Oct 27, 2008

[Movies] Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)

When it was first announced that a CGI movie about the legendary Clone Wars period of Star Wars lore was going to be released, I was pretty excited. I had loved how Genndy Tartakovsky (of Dexter's Laboratory fame) had managed to bring this part of the Star Wars Universe to life with his own limited-run "micro-series" back in 2003 entitled Star Wars: Clone Wars. The action was pretty intense and it did a lot to help flesh out this period in Star Wars History.

However when I learned that (1) Tartakovsky was not involved in this project, (2) it wouldn't clearly link up with the original cartoon series and (3) it was really the precursor to a new children's show that would eventually debut on Cartoon Network, I was no longer as excited as before. In fact, I was pretty worried about the whole thing.

And thus managed to sit out all the fanfare around its theater release with no guilt. I eventually relented to watching the darn thing only because the TV series was starting in the US, and even then I resorted to online means to liberate a copy for myself. Yeah, bad, bad me.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars naturally takes place between Episodes II and III in terms of the Star Wars saga. Count Dooku and his Separatist forces continue to rally more and more support for their cause while the Galactic Republic does its best to secure its part of the galaxy from rebellion. The Jedi Knights now act as generals for the Galactic Republic's army, which is composed of clones produced on Kamino. The Grand Army needs to maintain such staggering numbers in order to keep pace with the Separatists' own army of battle droids.

The story revolves around the offspring of Jabba the Hutt, Rotta, who has been kidnapped by forces unknown. Anakin Skywalker and his new Padawan Ahsoka Tano are sent off to recover the kidnapped Huttling in order to win favor with the Hutt Clans and secure much-needed hyperspace lanes through Hutt Space in the Outer Rim.

Now given I knew the movie and the eventual TV series are really meant for kids in terms of its target audience, I was ready to swallow my pride a bit an braced myself to endure whatever it was the film had to throw at it. Not one to disappoint, George Lucas came up with Ahsoka Tano as the source of child-centric fun and adult annoyance. I mean seriously, how did we come up with a Jedi Padawan like this? Considering she was schooled in the proper manner since childhood, you'd think she'd be a bit more mature compared to how Anakin was as a young Jedi coming into his legacy too late. Instead we have a wise-cracking, reckless adventurer who has difficultly following orders or exercising restraint and tact.

Don't get me wrong though, I do appreciate the film in terms of the coolness factor. The battles are pretty intense and seeing the clones face off with the droids whether in space or on the ground is something that really can take your breath away. If only for the battles, the ticket price would be generally worth it. At the same time, they also could have been better still but everything always has that room for improvement.

The overall story was a bit droll, but then since it was meant for kids, I can see the need to dumb things down, in a manner of speaking. I have to join the many voices of fans bothered by the creation of Jabba's uncle Ziro, whom many tagged as the gay Hutt. I guess they can't actually be gay given they are a race of hermaphrodites, but then that's just me being geeky. I can somewhat accept how a Hutt on Coruscant would soften a bit and resort to speaking Basic in order to get along with the other races on the planet but to be so different compared to the rest of the Hutts did seem very off to me.

Ultimately, the movie accomplished its primary goal - to set the stage for the new cartoon, which is currently airing in the US. It was never meant to be on the same scale as the other movies in the Star Wars Saga although it still does its best to maintain its own part of the Expanded Universe. I wouldn't say it's a must-see film for a Star Wars fan, but if you intend to follow the current US TV series, then you might as well take the time to see what this movie is all about. If anything it'll give you a benchmark from where to start evaluating the whole series.

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