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Movie Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
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Clone WarsStar Wars: The Clone Wars
Directed by Dave Filoni
Starring Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane
Rated PG
Release Date: August 15, 2008

Star Wars: The Clone Wars … and Why I Loved It!

In light of the fact that seemingly everywhere around me, critics were panning Star Wars: The Clone Wars, I went into the movie with low hopes. This was in direct contrast to 24 hours earlier, where I was eagerly anticipating the movie, and getting to see it before the majority of the world. But in that short time that early reviews appeared, and then were embargoed by LucasFilm, my hopes dropped.

I don’t know whether it was the fact my hopes were so low, or if it was just in fact a good film, but I really liked Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

But let’s get a few things sorted straight off the bat, ok? First of all, this is not a movie where peace can be found. The entire galaxy is at war, and if you look at the title of the movie, it says that it’s going to be about the war. Take a look back through movies like Saving Private Ryan, Battle of the Bulge, and The Longest Day. These movies were filled with action scene after action scene, and no one complained about it then. Why? Because they realized that in war, that’s what happens!

And secondly, yes, this movie is done using a newish style of animation. And, as with any style of animation, you will find those who really like it, and those who really do not. Rarely will there be a happy middle ground.

That being said, let’s get down to business. I feel like I should have labeled this similarly to my “˜11 Reasons Why I Didn’t Completely Hate the Star Wars Prequels’ article: 5 Reasons Why I Liked the Clone Wars. But I refrained, because this is about reviewing a movie, and I hope that in doing so, you will see why I liked the movie.

clonewars002Straight out of the box, one thing has to be pointed out: George Lucas has done a sublime job in picking his cast. While we saw the return of actors like Christopher Lee — who by himself added gravitas — Samuel L. Jackson , and Anthony Daniels, it was the job of those voicing the main characters that did the best job. James Arnold Taylor, the official voice duplicate for Obi-Wan Kenobi, was flawless; there were times when I literally couldn’t tell that it wasn’t Ewan McGregor. Tom Kane does a perfect Yoda and Matt Lanter is a much better Anakin Skywalker than Hayden Christensen ever was. This in and of itself helps make the movie as good as I felt it was.

The story of the movie is also such a great Star Wars story, squished into a movie that is balls-out action. Basically, by the time that Yoda arrives with reinforcements for Obi-Wan and Anakin on Christophsis, we’ve already seen the introduction of Anakin’s new padawan, Ahsoka Tano, and Obi-Wan’s and Anakin’s respective Clone commanders, Cody and Rex. These early scenes are really good, and contain some great action, as well as some nice moments between Anakin and Ahsoka.

However, we are soon enlightened to the fact that someone has stolen Jabba the Hutt’s baby, a Huttlette, a name at which I giggled, I admit. What takes place next is a rolling adventure, following Obi-Wan as he goes to visit Jabba, and Anakin and Ahsoka as the new master and padawan go and rescue the Huttlette. In between Anakin getting in trouble, Ahsoka getting him out of it, before they get back in to trouble, and Obi-Wan getting them out of trouble, the story is resolved nicely thanks to Padme.

Once again, I’m not entirely sure what people were expecting from the movie. It’s in the title, Clone Wars, where a war is being fought. Even the most character driven war movie is still going to focus almost entirely on the fact that there is a war going on. So the story that we did get from the movie was just as I had imagined: political intrigue, mystery, and a lot of well planned out action scenes.

clonewars003And this is where, I feel, the movie really did justice to our hopes. It was a realistic battlefield movie, with clones and droids dropping like flies. Once again, refer back to Saving Private Ryan for the reality in that statement. But while many of the clones were unnamed, many were also pulled out and identified. Rex, a shaved-head clone, wields a pair of pistols rather than the longer rifle most everyone else uses. Oddball is a pilot under Obi-Wan’s command, and Cody is Obi-Wan’s ground commander. They each have different aspects to their characters which, at the outset, have been only hinted at; this is especially the case with Oddball.

Another aspect which I really like, and something they have picked up from the Republic Commando series of books by Karen Traviss, is assigning various styles of uniform, behavior, and speech to different types of clones and their duties. In the movie, we saw a fleeting look at some engineers, command crews, scouts in their camouflage armor, and clones working aboard the ships.

I really cannot fathom what has got people all in such a twist. Star Wars: The Clone Wars was a really good movie. There wasn’t a whole lot of character development, because there wasn’t any need for it; we have a TV series which is based around that exact concept, especially in the case of the clones. The animation is really nice, and there were some scenes — especially scenes focusing on Ahsoka — where the facial movements and expressions were really clear and clean. And the fact that it was all action? Apart from the fact that it’s supposed to be like that in war time, I don’t hear anyone complaining about that from Taken.

