Reviews: Star Wars The Clone Wars
One of the best cartoons ever made!
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is certainly an amazing show, with its various elements such as the visuals, sound design, musical score, voice acting, direction, action sequences, and writing. Not since Justice League Unlimited or Teen Titans had we seen such an awesome action cartoon. But how does it compare to the prior 2003 Clone Wars miniseries? Well, it depends on what you like. I mean, I like both, but I prefer the 2008 series over the 2003 miniseries, which I call the Michael Bay series, even though he had no involvement, there was so much over-the-top action and so many explosions, he might as well have directed it, if he was actually good. The whole series is on Netflix, give it a watch. (P.S. Let's make the review character limit count larger, so we can have more detailed reviews.
Redeeing the Prequels
Let's get this clear, the quality in this series is not always the strongest. Beyond simple animation improvement, a few streaks of time, most notably early Season 3, are rough. It also really grows into it's own during Season 1, so be patient. However beyond that, it really does strengthen the Prequels beyond belief. It makes Anakin a lot more fleshed out and likeable. You still see his issues, but it's made quite clear that he was none the less a good guy who fell over time. Padme gets more time to shine as a moral force for good, Obi-Wan's snarking is top notch, Grievous strikes a good balance between his movie and E.U self, and even Jar Jar is improved. As the true start of the new Star Wars continuity, it sets a good foundation for Rebels and anything that follows.
An overall mixed bag, but worth a watch
I was very hesitant to watch this series - just from looking at the title it looks too much like Attack of the Clones, which is commonly considered the worst Star Wars Movie. However, after going all the way through, I'm more than pleasantly surprised. It's difficult to say what's good and bad, because there are so many different writers and stories that vary on quality depending on its place in the universe. I can definitely say that the best arcs are the ones that are self-contained and focus on characters that are not in the movies. These characters include Ahsoka, Savage and Ventress. I also liked the bounty hunter characters, even if they were antagonists. Episodes that focus on the clones were also very enjoyable. These arcs are so good that they feel like competent writers wrote them, rather than Lucas himself. It's funny, but Anakin is a lot more likeable in this series than any of the prequels, because, like Ahsoka, he acts like a human rather than a robot like most other Jedi. Now, the bad. I can say that the first two seasons were far less enjoyable than the following four seasons - the best way to explain why is that they reek of George Lucas. Stupid dialogue, annoying or boring characters (mostly), constant continuity errors and/or contradictions, and general writing incompetence; basically everything the prequels suffered from. One episode (Zillo beast strikes back) stands out as being the singular most awful episode in the entire series, due to different writers and lack of collaboration, as well as destroying any potential for Mace Windu's character to be likeable, and it also makes the entire Jedi Order's principles a joke. So much so that I actually relish the thought of watching Episode III again, for what fate awaits them. My opinion of the entire series would have been a lot higher if this one episode had been cut out. Any arc that may have ramifications for the movies or the episodic history are also quite lackluster, due to the sheer predictability of the story, since you know what can and can't happen. If you can, get a friend to tell you exactly which arcs/episodes are worth watching and which aren't. Since the series doesn't really introduce the new, interesting characters, I would say skip the first two seasons. If the focus of the arc is not on the Jedi, droids or Jar Jar, then it is probably worth watching, and there's great enjoyment to be found with a lot of this series; just good luck finding it.
