Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Rating – **

clone wars

There must be a swarm of wild Banthas flying past the window because I’ve just seen a Star Wars film I didn’t love! That’s right, James the lightsabre owning, entire saga loving, Jedi knight has something bad to say about the magical entity known as Star Wars. This is not a real film and it’s for Star Wars aficionados only. I pity the average punter who has to sit through it. This lacks the mainstream appeal of the real film series. Non-fans will feel slightly awkward, like they have inadvertently blundered into a geek convention. This film was originally the first 3 episodes of a new CG animated series. If viewed in that context, on a small screen this could be a well received and promising start to a fun series. However at some point in production a wise guy realised there was more money to be made, slap the episodes together and pass them off as a film! This proves highly problematic. There is no strong story established and the structure is repetitive. Not only that, but The Clone Wars are set in between two films which were already prequels. We are fully aware of the fate of key characters. This is an argument often levelled at the prequels themselves in context of the original trilogy. Yet for me, it was always the thrill of witnessing these predetermined events unfolding with such an epic grandeur that proved so rewarding. Here, the effect is severely diminished. So what’s the plot? Anakin has a new Padawan learner, a teenage girl with an abrasive Paris Hilton accent. She’s not an inherently bad character but the script is repetitive and bland, she doesn’t get any good lines. The playful banter is so unimaginative it feels like first draft material. The main plot revolves around rescuing Jabba The Hutt’s son. This brings out the worst aspects of the Star Wars universe. Anyone who had a problem with Ewoks and Jar Jar-Binks, get ready for baby Stinky and Uncle Zero. The latter is a neon-painted transvestite slug who talks like Truman Capote. Just what fans were crying out for right? Also, Sith lord Asajj Ventress is back, looking freakishly like Annie Lennox.

The stylised CG animation lacks the visual wit and charm of Genndy Tartakovsky’s previous 2D animated series. Nothing seems to have been gained from adding an extra dimension to the animation. The lighting and textures are often dull, simple walk cycles and lip sync are deliberately robotic and marionette-like. The sad fact is that this was a relatively low budget production and these techniques can’t disguise that. Just because the animation is meant to look kinda bad doesn’t make it ok. For a series as groundbreaking and renowned for its visual splendour as Star Wars, this is a crime. None of this would have been an issue if the series had stayed on the small screen where it rightfully belongs.

Wow, I’m starting to sound like a Star Wars hater! Nothing could be further from the truth but I won’t be blinded by my love of everything in the Lucas-verse. As a fan, there were plenty of fun moments. The vertical cliff face assault on a monastery brings an exciting an innovative dimension to the action. I’ve also always liked the personalities of the useless battle droids. The fact that these killing machines ask each other moronic questions has a dumb charm which only works in Star Wars. They use words like “um” and “wait a minute” they forget number sequences and trip over. It’s silly but it works for me. The film is littered with fun moments where I was almost transported to the higher plane of happiness only Star Wars can bring. Yet these scenes aren’t sustained and are frequently interrupted by poor aspects that awoke my inner critic. The Clone Wars should not have been released theatrically. By masquerading as a feature film is tarnishes the legacy of the series and gives mainstream critics a field day.

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~ by thewholebuffalo on July 18, 2009.

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