact that you're not a kid anymore. Remember when we used to just sit back and be entertained by a story?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the best show I have ever watched. I would highly recommend this show to anyone who has not seen it yet. The voice actors are great and the actor for Anakin is actually good this time. The clones are also very well made. I was just a little bit disappointed when Fives and Echo died in season 6 and the last couple of episodes in season 6 sucked. Also I am not sure whether I like Ashoka or not but Darth Maul is a beast. He is the best made villain in the show, and makes the show so much better when he kills Satin, cause Satine was the worst. Also death watch is super beast in this show, which makes season 5 much better. Captain Rex is also a beast and Commander Cody, and Commander Gree, and Fives when he is alive. Also some of the last stands were awesome. I just wish that Yoda would have been in the show more often.
4.06 billion. Try to visualize the number, try hard. That's the amount
Disney bought Lucasfilm for in 2012. That' should give you an idea not
just of what all Star Wars-related products past are worth, but all
those still to come (and let's not forget the not-insignificant
property that is Indiana Jones). That number is also a testament to how
unshakable the filmgoing public's belief has remained in George Lucas'
galaxy far, far away.
Build it (with a big fat Star Wars logo on it) and we will come. We're largely forgiven for being this loyal and enthusiastic back in 1999, when the prequels began screening around the world, and decreasingly so as years went by. George Lucas the writer finally caught up with George Lucas the visionary, and for every answer given to questions none of us had really asked (who built C3PO? What was Boba Fett's childhood like?), new questions were raised, or rather serious inconsistencies.
It is a very welcome and unexpected surprise that the best part of the 21st century Star Wars revival has been not the films, but Lucasfilms two partnerships with Cartoon Network. Gennedy Tartakovsky's superbly playful and silly Clone Wars traditional animation miniseries gave the prequel time line a much-needed boost, but the heart and soul of these characters was to be found in this show.
Kicking off with a very average feature-length episode (still no blemish on the dismal first 2 prequels), the series took a season to find its footing, experimenting with more infantile episodes and darker material (an early episode revealing General Grievous' lair is an early highlight and makes promises much of the later seasons truly deliver on).
Further bridging the gap between episodes II and III, the Clone Wars converts Tartakovsky's drawings to 3D with surprising success. The result is unique, and often quite stunning to look at. The characterizations start off a bit wooden and improve throughout, really blossoming when it comes to new characters, especially the villainous Asaj Ventress, bounty hunter Cad Bane and pirate Hondo. What worked in the films works even better here - especially Ian Abercrombie's Emperor Palpatine (often a dead ringer for McDiamrid) - and what didn't is significantly improved, sometimes in a jarring way. One could argue that Anakin Skywalker is a completely different person here than in the films, and all the better for it. And most of all, the show was free to explore story-lines and characters too remote for the films, and is often at its best in these instances: a fun 4-episode arc around droids is a case in point.
The greatest strength of the show, however, is its sense of wonder and pacing. Each episode begins "in media res", much like the original trilogy, with urgency and excitement, and rarely lets you catch your breath. Rather than let itself be handicapped by all the inconsistencies in the prequels, it forged ahead into exciting new territory.
If you still have a little spark of Star Wars loyalty left in you, this could be exactly what you need to feel vindicated.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've already mentioned how I suspect that the positive reception of the
new Star Trek films is at least partially due to their following the
Star Wars prequels. As hesitant as I am to admit it, this suspicion
also applies to this show. Maybe fans were so taken with the writing,
which is mostly an improvement over the prequels, that they leapt to
the conclusion that this series better embodied the spirit of the
original films, never mind the fact that strong dialogue usually was
not the point. Normally I make it a point not to refer to other
peoples' experiences, but after hearing endless favorable comparisons
with the newer films (especially from the staff of IGN) I couldn't help
but wonder, "Are we watching the same series?"
That's not to say that "The Clone Wars" is a failure, as there is plenty to admire. The animators should really be commended for not only producing numerous impressive settings, but also in drawing inspiration from various sources. The planets shift from technologically refined to desolate and foreboding, with its inhabitants following suit. Dathomir and Mortis are probably my favorites, as they seemed the most "real" to me, the most rich in their history. The action sequences are a more mixed bag. The animators deserve credit for ambition, which is evident in several exceptionally complex bouts, some of which involve as many as 4 combatants. Unfortunately, I could never overlook that these characters move as mechanically as any video-game character. For some reason, the traditionally animated "Clone Wars" series just did a better job with this type of thing. The mundane fist fights are even worse, since they don't benefit from visuals and sound. As is, the clashes involving vehicles and vessels are the best the show has to offer.
It's funny, though. Some people claim the swordfighting in the prequels is boring because the abundance of jedi makes their abilities trite, but I don't buy it. The prequels showed innovation or upped the ante with each installment. They drew a clear line between the ordinary, the gifted and the exceptionally accomplished in terms of fighting ability, and treated the majority of jedi appropriately: as a background presence. When this series started focusing on those background bozos that have nothing unique to offer, THEN it stopped being exciting. All of them, from Plo Koon to Barriss Ofee to Kit Fisto to Ahsoka resorted to the same old lightsaber/force push shtick. The only exception is the criminally underused (and miscast) Quinlan Vos, who briefly used a Force variation of Abe Sapien's psychic trick.
