I'm an avid Star Wars fan but I don't sugarcoat something when it stinks. I thought the first two new Star wars movies were pretty bad. The actors that played Annakin Skywalker were wooden at best and the general acting was pretty horrid, depsite the talented cast. It often seemed like the characters had been taken over by robots who forced them to behave like wooden puppets. I also thought the entire plot was convaluted and hard to follow and lacked the clear good vs. evil dynamic that made the original trilogy so powerful.
So, I was expecting to be badly disappointed by the new movie - Star Wars - The Clone Wars.
Chronologically, the movie takes place between Star Wars II (Attack of the Clones), and Star Wars III (Revenge of the Sith). It chronicles a chapter of the bloody Clone Wars that wracked the galaxy and pitted the Republic and the Jedi against the Separatists, led by the Sith Lords Count Dooku and Darth Sidious.
The story is pretty basic. Someone has captured Jabba the Hut's baby. Annakin Skywalker and his new Jedi apprentice Ashoka Tano must travel to the planet of Teth and rescue the baby Hutt from a fortified monestary in order to cement an alliance with the Huts. Who is waiting there and why form the dramatic arc of the story.
So how was the movie? Here's what some of the big-time movie critics write:
Entertainment Weekly writes:
George Lucas is turning into the enemy of fun. This all-animated chapter Star Wars: The Clone Wars sounds like a perversely logical evolution of the series, which has been built around increasingly thick gobs of digital eye candy. But you never knew how much you'd miss all that lousy, wooden human acting. The animated Anakin, Obi-Wan, etc. (all with faux movie-star voices) are drones, and the repetitive combat sequences only add to the turgid videogame anonymity of it all. Lucas' fantasy empire has morphed into a machine that plays itself. F
The LA Times writes:
After some poorly thought-out action sequences, "Clone Wars" plunges into a nonsensical and ultimately inconsequential plot involving the kidnapping of Jabba the Hutt's baby. Seriously. Along the way we meet Sith henchwoman and likely series regular Asajj Ventress and Jabba's fey Southern uncle, apparently Capote the Hutt.
Now, if you're already watching a "Star Wars" product, you're willing to go with sound in space and faster-than-light travel and all that good stuff. But achieving the suspension of disbelief required by these plot mechanics, large and small, is like bull's-eyeing womp rats from a T-16.
The NY Times writes:
As a mechanical thrill ride, however, “The Clone Wars” has an uncluttered look and furious pace that make it more or less as satisfying as its wildly overdesigned predecessors, although it’s neither as agile nor as well made as the terrific series of short, traditionally animated “Clone Wars” installments shown on the Cartoon Network from 2003 to 2005.
What did I think? I liked it. The movie opened with a new version of the title soundtrack, set to war drums. It set an aggressive, adrenaline pumping tone. that never let up. The first battle scene on the planet of Christophsis was a swirling dervish of laser beams, clone troopers, Jedi movies and total battle mayhem.
Unlike the LA Times who thought the action scenes were "poorly thought-out," I thought they were pretty impressive. The vertical battle scene on Teth, as the Clone troopers, Annakin, and Ashoka scale the monastary is one of the best I've seen - digital or not.
Entertainment Weekly complains about the digital characters but I actually found myself forgetting they were digital and just going along with the movie. And unlike the real actors, the digital characters actually seemed more life-like than their real-life counterparts. Annakin is wry and funny in The Clone Wars and his verbal jousting with Ashoka is realistic and humorous.
I also thought the music by Kevin Kiner refreshed John William's classic score. As I mentioned, the opening scene with the battle drums was great and the addition of some electric guitar pumped more energy into an already frenetic battle scene.
By the end, I realized I enjoyed it much more than I had thought possible. No, it didn't give me nearly the same thrill as seeing Star Wars IV (my all-time favorite movie) for the first time. But it did make wish I had a lightsaber to swing and that I could channel the force. It brought me to a galaxy far, far away and that's more than most movies will ever do.
My Rating: out of 5.