Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003)

star wars clone wars

“Like fire across the galaxy, the Clone Wars spread.”

The Scoop: 2003 NR, directed by Genndy Tartakovsky and starring Mat Lucas, Nick Jameson, James Arnold Taylor

Tagline: The Revenge Begins

Summary Capsule: Wonder what happened between Episode 2 and 3? Want to see more soft sand? Here you go!

Justin’s rating: All it needs is a hefty dose of Invader Zim.

Justin’s review: If the Star Wars movies have a failing — and some have more than one — I think that all of them would be found guilty of sometimes dragging on a bit too much. Slow pacing. Plodding. Long at times. Not constantly, and there’s more than enough in the films (particularly the original trilogy) to keep one interested, but part of me always thought that getting to the end of, say, The Empire Strikes Back took the patience of someone who accidentally overdosed on Nyquil and was concentrating very hard on staying awake and not slipping into a coma. Interesting, yes. But still a tad trying.

Star Wars: Clone Wars, a “micro-series” (a stupidly fancy term that meant “We created two full-length cartoon shows, then split them into three-minute segments to stretch out the viewers’ attention and get maximum ad revenue”) that aired over the course of a month or so back in late 2003, shows me what the Star Wars universe might be like if there were no pauses in any of the films. If it was all about quick pacing, cutting to the action, and eliminating the middleman (who was carrying boxes labeled “Character Development” and “Plot”). If all the fat was trimmed, then the bulk of the muscle and shavings off the bone. If Star Wars was simply action sequence followed by action sequence connected by the barest minimum of storyline.

Maybe I’m just hard to please. But so are harp seals, who can never get enough fish to suit their whims.

Bridging the gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, Clone Wars covers what the movies couldn’t be bothered with: an interesting war full of gratuitous slaughter. I mean, there were trade federations to stymie and senators to awkwardly hit on? Who has the time for space battles any more? Anyway, Clone Wars tries like a frenzied newscast to hop from planet to planet as battles between the Republic and the not-Republic. What then happens on each planet is this:

1. Good guys (stormtroopers) and bad guys (druids) slaughter each other. Since they’re all not really people, the violence is accepted without worrying about pesky value of life or anything.

2. A Jedi shows up to kick butt, setting their jaw stoically against the opposition. There’s a lot of Force throwing and lightsaber-waving to wade through.

3. Then a major bad guy or bad super-ship shows up, to be bested by a lightly perspiring Jedi.

That’s pretty much it, for a little over a straight hour. Spoken dialogue is kept to a bare minimum, which is good considering that few of the voice actors called in to substitute for the film actors are up to the task, or given enough material to work with. There’s a little bit of tension between a scowling Anakin and a gruff Obi-Wan, Amidala prancing around in skin-tight polar gear, and Mace Windu showing us why purple lightsabers rule the Jedi rainbow.

That leaves us with action upon action upon action, and it is most fortunate that a bulk of it is good, entertaining and even pretty creative. I found myself laughing a couple times at some of the innovation in the fight sequences (Mace using the Force to pull out all the nuts and bolts from a droid, causing it to crumble apart instantly was a favorite), and overall it felt quite Star Warsy. Special mention goes to the space battle, which felt almost like an homage to Robotech, as blazing missiles and careening starfighters swooshed every which way.

Maybe it felt somewhat kiddy, but Clone Wars is not alone in the Star Wars universe for that. The more grown-up fans have to decide if there’s enough adult material in here to compensate for the obvious pandering to the young ‘uns, and I’d vouch a strong yes for this micro-whateveritis. Just stop having bad feelings about everything! It’s a galaxy far, far away full of pessimists!

Yoda is either (a) holding in a fart, (b) possessed by Satan, or (c) finally feeling the hand jammed up his rear that controls his every action.

Intermission!

  • Characters who “have a bad feeling about this”: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Chapter 11 and 22) and Padmé Amidala (Chapter 16).
  • The Wilhelm scream!
  • Anthony Daniels is the only actor to reprise his roll from the movies. Most of the other cast is culled from voice actors for the LucasArts Star Wars video games.
  • Because it was being simultaneously broadcast as a television series and a web series, technically it makes Clone Wars the first Emmy Winning web series.
  • During the third season, most of the story takes place on the planet, Nelvaan. Nelvaan is a nod to Nelvana Studios, the company responsible for cartoons Droids, Ewoks, and the animated sequence from The Star Wars Holiday Special.

Groovy Quotes

Yoda: Like fire across the galaxy, the Clone Wars spread.

Anakin Skywalker: Impressive… most impressive.

Shaak Ti: Ithorians. Four throats. Quite powerful.
Supreme Chancellor Palpatine: So I’ve heard.

If You Liked This Movie, Try These:

  • Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
  • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
  • The Star Wars Holiday Special

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