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Laramie Movie Scope:
Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Animated film loosely fits into the Star Wars universe

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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August 20, 2008 -- Some have called this a 98-minute advertisement for the autumn, 2008 launch of a new Star Wars series on the Cartoon Network. Sure, it is a cash grab, but then so is everything manufactured in Hollywood. Some say this film will appeal to kids, but not adults. I'm not so sure about that. There were a lot of kids at the screening I attended, and I think most of this film went right over their heads. There were a few laughs from the kids, but very few. This is aimed more, I think, at the serious Star Wars fan who is interested in exploring some new corners of the Star Wars universe. It is not aimed at obsessive Star Wars fans who are infuriated with George Lucas' incessant tinkering with the Star Wars franchise (including redoing special effects and inserting new scenes into old films). I like Star Wars, but I don't worship it. George's tinkering doesn't bother me. I think this new film and the new cartoon series is interesting. The film works, but it does have problems. It shows that the gold mine that is Star Wars has not yet run out.

This new film takes place in that period of time before the end of the Clone Wars, that is between the time depicted in the films Star Wars: Episode 2 Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. It depicts some battles between the forces commanded by Sith Lord Count Dooku and the forces of the Old Republic, led by the Jedi Knights. It also depicts an attempt by Dooku to trick Jabba the Hutt into becoming his ally in the war. Dooku arranges for the kidnapping of Jabba's son and blames the kidnapping on the Jedi. Annakin Skywalker and his Padawan learner, Ahsoka Tano are assigned by Master Yoda to find and return Jabba's Hutlet. Obi-Wan Kenobi is charged with the task of negotiating a treaty with Jabba the Hutt to allow the Republic to use the space routes he controls. Numerous complications set in, including the appearance of another Sith warrior, Asajj Ventress and some desperate battles which delay the start and completion of Skywalker's rescue mission.

The funny, testy relationship between Skywalker and his unwanted Padawan learner works well, despite the lack of facial expression in these animated characters. The look of the film is unique: Bold, but solemn, with muted colors and crisp digital animation with a 3D look to it. The aim of the animators, it seems, is to capture some of the flair of Japanese animations, but without the standardized big eyes and vivid colors. The character that comes closest to anime is, appropriately enough, Ahsoka Tano, who has huge eyes and a very colorful costume. Her face is also a little more expressive, perhaps because of those big eyes. Another interesting character is Asajj Ventress, unusual in the Star Wars universe because she is a female villain. The story moves along pretty crisply, but the last-minute complications in the various missions get tiresome after a time and the movie wears out its welcome. It is too long, especially by animation standards, at nearly 100 minutes. I'll give this a marginal thumbs up. Maybe I'll even take a peek at the cartoon series when it airs. It rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2008 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)