Star Wars: The Clone Wars


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Part of being a Star Wars fan for 30+ years is seeing through some of the lesser productions that have come from any number of sources, whether it be the painfully grating Holiday Special, terrible video games like Master of Teras Kasai or certain (*cough*JarJar*) moments from the prequels. As a fan though, I have a certain drive to take it all in with the hope that another shining star will fall from that galaxy far far away. I count myself among one of the first to see the trailer and early character renders from Star Wars: The Clone Wars at Star Wars Celebration 4 held in Los Angeles, 2007. It was easy to get excited over a feature length CG animated film. My expectations had been drawn from the critical and popular success of the Genndy Tartakovsky animated series that aired on Cartoon Network. The series had a unique style and narrative that spanned the time period between episodes 2 and 3. It’s lack of dialogue was more than made up for by the visual storytelling Tartakovsky is known for. This new Clone Wars bears a small similarity in artistic style to that series, but that’s where it ends.

In fairness, I had caught some of the reviews before going into Clone Wars, and they hadn’t been positive, but I really wanted to like the film because I find that oftentimes critics don’t give this franchise a fair shake. It’s an old target, and it’s an easy target. After all, 30 years ago critics panned the first movie for its poorly acted characters and tired plot. I thought that being the Star Wars Geek that I am and being an animation afficianado that I could give Clone Wars a fair shake and not be quick to dismiss it. Just as some underestimated the power of the Force, I underestimated how far a series can fall.

At a glance, the plot centers on a scheme by Count Dooku and his seperatists to kidnap crime boss Jabba the Hutt’s baby son (where’s mom?) and to frame the Jedi council so as to gain access to Hutt controlled trade routes. Jabba sends out a plea for help to which the Jedi council dispatch Anakin Skywalker, now a general for the republic, and his new padawan learner Ahsoka Tano, to retrieve the Huttlet and return him to the slug hoping to win his favor and access to the afforementioned trade routes. Intergalactic babysitting…great. Along the way, lessons are learned and clones are burned, but it’s clear from the beginning that the intended star of the film is Ahsoka. The pre-teen alien with a few good ideas but major ‘tude panders to a much younger audience and works to annoy anyone over the age of 14.

Dialogue sounded like it was written by junior high students. The entire movie is a series of strung together one-liners and smarmy remarks that might have worked a half hour at a time (this is set to become a series on Cartoon Network fall of 2008) but not as a feature length film. Two points in particular raked on my patience. Every character inevitably would make up some ridiculous cutesy nickname for every other character. As a young Jedi Padawan, Ahsoka is supposed to show reverence and respect to her mentors, particularly her direct master Anakin. Somehow however, she gets away with calling him “Sky Guy” throughout the entire movie.

Then theres Ziro the Hutt, Jabba’s english-speaking-night-club-owning-uncle. This hutt is some sort of half-conceived effeminate New Orleans-style jazz musician stereotype that is one cliche shy of becoming outright offensive. The character is utterly useless to story progression and appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to introduce an otherwise gay character to the Star Wars universe.

From a production stand-point, the animation is wooden and lifeless except for some minorly redeeming (though incredibly short) space battles. The character design has a unique and intersting style, but the acting quickly dumbs down any freshness. Perhaps most disappointing is that John Williams’ timeless score is nowhere to be found. Instead we get a series of chopped up orchestrations that seems to jump from one genre to the next by a composer who is better known for CSI: Miami’s music. This isn’t to say that Kevin Kiner isn’t an accomplished composer, but he certainly isn’t the choice to replace Williams on a 30 year old franchise.

The film has endless flaws, and that’s saying a lot coming from a fan like myself. You can’t put characters into physical conflict when you ALREADY KNOW THEY SURVIVE, at least until the next movie. It’s unfathomable to have a Star Wars film without a John Williams score. It’s unconscionable to create not one, but THREE characters more annoying than Jar Jar Binks in a single flic (Ahsoka, ‘Stinky’ the Hutt and Ziro the Hutt). Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a major disappointment and just flat out boring. You’ll excuse me while I go watch the original trilogy and the Tartakovsky toons to get this bad taste out of my mouth.

Christopher Kirkman

Christopher is an old school nerd: designer, animator, code monkey, writer, gamer and Star Wars geek. As owner and Editor-In-Chief of Media Geeks, he takes playing games and watching movies very seriously. You know, in between naps.

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2 Responses

  1. Robin Lee says:

    ** BIG STAR WARS DISCOVERY || I am Robin Lee. Twenty years ago I filmed the senseless demise of the iconic estate art studio of American pop culture artist, Maxfield Parrish. Filmmaker George Lucas said that it was the art work of Maxfield Parrish that directly inspired the feel and look of his Star Wars films, The Lucas Effect, page 282. I own that amazing and historic world on film and it is now gone. It was where Parrish painted that art work that inspired Lucas and Star Wars and it was so outrageous in there imagine being their? That art studio was created by Maxfield Parrish and his lovely model, Sue Lewin, she is in most of his masterpieces as both female and male. She is an important discover and is 100% linked to Star Wars. ** I truly believe that Star Wars began in that art studio of Maxfield Parrish in 1904…….
    My research and findings are correct so far. I am releasing info as I go in hopes that everyone will help me get this story all over the world– it has merit. These sites are loaded with unknown and historic info about art and Star Wars history, maxfieldparrishmotif.com and maxfieldparrishmovie.com I am in high hopes that Lucas and others will see this story, he will showcase his Parrish collection in his new museum, so please podcast this story, pass it on to everyone, please!, I do need help, not tech savvy and this is vital information for all! I will keep u all posted as I go.
    Thank you, Robin lee

  2. Robin Lee says:

    WOW AND BEYOND EPIC ! NEW INFO OUT OF THE UK, NEW INFO ABOUT LUCAS AND LEIA. IT IS FANTASTIC !

    (The Game of Nerds origins of Star Wars the case for Maxfield Parrish).

    LOOK IT UP, THEN RELEASE IT ALL OVER THE PLANET ! ||

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