Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Star Wars: The Clone Wars</strong> (2008)

(In theaters, August 2008) It’s one thing to laugh at Star Wars as being for kids, but it’s another to see the franchise deliberately lower the bar to a point where there’s no possibility for derision: Clone Wars is not just for kids, it’s a pilot for a kid’s TV series. The cut-rate computer animation is sub-par (the dubbing is notoriously off), the plot is meaningless and there’s a teen heroine alongside Obi-Wan and Anakin to make it all even more attractive to the younger set. Not that the problems stop there: Voice impersonators have been hired to fill the roles of most of the live-action actors, the action once again returns to the familiar stomping ground of Tattoine, there’s little freshness to the sights, the anime-style designs are ugly, the beat-by-beat plotting is weak (Let’s hide in a box!) and the dialogue is dull enough to compete with lower-tier sitcoms. Not to mention that in the grand scheme of things, this entry in the Star Wars mythos is basically meaningless: it takes place between movies, doesn’t introduce any new revelation beyond what’s needed to set up the TV series: fans of the movies should adjust expectations accordingly to a quick cash-in product. On the relatively scarce upside, Ahsoka Tano becomes less annoying as time goes by (though making her a teen rebel makes little sense given what we’ve been shown of Jedi indoctrination practices: It would have been better to make her a by-the-book apprentice fit to be corrupted by Anakin’s go-for-broke style.) Some of the shots are set up in interesting ways, though the rest of the film is usually far more ordinary. Finally, Angelina-Jolie-styled antagonist Asajj Ventress gets more dialogue and time than the much-over-hyped Darth Maul, showing that Clone Wars is better than Episode One in at least one respect. But there isn’t much to report otherwise: This is a kid’s TV show pilot branded with the Star Wars logo, and nothing more. In a way, this film was oversold in theaters: it will feel a lot less pretentious once it’s part of the series’ DVD box-set.

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