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Rewind Reviews - Star Wars: The Clone Wars

by Andrew Siddall. Published Mon 13 Aug 2018 18:55, last updated: 05/05/20
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Seven years before Star Wars returned to live action in style with Episode VII - The Force Awakens, the characters were much more animated. In this Rewind Review, we take a look back at the feature length animated movie, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The Clone Wars, released in 2008, is set between the events of Episode II – Attack of the Clones and Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, and features Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker, and his new Padawan learner, Ahsoka Tano, attempt to rescue the son of Jabba the Hutt from the clutches of the dark side.

Not to be confused with the excellent miniseries by Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky, this feature utilises 3D animation and introduced an entire plethora of characters into the mix and fleshed out many more from the films. Essentially, this film is a very long pilot episode that happened to get a cinematic release.

Lending his voice talents to young Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker, is Matt Lanter, who creates a much more experienced and mature version of Anakin, who has to accept his responsibility as a teacher. This isn’t something that’s been explored before and provides the series with a unique story that separates it from what we’ve previously seen.

Obi Wan Kenobi, voiced by James Arnold Taylor, also gets a good part to play. Kenobi feels much more like the war hero we heard about in the original film and it’s great to see. With the story focusing on Anakin, he is side-lined to helping clean up the messes left by the young Jedi, but in doing so, he gets some of the best action scenes of the film.

Ahsoka Tano is a youngling who’s assigned to Skywalker as his Padawan learner. She’s voiced by Ashley Eckstein, who gives the character an upbeat personality and optimism. She’s an inexperienced character but gets some great scenes all to herself and really cements herself as a welcomed addition to the series.

This is the only cinematic appearance of Dooku’s apprentice, the deadly assassin, Asajj Ventress, voiced by Nika Futterman. She is the Darth Maul of the movie, with her cloaked appearance and ruthless nature. She’s a fantastic addition to the Star Wars galaxy that Lucasfilm saw fit to bring back into the mix. She doesn’t have much personality outside the evil fighter, but she truly makes an impact on the story.

We also get to hear the first appearance of the series narrator, Tom Kane, who introduces each episode of the series, in place of an opening text crawl, and establishes the story about to unfold. It works well for the series, but not so well for the film.

Alongside the new voice talent are a few familiar ones, including Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role as Mace Windu, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and the legendary Christopher Lee returning as Sith Lord, Count Dooku. It’s great to hear them back, even if it was only for the film.

The voice talent have gone on to prove themselves brilliant choices for the characters, but at a few times, they do sound like they are just reading from a script.

The story feels like three episodes stitched together with overlapping character arcs. The first is a battle on a planet called Christophsis, the second being the rescue of Jabba’s son, and the third being the final showdown.

The story helps establish the character dynamics that would go on to define the series and offers a good hopping on point for budding Star Wars fans. It also manages to give some of the side characters more to do, with the Clones having their own looks and personalities, as well as a small story for Senator Padme Amidala.

Being an animated film, this allows the animators to push the boundaries of what Star Wars can do, with some of the most immersive and inventive action sequences in the entire saga. The battles are huge and seem directly from actual war films, with gritty shootouts and both Clones and Droids being mowed down as both sides advance.

A highlight is a battle up the side of a cliff, with Anakin and Ahsoka racing each other to make it to the top. Even with the budget that the live-action films have, scenes like this don’t happen, which makes The Clone Wars all the more watchable as it shows something new.

The animation on the characters is also pretty good, and it continued to improve during the length of the series. Here, there are some very clunky movements which could be better, but this doesn’t stop the characters and lightsabre fights from being any less entertaining, including the battle between Obi Wan and Ventress.

The use of the lighting and the darker colour pallet really helps to make this stand out against the other films, with all of the materials still retaining their hand-drawn appearance. It’s a subtle reminder that these are the dark times leading up to the creation of the Empire, and of course, Darth Vader.

With the film and series expanding the Star Wars universe, this features plenty of new creations, including aliens, planets, spaceships and varying looks for the Clones and Droids, which didn’t quite make it to the live-action films. All of these designs look great and suit the continuity of the franchise.

This being a Star Wars movie, the sound design, as always, is nothing short of fantastic. Armed with the full gallery from Skywalker Sound, the animators are able to create an accurate representation of the Star Wars universe that fans are sure to enjoy.

The music is created by Kevin Kiner, who creates a different type of score that sounds militaristic. This suits this film and works well for the series, but it doesn’t quite match the amazing scores created by John Williams or Michael Giacchino.

Overall, this is a good start to the series, but not great as a standalone movie. The action is fantastic and the stylised animation is beautiful. The characters are better realised than in their live action appearances and show what they could have been. This is definitely worth a watch for any Star Wars fans.

Purple Revolver rating: 3/5. A good opening to a stronger series.


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