How can you get mad about Star Wars in 2008? How is it possible to
still have enough invested in this franchise to get upset when the
latest iteration turns out to be… surprise! a total fucking turkey? I
know that there are still people like that in the world, and they will
be the only people who will walk out of Star Wars: The Clone Wars
seeing red. Most of the rest of the population of filmgoers likely
won’t even bother seeing it in the first place.
That’s a wise choice. Clone Wars is terrible. It’s awful in a way that
makes the Prequel Trilogy seem sort of good, that makes you almost
yearn for the return of Jar Jar Binks (mysteriously absent here,
replaced by other, equally annoying and offensive characters). Where
each of the films of the PT had at least a scene or two that was cool,
was well-thought out or that showed you something exciting, there is
not a moment in The Clone Wars that’s interesting. The only enjoyment I
got from the film was laughing at how miserable it was and then zoning
out during the boring fight scenes… which make up, no joke, about 90%
of the film’s running time.
The Clone Wars, either a pilot for or a compilation of episodes from a
new Lucasfilm CGI cartoon show, attempts to literalize the term
‘non-stop action.’ The film careens from battle to battle, taking as
little time as possible to set up characters, situations or the plot.
These battles are huge, loud, and ultimately dull. There’s no drama in
watching hordes of boring clone troopers shooting at hordes of boring
robots. What’s worse, by the time the third massive battle sequence
takes place, you realize that this shit is all wash, rinse, repeat –
the beats from battle to battle feel pretty much the same. And the
other action scenes are as generic Star Wars as you can get – if
there’s a light saber duel, you can bet it happens on some platforms.
What’s funny is that while the film has all of these generic Star Wars
elements – why do we need to keep returning to fucking Tatooine? – it
never feels like a Star Wars movie. The opening crawl has been removed
in favor of a Starship Troopers-esque voice over, and not one person
says ‘I have a bad feeling about this,’ even though no one talks in
anything more complicated than one liners (all bad). The Star Wars
theme has been replaced by some kind of electric guitar crap that feels
like it should be on a toy commercial in the late 90s. Am I getting
across to you the level of badness here?
The CGI animation itself is often hideous. The characters look like
shitty marionnettes, which apparently was actually the goal, amazingly
enough. I guess sock puppets would have been too technologically
challenging. These characters flounce around generic Star Wars
landscapes, spouting one liners that sound like they were written by an
autistic person who had learned to speak by watching the Star Wars
films – it’s Lucas’ standard imbecilic dialogue even further
imbecelized. I don’t know if this is an actual exchange in the film,
but it might as well be:
Anakin: I have to turn the ship left to evade the missile!
Ashoka: Watch it Skyguy, you’ll wake up the baby!
Oh yes, Skyguy. Oh yes, the baby. The Clone Wars does do a valuable fan
service: it sheds more light on Episode III. After meeting Ashoka,
Anakin’s young new Padawan learner, we really understand why he killed
all the younglings. I’d have done it with my bare fucking hands. She
calls him Skyguy, which is amazingly annoying, and he calls her Snips,
apparently because she comes from a planet that practices female
circumcision. Of course the Anakin/Ashoka relationship is made
impossibly awkward by the fact that she’s half naked and twelve, and
that they’re always in close quarters. I don’t need the Force to see
this fan fiction coming.
The baby is Stinky The Hutt, Jabba’s child, kidnapped by the evil Count
Dooku. Stinky plays out almost like a parody of George Lucas’
inexorable attempts to add cute shit to his movies. In this case Stinky
looks like an actual piece of shit, and apparently smells like one as
well. I kind of liked this character because it completely broke the
movie. Up until the point when the baby comes in, the film threatens to
almost be a real movie, and then Stinky shows up and it’s like
everybody just gave up. The movie gets really funny once Stinky is
introduced, but not in any way that could be construed as on purpose.
Other Star Wars characters show up to be further disgraced. Padme is
shoehorned in at the end to deal with – I shit you not – Jabba the
Hutt’s gay uncle, and we get a steady parade of the small universe of
characters that has made the Star Wars universe so ridiculous in the
past decade. Samuel L Jackson and Christopher Lee and Anthony Daniels
lend their voices (Jackson sounds even MORE like he’s doing video game
cut scenes here than he did in Episode I) while the rest of the
characters are voiced by ‘soundalikes’ who presumably cost less or have
less dignity than Frank Oz.
The bottom line is that I can’t imagine watching 100 episodes of this
banal, overbearing shit. How can something with so much action be so
bone-numbingly dull? Even the kids in my theater didn’t seem to give a
shit about what was happening. It boils down to this: if you made this
movie, you’re probably an asshole and should be stopped from making
anything else. If you like this movie, it’s hopeless for you.
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