We headed to the theatre this Friday to catch the new Star Wars animated film, The Clone Wars. In a very empty theatre, I had to do something I never like to do. Dislike a Star Wars film.
I am a huge Star Wars fan. The original trilogy I feel are some of the best films of all time, especially The Empire Strikes Back. Also, despite obvious flaws in the prequel trilogy, I like those films as well. Revenge of the Sith is a dialog coach short of being fantastic.
With the release of Clone Wars I was excited to see a time period of Star Wars history that they have been teasing since A New Hope. I wanted to see the action and adventure of Jedi Knights fighting a full scale war, of Clone Troopers facing armies of droids and Jedi at the height of their power using Force abilities like we have never seen.
I won't bog you down with the back story of Star Wars, if you haven't seen the films you won't get this. Instead you get a PG rated film with a G rated storyline. The film really is just episodes of the new animated series. As an animated series of free television I am sure it would be fine, heck even great. As a theatrical release it falls flat. You don't get the same bang for your buck or epic scope that you want from your Star Wars film. We get a story of young Darth Vader taking on his first padawan trainer in the middle of the Clone Wars. Anakin Skywalker's trainee is a precocious and smart-alec pre-teen girl with a quick mouth that is obviously aimed to ensnare the younger audience. They are sent on amission to save Jabba the Hutt's baby son from the clutches of Count Dooku and his Sith apprentice, Assaji Ventriss.
You read that right. Darth Vader and his teen sidekick on a mission to save Jabba's baby. Part of me understands, the cartoon is aiming for a younger demographic and simpler storytelling dynamic to appeal to a wider range of youth for the home market, when the series hits TV this fall. But I feel that Lucas and the Star Wars team should know that people grew up with this series and a slightly more adult tone would still carry over to TV. We never got talked down to with the Batman Animated Series or the Justice League cartoons, and these come from the same studio. Don't even get me started on Jabba's swishy southern gentlemen cousin, Zero the Hutt.
Now the film isn't all bad. The animation is gorgeous and deep. The fight sequences are amazingly choreographed. The set pieces are varied and location shots look like they were lifted straight from the film. The voice acting is great, I was convinced that both Anakin and Obi-Wan were voiced by Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor, but in fact were spot on voice actors. You do get the always excellent Christopher Lee as Dooku and Samuel L. Jackson reprising his Mace Windu role. The sound effects, score and visual effects are up to Lucasfilm's usual superior standards.
My advice is to wait for this film to hit TV. The series will seem of better quality with the lowered expectations inherent in episodic TV. I can't recommend seeing this in the theatre. And as a Star Wars nerd, that hurts me.
End of Line.