SUB-GENRES: Action / Adventure
DIRECTED BY: Dave Filoni
WRITTEN BY: Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching, & Scott Murphy (screenplay); George Lucas (story)
PEW PEW: Fantastic animated action, focused on military action and lightsaber duels, with more or less realistic physics.
CAT FOOD: While the series that this film piloted is rich with social commentary that the rest of the Star Wars series is usually lacking, it is not very present in this particular storyline.
After the surprisingly unique Genndy Tartakovsky-helmed original Clone Wars animated series, I was very excited to hear that an animated feature film was going to be released that was also going to serve as a pilot for a new Clone Wars animated series, this one employing CGI instead of more traditional animation.
The film begins a while after the opening gambit of the Clone War (we witnessed its beginning in Attack of the Clones). A crystalline planet is under severe attack by the droid army and our heroic Jedi Knights, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and their clone army are pinned down and in dire need of support. An answer from the Jedi Council comes in the form of Anakin’s new padawan learner (apprentice) Ahsoka Tano.
After a hard won battle on the planet’s surface, the Jedi send Anakin and Ahsoka on a mission to rescue Jabba the Hutt’s kidnapped son, a mission that soon reveals Count Dooku (leader of the Separatist goverment)’s evil hand in the unfolding events.
While the film is quite enjoyable, it isn’t really the best indicator of what the respective television series has to offer. I’m a massive fan of this Dave Filoni-helmed The Clone Wars series, believing it to be one of the most fun and emotionally gripping television series I’ve ever seen. It tells some of the greatest little Star Wars stories in the franchise. I’ll readily admit that this film doesn’t represent its sprawling ambition at all.
Of its most amazing attributes, the new characters it introduces and the depth it adds to old ones is front row centre. Ahsoka Tano is one of my favourite Star Wars characters of all time. She’s mouthy and over-confident, but at the same time flawed and willing to learn. The girl develops well over the course of the series, and this is hinted at in this film. Clone Captain Rex is also a fantastic character.
As stated, existing characters are also changed a little. The play between Anakin and Obi-Wan is friendlier and very entertaining from time to time. Dooku’s underling, Asajj Ventress, has also become something deeper than she was in Tartakovsky’s series. I honestly can’t praise Matt Lanter’s Anakin Skywalker enough. After Hayden Christensen’s general butchering of the role, it’s a tremendous relief to have a strong voice in the role.
The animation, while a little rigid at times (another thing improved upon in the series), is a realistic sort of exaggerated. The physics are real enough not to be cartoon, but the design is quirky enough to establish a cartoon style. The surroundings are beautiful and the Thunderbirds-inspired character designs are quite neat.
On its own, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a decent movie, but not quite the most inspired animated film ever made. As a pilot, it’s a little lacking as it is quite linear and doesn’t quite present the depth and story variation that would become a staple of the series — but I’ll tell you, I’m really glad that Star Wars: The Clone Wars did become the launching point for an exceptional television series. I have to give it some extra points for that.