Cartoon Network debuted the tiny screen version of The Clone Wars animated series Friday night. The big screen version, which was really just a big pilot for the show, wasn't very popular either commercially or critically. So how was the debut?
I am a Star Wars fan, but I did not rush to my local cineplex to see the big screen "movie". I read too many negative reviews and thought my money would serve me better in these harsh economic times as an investment in the Iron Man double-disc DVD. (It did, and Iron Man still rocks.)
I will say I went into the series Friday night with an open mind. I also think, despite not having seen the theatrical version, The Clone Wars works far better in your living room than in a darkened theater with a sticky floor.
Visually, the show is unique and slick. It's definitely a Lucas production. The look and feel of the Star Wars hardware and environments are intricate and detailed. The CGI animation flows smoothly with this. The CGI characters, on the other hand, don't move like real people should. They come off too wooden, their movements too smooth and perfect.
I would say this is a curse of the CGI animation process in general if I had not seen similar method acting come from the flesh-and-blood actors of the prequels under Lucas's fine directorial hand.
Along with the impressive look, the basic plots of the episodes I saw were engaging as well. Unfortunately, it all came to a crashing halt when the characters began to speak. Again, it's definitely a Lucas production.
If you found it difficult to cringe behind a theater seat while idiotic Battle Droids droned out "Roger, roger," then at least find comfort that the handy throw pillow next to you on the couch should significantly muffle your screams by the time you've heard that same line for the 10th time in a 20-minute span.
The first episode that dealt with Yoda trying to convince a planetary leader to join the Republic had some nice action. It was at this point that I was feeling a new hope for the series (every pun intended). But when the second episode brought me Anakin Skywalker and his blabber-mouth apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, I saw the blaster scorch marks on the wall.
She's an annoying character, and I can only hope that Anakin strikes her down with all of his hate pretty soon. And if he can't, then pass me the light saber, dude, 'cause I'll be happy to do it for you. I guess some fans may like her, but all I can see is an Olsen twin in red body paint and a halter top.
Before Revenge of the Sith premiered in 2005, Lucas allowed animator Genndy Tartakovsky to play with his Star Wars toys. He took a traditional animation approach to a series of shorts that told stories between Episode II and III. They were brilliantly animated with little to no dialogue and a refreshing take on the action both by the characters and by the spaceships.
Tartokovsky has nothing to do with this version of The Clone Wars. And any fan of those shorts will not be fooled by this current series.
If you're 12, or if you're one of those Star Wars fans who thinks the only eggs Lucas lays are golden, then you'll enjoy The Clone Wars. But if you feel that Lucas should stick to producing and leave the writing to people who still know how to write, then you might want to sit this one out and pop Empire Strikes Back into the DVD player instead.