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STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
RUNNING TIME: 64 Minutes
• Commentary by: Genndy Tartakovsky and his band of artists
• Exclusive "Connecting the Dots" featurette takes you inside the creative process that Genndy Tartakovsky and his team used to link Clone Wars to Revenge of the Sith.
• Two galleries of concept art, storyboards, sketches & more!
• Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith launch trailer
• Star Wars: Battlefront II video game trailer
• Star Wars: Empire at War video game trailer
• Revenge of the Brick trailer from LEGO
• Access a special Xbox-playable demo with two entire levels from the new Star Wars: Battlefront II video game
This is the first time I’ve gotten to review anything that has to do with Star Wars and I’m fairly stoked to be honest. Like many of you I’m sure, Star Wars is it for me, man. The best of anything I’ve ever seen. An entire universe that I loved as a kid, have enjoyed all my life, and still love watching to this day. The Empire Strikes Back is still my favorite movie, I had the toys when I was a kid and I stood in line for hours to see the ’97 Special Editions re-releases and the first two prequels in Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood (the best place to see a Star Wars movie in my opinion). I’ve read about a dozen of the recent Star Wars novels, played many of the video games and even bought a surprisingly good bootleg of the first five movies in Africa…or uh I mean my buddy did…
"Master, why are we just standing here posing? We’ve killed all the droids."
"You may have knowledge the Force, but you have much to learn about looking cool young one…"
So now that I have the opportunity to throw my two cents in on the whole Lucasverse, I can safely say that Clone Wars is the best adaptation of Star Wars I’ve ever seen outside of the movies. This includes everything from the following:
• The 1978 Star Wars Christmas Special (which ain’t hard let’s admit it)
• The 1980s Ewoks telemovies and cartoon
• The 1986 Droids cartoon
• The post-Jedi novels
• The video games, including the original Star Wars arcade game, the Star Wars: Battlefront II and Star Wars: Bounty Hunter games
"Dude, what is it? You’re calling me on peak hours…"
The only adaptation of the Star Wars universe I didn’t include in this list is the Marvel comic books that were big in the ‘80s. And that’s only because I never really read them. The first of these adaptations I did see however, is the 1978 Star Wars Christmas Special. I’ve seen it 1.5 times in my life: in 1978 and a few months ago. The first time I remember it was another magical chapter in the Star Wars saga….that was when I was six. When I saw it again, I was shocked by how much of a steaming pile it was. I honestly couldn’t get through it. I made it to Leslie Uggams singing without throwing up and I couldn’t risk seeing anymore. The first five minutes or so was all Wookie-speak. No subtitles, no Han or Threepio to translate for us. Unbearable. And no Wookie should ever be named Lumpy. Period.
It wasn’t the fear, the anger, the hate or the suffering that led Anakin toward the Dark Side…it was the fact that Lucas didn’t give him points on the merchandising…
Next you have the two Ewoks live action telemovies: Ewoks (1984) and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985), as well as the Ewoks cartoon that ran for 36 episodes from ‘85 to ’86. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any of these, probably even since back in the day. From what I remember, the two Ewoks movies were mildly entertaining as a kid, and I honestly forgot about the cartoon until I started doing a bit of research. Nevertheless, no program featuring only Ewoks – the most hated Star Wars race aside from the Gungans – is going to be anywhere near the top five of Srat Wars adaptations. Probably not even the top fifty. Similarly, Droids, the animated adventures of C-3P0 and R2-D2 from 1985, while I remember as being pretty fun back then, I also remember being disappointed that Luke and the main gang weren’t in on the action.
"So you see, there’s these Midichlorian…things…and uh, if we put ourselves…if we focus…then they’ll talk to us and…tell us the ways of the…Force and…aw, you’re right, it’s all bullshit."
I’ve also read about ten or so of the post-Jedi Star Wars novels that first came onto the scene with the Timothy Zahn Thrawn Trilogy (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, The Last Command) in 1992. For the most part, those are pretty good reads. Authors like Zahn, Kevin J. Anderson, Kathy Tyers, Dave Wolverton and others continue to expand the Star Wars universe and make it enjoyable. Generally, I always stuck with the main characters stories and didn’t venture over to books like Tales From Mos Eisley Cantina or the Rogue Squadron books. But what I did read, I usually liked.