Either way, this movie gets 8 out of 10 from me. I really can’t wait for the TV series, and especially to see more of Ahsoka, her relationship and dialogue with Anakin, and more of the clones, especially Rex.

7 Comments »

  1. Very cool, man. Many Star Wars fans, not critics, who have seen it loved it as well. Good to hear you liked it.

    Comment by EaterofFood — August 14, 2008 @ 2:20 pm

  2. I saw it last Saturday and also really enjoyed it. The critics seem to have totally missed that it’s a promo run for the t.v. show and it was never meant to be “Episode 7.” Either that or they are using CW to vent their Lucas/SW-hatin’ spleen. Or both.

    Comment by lazypadawan — August 14, 2008 @ 4:33 pm

  3. Great review. I just saw it, and like you I had low hopes. But after seeing it I can honestly say I loved it. I really liked the droids and their comic relief. The two things that annoyed me were no opening scroll and the annoying nicknames they had for each other. Otherwise awesome movie and review.

    Comment by dviddy — August 16, 2008 @ 1:41 am

  4. I saw it today. Despite reading all those bad reviews. One of them said it was worse than the “Love Guru”… and that made me go see it. Because I could not believe such a thing was even possible.

    Well, after seeing The Clone Wars tonight… I have to say that the critics were once again, full of shit.

    Apparently, since 1999 it has become hip and popular to crap all over Lucas and Star Wars. Because nothing on that film warranted headlines such as “Dear George Lucas: Stop ruining Star Wars!” or “Star Wars is dead”. Nothing at all, unless they had reviewed the film expecting a PG-13 rated “Episode VII”. Or worse, expecting something that would 1-up “A New Hope”. Something that the film never was and something it never intended to be.

    Upon watching the film it became pretty obvious to me that the writers behind The Clone Wars wrote it with “younglings” in mind. And that’s why the film had those silly nicknames and the typical humor you find in Saturday morning cartoons. But the critics didn’t find that acceptable.

    I mean, the critics hated it because it really wasn’t a geek movie but a kids movie. It wasn’t “cool” and “badass” enough for the 35-40 year old virgin crowd to go geek at.

    Now, the animation wasn’t something that would make Pixar lose any sleep. But it was more often than not, very good. Some shots looked amazing on the big screen and the stylized character designs had me eye-ballin’ them the entire time, specially during close-ups. Ahsoka didn’t seem as annoying as the critics had said. She was in fact, no more annoying than the typical rookie trying to prove her worth. And in that context, she was perfectly fine. And Ziro the Hutt, didn’t bothered me in the least. So he was gay and wore make-up, big deal.

    I also liked how Padme and Mace Windu looked in the film. Those two looked the most like the actors that played them IRL. And I really enjoyed listening to Christopher Lee’s voice. I think he had more lines in this film than on his last live-action SW flick. The fight with Anakin was one of my favorite sequences. My other favorite scene was when they were storming the temple where a particular hostage was kept prisoner. That whole part was downright amazing.

    I also noticed that the jedi space cruisers had officers/personnel that spoke and dressed similarly to the way the Imperial officers did in the OT. That was neat. And the movie did mentioned the FORCE. Twice if I remember correctly. I say that because a critic said that the film didn’t even mentioned it. Goes to show that they weren’t paying attention, eh?

    The music score was okay. I liked some of the new arrangements. But I’ll be lying if I said that I didn’t missed Johnny Williams musical touch.

    Now the film does have some negative aspects. The intro needed a bit more work. It went too fast. However, the Battle in the beginning can drag a bit too long. Watching lookalike clones fighting lookalike droids can become tedious after a few minutes. And I wished that there had included more space battles instead of mostly ground assaults.

    But it was a good show overall. Even my brother who dislikes space flicks told me that he liked it (his gf wanted to see it, thus he had to go). And the half-full theater (we went to the 6:30pm showing) applauded at the end (with shouts of glee & satisfaction included, I kid you not).

    Well, that was my review/rant

    P.S. Sorry if I made any typos… It’s quite late here in California. But I wanted to add my review while the film was fresh in my mind.

    Comment by AngryAztec — August 17, 2008 @ 7:57 am

  5. Saving Private Ryan? Really? Why not throw Citizen Kane in there too, it has about as much to do with this latest garbage from Lucas.

    Comment by Gary — August 18, 2008 @ 4:54 pm

  6. Lucas was just the executive producer. See it. I really enjoyed the film and am liking the series as well.

    Comment by Plaid — December 8, 2008 @ 8:34 pm

  7. Lucas should have left it at Return of the Jedi.
    Howard the Duck is better than most of his modern output :)

    Comment by Darth Lightsaber — April 15, 2010 @ 5:22 am

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