Star Wars: The Clone Wars(2008)
Star Wars fans are not known for being easy to please and sure to divide is George Lucas' first animated entry. Leaping from a Clone Wars animated TV series, the film's action happens between Episodes 2 (Attack of the Clones) and 3 (Revenge of the Sith).
The animation style, crucial to its appeal to that fan base, has a futuristic-yet-retro kind of look going on. Lucas himself explained to Empire Magazine: "It's a stylised cartoon, it's not photo real...it's in a Gerry Anderson style, Thunderbirds. The characters have painted surfaces - they look like they've been painted." Story wise? "It's got everyone. Yoda, The Emperor... everybody that's in the features is in the animated series. It's just as if we took the feature and just continued it in an animation style."
BY Andrew Hedley Flicks Writer
In chronological terms, The Clone Wars (not to be confused with a previous animated series by Genndy Tartakovsky) occurs between Episodes II and III, detailing the early conflicts of the galactic war that Alec Guiness' Obi-Wan Kenobi first referred to with a single line of dialogue in the original 1977 film. For the past thirty years, fans have been imagining these events in their heads. Will the onscreen version match their own?
It's not quite Star Wars as we know it. Things are different right from the beginning, when the film begins without the usual 20th Century Fox fanfare (this is a Warner Bros. production) and ditches the traditional opening scroll in favour of a news broadcast-style narration. In addition, a hack composer has mangled John Williams' classic theme by mixing up the rhythm a bit. Sacrilege!
On the plus side, there's no doubt that the generous serving of action will help soothe complaints of the live-action prequels being too dialogue-heavy. The highlight here is a terrific battle on a vertical cliff; the good guys edging upwards as blaster bolts rain down from the mist above.
The stylised animation is appealing; the characters have exaggerated features yet retain a three-dimensional feel, looking like hand-painted figurines.
Also great is the way the film manages to incorporate elements from all six live-action films. Jabba the Hutt's palace, for example, last seen in Return of the Jedi, is the setting for the film's final act. Battle droids from The Phantom Menace serve as comic relief. And there are countless other nods to background characters (Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes, anyone?) to keep die-hard fans happy.
But despite all this, a definite weakness in The Clone Wars is the story - totally serviceable as part of a television series, but not adequate or memorable enough for a stand-alone film. Some of the dialogue grates - particularly Ahsoka's nick-names for Skywalker ('Sky Guy') and Jabba's son ('Stinky') - and the constant battle action is snazzy to watch but becomes tiring and repetitive when nothing much is happening in the drama department.
Walking out of the cinema afterwards, I passed a toyshop laden with Star Wars merchandise. Things were put in perspective. The Clone Wars is for a younger audience; almost certainly male. And even though the film lacks authenticity as a stand-alone event, I'd be looking forward to the proceeding TV series right now, if I was them. In fact, I am regardless.