Unrealistic but nice 3 out of 5
This is basicly Exactly what it says on the tin. Unrealistic becuase of a few reasons, the clones. In the movies the jedi apear to have a cordial but not personal realationship. This show says that the jedi care for the clones and will go out of their way for them. I dont like it, the clones should not ask for jedi assistace often on both personal matters and battle assistance. And 3 ships = one fleet? I dont get it. Also the show while being called the clones wars is manly about Anakin and Obi Wan sneaking around droid camps than ya know actuak WAR. Still it has good moments like the Umbaren arc, but could use more actual battle scenes than jedi sneaking thorough droid camps. All in all not what it could have been but a good watch if you have the time. Final count 3 out of 5
Clone Wars Finale: Gusty, And True
Series Finale. Ahsoka Tano is called to investigate a terrorist attack, only to be accused of being responsible for it herself and is suspended from the Jedi Order. The writers originally thought of letting her return to the order no-questions-asked once the trial was over. But they chose to let Ahsoka leave forever on her own accord. It's a poignant ending. It's gutsy. I couldn't approve of it more if I wanted to. When things go wrong, it's easy to find a scapegoat to blame. It's easy for authorities to take what looks obvious rather than seek out truth. It's easy for judges to swiftly condemn any defendant placed in front of them than to administer real justice. The Jedi, supposed paragons of patience, virtue and justice, have no excuse for what they did to Ahsoka. Ahsoka knew it. Anakin knew it. Padmé knew it. But no one would listen to them; the verdict had already been decided by the judges well before the trial. And the more Ahsoka insists she's innocent and makes honest efforts to clear her name, the more authority declares she's wrong. I've been in Ahsoka's place more than once. Whenever a conflict happened at school, I would be blamed despite being the victim. Online communities? I'm unpopular, easy to blame and punish me. No need to appeal; I'm always in the wrong. Being treated like an irredeemable criminal without compassion or justice is frustrating. I've considered switching schools because the faculty thought I was a troublemaker. I've abandoned places where I thought I had friends because it turned out my allies were false ones who would betray me when it was convenient. And it's broken and bruised my heart in multiple places. It's made me hard for me to trust others. It's made it impossible for me to trust myself because I'm afraid someone will turn around and accuse me of being in the wrong, regardless of what it is, just because I'm the one doing it. Ahsoka left the Jedi. And I think she took that rather well, considering the Jedi Order was her lifelong home. She's lost everything she's ever known. Where's she going to go? Into a better future, hopefully. But she couldn't go back into that toxic environment. And since we all know Order 66 is a foregone conclusion, leaving the Order before it fell irredeemably into corruption and hatred probably saved her life. This ending: story of my life.
A surprisingly good series
When I first saw the movie, I was a bit hesitant; Lucas using the EU? Anakin having a Padawan? I wasn't too impressed by it, and left the series alone for a bit. Then I saw the first episode. Damn. Yoda kicking ass in a lushly detailed world. And then I decided to take the series more seriously. Clone Wars manages to draw on the varied history of the EU to craft a new saga in the series. Despite being a kids show, it has a mix of action, adventure, and even dialogue that elevates it above the standard slop that passes for children's television. Many of the episodes manage to pack well-made battles and exciting stories into the constraint of 20 minutes (such as the Ryloth Arc, Landing Point at Rain, Malevolence Arc), and the occasional attempt to branch out leads to fairly good results (Trespass, Mandalore Arc). Beyond that, the CG has begun to shine, especially as the series moves forward. Of course, the series has had a few less then stellar episodes (Zilo Beast), and about one bad episode per season (Corruption). Generally, those episodes either try to be radically different from Star Wars or suffer from bad writing. Still, the amount of bad episodes is fairly low, and not enough to dissuade me. The question of EU canon and the show is often brought up. As a dedicated EU fan who's read most of the series, I suggest taking a relaxed view, and remember that Lucas has the final say. Does it really matter when Anakin got his scar, that Hutts aren't parthenogenic, or if Kenobi liked someone? And for the continued naysayers, I ask that you wait until the series ends and let the professional ret-conners work it out; if Jedi Prince, Fetts convoluted backstory, and even Sith history can be fitted in, this series can be as well. My final opinion? I can understand why people don't like it; it's fresh EU in a chapter that was thought closed, and Ahsoka doesn't sit well. But despite these things, it shows a surprising amount of detail and focus, and is still better then the shit the EU has churned out for decades (Jedi Academy Trilogy, Callista Trilogy, Black Fleet Crisis, Corellian Trilogy, ect ect). Give it a shot, and if you hate it, you'll have lost little time.