Naturally, the writing is (mostly) an improvement over the 3 companion films. The key players have more distinct speech patterns and mannerisms, and there are frequent injections of humor, particularly from Obi-Wan, who clearly benefits the most from his stints on "The Clone Wars". Most of the others, as far as I'm concerned, are not capitalized on fully. I'm not including the likes of Asajj Ventress or Cad Bane, both of whom are impressive. It's the ones not exclusive to the show that concern me. Consider Grievous, who is consistently pathetic when he should be formidable as in the original "Clone Wars" cartoons. How about the most prominent clone troopers? Sure, they have names and gobs of screen time, but such an asset fails to make them compelling or colorful as individuals. At the end of the show, I still had trouble distinguishing them. Need I say anything about Tarkin, who is soft spoken and smug when he should be conniving and subtly sinister?
The biggest offender in this category, shockingly, is Skywalker. Sure, he's more mature and whines less, but he's also duller. At least in the films he is shown to have aspirations and an interesting life, whereas here he mostly goes through the motions in a war that scarcely affects him as a person. Any development on his character, whether it be waning confidence in his leaders or attitude about his secret marriage, were already covered sufficiently in the original "Clone Wars" series. Furthermore, Skywalker's mentorship of Ahsoka is just a vehicle for the latter; it lacks insight or a memorable dynamic. His best moments are his interactions with Obi-Wan or Padme.
Foremost amongst my concerns, though, are the story lines. While there are many intriguing subplots and missions that brought insight to the conflict and characters, especially Obi-Wan and Ventress, the series frustratingly punctuates the more consequential subplots with thoroughly extraneous ones. The worst offender (or victim) is the Darth Maul/Savage Oppress storyline, which, additionally, has tremendous build-up only to be cut short and its progress nullified. Frankly, Maul was much more impressive before he was given the baggage of a brother and suffered difficulty against an ordinary human in a swordfight.
Attempts to expand upon the mythos are hit-and-miss. Mortis, despite being impressive as a place, is setting to a storyline that tries something new that unfortunately doesn't mesh with the rest of the mythos, only feigns deeper understanding and ultimately feels inconsequential. The best expansion upon the concept of the Force is Yoda's excursions in the "lost episodes", because it reveals something that complements the larger story.
"The Clone Wars", admittedly, is a competently made show, and I may have liked it more were its production not belated. As it is, there's just an overarching feeling of "why bother". We already know the most significant details, and nearly everything here is just meant to inflate the matter.
Being a fan of Star Wars, I instantly fell in love with Star Wars The Clone Wars after seeing the movie release. The movie is mixed in places but the TV show really doesn't disappoint,regular characters and familiar faces (such as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker)make the show very interesting to follow. The Clone Wars takes place between Episodes II and III of the Star Wars film franchise and it helps to fill in the gap about some of the events that take place during that time. The show is extremely varied in its environments and characters which keeps the episodes fresh and the level of detail in the Star Wars universe is astonishing. The Clone Wars continues to grow and improve as the seasons go on and so do the characters, aside from the odd few disappointing episodes (of which there are very few), the Clone Wars TV show is an excellent watch and it is a major shame that Disney cut the show short for Star Wars Rebels (which is equally as epic in its own right!)
When I saw the movie, I thought it was garbage. It had everything I
hated that were in the Prequels (not the Prequels themselves). And I
had no interest in the show because of it. But I saw a few episodes on
the internet, and I was hooked. It is a great series for Star Wars fans
to watch. Everything about it is outstanding. The characters, the story
arcs and individual episodes, the design, animation, I can go on for
hours saying what is great about the series.
The characters they introduced and expanded upon are great. Anakin's Padawan Ahsoka, whom I rolled my eyes when they introduced in the movie, is an awesome character. She's smart, cunning, she takes action, she is fun to watch. They introduce new villains like Asajj Ventress and Cade Bane who are awesome. The show even expands upon the beloved characters from the Original and Prequel Trilogies, like Boba Fett, General Grievous, Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, even Darth Maul, who they reveal in the series has survived Episode 1 and then make him one of the major villains. Even the character who only appear for a handful of episodes have depth, such as Commander Rex, Lee-Char, and Hondo Ohnaka, each of whom are characters created for the show.
Everything about the series is done in such an amazing way, it is one of the best animated series I have ever seen. If you are a Star Wars Fan, I insist you must check this series out. Skip the movie, just watch a few episodes, and I assure you'll be a better fan.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having recently watched the sixth and final season of this show, I feel
moved to say something in its honor. Like many other people, I grew up
on the original Star Wars film trilogy. Long story short, when this
show debuted in 2008, my expectations had been tempered by a decade's
worth of Star Wars content that had been more often than not
disappointing, failing to recapture the magic of the early films. I
never doubted the potential of the saga to produce great, deeply
inspiring and affecting stories, but I needed a reason to believe that
some of that potential would once again show up on screen.
