Star Wars: The Clone Wars
dir Dave Filoni
scr Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching, Scott Murphy
voices Matt Lanter, James Arnold Taylor, Ashley Drane, Catherine Taber, Christopher Lee, Samuel L Jackson, Anthony Daniels, Ian Abercrombie, Nika Futterman, Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matthew Wood
release US/UK 15.Aug.08
08/US Warner 1h38
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
I've got a bad feeling about this: Obi-wan, Anakin and Yoda

lee jackson daniels

See also:
Shadows' STAR WARS pages

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars With beautifully inventive animation, this latest chapter in George Lucas' saga is a frantic series of action scenes without a heart. It's nonstop eye candy, but is about as much fun as watching a 98-minute trailer.

If you're keeping track, we're in between Episodes II and III, as Jedi knights Obi-Wan (Taylor) and Anakin (Lanter) and their clone army struggle against Sith Lord Dooku (Lee), his villainous sidekick Ventress (Futterman) and an endless supply of droid soldiers. Anakin has a feisty new Padawan protege, Ahsoka (Drane), and they soon assigned to rescue the kidnapped son of Jabba the Hutt, who controls the Republic's trade routes and is being turned against them by Dooku and his nefarious scheme.

This thin plot, which would fill about 20 minutes in a TV series, is padded out with a series of battle encounters and set pieces that simply never settle down. There isn't a single emotional moment or climactic action scene; it's full-on combat punctuated by bits of humorous interaction between Anakin and Ahsoka. This is the only actual relationship we see on-screen, and its development is by far the best thing about the film. Other than the technical work.

The animation is utterly magical, capturing the familiar settings and characters with a slight twist, adding smudged textures to every surface and sharp angles to the faces. Frankly, it looks so good that we wonder why Lucas bothered using actors in the prequels (he used his cast in those films like animated characters anyway). And some of the action sequences are extremely inventive, most notably a vertical assault on the temple where Jabba's son is being held.

The main problem here is that for all the movement, the story doesn't really take us anywhere. After the colourful attacks, battles, duals and betrayals, the film ends exactly where it begins, like a TV serial, with everyone ready for next week's adventure. All we've done is watch a series of stunningly well-animated sequences strung together in a busy, crowded style. And while it looks fantastic on the big screen, it'll probably only please the videogame generation. Although they'll wish they had some sort of controller.

cert pg themes, violence 5.Aug.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall