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Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Theatrical Release) - Movies

Series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Title: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Episode: Theatrical Release

Chronological Episode: 3

Original Air Date: August 15, 2008

Runtime: 22 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Mike Taber; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

In my book, experience outranks everything. SPOILERS.

A galaxy divided! Striking swiftly after the Battle of Geonosis, Count Dooku's droid army has seized control of the major hyperspace lanes, separating the Republic from the majority of its clone army. With few clones available, the Jedi generals cannot gain a foothold on the Outer Rim as more and more planets choose to join Dooku's Separatists. While the Jedi are occupied fighting a war, no one is left to keep the peace. Chaos and crime spread, and the innocent become victims in a lawless galaxy. Crime lord Jabba the Hutt's son has been kidnapped by a rival band of pirates. Desperate to save his son, Jabba puts out a call for help—a call the Jedi are cautious to answer…

NOTE: My reviews typically provide a mixture of recap and analysis, but since this is technically a theatrical release my review will more closely resemble the format I used for The Force Awakens review. I will address specific plot points and moments, but I will not provide a beat for beat recap of the film.

When I rewatched the film for the purposes of this review, I found myself enjoying it more than I remembered. I never thought that The Clone Wars theatrical release was the outright disaster some fans made it out to be, but I always considered it to be a creative low point for Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It’s by no means a masterpiece, but it isn’t all bad either. It’s a flawed introduction to the world and characters of The Clone Wars that will make you both cringe and cheer. Ok, cheer is little strong but you get the idea.

   

Let’s begin by talking about the film’s central figure, Ahsoka Tano. I can and have written extensively about why I think Ahsoka became a great Star Wars character, but today we’re focusing on her more humble origins. The idea that Anakin Skywalker had a Padawan that was never mentioned in the films caused a lot of controversy at the time. Personally, I like the idea but not necessarily the execution based on this film alone. The idea that Yoda gave Anakin a Padawan to teach him to let go is more promising than some people will admit. Obviously Ahsoka isn’t in Revenge of the Sith and Anakin never learned to let go so there’s a sense of doomed melancholy that hangs over the relationship between Anakin and Ahsoka. No matter how close they got over the course of the series, Anakin and Ahsoka’s relationship was always doomed to end in tragedy. There are a lot of rich storytelling opportunities with the Anakin and Ahsoka relationship that were explored during the Clone Wars series, but not necessarily in this film. The best way to describe Ahsoka in this film is a work in progress. The bickering between Anakin and Ahsoka and things like “Skyguy” and “Snips” provided some of the more cringe worthy moments in the film. I never wanted to hear the phrase “Don’t get snippy with me!” in a Star Wars movie. The cringe-inducing dialogue was absolutely one of the film’s weak points. Her relationship with Rex was more endearing though. Speaking of Rex, he actually fared better than most of the characters. There’s not much to his character at this point, but he had some great action scenes and a few nice moments with Ahsoka. A battle hardened soldier like Rex would’ve been a great addition to the prequel trilogy that was sorely missing a “regular” non-force wielder like Han Solo. It’s not an in depth character study, but Rex left a good first impression. The other major characters were comprised of familiar faces. Obi-Wan was sidelined with clean up duty for most of the film, but James Arnold Taylor did an admirable job with his more limited screen time. Matt Lanter left a good impression as Anakin but they needed to find a better balance with the Anakin/Ahsoka relationship. Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress serve as the film’s villains. Well, alien Sean Connery and Ziro the Hutt are there too. Christopher Lee returned to voice Dooku for the film, and having Christopher Lee is always an advantage. As for Ventress, she was…fine.

   

Looking at the film as a whole, two sequences in particular stand out. The opening battle on Christophsis and the cliffside battle on Teth. The opening battle on Christophsis prior to Ahsoka’s arrival was surprisingly brutal. Watch it again and look at how many clone troopers get killed. I appreciate that they didn’t shy away from the consequences of war and you could see some Saving Private Ryan influences in several shots. One of the film’s weaknesses was the wooden at best animation, but the opening battle was pretty impressive at the time. My favorite sequence in the movie was the cliffside battle on Teth. From the opening shots inside the Republic gunships to the AT-ATEs climbing the side of the mountain, there’s a lot to like. That’s what I wanted to see from a show set during the clone wars. I can only imagine how good it would have looked in season four or five. Following the cliffside battle on Teth, I think the film began to lose focus. Their stay on Teth felt a little stretched out and dragged in a few spots. Then there’s a strange detour with Padme and Ziro the Hutt that adds absolutely nothing to the film. It was an unnecessary diversion that felt like it was only there to give Padme something to do. Having the film center around the kidnapping of Jabba the Hutt’s son was acceptable, but we didn’t need the Ziro detour. Actually, let’s talk about Rotta the Hutt for a minute. So Jabba has a son? Okay, sure… but did we have to hear Jabba call him his “Punky Muffin.” I think I blocked that out the first time I heard it. Sending Anakin back to Tatooine for the final act was the right move though. That stretch of the film found the best balance in the Anakin and Ahsoka relationship. In addition, the two duels (Dooku vs. Anakin, Ahsoka vs. Magnagaurds) were among the more exciting sequences in the film.

   

Look, no one is going to confuse this for The Empire Strikes Back. It’s not at all a great film and it has several major issues. With that being said, it’s not the unwatchable mess some portray it as. There are some great individual moments and scenes buried beneath all the “Snips” talk. I enjoyed this film for what it is, a flawed introduction to Ahsoka Tano and the world of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. For that, I’ll always appreciate it.

What Worked

  • The Opening Battle on Christophsis
  • The Cliffside Battle
  • The IDEA of Giving Anakin a Padawan
  • Good First Impression for Rex

What Didn’t Work

  • Wooden Animation and Dialogue
  • Ahsoka: A Work in Progress
  • That Strange and Unnecessary Ziro the Hutt Detour
  • Loses Focus in the Second Half
External Links:
Added: November 5, 2016
Category: Theatrical Releases
Reviewer: Mike Taber
Score:
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