Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Not to be confused with Attack of the Clones, the live action film in the prequel series, Clone Wars, the traditional cell animated cartoon from a few years back, or even The Clone Wars CG film that acted as a prequel to this new CG series that airs weekly on the Cartoon Network.

Anyway, it took me a while to really give this show a chance. I loved the prequels (and also hated them a little bit, but enough on that), but never really got into the previous animated show because I don't care for cartoons. CG cartoons I'm also not crazy about, unless they are made by Pixar. Oh, and also, that first CG Clone Wars movie was awful. The animation was neat and some of the action set pieces were off the hook, but the story was so bad, so boring, and so unengaged, that it made the prequels look like they had been written by Tolstoy.

But this show is pretty good.

I think it has the benefit of not having to sustain a story for a full two hours, opting instead to show little snippets of the Clone Wars in traditional 30 minute episodes, all of which are extremely well done. The writing is some of the best any Star Wars production has ever seen, the direction shows meticulous attention to detail, and the action sequences are amazing. This show is just exciting and fun to watch. Also, the voice work is phenomenal. For the first few episodes I watched, I couldn't believe how they managed to get Ewen MacGregor and Hayden Christensen for this series... until I noticed that they weren't listed in the credits. You'll never notice any differences. These guys are good.

So it's a good show -- perhaps even a great show -- that still isn't quite as awesome or memorable as it should be, if only because the Clone Wars are such an awkward period in the Star Wars mythology. At the end of the day, we already know which of these characters live, which die, and how the war itself plays out. When they go on some mission to stop Dooku or Grevious, we know it won't succeed because those two are in the Episode III, which takes place years later chronologically. Also, there's the added wrinkle that the entire Clone War was hatched as a plot by Palpatine to attain more power over the Republic, so the idea of watching all of the Jedi used as pawns in an ultimately pointless war never sits right with me.

But it's still a really cool show with awesome voice work, great animation, and incredible action sequences. It's Star Wars.

You can check out a few full episodes online at the Cartoon Network website. Watch the Mandalore Plot episode. The big fight at the end is off the hook.

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