Ahsoka and Anakin face a new challenge when Jabba the Hutt’s son, Rotta, is kidnapped by Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress. Yoda and Mace Windu assign them to recover the infant Hutt in an effort to win Jabba’s help in the war. But little do the Jedi know that the kidnapping is part of a bigger plot by the Sith Lords.
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is rated PG for sci-fi action violence throughout, brief language and momentary smoking.
That being said, Ahsoka Tano is a great new addition to the “Star Wars” Universe. Her character has a cool design, she makes the story accessible to both girls and boys, and she’s a great apprentice for Anakin Skywalker. She’s like a mirror that reflects all of Anakin’s flaws and strengths. Plus she adds some much needed humor to the otherwise dark prequels (I’m blocking Jar Jar Binks from my memory). And while this new character is fun to be introduced to, seeing old favorites like Jabba, the Jawas, R2-D2 are what make this feel more genuinely ‘Star Wars.’
The animation takes a little getting used to, but it is impressive. The animation of the character’s mouths is pretty awful, but the style of the characters catches the eye. The far backgrounds look painted while the characters, when shown close up, have an almost painted look to them. There’s nothing revolutionary about the animation, but it is pretty. They also add cool little touches here and there. For example, one of the gunships has a dancing girl painted onto its nose. Way cool.
The film does have a few impressive actions scenes, the most notable of which is a vertical assault on a cliff-side fortress. This allows for the Jedi characters to do something besides repetitively slice ineffective battledroids. The visuals are cool as the large AT-TE walkers climb up the cliff. Another impressive scene features Anakin piloting a clunker of a ship around a Republic Cruiser while being pursued by enemy ships. Finally, a battle in the Tatooine desert between Anakin and Dooku features some cool visuals.
I also have to mention the battledroids. Some of their antics may annoy adults, but my kids were cracking up at all their funny moments. It’s always a good laugh when one is horribly destroyed.
“Clone Wars” has several big flaws. One of which is the fact that this was originally intended to be three TV episodes, not a feature film. Unfortunately, it still feels like three TV episodes. The story is broken up into distinct chapters, there are three distinct ‘endings’ of each chapter, and some of the dialogue is a bit repetitive as it would have been a recap between previously-aired episodes. The makes the movie lack a continuous narrative and there’s no satisfying ‘big finale’.
Another big problem is the fact that you already know what will happen (also a problem in the prequels). You know exactly what will happen to Anakin, Obi-Wan, R2, Padme, C-3PO, Mace, Yoda, Palpatine, Dooku, etc etc etc. The only character you don’t know the fate of is Ahsoka and that’s probably a part of what makes her interesting. This utter lack of suspense makes the story less engaging.
A lot of the story is somewhat repetitive. There are only so many battles between Clone Troopers and droids that you can watch before you’ve seen it all. As big as the action was, it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before. And I think that’s what made anything that wasn’t Jedi chopping droids all the more interesting. When the story finally broke from the Clone Wars and took us to Jabba’s Palace, that’s when things got better in the film.
“Clone Wars” also lacked two important features the “Star Wars” theme and an opening crawl. Instead of the usual scrolling dialogue at the opening of the movie, we’re bombarded with a newsreel narrative that is a bit jarring and does nothing to really ease you into the story. It was too abrupt. And the lack of the theme did nothing to help give the movie the old “Star Wars” feel. In fact, a lot of the music was a big departure from John Williams’ orchestration. In some scenes, rock music plays with drums and an electric guitar. In other scenes, drums and wailing lyrics feel like they were ripped out of “Battlestar Galactica.” The music fit the story, but it seemed to copy the notable TV score.
I also have to mention Ziro the Hutt. The character has an interesting look, has some cool IG-88 guard droids, and gives us a glimpse into the underbelly of Coruscant. However, he’s otherwise a disaster. He speaks English rather than Huttese, and that was always a charm of Jabba. Then, on top of that, he speaks with an annoying, whiny, Southern accent. Imagine an effeminate high pitched Boss Hog and you get the idea. And the character is supposed to be male, but it looks and sounds female in many respects. Changing the voice and the gender of the character would have helped a lot.
Here’s what you’ll find among the bonus features on the Blu-ray Disc:
The Clone Wars: The Untold Stories This featurette highlights the TV series, not really this movie. They re-tread a number of the episodes that have already aired, but there are a bunch discussed here that haven’t aired yet. If you want a sneak preview of what’s coming in the next few weeks, you’ll want to view this. I have to say that a number of these episodes look better than the ones shown on the big screen.
The Voices of The Clone Wars In this 10-minute video, we get to see the actors performing their dialogue in person. I was a little surprised to see Seth Green in the recording room. I suppose he’s in one of the future episodes.
Gallery of Concept and Production Art This one’s self-explanatory.
Webdocs: Six making-of featurettes, as seen on StarWars.com If you’ve already watched these videos online, there’s not much reason to view them here. Fortunately they’re included for the sake of completeness.
Deleted Scenes – There are four deleted scenes and they’re actually pretty good. ‘Cargo Bay’ features Ahsoka opening the cargo door on their fleeing ship and hitting pursuing droid starfighters with boxes while nearly falling out herself. ‘Platform Droid Fight’ features a brief battle between Anakin, Ahsoka, and a walking droid starfighter that lands on the platform at the Hutt palace. ‘Rancor Pit’ features a battle between Ahsoka, Anakin, and Asajj Ventress after R2 dumps them into the palace rancor pit. The battle is further complicated when a large beast lumbers out and attacks our heroes. Finally, ‘Through the Tanks’ features a brief gag at the beginning of the film where the box Anakin and Ahsoka are hiding under is nearly run over by a tank.
The New Score This featurette covers the music created by Kevin Kiner. It not only covers the music for the movie but the music for all the episodes in the series. The variety of styles for the various planets is interesting, but it’s still not as good as John Williams’ original work.
Take the Hologram Memory Challenge This is a game of Memory and it gets progressively harder as you play it. I passed the first level but failed on the second. After you win a level, you see a clip from one of the episodes.
BD Exclusive: A Creative Conversation Video Commentary by director Dave Filoni, producer Catherine Winder, writer Henry Gilroy and editor Jason W.A. Tucker I have to admit that I couldn’t find this on my Blu-ray DVD. I’m going to have to go back and look for it again.
The Bottom Line: