Star Wars: The Clone Wars

When it was determined that we would get to see another “Star Wars” this year on the big screen, I was pretty excited. Even though The Clone Wars is an animated film and not really a story line progression for any of the movies, I knew it was still going to be treated as important and a definitive part of the legacy of Star Wars. It fits right smack dab in the middle of Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith, before Anakin Skywalker turns completely to the dark side.

Ever since Obi-Wan Kenobi uttered the words “Clone Wars” in A New Hope Star Wars geeks worldwide have had a fascination of this fantasy war. Even before George Lucas let us in on his story, I’d read different translations of information gathered because of hints and assumptions that people had created surrounding this mythical war. Star Wars fans are some hardcores. Those same hardcores weren’t necessarily the demographic George Lucas and company were seeking in the creation of this film. In the end, that might prove to be this film’s undoing, at least critically.

Though the story is actually a bit too much for an hour and a half cartoon, in essence, this is a kid’s movie. There’s no two ways about it. Every joke is targeted towards kids. Every new character is there to give the new generation of Star Wars fans a new favorite. There’s Jabba The Hutt’s infant son Rotta, who can’t speak, yet is in nearly half the movie. He’s a crying sluglike character that is there for sympathy. Anakin’s female padawan Ahsoka is a hip and young character, but is too far left for the character to feel natural. She calls Skywalker “Sky Guy” and gets him into just as much trouble as she gets him out of. Ahsoka is there to help Anakin grow up, calming his character between movies two and three. The third new character that stands out is Ziro The Hutt, Jabba’s shady cross dressing and effeminate uncle. The character is funny, but very odd as well. I’m not sure there was a real reason for the character to be feminine except maybe for some easy laughs.

Some of the older characters are fleshed out a little bit. Jabba The Hutt is in many scenes, more than in any of the previous films and thankfully we have a translator because I think I failed my class in speaking Hutteese. Jabba is played for a fool throughout, with the Separtists led by Count Dooku pulling him one way, and the Republic trying to reason with him at the same time. Dooku is trying to set up the Jedi as the bad guys so that Jabba would join them in their attempt at galactic takeover. The reason for him being one of the central characters is because his infant son has been kidnapped and he wants the child back or else he’ll kill everyone. Or something like that. You also get to see more of the clones battling the droid army.

Late in the film, we get to see Padme, but her relationship with Anakin isn’t played up at all except for a few glances near the end. Mace Windu is back in a small role as well and Samuel L. Jackson is back to voice him. Only Jackson, Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), and Christopher Lee (Dooku) were back to voice their original characters. The film doesn’t lose too much because of the new voice actors.

In the end, I enjoyed the film, but it was really slow for about the first hour. My kids enjoyed it too, but they didn’t have the same gleam in their eyes as they had for other films they’ve seen over the years. I think this movie fails in two ways. It doesn’t appeal to the hardcores nearly enough. These are the same guys who’ve bought every film on VHS and DVD and follow the new comic book story lines and buy the toys. These aren’t kids. These are people who have been with the franchise since the beginning or near the beginning. There are some easy ways they could’ve done so, and they didn’t do it nearly at all. The other way this one failed is because the story just isn’t compelling enough. The ending gives you some satisfaction, but nothing complete. And it’s not like we’re getting anything else on the big screen. I believe they’re continuing this story line in cartoon form on television, and that’s great. But at the end of this movie, you’re left feeling that there wasn’t enough conflict.

As it is, I still enjoyed it. I loved the animation, though it was a bit blurry at times. Still, it was fantastic to see the Star Wars characters animated. It’s not necessarily a must see, which is kind of heartbreaking in a sense because Star Wars movies are supposed to be a big deal. This one wasn’t so much.

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