Review of S 1 E 1 "Ambush"
I watched the movie years ago when it came back, found it boring and forgettable, and never gave the series any chance. Recently, I started watching on a whim, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the first episode, "Ambush." The primary thing that stuck out to me was how it dealt with Yoda's characterization. There was always a disconnect for me between the wise, thoughtful, and decidedly quirky Yoda of The Empire Strikes Back and the...well, stern action hero Yoda of the prequels. This episode managed to strike a really nice balance, with the original trilogy Yoda shining through most of the time, but the warrior Yoda making appropriate appearances as well. There was a lot of gravitas to the character in the 22 minute span of the episode, even while the rest of the episode had the more lighthearted, whimsical and slapstick elements to appeal to kids. Part of the whimsy came from Yoda himself, but that was in-character given what was shown of Yoda in the original trilogy, and frankly it was nice to see the lighter side of Yoda amid challenge and conflict. The prequel trilogy never showed that side of Yoda. Yoda is a Jedi, so it makes sense that he would wield a lightsaber, but his stature and his teachings from The Empire Strikes Back always suggested that he wields the Force first and foremost, which is what this episode showed off. Sure, he used his lightsaber a fair bit, but much more important and notable were the scenes where he meditated, planned, and used the Force as his primary ally in battle. A good portion of his lightsaber use was in defense of his clone troops, which was very much in-character for a Jedi. The scene in the cave where he addressed the troops one-by-one was also a great character-defining scene, even if the writing for it was a bit simplistic and contrived. Bearing in mind that this is a show with kids in the target demographic, simplistic writing can be forgiven when it achieves its purpose effectively. All-in-all, after watching this episode I've had to re-evaluate my prejudices about the series that the lackluster movie unfortunately gave me. I may just be a fan, if there's more where this came from.
Review of Season 3
Season 3 is probably the most uneven season of the whole series so far. It starts with a couple of decent, action packed episodes, followed by extremely boring arcs, and followed by the most awesome episodes of the entire series. The two first episodes, focused on clones, with some jedi vs sith action, are quite good. They have good fight scenes, powerful moments and great interaqction between characters. Then, we dive into the boring part of the season, starting with a Jar Jar Binks episode (although to be fair, he only appeared once this season) ,with plots revolving around the corruption of the Madalorian goeverment, the daughter of a politician being kidnapped, more Ziro the Hutt (he and Cad Bane pretty much cancel each other out) and Padme trying to stop the war via diplomacy. These plots were boring, had little to no action (which is the main reason for watching this show, at least for me), and pretty much no relevance. On the good side, "Heroes on both sides" made a good job showing that separatist aren't Always Chaotic Evil, just people with dissenting views. Still, I'd recommend to avoid watching episodes 3 to 11. When it looked that this season is going to be full of politics, trade blockades and other boring stuff, the Nightsisters arc arrives. I'm not too fond of Villain Episodes, but these were awesome. We finally get to see more force users besides Jedi and Sith, some Sith training methods, as well as great fight scenes between Asajj Ventress and Count Dooku. And there's Savage Opress. Apparently, Darth Maul was so popular and and so many people felt he was wasted, that they went as far as creating an Expy for him. And they confirmed that he will appear again in future seasons! And, after the Nightsisters arc, we see the peak of this season: the Mortis Arc. In this arc, Anakin, Obi Wan and Ashoka meet three God-like enetities that are the embodiment of the Light Side, the Dark Side and the Force as a whole. As expected, awesomeness ensues. And two Qui-Gon Jinn appearances! The next arc, Citadel, goes back to the usual tone of the series, in which our heroes embark on a rescue mission. The two parter finale of the season, wasn't too great, but not as bad as the first half of the season. But hey, we get to see Chewbacca! Overall, this was a good season, with its good points surpassing the bad ones.
