STAR WARS: CLONE WARS
Review by Ed Nguyen
James Arnold Taylor, Matt Lucas, Tom Kane, Anthony Daniels, Corey Burton, John
DiMaggio, Grey DeLisle
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Audio: English, Spanish, or French Dolby 2.0 Surround
Video: Color, 1.78:1 widescreen
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: Featurettes, commentaries, galleries, trailers, game demo
Length: 69 minutes
Release Date: March 22, 2005
have no fear, and I sense much fear in you."
the end of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones,
fans worldwide finally witnessed the commencement of the fabled Clone Wars after
decades of build-up and anticipation. Hoorah!
But by the start of Revenge of the
Sith, the Clone Wars was suddenly almost over! What happened? Did
we somehow miss a movie along the way somewhere?
we did not, but for fans clamoring to see something, anything, of the Clone
Wars, cable's Cartoon Network valiantly came to our rescue.
With the blessings of George Lucas and Lucasfilm, the Cartoon Network in
2003 handed directorial carte blanche over to Genndy Tartakovsky to flesh out a stylized,
animated version of the Clone Wars. For
folks not in the know, Tartakovsky was the creative genius behind the Cartoon
Network's acclaimed Samurai Jack
series, making him an ideal choice for another high-profile cartoon series.
Wars: Clone Wars, Volume One
(2003) represents a compilation of twenty episodes from Tartakovsky's animated
series. These episodes, mostly
three minutes in length apiece, were designed to play in between regular
programming on the cable channel in much the same format as Samurai Jack was shown. The
short length of these episodes virtually guaranteed that there were no dull,
expositional mumbo-jumbo scenes about Senate this or political intrigue that.
fact, after maybe a minute of introduction, Star
Wars: Clone Wars leaps right into the midst of a non-stop thrill ride.
Character development? Sappy
dialogue? Mushy romances? Fuggeddabuddit.
Star Wars: Clone Wars is just
start-to-finish explosive action, baby! Admit
it, that's what we all really wanted, right?
episodes fill in the large narrative void between Attack of the Clones and Revenge
of the Sith. At last, fans get
to see what the Clone Wars really looked like.
Star Wars: Clone Wars focuses
upon multiple battles across the Star Wars
universe as Jedi Knights everywhere are called upon to lead the newly-formed
Army of the Republic in a galactic struggle against the formidable Count Dooku
and his league of Separatist worlds.
with a clash on the Banking Clan world of Muunilist, where huge factories are
suspected of amassing Dooku's drone armies and tremendous warships.
The Jedi Knight Obi-wan Kenobi and his Padawan Anakin Skywalker are sent
to lead the Army of the Republic in a massive assault on the planet.
Under General Kenobi's command, ARC troopers deploy to knock out the
chief cannon defenses of the drone city on Muunilist while in the skies above,
Skywalker keeps the drones occupied in an epic space battle.
and Skywalker are not the only Jedis facing stiff resistance.
Elsewhere on the water world of Mon Calamari, the drone army of the
Quarren Isolation League moves against the Calamari Council as amphibious Jedi
Master Kit Fisto is instructed by Jedi Master Yoda to intervene on behalf of the
Calamari. On Dantooine, Jedi Master Mace Windu single-handedly takes on
a massive drone ship that threatens to literally crush all opposition.
On the ice planet of Ilum, Master Luminara Unduli and her Padawan Barriss
Offee courageously defend a sacred Jedi Crystal temple against an invisible
drone attack until Master Yoda himself can arrive for the rescue.
introduces some impressive new villains, too.
The nigh-invincible Gen'Dai commander, Durge, leads a cavalry charge of
IG-88ish war droids on Muunilist. Asajj
Ventress is the dual saber-wielding female Dark assassin chosen by Count Dooku
to kill Anakin Skywalker among the Sith ruins of Yavin 4.
The half-drone commander General Grievous, who plays a major role in Revenge
of the Sith, is introduced in the cliff-hanger finale on planet Hypori,
where he mercilessly takes on a ragtag band of Jedi led by Masters Ki-Adi-Mundi
and Shaak Ti.
really cool Jedi bravura, Clone Wars
is the film to watch. Animation
frees up the action considerably and allows the Jedi and Sith warriors to truly
demonstrate their Force might and melee talents to the max.
No need to mask a lack of sufficient skills on the part of human actors
you feel that the light-saber fights in either Star Wars Episodes Two or Three were somewhat lacking in
authentically acrobatic moves, à la Darth Maul? Did you sense that quick and fancy editing, close-ups, and
flashy computer enhancements were all designed to somehow pass off the illusion
of non-martial artists engaged in light-saber fighting? Clone Wars should
alleviate any such fears. With its
epic interstellar free-for-alls, massive army-versus-army assaults, engaging
light saber duels, and much more in the grand Star
Wars fashion, Clone Wars makes for
a perfect lead-in to Episode III, Revenge
of the Sith.
Wars: Clone Wars
is presented in a single-layer, widescreen format.
The animé-style artwork is quite similar to the stylish look of Samurai
Jack. The ships are computer-enhanced, but everything else is
rendered through traditional cel animation.
The separate episodes have been seamlessly woven together through screen
wipes and an interlinking musical score. As
a result, Clone Wars, though
necessarily episodic in nature, plays out rather smoothly as a single film.
transfer itself is very nice with no grossly discernible flaws.
Colors are bright, and the images stay sharp and smooth even in the
film's numerous quickly moving action sequences.
a television show, the sound on Clone Wars
is surprisingly absorbing. The
audio is THX-certified, after all (as with all Star Wars DVDs). Too
bad the audio is presented only in 2.0 surround sound, or else the film could
have been ever better!
voice actors capture the nuances of the characters quite well.
And yes, John Williams' memorable Star
Wars scores are generously sampled. Furthermore,
the wall-to-wall sound effects in Clone
Wars are quite faithful to those from the live-action Star
Wars films, more confirmation that this is truly a canon Star
the menu screens carefully! They
change from time to time, much as they do on other Star
Wars DVD releases.
main bonus features are the two director commentaries.
In the first commentary, Genndy Tartakovsky allows his comments to
essentially narrate the on-screen action. This
would be a fine commentary for the visually-impaired, but it is otherwise
useless. In the second "Hyperspace" commentary, Tartakovsky
focuses his discussion much more on
character design, the voice acting, and the visual and sound effects.
Tartakovsky points out some of his personally animated scenes, too.
The second track is decidedly more interesting for its trivial tidbits.
featurette Bridging the Saga: From Clone
Wars to Revenge of the Sith (8 min.) offers interviews with George Lucas,
Genndy Tartakovsky, and art director Paul Rudish. Clips from Attack of
the Clones and Revenge of the Sith
can be seen alongside storyboards and fight choreography for the Clone
Wars episodes. The filmmakers
also allude to the five twelve-minute episodes in Volume Two of Star
Wars: Clone Wars.
"Behind-the-Scenes" featurette (4 min.) presents a quick interview
with Genndy Tartakovsky, who describes the general brainstorm behind Star
Wars: Clone Wars. Also shown
are the voice actors at work, some conceptual designs, and numerous clips to
enjoy from the episodes.
folks who can't get enough of Star Wars
promotional stuff, there is the awesome Star
Wars: Revenge of the Sith teaser as well as an Episode III video game
trailer. For more video game
merchandise, check out the nifty Star Wars
Republic Commando video game trailer and the included Xbox-playable demo of
the game. Lastly, there are two art
galleries, one with forty character design art panels and posters, the other
with twenty-seven sketches and storyboards.
FEATURE: No Jar Jar Binks anywhere
in Star Wars: Clone Wars.