Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy and Animation
Running Time: 98 min.
Theatrical Release Date: August 15th, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG for sci-fi action violence throughout, brief language and momentary smoking.
Directed By: Dave Filoni
Starring: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane
SCORE = 5/10
Where’s the 20th Century Fox fanfare that marks the start of another Star Wars epic? Curiously it is absent, since for the first time Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to George Lucas’ new money-fiend, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Expanding upon the traditionally animated, existing TV series Clone Wars, this theatrical film is the launching point for a further TV series that will feature computer animated adventures and all of the familiar Jedi ordeals bridging the gap between Episode II and Episode III. Perfect for fans that just can’t get enough of Star Wars, The Clone Wars is sadly not a friendly flick for anyone who hasn’t stayed on top of the Bunyanesque Star Wars timeline.
The Jedi Knights are scattered throughout the galaxy, fighting the Separatists and their droid armies with the use of diminishing clone trooper armies. This leaves no one left to keep the peace, and so Dark Jedi mastermind Senator Palpatine ensures that the forces of evil continually climb while Senator Amidala, the future wife of Anakin Skywalker, attempts to keep the Galactic Republic in order.
Meanwhile, Jabba the Hutt’s son has been captured, and he bargains with the Republic to spearhead a rescue operation. Knowing that free access to the Hutt’s spaceship territory will greatly help their cause, Yoda dispatches two Jedi, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, to search for the missing Hutt larva. A new apprentice, Ahsoka Tano also travels with them — an extra assignment for young Skywalker. Preparing for an inevitable trap, Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka journey to Teth, where a renegade group led by Asajj Ventress has secured a palace stronghold. Unbeknownst to the two Jedi, Sith Lord Count Dooku plans to double-cross Jabba and frame the Republic.
At this point, if the concept of The Force or Jedi Knights needs to be explained, it’s best to just start from the beginning by watching Episode IV. Actually, this series revolves around the events of Episode I-III, so whether or not you’re familiar with Luke Skywalker is irrelevant. But countless major events have already taken place, and without at least fundamental prior knowledge to the very expansive Star Wars universe, the average viewer will be completely lost.
That’s not to say that The Clone Wars doesn’t have entertainment value. The action scenes are fast-paced and explosive, and they’re timed to surface about every five minutes. The animation is excellent when it comes to spaceship battles, backgrounds, textures, and other inanimate objects. The human and alien designs themselves all match the Samurai Jack style of animation used in the original traditional animation TV series, and while three dimensions are perhaps more impressive, the overall feel of the film is still that of a cartoon. When will they make an animated Star Wars film along the realism lines of Final Fantasy?
A transsexual Hutt, Laurel and Hardy styled battle droids, generic dialogue (“everything is going as planned”), a fragment for a story, and the lack of the unmatchable Star Wars theme doesn’t help to reinvigorate the enthusiasm for a franchise that has grown to astronomical proportions. It may have the Star Wars name attached to it, but nothing about this oversize cartoon episode warrants a theatrical release.