STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $20.99
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

The Pitch

Remember that sense of wonder and magic you had as a kid when you saw Star Wars?  Hold on to that…hard.

The Humans

Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane, Nika Futterman, Ian Abercrombie, Catherine Taber, Matthew Wood, Kevin Michael Richardson, Anthony Daniels, Christopher Lee.

The Nutshell

In a kick-off to the planned 100-episode CGI cartoon of the same name, Clone Wars covers all of the stuff we really wanted the Prequel Trilogy to be about but were skipped over.  The war is in full swing, with Dooku, the Droid Army and the Separatists against Obi-Wan, Anakin, the Clone Troopers and the Republic.  Throw in bad marionette animation that looks like a shitty homage to Team America rather than the Thunderbirds, a host of badly-thought out characters, and you have the latest Star Wars fan-pisser-offer.

“Be mindful of the Dark Side, Anakin.  On its path lies fear, anger, hate, suffering.”
“I got married and didn’t tell you.”
“Oh, well you already know then, don’t you…”

The Lowdown

Devin covered the theatrical release of this film here.  Pretty damn accurate to what we all think when we see this movie, I’d say.  I don’t want to go into the whole Prequel Trilogy disappointment rigamarole.  That’s a horse that’s been not only beat to death, but already shipped off to the glue factory.  What I want to get into is one simple thing concerning George Lucas and the current state of the Star Wars universe: choices.

“Master Skywalker, one of the Clone Troopers said something that I didn’t understand.”
“What is it?”
“He asked me if I wanted to see his Schwartz…”

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is exactly what George Lucas wants it to be, what he chose it to be.  He wanted the supermarionation look to honor the Thunderbirds.  He didn’t want the movie and the series to look like Beowulf or any of the Pixar and other modern CGI movies because he wanted the franchise to have its own distinctive look.  He wanted to use the kidnapped Huttlet story because he was inspired by the Sonny Chiba samurai movie, Shogun’s Shadow.  He chose to go with Warner Bros. instead of Fox for the first time ever in a Star Wars theatrical production.  He chose to go with the eliminating the opening crawl for the opening voiceover and he chose the writers, the music, the character design, everything.  Many of Lucas’ choices regarding Star Wars over the last decade have been as assailed as the man himself.  So you can either except the fact that Lucas is going to do things his way – come hell or high water – and move on, or not accept it and fuel the Star Wars sucks acrimony from now until perdition.  I personally don’t advocate either choice.  I’m just laying it out there.

“So they call you Fisto, right?”
“That’s your actual name?”
“How is that?”
“Don’t know.  George said it was an in-joke to what he was doing to his fanbase…”

Now, be that as it may, there still is this movie in front of us, exactly as Lucas wanted it.  So what’s to be made of it?  Well, it pretty much shores up the notion that Lucas is catering to the youngsters more than he is the thirtysomethings who grew up on the franchise and powered it to the heights it previously achieved.  There’s no depth of character to be found here.  The dialogue is aimed at 10-year-olds and under like a sniper scope.  The battles are repetitious.  The droids are dumb and cute.  Ahsoka’s behavior goes contrary to everything Yoda teaches: she craves adventure, excitement.  A purple, effeminate Hutt reminiscent of Truman Capote that speaks Basic (English) very well is Lucas’ direct choice.  None of that matters anymore, because humans that are younger than The Phantom Menace aren’t going to care about things like that.  And those of us that do, well, it’s not like we’re really in Lucas’ field of vision anymore are we?

“We’re getting our asses kicked here!?”
“So what can we do about it?”
“Let’s head over to the Galactic Civil War section and see if it’s any easier…”

What do those of us that were alive when the first movie came out want?  We want The Empire Strikes Back in everything with the Star Wars label that comes out.  Hell, we’d settle for Return of the Jedi on everything with the Star Wars label that comes out.  Well it’s pretty clear – and has been for some time now – that we’re not going to get that.  We may never get it again.  Those first three movies were lightning in a bottle that a young George Lucas caught that the current incarnation has lost touch with.  Revenge of the Sith is about as good as it’s going to get.  Which is even more tragic to us because there are elements where Lucas and company do get it right – namely the video games.  Ever play Bounty Hunter?  Great game.  Cut scenes are even Star Wars-worthy, and fed into the Prequel Trilogy very nicely.  Battlefront II is one of the biggest selling games of the last decade and widely praised.  Force Unleashed and Knights of the Old Republic are also quite good, or at least not disappointing, I’ve heard and read. 

“I apologize, Master Yoda.  We lost General Grievous’ ship in an ion storm.  I -” *chokes*
“Apology accepted, Commander…”

What does it say that Lucas has had five years to develop The Clone Wars, even after the first animated Clone Wars micro-series came out that is infinitely better and much more praised than this incarnation?  That many of the mistakes that have been loathed and lamented about the Prequel Trilogy are back in spades in this movie and this TV series?  That these characters are as wooden – by literal design even – as Lucas’ Prequel Trilogy dialogue?  It tells us that our time in the Star Wars universe is over, or is ending.  And that the next generations are paramount now.  Such a shame that they’re growing up on stuff like this.  Us over-30 crowd were the lucky ones.  Hold onto your memories of Star Wars yesteryear.  That’s about all we have left.

R4: “WTF?, Kenny?!  Is that you in there?”
R2: “Yeah, what of it?”
R4: “But this is an animated film!”
R2: “Screw you man, it’s still a gig…”

The Package

The transfer of the film is basically flawless.  Whatever you want to say about Lucas and Star Wars, you can’t complain about the quality of his images.  Sound is also fine.  This single disc version has a commentary only.  I didn’t bother with it.

3.8 out of 10