Published Aug 14, 2008Star Wars Episodes I to III crumpled under the weight of expectations, aiming for grandness but achieving convolution and an ironic slightness instead. Conversely, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (aka Star Wars: Episode II.5) tries to tell a smaller tale but loses its theses in a barrage of action, pretty CGI images and platitudes.
A precursor to the forthcoming television series, the film plays like three half-hour episodes (read: commercials). It follows Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) as they carve through armies of droll droids in search of Jabba the Hutts missing offspring. Along for the carnage is Anakins student, Ashoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein).
Only a handful of actors Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee and Anthony Daniels from the live action films reprise their roles in animated form but theyre given little work for their trouble. Similarly, new characters are appropriately two-dimensional (look for Jabbas inexplicably Cajun cousin).
The Skywalker/Tano mentor/protégé relationship a canonical trope is the films main thematic thrust but a reliance on aphorisms and a lack of focus reduce it to an afterthought. Furthermore, knowing how the saga progresses lends the film a sense of foreboding but that subtle conceits potential disappears in a flash of light sabres and laser blasts.
Almost compensatory, the film is visually dazzling. Sprawling vistas, from deserts to a futuristic metropolis, have a J.M.W. Turner vibrancy. Also, battle scenes gain a marked clarity thanks to the medium. When in accelerated motion, combatants have a graceful and mostly realistic fluency.
The lack of character development and plot progression allow for extended action scenes. However, in feature-length films even beautiful battles eventually plod. (Warner)