Friday, October 3, 2008

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (The Movie and Early Thoughts on the Show)

It's taken two months to write this. But it's good I waited, since I would have been part of the chorus of fans who wrote something like this:

"With The Clone Wars movie, George Lucas has taken my childhood, forced it to the ground, and anally raped it... while repeating 'Meesa likea dis!' over and over again in a husky voice as he climaxed in my virgin anus. He smelled of Diet Coke and Scotch, and the flannel shirt he still wore as he entered me left a strange rash in my most private areas.

"But, it hurt less than The Phantom Menace."

Boy, I'm glad I didn't write something like that.

You see, it's neither constructive nor true. It's not the worst piece of Star Wars animation - not by a long shot. But it was a wasted opportunity, and I wonder whether the show, premiering tonight on Cartoon Network, will be worth tuning into every week.

Before walking into the theater that fateful afternoon on August 15th, the idea that the movie would suck never crossed my mind.  Lucas seemed to be getting his groove back: each prequel was better than the last, with Revenge of the Sith finally capturing some of that old Star Wars magic, in my humble - and obviously right - opinion. Also, the Tartakovsky Clone Wars series kicked ass.

I figured the movie, a collection of the first few episodes in the TV series (I refuse to believe what made it up on the big screen was always intended to debut there), would keep up the high standard of the previous animated series.


The wife - who, it must be said, went against her will - and I knew we were in trouble the moment we walked into the packed theater. In front of us was nothing but small kids and patient, bored parents. There were only two other people our age without kids in the theater, a couple about the same age as the wife and I, who were looking around them with "Oh God - what did we get ourselves into?" looks on their faces. The same look that the wife and I no doubt had.

Things went downhill from there.

The movie runs the length of four episodes, padded with filler... a lot of filler. Each episode is worse than the last, with a lame, convoluted plot that not even a mother or a Kevin J. Anderson could love. The first twenty minutes aren't bad, with a surprisingly large-scale ground battle and a few nice moments for Obi-Wan (still my favorite Star Wars character), but none of it's worth the price of admission. The last half is equal to the worst moments in The Phantom Menace, thanks to another needless, annoying character that will most likely be universally hated: Ahsoka Tano.

While not as annoying as Jar Jar, I somehow hate her more, since she is such an obvious example of Lucas the businessman overruling Lucas the storyteller: she's a character that in no way fits in with the established timeline, who was created solely to appeal to a specific, untapped demographic - young girls. They might as well have called her Hannah Montano.

Still, there are five things things that will get me to watch the show (once it shows up for free online, most like):

1) The Clone Wars movie was, essentially, a pilot for the TV show. And a lot of pilots to good shows suck - especially sci-fi shows. Which is why they aren't shown in movie theaters. Hopefully, The Clone Wars movie will be just as poor an indication for the overall quality of the show as "The Emissary" was for Deep Space Nine. Even the greatest animated series of them all, Batman: The Animated Series, had growing pains, though it was never a disaster like The Clone Wars movie.

2) Ahsoka won't be in every episode.

3) Kevin Rubio and Paul Dini are writing for the show

4) Yoda + lightsaber + battle droids = rad.

5) It's Star Wars.

Here's hoping, folks.

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