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The Clone Wars

Since seeing all of the prequels I have maintained two opinions: that the only thing separating Episode III from a Sci-Fi channel original production was the size of the budget and that a person could possibly take all three of them and edit them into one decent movie. As the prequels progressed they got worse, and the good scenes became fewer both in number and duration. Yet, I had expectations for Revenge of the Sith. Not because it was the last of the prequels, nor because it was going to finally show the fall of Anakin.

It was because of a burning light of genius that existed between the II and III. The Cartoon Network ran a series of animated shorts called “The Clone Wars.” Each episode was no longer than a couple of minutes but had decent plots, real intrigue, and delved further into the Star Wars universe. It involved planets other than Kashyyk, Tattoine, Coruscant, and Naboo. The series displayed a Galactic Civil War that took place in the Galaxy involving a myriad of characters other than the principles. When the movie was announced I was less than excited and delayed seeing it.

I was surprised by it. Initially I was worried when the narration started in the beginning but that would be the only time that I rolled my eyes. This movie is what happens when you remove George Lucas from both the writing and the directing position in a movie: you get something in his universe but isn’t cheesy or wooden.

The movie centers around a plot to kidnap Jabba the Hutt’s son in order to gain access to the hyperspace routes that surround his territory. The Separatists have locked up the major routes and the Republic desperately needs them in order to supply its armies in various quadrants throughout the galaxy.

Generals Obi Won Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, in the meantime, are fighting the droid armies on a planet in need of re-supply; and are charged with recovering the kidnapped Hutt. Anakin, has recently been given a young apprentice to train, Ahsoka Tano, who provides enough of the comic relief and is the substitute for the viewers.

I should note that this movie is unabashedly a kid’s movie. Instead of trying to pander to both the die-hard Star Wars fans and the children it focuses on the youngsters. This makes the movie feel more authentic while also succeeding in entertaining the fans.

The animation style was an interesting choice as well. The space fights do not look that much different from the prequels but when we are viewing the characters they look painted. On closeups of Padme and Yoda especially I thought I could see brush strokes. It makes for an interesting look that is very aesthetically appealing.

The characters while looking good, also act well. A pronounced improvement is seen in Anakin’s character. His dialog comes off as human rather than wooden, in fact across the board this is a striking improvement. The voice acting is done extremely well, and while the voices are different it was only upon viewing the closing credits that I realized it wasn’t Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christiansen, Frank Oz, or Ian McDirmand doing the voices. The casting must have been done by people looking to find extremely similar voices. Returning to the movie though are Sam Jackson (as a cameo), Anthony Daniels, and Christopher Lee as each of their respective characters. I guess there isn’t much of a substitute for Christopher Lee who again shines as Count Dooku.

The movie reminded me of the various well written, well plotted video games that take place in the Star Wars universe. The kind that forced me to ask, “why couldn’t the movies be more like these (Republic Commando is one example that sticks out)?” Well someone has thankfully answered that question with a, “they can.”

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