As for the video games, I go all the way back to the Star Wars arcade game, which always got me on the friggin’ Death Star towers. Cut to more recent times and games like Battlefront II are still fun to play. I’ve only gotten a small taste of it at my buddy’s joint, but what I saw kicked ass. The best Star Wars game I’ve gotten to play in-depth though is definitely Bounty Hunter. Not only was it fun to play, but it had great back story on Jango Fett, how he came into possession of Slave 1, what happened to the Mandalorians, and how he hooked up with Dooku and became the template for the clone army. For my money, that’s been the best expansion of the universe as far as the games go.
It was nice that the Nelvaanians, although being persecuted and murdered by the Separatists, still took time out to celebrate Kwanzaa.
So that finally brings us to Clone Wars, brought to us by Genndy Tartakovsky, the gentleman who sprang the inventive Samurai Jack on the world. Clone Wars bridged Episodes II and III and told of how the Jedi, principally Obi-Wan, Anakin, Mace Windu and Yoda, along with Republic’s clone army engaged Count Dooku’s Separatist forces all over the galaxy. TV’s first “micro-series,” Vol.1 of Clone Wars was told in 20, stylishly animated shorts that took us everywhere from an assault on Muunilinst, a Separatist stronghold, to space battles where Anakin displayed his incredible piloting skills. We also saw Obi-Wan in a confrontation with Durge, a powerful, shapeshifting bounty hunter, Kit Fisto on Mon Calamari in a fierce underwater battle, and Mace Windu on Dantooine as he fought a droid army alone. Meanwhile, on the icy planet of Ilum, Yoda and Jedi Luminara Unduli and Barris Ofee had to protect the Jedi temple from a droid attack. The most fateful confrontation, however, was on Yavin between Anakin and Asajj Ventress, a deadly, Force-powerful female apprentice of Dooku’s who sought to kill The Chosen One. Vol.1 of Clone Wars ended on the planet Hypori with the emergence of General Grievous, the commander of the Separatist Forces and a cybernetic Jedi killer who engaged five Jedi, killing several of them.
"Shit, I knew it! Look at this crowd, we’re never going to find parking…"
Where Clone Wars: Vol 2 picks up is the aftermath of that battle on Hypori, as the surviving Jedi are rescued from Grievous and his overwhelming droid army by a squadron of Advance Recon Commando (ARC) Clones. We then see the Jedi as they contemplate their mounting losses in the war so far and how Anakin will fit into the solution. This leads to Anakin becoming a full-fledged Jedi Knight on a ceremony led by Yoda. Anakin then goes on to a distinguished stint in the conflict as he proves his worth in battle and continues to expand his skill. Alongside him is Obi-Wan and they frequently fight together, including a smelly campaign in the Outer Rim to bring down the shield on a Separatist city. Meanwhile, we also learn that it is Dooku who has been training Grievous, turning him into an ominous warrior who, while not skilled in the force, is nonetheless absolutely deadly with multiple lightsabers.
"Speak never of the things we do when alone we are you must. If word got out, ruined I would be…"
From there, the story essentially splits into two theatres: one where Obi-Wan and Anakin journey to planet Nelvaan, where Grievous was supposedly spotted, and the other being on Coruscant where the Separatists, led by Grievous himself, launch a daring all-out attack on the capital. While on Nelvaan, Anakin continues to explore the ways of the force and his relationship with Obi-Wan, as well as encounters ominous harbingers about his future. They encounter a Confederacy plot involving turning the noble Nelvaanian warriors into cyborg behemoths in an attempt to fashion a new soldier prototype. In helping the Nelvaanians, Anakin has to undergo rituals that challenge him as the Jedu trials would. Meanwhile, Yoda, Windu and Jedi Saesee Tiin lead the defense of Coruscant as Grievous and his MagnaGuards penetrate the Republic forces to get to Palpatine. It’s up to Shaak Ti and two other Jedi to protect Palpatine as Grievous chases them through the heart of the city. The resolution of both storylines takes us directly into the opening events of Revenge of the Sith in the classic serial cliffhanger style that Star Wars was fashioned after.
