Written by: Mike Caccioppoli, Feature Film Critic
A surprising shot of adrenaline into the arm of the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the most entertaining Star Wars film in a very long time. I know that might be hard to believe since it’s an animated version of the universe created by George Lucas but this movie really blind-sided me. I certainly don’t consider myself even close to being a Star Wars fanatic unlike those fans that arrived to the screening with light sabers, some of them wearing the costume of their favorite character. I think you could slap the Star Wars name on anything and it would sell like hotcakes. I understand that Lucas was going to air this film as the pilot for a television series but decided that it was so good that he had to release it theatrically. He was right.
The story is also one of the most engaging of the series as Lucas and his co-writer Henry Gilroy are able to cleverly involve all of the main characters that we’ve come to know and love in a galactic struggle that could decide the fate of the Republic. The Clone Wars encompass a civil war that has the Separatists and their droid army battling the Republic and the Jedi who protect it. While this is happening, the son of Jabba the Hut has been kidnapped and in order to maintain a good working relationship with him, and convince him to allow the Republic to pass through his territory safely, the Jedi take on the mission to recover his boy. The mission is led by Anakin Skywalker (voice of Matt Lanter) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (voice of James Arnold Taylor). Much to Anakin’s dismay he is forced to bring along a Padawan apprentice named Ahsoka Tano (voice of Ashley Eckstein). As Anakin and Ahsoka embark on their mission it becomes increasingly obvious that the person responsible for the little hut’s abduction, Count Dooku (voice of Christopher Lee) is attempting to fool Jabba into thinking that the Jedi is responsible for the abduction.
What’s evident from the start of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is that the animated format allows Lucas and company to do much more than what’s possible in the live action format. I’m not just talking about the visual scheme but also the characters themselves who can move and act in ways that actors would not be able to. In the animated format there are no boundaries and in the world of George Lucas that allows his imagination to truly run wild. The “clones” are robots with long, thin legs and horse shaped heads that are intellectually dense and can be easily fooled which makes for many comedic moments throughout the film. At the heart of the film is the relationship between Anakin and his new apprentice Ahsoka, as she calls him “sky guy” and he calls her “snips” they begin to rely on each other as they get closer to fulfilling their dangerous mission.
Other than the idea that a child has been kidnapped and the fate of the universe may be on the line, there really isn’t the usual Star Wars angst going on. Anakin is once again a good Jedi with no hints of heading to the “dark side” and his apprentice is a wide-eyed optimist from the get-go. The overall upbeat tone of the film which has us simply rooting for the good guys to save Jabba’s son and to beat the bad guys, nothing more, nothing less, allows the heart and soul of the Star Wars films to shine through. The unique personalities of Lucas’ characters are all on display here, and our love-hate feelings for the bloated Jabba have never been stronger. There’s also an appearance by Jabba’s similarly porcine cousin Ziro the Hut, who is voiced by Corey Burton with more than a hint of Truman Capote.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a welcome shot of adrenaline to the Star Wars franchise.