For whatever my personal opinion is worth, The Clone Wars represents Star Wars film/television finally finding its footing again, and truly moving forward for the first time in decades. Which is to say that it's a very good show, and more than that, in its best moments it reaches into the well of magic and comes up with something worthy of the name "Star Wars."
The two most important individual accomplishments of The Clone Wars relate to its ostensible to lead characters, Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano. It's Anakin who experiences his own redemption via this show, shedding the poor casting and dreadful dialog of the live action films to finally, finally emerge as a mature, truly tragic character who makes sense as the future Darth Vader. Here, he is a believable military leader who inspires loyalty in those under his command, an idealist who indulges in spontaneity unusual for a Jedi, and a man who for all his bravado and seeming invincibility, harbors deep fears and emotional attachments.
A big part of the development of Anakin is in his relationship with his apprentice, Ahsoka. When she first appeared in the 2008 film that served as this series' effective pilot episode, it was clear that she was aimed at the demographic of younger (and particularly female) viewers. Whether she would be able to stand on her own as an interesting character remained to be seen. Well, now that the dust has settled, I will say without reservation that she is the best thing to happen to Star Wars on screen since Return of the Jedi, and as Anakin's redemption as a character mirrors that of the saga as a whole, so Ahsoka's representation of new inspiration mirrors the new inspiration that this series is to the overall saga.
Ahsoka's character development over the course of The Clone Wars is terrific, and in particular, her relationship with Anakin works wonders for both of them. In Ahsoka, Anakin finally has a female foil with who he shares genuine on screen chemistry. In short, they have a believable relationship (sorry, Padme Amidala). Ahsoka is the true heir to the mantle of Princess Leia, as an awesome space-girl character. She also allows Anakin to be seen as a responsible mentor-figure, which humanizes him in the right sort of way. Throw in Obi-Wan Kenobi, and you have a fantastically engaging trio of Jedi.
Beyond the primary characters, one of the best things about The Clone Wars is that the lens finally has time to focus on the many supporting characters populating the storyscape, from the other Jedi to the clone troopers to bounty hunters and beyond. And not just characters, but places, cultures and ideas are given screen-time that was never available them in the live-action films. One of the best examples is that of the Mandalorian culture (re: the source of Boba Fett's armor), long a part of Star Wars Expanded Universe mythology, but never seen in detail on screen until this series.
Of course, Star Wars has always reveled in inspiring visual design, and The Clone Wars contributes plenty of imaginative spaceships, aliens and environments. Suffice it to say, the Star Wars merchandising machine subsisted quite healthily off of this show. But I am not complaining.
From a technical standpoint, though, it is a relief that the writing on this show is as solid as it is. The dialog is smart and frequently witty. The plots and stories are usually streamlined, which has always been the case with Star Wars at its best, but there are some surprisingly mature themes present. A very thoughtful show, overall. Things do get surprisingly dark as the series progresses, and while there are occasional missteps, overall it is a wonderful storytelling achievement.
Do I have any gripes with this show? Well, for one, I do not buy or respect the reappearance of ***LAME SPOILER*** the assumed-dead Episode I character Darth Maul. But such quibbles are just that, in the grand scheme of things. Thankfully, this series gets far more right than it gets wrong.
The Clone Wars' predecessor, the 2003-2005 Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars "microseries," the one with the highly stylized 2D animation and mostly dialog-free action sequences, may very well have saved the soul of Star Wars. It was snappy, economical and contained no obstructions to its eye-candy aesthetic. It was short, but unimpeachably likable for a change in a way that the prequel films weren't. If that is the case, then this show -- "THE Clone Wars" -- can be said to have rebooted the heart of the saga with its emphasis on serialized story arcs, well written characters and an affecting emotional core. It gets deep, and it has something (many things, really) deeply worthwhile to say.
This is where Star Wars once again at least approaches its past greatness. This is where it begins to finally realize the potential that was always there. This is where we have a reason to believe again. For that, it has my respect and my love.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is truly some of the best science fiction there is, each season
building on the one before it.. a darker tone creeping into every facet
of the characters, world and storyline.. with a growing sense of
impending doom that awaits with order 66.
Anakin, Obi Wan and Cad Bane are portrayed brilliantly, with Palpatine/Sidious and Dooku conveying a great sense of power and Sith teachings, not pure evil - but a different set of ideals (power and dominance over enlightenment and unity). This is how Star Wars is meant to be, with shades of gray permeating many directions the show takes.
I recommend The Clone Wars to anyone who likes good space opera: it's probably the best in class at this current time (once GL's Underworld eventually is out, that will probably take the crown however). I especially encourage those that are players of SWTOR to re-watch from the beginning.. with many of the same locations revealed in this timeline (Balmorra / Hoth / Courescant / Hutta / Nar Shadda etc), this is a great way to see more of the universe that you play in daily, in a new light (3000 years after your adventures in game).
Enjoy everyone - this is great Star Wars, and a true return to form for the franchise - would be a 10/10, but the first season's emphasis on Mr Binks/Droid 'Roger Roger' quotes knocked a point off. Thank the maker the aforementioned Gungan is less prevalent in the following seasons!!
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