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Monday, August 18, 2008
Albeit in animated form.

One of the oddest things about STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS is the start; there's no "opening crawl" (Yeah, move on grandad - this is the Noughties!) and theme tune has been tweaked. How dare they you ask? Well if you do ask that then you're probably stuck in a time in your life that existed for only couple of years and seemed a lot better than it actually was. A common complaint amongst the thirty~plus generation. Yes, the classic start to the Star Wars movie has been modified. Wow, move on.

Instead of the visible crawl in type we get it spoken and it was slightly reminiscent of the beginning to STARSHIP TROOPERS in that sense (and, in a sidenote, another movie that plays with the the "greyer" side politics we now face in the post~9/11 world where the "good" are fascists and the "bad" fight for freedom) and quite amusing too due to the narrator's voice which, sadly, didn't appear more often. I'll continue on the point of voices as there are a number of issues here. The chap doing OBI WAN managed to capture MCGREGOR'S style perfectly and if the Scotsman's name had appeared in the credits I would not have been surprised.

Likewise, we got an excellent PORTMAN impersonation along with a top~hole YODA (hard, though, that is not) and JABBA. Ha ha, that's a good name for a band - "Top~Hole Yoda". But ANAKIN and, the new character, AHSOKA don't come off as well. The former's voice is unlike HAYDEN "Jumper 2 Anyone?" CHRISTENSEN and is quite unexpressive (cue predictable bad~acting gag - yawn). The latter, though very bright, isn't quite as engaging as it should be which is a pity 'cos her character was engaging if hackneyed - the young upstart with a point to prove. These two get the lion's share of the dialogue and their antics do wear thin pretty quickly.

Anakin doesn't like her and doesn't want her as his Padawan (hence her point to prove) and so we get various barbed exchanges that, as I said, do get tedious. These guys are meant to be Jedi - all nice 'n' lovin' an' all that! A bit more tolerance purlease. Their scenes do highlight the flaws in the script - a script that throws up the odd laugh (thanks to the Battle Droids, who seem to have become comedians) but has a disjointed feel due mainly to the constant insertion of "dramatic" battle scenes. Which there are a lot of.

So it takes a bit of time to get into any sort of a flow but when it does, during the siege of the B'omarr Monk temple, it begins to find its feet. That scene, in particular, was well executed and, unlike the other battles, was pretty straight forward, ie. I knew what was going on. That's when we were introduced to VENTRESS who, you may remember (or not) appeared in THE CLONE WARS (the 2D version). The 'bad' guys come off well with CHRISTOPHER "Police Academy 8 - anyone?" LEE sounding (and looking) good with the aforementioned female Sith getting in on the act with some applomb.

The final part of the film (and I'm guessing episode three in the originally planned television series) concentrated, in a very SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE style way, the criminal underbelly of Coruscant. It was at that point when I thought, "Why don't they make that instead?" For those who don't know, Shadows was a terrific tale, taking place between Empire and Jedi, told over a variety of media platforms. I hope at some point Lucas & Co. do get round to filming that one as the story was solid and, dare I say, interesting. Which brings me to a crucial point/flaw about The Clone Wars.

The story isn't that good. It's not a bad story, just not one that should have been committed to the big screen. If this had been the start of the television show and I had sat down to watch it I would have been enthusing on it much more. It makes a very satisfying TV romp. But as a film, and that's what Georgy Boy is delivering it as, it falls short in that category. The Clone Wars does not have the feel of a movie, no grand tale to tell. Sure, it looks fantastic in many parts with some truly beautiful design work but in a medium dominated by PIXAR and DREAMWORKS it looks rather small.

Which is a great shame because a world as big as Star Wars should, in theory, beat the pants off films about lovesick robots or martial arts loving mammals. And, of course, it doesn't; the animation is not up to their standards. Although, I did lurve the maquette style of the characters but they didn't translate as well when dialogue took place. Pity they all weren't Clone Troopers! The score, to my surprise, was excellent and barely relies on previously established themes. Some fine work, notably during the aforementioned siege on the temple - eerie choral work with some almost contemporary "rock" sounds and even "world" rhythm "beats".

The spaceships and landscapes were all beautifully done too (they should, they've had enough practise in the last 10 years doing them) and I look forward greatly to see what new worlds (as well as old favourites) we are treated to in the "Fall" (That's for all my US readers). I will add that the design (and execution) of Jabba's son and some weird Scottish~accented alien were poor but they were the only low points in that department. Hopefully we'll get some more of the worlds of the universe (and less Obi Wan and Anakin) in the upcoming series but this is really where The Clone Wars should have debuted - on the small screen.

'Til the next time,

My use of the phrase "post 9/11" was ironic in a Richard Madeley way

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posted by Cameron McEwan at 1:16 pm -
  • At 12:38 am, Blogger Richard Starkings said…

    I liked it, and I didn't expect too at all. The Ahsoka character was cute -- and played very well to my 9 year old daughter -- the droids were funny and the running time (90 minutes) was perfect.

    Hands down more satisfying and comprehensible than either INDIANA JONES SNORE or LONG DARK KNIGHT OF THE SOUL


  • At 9:57 am, Blogger Cameron McEwan said…

    Ha ha, you should make up film titles for a living!

    I will admit to feeling rather attracted to Ashoka (is that wrong?). There must be a word for when you get the hots for animated characters; I also fancy Lady from Lady & The Tramp; Belle from Beauty & The Beast; and the cat (the mother) from The Aristocats.

    Hold on, some of them are animals...

    The running time of The Clone Wars is to be commended as it sped by. I caught SPACE CHIMPS the other day and boy did it drag. As well as blow.

    Favourite Battle Droid moment? Possibly the the moment when one of them told her Dooku wanted an update after the Jedi got away; "Should I tell them they escaped, or what?"

    I think, though, the biggest larf from me was when Obi Wan called the Sith darling. Saucy bastid!

    Interesting you use the word "comprehensible". Films are getting too complicated these days (needlessly so). Either that or just poorly explained/directed.

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