I was a bit torn when I heard that the first installment of the new CGI Clone Wars TV series would be released in theaters. My first thought was that George Lucas was trying to milk Star Wars fans for even more money. I’d like to think of myself as a pretty loyal Star Wars fan, but to a point. Let me give you a little background on my Star Wars movie collection before I move on to the review.
One Christmas way back when, I asked for the Star Wars Special Letterbox Collector’s Edition (THX Remastered). I told my dad that if I only get ONE present, that it had to be this! One of the main reasons I wanted it was because I had never seen Star Wars in the theater, let alone in widescreen. The SE versions hit the theaters, which I went to see a few times each, then I bought the widescreen VHS versions. I mainly bought those because the special effects were a bit better, but I vowed to hold out on buying them on this new “DVD” technology until the original versions came out.
Well, they never came out! George Lucas said outright that the original unaltered movies would NEVER be released on DVD. I figured he would break down eventually, but before that happened, I gave up and bought the SE DVD release. When I watched them I just chose to ignore the whole Greedo shooting first in ANH and the stupid replacement of the Ewok song at the end of RotJ.
Several years later Lucas tried for one more money grab and released the SE on DVD again. He only offered the fans a “Bonus Disc” of the unaltered Trilogy, a crappy Laserdisc transfer (barely better than VHS according to my testing) with none of the restoration work that was done for the SE DVD release. There was no way buy them without buying the SE on DVD. So, I didn’t have a DVD of the original versions, and refused to buy the Trilogy a THIRD time just to get what I wanted. I vowed then to never spend my own money on Star Wars movies again. Sometime between then and now I got Star Wars: Clone War Volume 1 and 2 for Christmas. From what I remember, it was a pretty good series so I was interested to see how a CGI version would be.
Now onto the review:
With the goal of not giving George Lucas any more money than needed, I figured that a rental would suffice. I was correct. The plot and general feel after the first fifteen minutes or so was that I was watching a Saturday morning cartoon. This might have been the goal for the writers, but it didn’t really appeal to me. The “witty” banter between Anakin and his new padawan learner was somewhat annoying. The whole plot with Jabba’s son being kidnapped by Count Dooku and subsequent framing of the Jedi was laughable at best.
I just about lost it when I heard Ziro, Jabba’s uncle, speaking in English (or Basic if you prefer) with the weirdest accent. After searching for a sound clip to link to, I found a blog that had a bit more information than I expected. Lyle Masaki over at AfterElton reports that according to director Dave Filoni this accent is based off of Truman Capote. Lyle explains that Capote’s lisping speech is often associated with effeminate gay men. I’m familiar with the stereotype, and when I was watching the movie it just felt “wrong.”
Controversy aside, another thing that bugged me was the feeling that I was watching a really long drawn out episode. This didn’t have the type of depth and scale that you’d expect from a motion picture. Aside from these things, the special effects were dazzling and action sequences were pretty good. If you are a completist, grab the DVD or BluRay, but if not just grab a rental or skip it altogether.