Star Wars: The Clone Wars represents a turning point in the George Lucas Empire. From pandering to the graying generation of Star Wars fans to outright pandering to their children, The Clone Wars isn’t exactly what you’d consider terrible, but only if you think of it strictly as an adventure for kiddies
While watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars, it's hard not to pity today’s youth. It’s not that this film is entirely terrible (I actually prefer it to the live action Clone Wars). But if this is what our kids are growing up with—one lightsaber battle too many—then how could they ever possibly follow or find interest in the far superior original trilogy of (sigh, I still hate this refiguration) Episodes 4, 5, and 6? Every five minutes or so is yet another whiz-bang lightsaber battle that quickly evaporates into a flash cut to a one liner or back to the boring banter between Anakin Skywalker and his new apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. By the thirty minute point, I was yawning into my fist. If I was still twelve, then maybe I might have been totally floored by all this action, but as a mid-twenties cine-phile, I just couldn’t keep my head up with this one. The action quickly had me all tuckered out.
The problems begin with the story, if you can even consider it a story at all and not just a display of animated lightsaber duels. Taking place between Episodes 2 and 3, I suppose, Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi are fighting to keep the separatists at bay and prevent Count Dooku from moving his troops even closer to a take over. What ensues is a kidnapping of Jabba the Hutt’s son, Rotta, an appearance of Jabba’s cross dressing cousin, Zero, and a battle with a new villain, assassin Asajj Ventress.
Oh, but wait, I’m forgetting the main star of this movie, Ahsoka Tano, the new kid on the block. I’m all for filling in backstory (Wait a minute, no I’m not), but when there’s no mention whatsoever in any of the other films about her, I’m not going to buy her presence in the chronology, even if she IS featured in the new animated series that this movie helped spearhead. I mean, when they said in the later episodes that Anakin used to be a mean pilot when he was younger, I didn’t balk all that much when they included him flying a stupid pod in Star Wars Episode 1:The Phantom Menace. But to see this new character thrown in just to make some more cash off of the franchise, well, even I won’t stand by that. Especially when the character is as vapid and uninteresting as this one—every single line being a snippy comeback or a whiny, “I told you I knew what I was doing,” joke.
I get it already! You’re young, impatient, and here to stay. You’re the Poochie of 2008! If anything, though, this new character is a further sign that the series has landed into kiddie territory, as her doesn’t take any guff, Teen Titans attitude is sure to sell toys off of the storeshelves. She’s everybody’s favorite wise-cracker. Except mine, of course, or anybody else over the age of sixteen, I would presume.
But then, I remember that this movie IS for the younger crowd. And for the video game and energy drink generation, this movie isn’t all that bad. It’s got action by the butt-loads, so for any kid with ADD, this film doesn’t disappoint. The story is simple enough that anybody could follow it, so none of that messy political stuff in the live-action films bogs it down here or leaves little Timmy scratching his noggin and crying for more Jr. Mints and breast milk. All in all, this movie isn’t all that bad if you’re not expecting that much out of it. But if you are, then prepare to be very disappointed yet again. This isn’t your parent’s Star Wars.
For further proof that the Lucas camp didn’t really see this as a film and saw it more as an opening to a series are the special features, which are usually rich and voluminous on these Star Wars discs. This time around, though, all we get is a commentary, and that’s it. No “Making of,” featurette, no commercial spots, no deleted scenes, no nothing. (Editor's Note: There is a two disc edition of Clone Wars that carries more special features than the single disc edition reviewed here) All that’s here is just a commentary of nerds probably pushing up their glasses every five seconds to talk about Star Wars. Luckily for me, I’m also a nerd, and I found all their Star Wars banter intriguing, even if it was only for a mundane movie such as this.
What we learn from the start is that this movie was never intended to be a movie at all, but rather, just the first episode, told in parts, of the new Cartoon Network series. But leave it to Lucas to shake that coiffed head of his and say that this should go on the big screen, even though any idiot with a brain not made of beans could have told you that this wouldn’t work as a movie. And the commentators on this disc widely agree, even if they don’t outright say it.
What I find most interesting though is how the commentators talk their way out of altering Star Wars lore completely by adding in Anakin’s apprentice, Ahsoka, who was never mentioned in any of the movies before in the past, but is seemingly given a huge role in this saga. Really, what the commentators are doing is defending their new character, and telling the audience to back off if they can’t accept the latest addition to the story. They talk up her qualities and totally disregard how annoying she is—not Jar Jar Binks annoying, mind you, but still, pretty annoying. They also discuss how she snuggly fits into the grand scheme of things, especially amidst the whole clone wars saga, as it has so many different confounding angles to it that you could probably fit Lando Calrissian in there somewhere and it would probably still make sense.
What disappoints me, though, is that the commentators never once admit that this movie was meant for children and not adults who enjoy the Star Wars saga. Instead, they discuss how awesome the action scenes are, and how “George” likes to jump to the chase. Well, I knew THAT already, I saw the prequels, after all. And they also talk about how this is just the beginning of something much, much, larger. While I know I won’t be tuning into that show anytime soon, if you’re kid brother or sister is too antsy to sit through Yoda pontificating about the Force and telling Luke to lift up spacecrafts with his mind, then this might just be their cup of Juicy Juice.