Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Clone Wars

 

  • Released Internationally on 14/08/08
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 27/08/08

 

Preview (01/08/08)

In a nutshell

In the afterglow of Revenge of the Sith (Episode III, released in summer 2005), George Lucas decided that the next step for his Star Wars franchise would be a TV series. Based on the success of the brief but stunning animated Clones Wars that was made before Episode III, he decided to further delve into the events of the clone wars, by means of a CGI-animated series. This feature film is the introduction to that series, and serves to showcase on the big screen what we hopefully will be enjoying on the small screen for years to come.

Why we’re hyped

Well, it’s Star Wars of course.

Who’s in it?

All the well-known characters that made it from Episode II to III are back for more action, as this film picks up shortly after where Attack of the Clones left off. In the voice department, Samuel L. Jackson is back to voice Mace Windu, Christopher Lee is back to voice Count Dooku, and Anthony Daniels, the only actor to star in all 6 Star Wars films, is back to provide the unmistakable voice of C-3PO.

Review (26/08/08)

Variations on a theme

As the lights go dim, and the Lucasfilm logo fades away and is replaced by the familiar blue text 'A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away', a pleasant feeling of familiarity is coupled by the usual sky-high expectations, and the audience holds its breath as they wait for the blast of the orchestra. This is Star Wars, ladies and gentlemen, and no matter how bad we might have thought Phantom Menace and/or Attack of the Clones were, it still has that magical aura which draws many to the cinema, and which feels somehow different from every other film we've ever sat down to watch. But as the main titles blast onto the screen in the familiar yellow font, we're quickly reminded that this is an offshoot, a variation, or Star Wars with a twist. After the first few notes of John Williams' legendary theme, the music veers off into new territory, and instead of seeing the usual scroll of text crawling into space, we're immersed in a spectacular space battle as a matinee voiceover fills us in on the latest Clone Wars situation. It's Star Wars, but it's different. It's rooted in familiarity, but it's something fresh and new. It could be argued that it's quite superfluous to the overall Star Wars story arc, but it's still fun.

Cloned footage?

For the opening few moments, one could be forgiven for regretting coming to watch yet another hour and a half of Clone War footage. The snippets of the Clone Wars we saw in Episodes II and III were exciting stuff, and they served their purpose as a backdrop for the overall story of Anakin and the Empire. Then we got a couple more hours of extra Clone War details in the animated series. So do we really need more scenes of Anakin and Obi-Wan leading clones against various armies on various planets? Hasn't this subplot been flogged enough? But after the brief introduction, we soon get to see what this extended episode is really about. The fulcrum of this particular story, and probably the reason why Lucas deemed it worthy of a cinematic release of its own, turns out to be an interesting plot line, and a even more interesting new character. The plot line reunites us with an old, albeit unattractive, friend - everyone's favourite slimy gangster, Jabba the Hutt. It turns out that even hefty huts can have adorable offspring, and Jabba’s son has been kidnapped as part of a scheme to turn him against the Jedi. Another familiar face (voice), Count Dooku, seems to be involved, and Yoda fears this could be a turning point in the war.

Fourteen and feisty

We’re then introduced to Ahsoka Tano, a young Padawan (or Jedi in training) who is assigned to Anakin, and who joins him on his search for Jabba’s son. She provides an interesting element because Anakin is suddenly entrusted with a new responsibility, and we therefore gain some insight into the transition he made from the reckless young man of Episode II to the more restrained and disciplined Jedi of Episode III. The new blood is much appreciated, and hopefully Ahsoka will feature prominently in the ensuing TV series.

The looks department

The characters are stylized versions of their real-life selves, although in the case of many scenes, vehicles and a few characters, the change from the other films isn’t that significant, seeing that they were already CGI. The animation is wonderful, and various set-pieces are beautifully done, including a moonlit lightsaber duel which can proudly stand alongside the other epic duels of the saga. This is no show-stopping Empire Strikes Back, but if you’re eager for more galactic entertainment after Episode III, this should bring a smile to your face.

 

Mark7

 

Trailer:

http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/starwarstheclonewars/ (High-res QuickTime)

 

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