Movie Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I've finally gotten a chance to start binge watching all the Star Wars: The Clone Wars goodness that's been released on Netflix!  You've seen my review of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and, so, before I move into the television series, I watched the feature animated film of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

I'm going to be honest.  I didn't start watching The Clone Wars until the 5th season.  So, until now, I had never watched the movie and the first four seasons.  Call me a bad Star Wars fan, but I just couldn't get over how much I disliked the prequel trilogy.  And, when the movie first came out, I had heard bad reviews and couldn't bring myself to watch another bad Star Wars entry.

The film begins as the Clone Wars is already well under way.  Anakin Skywalker has grown up a bit from the bratty teenager he was in Attack of the Clones and is given a Padawan as a charge - a young Togruta named Ahsoka Tano.  The Separatists, led by Count Dooku, have been trying to get more planets to side with them against the Republic.  As part of the plan, they try to convince Jabba the Hutt that the Jedi have kidnapped his son.  In return for the Hutts' allegiance, the Separatists promise to return Jabba's son.  But, you can't hold a good Jedi down nor can you under estimate the light side of the Force and the Separatists plans go awry.

And, so the Clone Wars continue.

While I read a lot of bad reviews about this film, I have to admit that I enjoyed it.  Yes, there's a part of me that wishes they didn't so clearly try to target younger audiences.  There's some level of eye rolling for me because of it.  The wacky droid dialogue just seems out of place, especially when they're speaking to a Sith as dangerous as Asajj Ventress.  It just makes her seem less threatening.  But, even in its most juvenile outreach to younger viewers, I still felt it was a better attempt to do so than Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

Also, speaking of annoying voices, though...what was with the voice casting for Ziro the Hutt?  On one hand, you have Jabba speaking in this deep guttural tone and then you have his uncle Ziro sounding something like Truman Capote.  Even if Ziro lived on Coruscant and didn't speak Huttese, why would he sound like that?  Why wouldn't his voice be, at least, deep and phlegmy sounding.

Also, admittedly, if I just knew Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker's Padawan, from this film and this film alone and try not to think of how she eventually developed, I might also find her to be an annoyance.  But, I think she was a good choice as a Padawan for Anakin, too.  In Attack of the Clones, Anakin was brash and impulsive.  As we start The Clone Wars, he's matured on some levels, but also still prone to impetuousness.  Although, whereas his giving into this emotions can take him to the dark, Ahsoka tends to go to the light.  She is a good yin to his yang.  And, we get to see this throughout the series run of The Clone Wars television series.

This film has gotten a lot of flack for not having much of a story line, but, truth be told, I got way more out of this film than I did from any of the live action prequel trilogy.  Yes, there are still long battles with droids and clones and dazzling lightsaber battles.  But, at the same time, I thought it was a fine introduction to the meat of the Clone Wars.  I do think, though, that once they get into the shorter episodes where they really have to encapsulate the storytelling, we get even more substance.  This movie is really a drawn out version of a television episode on some levels.

I have to admit that the computer animation doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would.  While the characters themselves come sometimes look a little stiff, director David Filoni gave them enough stylization to make them interesting.  And, some of the backgrounds actually look quite beautiful.  In fact, I felt that the scenes on Tatooine had more weight in this animated version than they did in the live action CGI of the prequels.

Is Star Wars: The Clone Wars a perfect Star Wars film?  No.  But, it is just as good, if not better than any of the prequel trilogy to me.  And, what it sets up - 6 glorious seasons of the television seasons - is what I'll forever be grateful for.


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