Movie review: The Clone Wars

We saw the new Star Wars movie The Clone Wars last night. Before I write about this movie, let me say that I loved the original trilogy. I have watched the movies countless times and can quote whole passages from all three. When The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, Gail and I were there on opening day, even though Gail was six months pregnant at the time. I remember not liking the movie as much as I hoped I would (curse yousa, Jar Jar Binks), but almost feeling like I was betraying George Lucas and the original trilogy if I stated my displeasure. Others were not so concerned, and felt that Lucas betrayed them with the prequel trilogy. I think that’s a little strong, but either way, I liked the prequel trilogy less than the original one. The movies were good, but not up to the standard of the first three (though Revenge of the Sith was close).

Now, onto The Clone Wars. I knew that this was animated and that most of the voices were not done by the actors from the live action movies, so my expectations weren’t all that high. But I do not feel the slightest bit like I’m betraying anyone by saying that this movie sucked. The animation of the space scenes and robots was good, but the animation of people was really bad. The movement was really jerky, the lip syncing was terrible, and it looked like the animation hadn’t been finished yet — Obi-Wan’s beard consisted of a series of rectangles. Given the level of human animation in Beowulf, the animation in this movie should have been a lot better.

Now, in all fairness, there is a reason that the animation was so bad. This movie is essentially a pilot for a new cartoon series that will be appearing on TV next year. I guess they can’t spend zillions of dollars in animation for that, so they decided not to spend zillions on the pilot.

Anyway, back to the movie. The basic problem I had with it, aside from the animation, was that it was aimed at a younger crowd. Revenge of the Sith was violent, dark, and disturbing. It was so not aimed at kids that my kids have yet to see it, and I will not let them see it for a number of years. This one had lots of jokes, slapstick humour and even forgetful battle droids (though I never liked the battle droids in any of the prequel movies — either make them emotionless robots with no personality or don’t, they seem to be a bit of both). In this movie, one forgets a series of numbers told to him by another one. When I was six I would have complained about that — these are robots, they don’t forget stuff! There were too many attempts at humour, some funny, some not. I know that in a lot of action movies, people are making jokes while fighting for their lives, but it seemed like it was happening too often here.

As for the plot, weak. In The Phantom Menace, they mentioned that Tatooine is way out on the outer rim — so far away that Qui-Gon cannot use Republic credits as currency. Now, the Hutts control the critical shipping lanes around Tatooine, and getting them on the side of the Republic is crucial. Where do these critical shipping lanes go if the planet is on the outer rim? Anakin takes a padawan who calls him Master, but he complains in Revenge of the Sith because they won’t make him a master. And in Revenge of the Sith, he doesn’t have a padawan. Where did she go?

Also, if Anakin was on Tatooine, why didn’t he go and find his mother then, even for a visit? It would have been lovely — they could have barbecued up some womprat and had some blue milk. Ani, why don’t you call your mother more often?

Finally, Frank Oz didn’t voice Yoda. Nobody said “I have a bad feeling about this”. John Williams didn’t do the score. George Lucas didn’t even write it. Given all that, can it really be called a Star Wars movie?

Less than five minutes into the movie, Gail asked me “George Lucas sanctioned this?” and I have to assume he did. Maybe he didn’t actually watch it first. (Then again, this is the guy who created Jar Jar Binks.) My kids will love it, but we’ll wait until it’s out on video and then rent it for them. Neither of us can stand the thought of bringing them to the theatre to see it and having to sit through it again.


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