Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Blu-ray Review

How are we supposed to root for evil? Star Wars: The Clone Wars has a Jedi hero (that will become an evil villain) leading a clone army (that will become an evil army) to rescue a child (of an evil figure). They say this CGI animated film was intended for children. This makes sense since they can’t connect the dots and realize that all the good guys will become the fascist destroyers of democracy. For those of us who know what happened after Attack of the Clones, this film almost plays like an Empire propaganda film. Why does George Lucas want your kids to embrace Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers?

The story takes place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith (Episodes II and III). This film (and the subsequent series airing on Cartoon Network) explains all the background action that took place before Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. He’s still learning the ropes from Obi-Wan Kenobi. They’re combating the droid army on various planets. In the middle of one major battle, they get a new mission. Jabba the Hutt’s son has been kidnapped. The Jedi believe that if they rescue the youth, Jabba will sign a trade route pact.

The recovery task is given to Anakin and Ahsoka, a young girl Jedi. When they find Jabba’s son, it’s a slug with huge eyes. They adorably call it Stinky. At the same time Padme discovers a relative of Jabba is behind the abduction. Ziro Hutt is a transvestite. This is supposed to be a children’s film? He (or is it she) is completely made up to look like a New Orleans tranny queen complete with Truman Capote’s voice. What parent wants to expose his kid to this sort of character? At the end of the film, does good really win out over evil? Or does evil merely eliminate competing evil?

For all the talk about Lucas and his crew being cutting edge, the animation in The Clone Wars is subpar for CGI. The characters design looks like the in-between plot scenes found on a PS2 game. The cast of Family Guy is more expressive in facial motions. The film plays like a video game to such an extreme that you become bored waiting for your turn to play. Judging from an ad for a Clone Wars video game, you will be reenacting the same action scenes with the same level of animation. Why settle for a DVD remote when the wii will control your lightsaber action?

Star Wars: The Clone Wars proves that even the worse moments of Phantom Menace weren’t nearly as creatively bankrupt as imagined. Lucas had another gear to underwhelm an audience. He’s given us a lukewarm tale featuring characters that ruin the universe. This script is fan fiction written by an annoying junior high school student. Nobody imagined Darth Vader, the Stormtroopers and Jabba the Hutt becoming sympathetic figures when the original Star Wars hit the screen. Only a spoilsport rooted for the Empire to win. Now Lucas wants your kids to identify more with Anankin Skywalker than Luke Skywalker. Where’s the “lesson” in this kiddie tale? For all the good the Jedi did, Jabba the Hutt still ended up having Han Solo frozen, Princess Leia enslaved and Luke tossed into a maneating pit. Where’s the justice in caring for the super-slug getting his kid back? Does George Lucas want us to remember that no matter how nice you are to someone, they’ll still screw you over? Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a movie about evil people pretending they are good. Would you allow your kids to watch a film about the happy youthful adventures of Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin?

The video is 2.40:1 anamorphic. The transfer is straight from the computer so the image is sharper than the characters. The 1080p averages about 25 mbps. If they’d put more effort into the character designs, this quality would have shown. The CGI animation on the THX trailer is better than the feature. The audio is Dolby TrueHD, English Dolby Digital 5.1 Ex. There are Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs in French, Spanish and Portuguese. The sound design is better than the character design. You can almost hear Samuel L. Jackson signing his paycheck for his voice cameo.

A Creative Conversation is a commentary track with director Dave Filoni, producer Catherine Winder, writer Henry Gilroy, and editor Jason W.A. Tucker. During parts of the film, they shrink down the main screen so you can see footage of the guys sitting in a screening room and talking. The visual adds little. They come off less animated than the characters. It’s not even as hilarious as watching R. Kelly smoke a cigar and talk of his genius on Trapped in the Closet. You do get to see a clip Samuel L. Jackson in the vocal booth. They could have just gone straight audio without losing anything. It also takes the film out of HD mode.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Untold Stories (24:53) has George Lucas explain what’s the point of this animated series that’s appearing on Cartoon Network.

The Voices of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (10:00) exposes the actors who are part of the animated version. Turns out while Christopher Lee did the voice for this movie, he wasn’t around for the series.

A New Score (10:45) has composer Kevin Kiner discuss taking over the baton from John Williams. He did get to record with a real symphony instead of faking the strings with a synth.

Gallery is filled with the artist designs for the backgrounds and characters.

Deleted Scenes includes Through the Tanks (0:50), Rancor Pit (4:03), Platform Droid Fight (4:12) and Cargo Bay (1:46). These are action scenes that slowed up the action. Do you really want more Stinky Hutt in your life? The scenes are presented in Standard Def.

The Hologram Memory Challenge is a game of Husker Du featuring the characters. You get to see clips if you win. If you lose, you have to watch the film over again.

Webisodes (21:05) is six behind the scenes featurettes that were once on the web. It mostly plugs the series as they supposedly show off the history of the Clone Wars. We get to see Lucas looking like Walt Disney around his army of computer programmers. They show off the HD transfers of the real Star Wars movies.

Digital Copy allows you to upload the film to your iPod or laptop. It’d be a great feature for a real Star Wars movie.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is perfect for people who don’t want to do much thinking. It’s completely mindless fluff. Why should anyone care about Jabba the Hutt getting his son back? What did he ever do to deserve our pity? The only good part of this film is Christopher Lee getting a paycheck. This movie is for the Hardcore Star Wars fans that can stomach original Holiday Special.


Warner Home Video presents Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Directed by Kevin Kiner. Starring Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels and Samuel L. Jackson. Written by Henry Gilroy, Steve Melching and Scott Murphy. Running time: 98 minutes. Rated PG for sci-fi action violence throughout, brief language and momentary smoking. Released on DVD: November 11, 2008. Available at Amazon.

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