Review of the first two and a half seasons
When I first heard about the series from the fandom I thought it would be a horrible cartoon with an obvious attempt to sell toys to children. Deciding to see for myself, I was rather surprised when my expectations were wrong. The story lines, especially those dealing with the clones (which in my opinion are some of the best episodes), were usually very adult in the way they were handled. The series isn't afraid to kill off characters we spend episodes getting to know. The atmosphere can get pretty dark for a kids show and the characters freely use words like 'death' and 'kill' without any hesitation. It definitely isn't condescending to its viewers, nor allows the fact that its a cartoon mean that it doesn't have to be interesting. I also like the shout outs, call backs, and references to the expanded universe. There are plenty of planets we get to see such as Dathomir and Mandalore. Episodes devoted to team ups with jedi such as Aayla Secura, Quinlan Vos, and Plo Koon. And bounty hunters like Aura Sing, Bossk, and even Boba. Ahsoka was also far more interesting than I was expecting. My original thought was that she was just there to appeal to the kids and that would be it. A whole new Jar Jar basically. What I got instead was a character who had her own personality, her own flaws and concerns. The relationship between Ahsoka and Anakin feels like an actual master-student relationship, they aren't always happy with one another and they have plenty of problems dealing with each other's flaws realistically. One problem I had with the show is that it doesn't follow a chronological order. An episode in the third season turns out to be a prequal episode to another episode in the first season, this can get rather disorienting at times. I found myself asking 'why are they fighting again on this planet? Wasn't it already liberated?'. The movie itself isn't a very good Star Wars movie. It feels like a three or four episode long premiere for the series rather then its own self contained movie. If it were instead direct to tv episodes instead of a film then it would have been much much better. Overall the series is far better then many are willing to give it credit for. As a cartoon series it delivers and it delivers well. I'd suggest at least watching the first two seasons and judging it for yourself.
One long meh
This series is, at its best, So Okay Its Average. I'm coming from the perspectives of a fan of both the movies and the Star Wars Expanded Universe when I say this. I've watched the series ever since I first saw The Movie in theaters on opening day, not knowing anything about it except that Warner Bros. wasn't allowing advance reviews, so I think I've given it a fair chance. The writing is the biggest problem. Sure, Star Wars has never had fantastic writing, but I think the movies pulled it off well enough; not so much here. As Roger Ebert put it in his review of the movie, "The dialogue in the original "Star Wars" movies had a certain grace, but here the characters speak to one another in simplistic declamation". The show is also written to people who may not have seen other episodes, or even the movies, and while I guess that makes things easier for those people, it mostly works as a limiting factor in terms of narrative depth, Story Arcs, etc. One "Decoded" pop-up episode even said something like "Did you know: Anakin and Padmé are secretly married!" I had to think about that one for a while. The directing, voice work, and music also aren't fantastic. You could make a drinking game out of how often the camera slowly zooms in on a character's face every time they say something, and practically every line sounds like it's said with a wink to the camera. It's nice that they got a couple of actors from the movies onboard, but some (Anakin) sound very Off Model. The music alternates between sounding like someone playing John Williams on a keyboard and stock "action" or "ethnic" TV music. The animation is usually pretty good, though. The movie was about the same level as Jimmy Neutron, but it's evolved over time. I'm not a huge fan of the art style, and the costcutting measures are often blatantly obvious (such as the Jedi wearing armor 24/7 so they don't have to animate robes, or not giving characters space suits and having them just wear robes/armor in space) but this doesn't detract from the experience too much. There's also the issue of retcons, which is maybe best left for another review, but suffice to say the show as it is isn't really worth the (extremely avoidable) changes it's made to existing continuity. Overall, watch it if you like The Phantom Menace more than The Empire Strikes Back.
Star Wars: The Awesome Wars.
I had my doubts leaving the movie theatre after I watched the movie for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the tie-in film made to advertise the brand-new series. I can't say either that the voice for Anakin Skywalker, Matt Lanter, filled me with confidence (Vampires Suck+Disaster Movie anyone?) so, with almost reluctance (I missed the first season out of a lack of interest), I logged onto Amazon, "Borrrowed" a friends Big TV, and bought the season. The first 4 episodes were OK- "Ambush" dealt with Yoda on a diplomatic mission, while the other four were centered on some big ship called The "Malovence". They were alright, but I'd rather have been playing Halo with this TV I "Borrowed". But finally, I watched "Rookies" the first real "Must-Watch" episode. Put simply, it was awesome. As the series went on, Lucas Arts slowly got the hang of it, and while some episodes left much to be wanted (The season finale was a major let down once you got past Cad Bane, the new Badass on the block), the second season remains some of my favourite TV awesomeness (Brain Invaders, for Gods sake, BRAIN INVADERS!). Overall, watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars, 'cause I promise you, it's worth "Borrowing" a big TV. 9/10.