Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003)

"Very Good"

Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003) Review


Star Wars: Clone Wars, a "micro-series" that originally aired on Cartoon Network and on the Star Wars website, bridges the gap between two films in the popular epic; the clone wars began during Episode II's spectacular finale, and will apparently be finishing up as Episode III begins. This DVD volume collects the first 20 shorts, totaling about 70 minutes. The shorts follow the adventures of characters both major (Anakin, Obi-Wan) and supporting (Mace Windu, and a host of other Jedi with only a few lines in the prequels) as they lead the clone army against endless hordes of ruthless, but still fairly dim, droids.

Some die-hard fans have proclaimed, with the internet nerd's mixture of hyperbole and stridence, that Clone Wars represents Star Wars "as it should be," a rejoinder to the allegedly disappointing prequel films. But these shorts actually resemble quick, exaggerated elaborations on the action-laden last 45 minutes of Attack of the Clones. Coming from me, this is a high compliment; I revere those 45 minutes of Attack of the Clones with an intensity others reserve for church, or Lord of the Rings. It's just difficult to figure why the Clone Wars episodes garner so much more praise than their obvious antecedent.

While I'm complaining about my fellow nerds, let it also be known that the most potentially fanboy-pleasing elements of Clone Wars are also the most ridiculous - such as the short where Mace Windu smashes about a thousand droids with the force alone, and another thousand with a couple of well-timed light saber thrashes. Even if there is novelty in battles moving at the speed of light, this effect would either be impossible or meaningless to produce in live-action. The continuity may be sound, but make no mistake: These adventures take place even further into cartoonland than a regular Star Wars movie.

Other than the slightly steroidal approach, the shorts are indeed true to the spirit of Star Wars, if hardly superior. The action, as well-composed by ace animator Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack) and his crew, is as relentlessly kinetic, and the dialogue as comfortably cornball, as vintage Lucas.

Clone Wars is most satisfying when supplying intriguing side stories (rather than Jedi skills demo reels), such as that of another wannabe-Sith apprentice in the tradition of Darth Maul: Asajj Ventress, a female warrior who baits and matches wits with the headstrong Anakin. In fact, female warriors receive considerably more attention here than in the prequels - some female Jedis get their very own lines!

The cartoons feel disjointed when viewed all in a row, and only halfway satisfying as individual pieces; it's probably best to watch Clone Wars in a few 20-minute sittings. Star Wars fans may enjoy it the most, but animation fans won't be disappointed either.

Aka Star Wars: Clone Wars - Vol. 1, Star Wars: Clone Wars - Volume 1.



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