It was then and there, when he saw what he was going to have to dissect, that Anakin discovered why Jedi biology class was the least favorite course among the Padawans…
Clone Wars is what one of, if not a couple of, the prequels should have been. It’s Episode 2.5 if you will. Tartakovsky and crew have done simply an amazing job of filling in the gaps between Attack and Sith. The variety of storytelling shows us the Jedi at their apex and the ever developing bond between Anakin and Obi-Wan. They bring new worlds, characters and themes to the table and deftly mix fantastic amounts of action with poignantly quiet moments. I especially like that this wasn’t intended to be a stand-alone entry into the Star Wars saga, but an integral part of the progression of the Sith to power and Anakin’s journey to the dark side. Almost everything that you would question that happened between Attack and Sith is answered and at 12 minute chapters, there’s no fat to be found here, only prime rib of story. Star Wars, while very enjoyable in other mediums such as novels, comics and games, is made to be experienced this way, with great action and storytelling and Clone Wars delivers that in spades.
9.0 out of 10
"Me, afraid of that bitch-ass Grievous? Don’t make me laugh. Next time I see him I’m going to shove my lightsaber so far up his ass that he’ll…he’s right behind me isn’t he?"
Fabulous. Highly reminiscent of Tartakovsky’s Samurai Jack, Clone Wars is a frenetic blend of angular characters and highly-paced action. Jedi swarm through hundreds of droids, slicing willy-nilly in a precision ballet of carnage. Meanwhile, Grievous is a lightsaber machine that does the same to the Jedi. The character designs are very faithful to the movies, but with their own distinctive flair. The transfer is superb and every lightsaber slash, every force shove, every shredded droid or clone trooper is displayed brilliantly. And although this was a television presentation, the filmmakers also had the foresight to present it in 1.78:1. This is a great looking disc.
9.3 out of 10
Crowd on Coruscant? Nope, Star Wars Con attendees…
Equally great. The sound effects are meticulously presented in a rich, layered format and the music by Paul Dinletir and James Venable is a rousing accompaniment to the onscreen action. It’s very different than Williams’ stuff but perfect for this story. It’s presented in Dolby 5.1 and Dolby Surround. I don’t have a great system, but I’ve got to think it kicks ass when given the proper tools to play on. It’s also kind of a kick to watch it in French and Spanish. Think Grievous is a bad ass? Wait till you hear him parlais vous.
9.3 out of 10
Just in time for Christmas, the new Clone Trooper Maxi-Blaster. When you absolutely, positively have to kill every motherfucker in the galaxy…
Commentary by: Genndy Tartakovsky and his band of artists. Tartakovsky and crew give a fairly entertaining account of how the whole thing came together. They mostly riff on how exhausted they were during the entire process. They frequently crack each other up and it’s a pretty entertaining listen.
Exclusive "Connecting the Dots" featurette takes you inside the creative process that Genndy Tartakovsky and his team used to link Clone Wars to Revenge of the Sith. This is a feature with Tartakovsky back to expand upon the commentary of the making-of progress and how they specifically attempted to tie this in directly to the prequels. The prequels are frequently referenced, especially Sith since this was a direct precursor. This was a decent feature but at only ten minutes, I was hoping for something a little more in-depth.
"Man, wouldn’t it be embarrassing if it turned out that the Separatists really weren’t looking to separate? That our intel was faulty and they didn’t pose a threat to us? That this whole misbegotten war and all this death and carnage was for nothing?"
"Come on. That could never happen…"
The rest of the features are pretty standard fare consisting of mostly demos and trailers for various Star Wars properties including the Episode III launch trailer, Star Wars: Battlefront II video game trailer and Xbox demo and the Star Wars: Empire at War video game trailer. There’s also two galleries of concept art, storyboards and sketches.
6.8 out of 10
It’s a Clone/Droid/Jedi free-for-all on two different planets with Anakin ready to slice some droidflesh. What could be better?
8.6 out of 10