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Movie Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Saturday, August 23, 2008)

Title: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Rating: PG
Release Date: August 15, 2008
When seen: August 22, 2008
Venue: Regal Cinemas
Manassas VA
Review: 1.5 Yodas / 4

George Lucas's latest exploitation of our beloved franchise has received reviews that are somewhat unfavorable. Actually, it seems that most reviewers hated it. Roger Ebert closes his review with the question, "how do Hutts copulate?" We don't want to know. And we wish we didn't have to think about it. Yet, we are forced to, as the plot, even weaker than usual, focuses on Jabba the Hutt's infant son.

I was pretty sure we were in for trouble, when the movie began as expected, but then, instead of John Williams' famous score, we were greeted by similar, but obviously different music, and then instead of the venerable introductory crawl, we get a voice over... as though the audience is either too dumb, or more likely, too young, to read a few short paragraphs of text.

But perhaps I judged too hastily. The movie jumps immediately into animated action. Ebert did not appreciate the animation of the movie. I found it spectacular. While George Lucas's computer generated imagery ranges from jarring in the prequels to horrifying in the "Special Editions", the same techniques are used here to stunning effect. As a fan of Japanese Animation, I was pleased to see all of the action fully animated, and the action was, at times, breathtaking.

Unfortunately, the movie suffers from a weak overall plot, and while the scenes were, in general, good, the writers could not resist adding a number of Jar-Jar-esque elements that would make even the most liberal of fans want to cry. The battle droids were endowed with even more obnoxiousness and less battle ability than in the prequels, and Jabba the Hutt's uncle reminded me continuously of South Park's Eric Cartman. And it's not a subtle reminder either. It's painful.

On the bright side, Jabba's infant son has no dialog, and despite his central role in the plot, he doesn't ruin the film. The film also introduces a 14 year old Togruta female, Ahsoka Tano, who is assigned as Padawan to a less than enthusiastic Anakin Skywalker. Shockingly, the character is witty, talented, and quite endearing.

With the exception of Anakin, Obiwan, Ahsoka, and a handful of senior clone troopers, nearly all of the dialog in the movie could be removed, and the movie would be much improved. The female villain Ventress is also very slick, but some of the characters we've met before, such as Amidala and Yoda, are poorly executed and add little to the film.

Once again, George Lucas has focused on creating a visual masterpiece, but has totally messed up on the plot and script. The visuals make the film worth seeing — on DVD or possibly a matinee, if you can catch it before it's yanked from theaters. Just be prepared to ignore most of the dialog. This will be another great opportunity for the Phantom Editor, if he can prune it down to about an hour and replace the score with John Williams' classic composition, and create a tolerable short film.

—Brian (8/23/2008 12:40 AM)
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