Rating: 1.5 stars
About 5 minutes into Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the new animated film from Lucas Studios, I turned to my friend Travis and said, “Wait. I thought Anakin went bad in Revenge of the Sith. Then why is he swashbuckling right alongside Obi-Wan Kenobi?” “Because this film takes place before that one,” he explained.
Let me get this straight: The most recent three Star Wars films—Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Sith—were not sequels, but prequels, right? So what does that make this? A midquel? Episode 2.5? A palate cleanser? The mind reels.
Actually, the mind doesn’t reel at all. It’s quite clear what Star Wars: The Clone Wars is—a giant advertisement for Lucas’s next project, an animated Star Wars TV series that will run on the Cartoon Network and TNT.
Surely, that explains why the animation is so horrible—the faces are so stiff and robotic they bring to mind Max Headroom—and the voice work done by a cast of no names (except for a random cameo from Samuel Jackson). Why set up fans for a quality you won’t be able to deliver? It also explains why the plot doesn’t move the mythology in one way or another—nary a clue that Anakin is going to turn evil. (Each episode, presumably, will be it’s own discrete adventure). And finally, it explains the addition of a spunky new girl power heroine, Anakin’s new apprentice (or “padawan,” in the film’s parlance) Ahsoko. If you’re going to do a cartoon series, you better appeal to the kids.
In this feature-length version, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoko are trying to rescue Jabba the Hutt’s infant son, who has been kidnapped by Count Dooku. The rescue mission is important, as Jabba controls airspace that will be needed in the Jedi’s fight against Dooku’s droid army. (Or something like that.) Light sabers are wielded. Yoda speaks in mangled platitudes and at one point, Anakin is attacked by an army of what appears to be giant beer cans.
As for Queen—in this episode, still Senator—Amidala, who is Anakin’s one true love? She makes a brief but truly strange appearance as she tries to appeal to Jabba’s uncle Ziro, for the safety of the knights. I mention this only because the actor who voices Ziro (Corey Burton), is doing some sort of strange Truman Capote impression and Ziro is dressed in drag. And no, I didn’t doze off during the film and dream this—although that certainly would’ve been an appealing option.