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Movie Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
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Clone WarsStar Wars: The Clone Wars
Directed by Dave Filoni
Starring Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane
Rated PG
Release Date: August 15, 2008

Star Wars: The Clone Wars … and Why I Loved It!

In light of the fact that seemingly everywhere around me, critics were panning Star Wars: The Clone Wars, I went into the movie with low hopes. This was in direct contrast to 24 hours earlier, where I was eagerly anticipating the movie, and getting to see it before the majority of the world. But in that short time that early reviews appeared, and then were embargoed by LucasFilm, my hopes dropped.

I don’t know whether it was the fact my hopes were so low, or if it was just in fact a good film, but I really liked Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

But let’s get a few things sorted straight off the bat, ok? First of all, this is not a movie where peace can be found. The entire galaxy is at war, and if you look at the title of the movie, it says that it’s going to be about the war. Take a look back through movies like Saving Private Ryan, Battle of the Bulge, and The Longest Day. These movies were filled with action scene after action scene, and no one complained about it then. Why? Because they realized that in war, that’s what happens!

And secondly, yes, this movie is done using a newish style of animation. And, as with any style of animation, you will find those who really like it, and those who really do not. Rarely will there be a happy middle ground.

That being said, let’s get down to business. I feel like I should have labeled this similarly to my ‘11 Reasons Why I Didn’t Completely Hate the Star Wars Prequels’ article: 5 Reasons Why I Liked the Clone Wars. But I refrained, because this is about reviewing a movie, and I hope that in doing so, you will see why I liked the movie.

clonewars002Straight out of the box, one thing has to be pointed out: George Lucas has done a sublime job in picking his cast. While we saw the return of actors like Christopher Lee — who by himself added gravitas — Samuel L. Jackson , and Anthony Daniels, it was the job of those voicing the main characters that did the best job. James Arnold Taylor, the official voice duplicate for Obi-Wan Kenobi, was flawless; there were times when I literally couldn’t tell that it wasn’t Ewan McGregor. Tom Kane does a perfect Yoda and Matt Lanter is a much better Anakin Skywalker than Hayden Christensen ever was. This in and of itself helps make the movie as good as I felt it was.

The story of the movie is also such a great Star Wars story, squished into a movie that is balls-out action. Basically, by the time that Yoda arrives with reinforcements for Obi-Wan and Anakin on Christophsis, we’ve already seen the introduction of Anakin’s new padawan, Ahsoka Tano, and Obi-Wan’s and Anakin’s respective Clone commanders, Cody and Rex. These early scenes are really good, and contain some great action, as well as some nice moments between Anakin and Ahsoka.

However, we are soon enlightened to the fact that someone has stolen Jabba the Hutt’s baby, a Huttlette, a name at which I giggled, I admit. What takes place next is a rolling adventure, following Obi-Wan as he goes to visit Jabba, and Anakin and Ahsoka as the new master and padawan go and rescue the Huttlette. In between Anakin getting in trouble, Ahsoka getting him out of it, before they get back in to trouble, and Obi-Wan getting them out of trouble, the story is resolved nicely thanks to Padme.

Once again, I’m not entirely sure what people were expecting from the movie. It’s in the title, Clone Wars, where a war is being fought. Even the most character driven war movie is still going to focus almost entirely on the fact that there is a war going on. So the story that we did get from the movie was just as I had imagined: political intrigue, mystery, and a lot of well planned out action scenes.

clonewars003And this is where, I feel, the movie really did justice to our hopes. It was a realistic battlefield movie, with clones and droids dropping like flies. Once again, refer back to Saving Private Ryan for the reality in that statement. But while many of the clones were unnamed, many were also pulled out and identified. Rex, a shaved-head clone, wields a pair of pistols rather than the longer rifle most everyone else uses. Oddball is a pilot under Obi-Wan’s command, and Cody is Obi-Wan’s ground commander. They each have different aspects to their characters which, at the outset, have been only hinted at; this is especially the case with Oddball.

Another aspect which I really like, and something they have picked up from the Republic Commando series of books by Karen Traviss, is assigning various styles of uniform, behavior, and speech to different types of clones and their duties. In the movie, we saw a fleeting look at some engineers, command crews, scouts in their camouflage armor, and clones working aboard the ships.

I really cannot fathom what has got people all in such a twist. Star Wars: The Clone Wars was a really good movie. There wasn’t a whole lot of character development, because there wasn’t any need for it; we have a TV series which is based around that exact concept, especially in the case of the clones. The animation is really nice, and there were some scenes — especially scenes focusing on Ahsoka — where the facial movements and expressions were really clear and clean. And the fact that it was all action? Apart from the fact that it’s supposed to be like that in war time, I don’t hear anyone complaining about that from Taken.

Either way, this movie gets 8 out of 10 from me. I really can’t wait for the TV series, and especially to see more of Ahsoka, her relationship and dialogue with Anakin, and more of the clones, especially Rex.

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