Science Fiction / Animation

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Distributed By: Warner Bros. Pictures & Lucasfilm Animation

 

Reviewed by Melissa Minners
 

            Knowing what kind of Star Wars fan I am, do you honestly think I could miss out on seeing Star Wars: The Clone Wars?  The film hit theaters in my area on August 15th, and I was determined to see it on opening day, despite the possibility that I might have to fight off rabid Star Wars fans for seats.  This new animated feature film is the precursor to the television series scheduled to air in the fall of 2008 on Cartoon Network and TNT.  The force was with me on this day – I had no trouble getting tickets and got to the theater early enough to get a decent seat before I was surrounded by Star Wars fans like myself.

            The movie begins with Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi smack dab in the midst of a battle in Crystal City.  The two Jedi are pinned down and in a bit of a jam when they are joined by a youngling with a message from the Jedi Council.  They learn that Jabba the Hutt’s son has been kidnapped and that Jabba has asked the Republic for their help in finding him.  Having an ally such as the Hutt Clan has not lost its importance on neither Chancellor Palpatine nor the Jedi Council.  Such an ally would ensure that all Hutt trade lanes would remain open to the Republic and effectively seal off said lanes from the Seperatists.  Anakin and Obi-Wan are assigned the task of finding Jabba’s son and returning him to his father on Tattooine.

            They also discover that the messenger is in fact Ahsoka Tano, a 14-year-old Jedi Padawan assigned to Jedi Anakin Skywalker.  Anakin, uncertain that he is ready to take on a padawan learner, is clearly shocked at such news.  But if he is to help rescue the young huttlet, he must accept this new responsibility and teach Ahsoka everything he knows about being a Jedi.  And it must be done quickly, for their lives, and the life of the huttlet will depend upon it.

            It certainly won’t be easy – the Separatists have devised a plan of attack to prevent the huttlet’s rescue.  Count Dooku has sent his most valuable assassin, Asajj Ventriss, to ensure that the rescue never happens.  He has also convinced Jabba that the Jedi engineered the kidnapping in the first place.  He strikes up a deal with Jabba that will ensure him use of the Hutt trade lanes in exchange for his son and the Jedi’s head on a platter.

            Can Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka rescue Jabba’s son in time?  And if they do, what will they face upon their return to Tattooine?

            The action in this film is truly incredible.  For an animated film, I never expected such exciting fight scenes.  Though there is no blood, there is certainly ruthless battle that might not exactly be suitable for kids.  For instance, in one scene, a clone trooper’s gun loses its charge.  In a last ditch effort, he charges a battle droid.  The droid pulls him in, shoots him through the chest and flings him away.  Like I said – ruthless.

            The Jedi battles are equally exciting.  Lots of lightsaber play in this movie.  I marveled at the ability of the animators.  The lightsaber techniques were well-orchestrated and as realistic as if they were being performed by human actors.  Well done!

            The storyline was enjoyable and the huttlet was just way too cute.  I enjoyed the idea of reckless Anakin taking on an equally reckless padawan.  Ahsoka is an interesting character with an exciting new lightsaber style.  I can’t wait to see her further adventures in the upcoming television series.  

            While I knew that most of the original actors of the prequel series would not be reprising their roles for the animated film, it was nice to discover Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Daniels and Christopher Lee had returned to voice the characters of Mace Windu, C-3P0 and Count Dooku, respectively.  I wasn’t thrilled with Matt Lanter’s rendition of Anakin Skywalker, but I found James Arnold Taylor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi to be spot on.  Listening to his performance, one can almost believe that Ewan McGregor had returned to reprise his role.  This comes as no surprise to me - James Arnold Taylor has had quite a bit of experience with this role, portraying Obi-Wan in the Cartoon Network series of Star Wars: Clone Wars animated shorts

            The fact that this is the first Star Wars film in which Frank Oz was not providing his voice for Yoda was a tad disappointing.  I was not enthused by Tom Kane’s rendition of the Jedi Master.  However, I did thoroughly enjoy Ian Abercrombie’s rendition of Chancellor Palpatine (AKA: Darth Sidious) – terrific job!

            The music in this film was noticeably different.  Although a couple of John Williams’ works can be heard throughout the film, such as the main title theme, the rest of the music was created by a different composer.  This is, in fact, the first Star Wars film in which John Williams was not the composer of the musical score.  The new music played throughout the film was rather exotic sounding.  I imagine it to be a sort of theme for Ahsoka, being an exotic sort of padawan.

            All in all, I truly enjoyed Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but I was not prepared for the reaction of the audience once the credits began to roll.  I had figured that the true Star Wars fans would love the film and others would simply enjoy it.  I had not expected to hear numerous people, both young and old, clapping as the lights went on and the credits rolled.  One kid summed it up for everyone, saying, “That was AWESOME!!!”  I couldn’t agree more!

 

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