George Lucas has decided to keep the Star Wars franchise alive by producing two television series, the first of which to debut is, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. This film is the first story arc of the television show and introduces us to this fun and exciting new look into the Star Wars universe.
The film is loosely connected to the previously released Clone Wars series on Cartoon Network, and I believe will fill in the gaps that those 25 episodes painted for the infamous Clone Wars during the events of Episode II and III. The plot of this film follows the supposed kidnap of Jabba the Hutt’s son, Rotta, by a group of bandits and the implications it will have on the space routes of both the Separatists and Republic forces on the Outer Rim territories.
Obviously the plot thickens and there is more to the situation than meets the eye. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are assigned to the mission of saving Jabba’s son, but not before having to fight a battle on the planet Christophsis and Anakin’s assignment of a Padawan learner Ahsoka Tano. Ahsoka is ready to learn and immediately begins to be a pain in Anakin’s side as she is a bit of a child and has a lot of growing up to do. After some bonding and narrow victory on Christophsis, the duo of Anakin and Ahsoka head off to the planet Teth where the republic has followed the smugglers that kidnapped Rotta.
The plot I will go know further on but instead focus on the film itself as it is a generally good piece of entertainment. First off, the animation is solid and really quite exceptional at times. Is it Pixar caliber, no, but it looks as good as some DreamWorks material and TMNT did, and remember, this is a TV show we are watching. We are going to get 100 episodes of television at this level of production, which is something to be excited for. The 3-D animation captures some of the look of the original Clone Wars mini-series but also sets its own visual flavor as well.
Speaking of the original Clone Wars, all of the main villains show up in this series as well. Asajj Ventress returns as Dooku’s apprentice and has plenty of fighting to do in this film as the main antagonist besides Dooku. General Grievous makes a brief appearance, but sits this one out, for sure to be a major player in upcoming series. The film itself is fairly centered on Anakin and Ahsoka with quick glimpses into what Mace, Yoda, Obi-Wan, and the Sith are doing, but this is definitely the Master and Padwan’s bonding story. To note, the series will not be centered on these two, they might get their own episodes here and there, but the series, like its previous iteration, will have arcs and plot lines that focus on just the Clone Troopers, other Jedi Masters, or possibly even just the Sith. The bonding story works well for the most part, Ahsoka can be a bit childish and annoying, but her arc in the film got her heading in the right direction as things got more serious’ though maintaining that young adventure and playfulness to a degree.
In fact the younger, lighter, feel this film has will be the major complaint with many; outside the biggest atrocity to the Star Wars franchise ever but we will get to that later. But outside Ahsoka and the silliness of some of the battle droids, which I found pretty hilarious on a number of occasions and delivered the best laugh by far, the movie is brutal. The battle scenes are full of death and clones getting taken down and blow away. There are clones even getting executed point blank at times, it’s some rough stuff and really helped sell the battles. The purpose of this film and series is to show the Clone Wars and even though this one might have been a bit centered on the Star Wars heroes, what the show is doing when we are not focusing on them is pretty darn good and should make some exciting stories and plots where we don’t know the outcome. It would even be cool if Lucas plugged in some of the characters from the upcoming live action show and sneaked them in there.
Now, there were things that did kind of rub me the wrong way about the movie, but didn’t ruin my overall experience with this pretty great little piece of Star Wars lore. Ahsoka calls Anakin “Sky Guy” and R2 “artooie’ a few times and it just made me role my eyes every time it happened. Rotta the Hutt is a bit of a childish device, but he did make me laugh on a couple of occasions, though I could have done without Jabba’s pet name for him; he is supposed to be an evil bastard. Also, they sneak Padme into the third act and it was a bit unnecessary other then the inclusion of the other major character in the prequels.
But the biggest error of adding in her was that she had to deal with the absolute worst thing to ever happen to Star Wars. Now, I don’t mind Jar Jar, and would be accused by many Star Wars dorks to be an ‘apologist’, to which I say “go f**k yourself, excuse me for just sitting back and enjoying getting something new and fun in the Star Wars universe,” but I digress. I can not apologize for Ziro the Hutt, Jabba’s uncle. His character is so bad, annoying, and just plain wrong, that I can not believe that he made it into this movie. How does someone working on this film not stop and go, ‘This is shit! What are we doing? This is shit!’ He is terrible. He is like a transvestite Hutt, a man wearing make up, eye shadow, and body paint, talks like an effeminate gay man meets Truman Capote, and he loves Jazz. The instant he opens his mouth your jaw will drop and you will be in disbelief with his character. Luckily, we will never have to seem again most likely, and if the writers have the audacity to put him back in the show, they are complete morons. I will say, Ziro was so bad, I found it humorous and not rage inducing, and it allowed me to just laugh and go, wow, that sucked, but I am not going to let you ruin this great little piece of Star Wars.
So after the mess that is Ziro, what is left? Thankfully a lot of great action, plenty of humor and a great start to a promising TV series. The animation will be spectacular on the small screen and is pretty solid for a feature film. It’s fun to be back and be able to play in the Star Wars universe again, and will continue to be able to for years to come. This iteration of The Clone Wars right now sits a little below the superb series that was released between Episode II and III, but also show a lot of promise for its TV future for what could easily turn into one of the finer pieces of the Star Wars franchise. So if you like Star Wars, get out and see The Clone Wars, and start building excitement for the series this fall.