Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Star Wars: The Clone Wars


Reviewed by: Ben Sillis

For Star Wars fans the gap between the two trilogies must have seemed like light years, but only the most blindly optimistic would have remained satisfied with the 2005 conclusion. Darth Vader throwing a strop at the end of Episode III just wasn't the finale we were hoping for, and not just because it ended in the middle of it. George Lucas' tendency to milk franchises for all their worth meant a cinematic return for the Jedi in some form was inevitable, but even Phantom Menace tolerators like myself won't find any closure to the saga in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Set in the interim between Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith, this CGI animated movie aims to fill in an important gap in Star Wars mythology (The Clone Wars were even mentioned in A New Hope) until now untold. Gone are Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen and all: the live action cast (I don't like to call them actors) have been replaced with CGI animation for this outing, probably one of the only good calls made in this film.

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Eschewing the standard paragraphs floating through space, Clone Wars opens straight into the action with Obi Wan and Anakin, now a Jedi, fighting off an army of separatist clones alongside a bunch of Republican troops with bad cockney accents. Both the Republic and Count Dooku's breakaway forces are vying for Jabba the Hutt's hyperspace routes on the outer rim. Oh so coincidentally, it just so happens that the gangster slug's son has been kidnapped. Whoever can bring him back will win the fight for the galaxy.

Jabba Jr isn't the only kid who features, however. In an attempt to calm hot-headed Anakin, Yoda gives him a new padawan, Ahsoka Tano, who, unsurprisingly, has to win her master's approval in an odd-couple style way. Don't get too attached to her though - she's probably one of the Jedi massacred by Empire troops just a few years later.

It's this focus on the kids that stops Clone Wars ever moving beyond feeling like a TV show. A 90-minute romp in which no one dies simply feels like a Saturday morning cartoon, not a Star Wars movie. But a film doesn't have to feature baby animals to reach kids - the main reason why the original Star Wars was such a success. Indeed, this one certainly didn't seem to, with the two young boys sitting in front of me at the screening I attended completely distracted throughout.

Nor does a film need to dumb down for younger audiences, and in this respect Lucas and director Dave Filoni have fallen on their own lightsabers. Here, Anakin is impulsive, impatient and brash, but doesn't question his orders at any point. Some indication of his slow turn to the dark side would have been nice: he's already slaughtered an entire Tusken community by this point, after all. Character development was never Lucas' strong point, but it's a shame that Filoni has put it aside too.

Thankfully the animation just about makes up for it: compared to the usual CGI films featuring talking animals in a place they normally wouldn't be, Clone Wars is a revelation. Filoni is an animator by trade, and the characters are distinctive polygonal wonders, virtual puppets if you will. But even Palpatine's three-dimensional nose won't keep you entertained throughout this brief, scratch of the Star Wars surface. Put it this way: if you wouldn't dress up as a Jedi in Leicester Square to see this, you're unlikely to enjoy it.

Reviewed on: 14 Aug 2008
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Star Wars: The Clone Wars packshot
As the Clone Wars rage across the galaxy, Anakin Skywalker and his apprentice undertake a dangerous mission.
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Director: Dave Filoni

Writer: Henry Gilroy, based on work by George Lucas.

Starring: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane, Nika Futterman, Ian Abercrombie, Corey Burton, Catherine Taber, Kevin Michael Richardson

Year: 2008

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US, Singapore


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