Star Wars: Clone Wars
Long ago, in a galaxy far far away, there was once a movie series of some relevance. Due to their slightly camp nature and universal themes, people flocked to see each installment in their droves. However with each new drink taken from the chalice (a spin-off here, a prequel there), it quickly became apparent that rather than existing characters and ideas being explored, they were continually introduced to an ever expanding universe of incidental and trivial concerns.
And with that, George Lucas decided to green-light an animated movie and tv series of ‘The Clone Wars’, an exercise in narcissism and frugality. I say frugality because the same faults that can be posited against the prequel trilogy: that it is overlong and doesn’t require movies of such length; and that does no more than neatly resolve questions better left unanswered (or done in more depth through the expanded universe merchandise), can be leveled against this new project.
A sparse story involving the kidnap of Jabba The Hutt’s son Rotta, in order for the Separatists to gain access to even more routes through space in an ever deepening war tapers out quite slowly. The Republic are confined to their central worlds and the Outer Rim, meaning the rescue and subsequent negotiations surrounding these same routes is of dire importance. Anakin Skywalker and his new Padawan Ahsoka Tano, are sent to rescue the child and return him before it’s too late.
There’s not much that I can say about this movie that’s positive. Acting as an introduction to the series that followed, it holds no pretense about where it stands, apparently happy to indoctrinate a new generation of fans, perhaps those who have yet to full deride Jar Jar Binks into buying Star Wars merchandise and keeping the licensing machine going. Even the introduction of Tano is so awfully conceited to enamour the younger audience, a youngling of limited appeal yet given a large portion of screen time, it’s impossible not to feel even the slightest bit jaded.
The plot is insubstantial, acting merely as a transitory crutch for one fight scene after another which are each as lazy and haphazard as the last. Even a standard summer blockbuster knows that it must add to the tension and atmosphere by continually upping the ante, yet here it is at best innocuous. Everything is aimed at keeping it so universal and inoffensive to the youngest of viewers that even at just over 90 minutes, it’s impossible for your eyes not to glaze over.
Although Lucas has never been a wordsmith by any stretch of the imagination, here it is closer to lines sown together structurally, a mechanism to keep this festering hulk alive that bit longer. So bad, that most of the central cast from the main film series had no inclination to return. Samuel L. is here of course, but let us not cast an eye over his choices recently.
Little can be said at all about the animation except that it is “Team America” for eunuchs, neither funny nor charming, especially in those scenes where even the facial animation is incapable of synching with the dialogue, or action scenes hindered by the cast’s limited realm of mobility.
Unnecessary is the only way to describe this entire exercise, with Lucas having become an enemy of evocative storytelling. Where once he wrote about hope, now it has become a long war, seemingly endless and with fun as its main casualty.