As the Clone Wars sweep through the galaxy, the heroic Jedi Knights struggle to maintain order and restore peace. More and more systems are falling prey to the forces of the dark side as the Galactic Republic slips further and further under the sway of the Separatists and their never-ending droid army. Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan learner Ahsoka Tano find themselves on a mission with far-reaching consequences, one that brings them face-to-face with crime lord Jabba the Hutt. But Count Dooku and his sinister agents, including the nefarious Asajj Ventress, will stop at nothing to ensure that Anakin and Ahsoka fail at their quest. Meanwhile, on the front lines of the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Master Yoda lead the massive clone army in a valiant effort to resist the forces of the dark side ...Written by
Warner Bros. Pictures
According to the official chronological order of the series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), this movie takes place as four separate episodes proceeding "Clone Wars" season two, episode sixteen, "Cat and Mouse" and season one, episode sixteen, "The Hidden Enemy", and precedes season three, episode one, "Clone Cadets". See more »
When Anakin and Ahsoka exit the Twilight (approximately 1 hour and 19 minutes into the movie), Anakin is wearing the clone trooper backpack with Rotta in it. The backpack disappears several times between shots. See more »
A uniquely styled, new direction for a well-established formula
I went to see "The Clone Wars" with carefully measured expectations, given the very, very mixed critical reaction. Although I say "critical", it's always best to remember that angry nerds with broadband are not film critics. But even the venerable and generally even-handed Roger Ebert didn't have much good to say about it.
After the strange feeling of seeing the "Warner Bros" logo and hearing "As Time Goes By" in place of the Fox logo and fanfare, the film gets off to an inauspicious start - a rendition of John Williams' Star Wars Main Theme played by The London Philharmonic's cheapest non-union Mexican equivalent. And instead of the opening crawl, we get a montage and voice-over in a 1930s serial style. This will probably work well in the TV series, and there's nothing wrong with it, but seems strangely out of place in the cinema. This may be just because the traditional Star Wars crawl is so ingrained in film-goers minds, but it was an undeniable jolt. But from that point forward it gets better.
Visually it's like nothing I've ever seen - instead of the style of CGI animation that we're now used to, the characters are made to look something like hand-painted wooden puppets. In a close-up shot you can actually see the brush strokes where the clone troopers have been "painted." It's a brave creative decision, given that Pixar, Dreamworks and others have had such great success with the more traditional style of CG animation, to take such a different direction. After I became accustomed to it, I really liked it. The animation has good "weight" to it - nothing ever suffers from the disconnected CGI unreality that often plagues the digital effects in live-action films (including 2002's "Attack of the Clones"). The environments are amazingly well realised, including a hand-painted sky which conjures up a nice balance between traditional and CG animation.
Sonically, it's Star Wars all the way. All the classic sounds are there (lightsabers, blasters, walkers and so on) and are well orchestrated to the action. Musically, they've gone some way to doing what I had hoped they might - using John Williams' themes, but taken in a new direction. There's a much more pronounced world music feel, and I really enjoyed that. When the score moves to a full orchestral piece, it sometimes falls a little flat. But it certainly serves its purpose, with only the main theme pulling me out of the moment.
Plot-wise... well, it's Star Wars. There's a MacGuffin that must be found and returned to gain a tactical advantage in the war. Any further discussion of the plot would probably be wasted... and not just to avoid spoilers - it's all about the action. So... is there action? Oh, yes. Quite a lot of it. Too much, in fact. As a TV series in 30 minute installments, it should be amazing. But welded into one feature-length adventure, it's a bit overpowering. The visual inventiveness helps hold interest as yet another battle unfolds, but the fact that it's essentially 3 or 4 episodes joined together does show. Not enough to make it a bad film... but when the end comes it *seems* to be an anti-climax purely because there's been no let-up for the previous 30 minutes. As such, the end seems to arrive very suddenly. Had it been structured a little more like a feature, it might have managed a better finale. But, taken on its own merits, the action is very well realised.
The new, kid-oriented character of Ahsoka is not particularly annoying - and that's about as much as you can ask from the this sort of character. Aged above 15, I'm not the target audience for Ahsoka's rite of passage story. Jabba's son is virtually inanimate... barely a character at all. Jabba the Hutt's uncle Ziro is bizarre - a sort of tattooed, New Orleans drag queen in huge slug form - but neither particularly annoying nor offensive as some reviewers have claimed. A kind of Vivien Leigh-as-Blanch DuBois (or maybe Truman Capote) to the Sydney Greenstreet-inspired Jabba.
Overall, this is a good, fun animated adventure with excellent action sequences, that works well despite some pacing issues. It deserves credit for developing its own unique visual style, and daring to take liberties with a well-established franchise. In the end, its this willingness to challenge that much-loved formula that will provoke the ire of many a middle-aged Star Wars fan, as they clutch their Millennium Falcon scale replicas to their portly man-bosoms. But it may find more favour with the newer generation of fan who have less attachment to the memory of what they think they saw in a cinema, and a childhood, a long, long time ago.
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