Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003): A Truly Epic Tale of the Clone Wars and the Fall

Star_Wars_Clone_Wars

   Tartakovsky’s “Clone Wars” is one of the greatest things to come out of the “Star Wars” Universe and shows us just how great the Prequels might have been with vision, direction and the consequences of War fully explored and realized. This is a series where even the minor characters are given moments to shine and we see just how powerful the Separatists truly are as well as Sidious’s endgame and watch him put all the pieces in motion for Anakin and the Republic’s fall.

      The series was written and directed by Genddy Tartakovsky and produced by Sam Register and George Lucas.

      The story involves Anakin’s fall as the planets continue to fall to General Grievous and the Separatist forces as the Jedi fight against them, making their forces thin. Elsewhere Dooku and Sidious plot while the war continues leading to a large scale attack on Coruscant.

The Pros: The Animation – The animation is beautiful and reminds me of “Samurai Jack.” Genndy Tartakovsky did a great job and it is beautiful watch as he uses his strength in this animation style to capture the wonder of these worlds and Universe.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is beautiful and feels very “Star Wars.” It captures the epicness of battle or the individual fears and struggles as the characters wrestle with the Dark Side in opponents or themselves. James L. Venable and Paul Dinleter did a great job.

The Writing – Tartakovsky and his writing team did a great job on this script. The main focus is on Anakin and how different worlds fair against the threat of Dooku and the Separatists and we see an overall narrative leading to the Climax of the battle of the Episode III with Grievous’s invasion of Coruscant and the capture of Palpatine. It’s powerful and there is so much showing rather than telling, clearly George Lucas did not write this script.

The Universe – The “Star Wars” universe is rich and we get to see so many worlds in this. From the homeworlds of the Mon Calamari to the Capital Coruscant…and many Separatist worlds. Each one is distinct and rich.

The Organizations – The Separistists and the Republic both get development, as do the Jedi as we get to see their philosophy.

The Separatists – The Separatists don’t have the complexity they recieve in “The Clone Wars,” but they feel like a threat the entire time. Their generals manage to defeat and kill many Jedi and their superweapons are pretty well designed and are usually only taken out by Jedi Masters.

Asajj Ventress – Ventress wants to be a Sith and bests all the contestants in Dooku’s competition. She is just evil in this and isn’t as complex as she is in the “The Clone Wars” but she achieves a similar purpose in driving Anakin to the edge as his obsession to try and kill her and defeating pushes him closer to the Dark Side. She is an awesome threat and Grey DeLisle (Azula) does a wonderful job.

Count Dooku – Dooku defeats all his Generals and apprentices and even Grievous who we have seen kill multiple Jedi at once can’t hold his own. Dooku is fully in control of the War and working with Sidious is making the Jedi spread thin so that their attack on Coruscant will most likely succeed and the Jedi will fall. Corey Burton does a great job voice acting.

General Grievous – This is the General Grievous I expected in Episode III and “The Clone Wars” and only found disapointment. This Grievous is scary and is a warrior with honor who can take on multiple Jedi at once and kill them. He’s a Jedi killing machine and nothing can stand against him, you get why he’s a general and Dooku’s apprentice and he’s always one step ahead. John DiMaggio does a great job adding threat to his voice too and he is the scariest enemy in this series…it’s a shame that this is the only place you will find a Grievous worthy of his name.

The Republic – The Republic is interesting though we don’t get much development of side characters who aren’t Jedi (similar problem “The Clone Wars” had though they were better at developing senators) we still get a glimpse of an Empire about to fall as they are cut off from the war until it arrives on their doorstep and the populations of the Republic are far too dependent on the Jedi to protect them. In this we get to see Padme in action as she helps rescue a few times and goes on mission with Yoda.

The Jedi – The Jedi are interesting in this but I’m going to focus on the ones who I felt got special exploration and were more compelling because of it.

Master Luminara and Barriss Offee – These two give us the philosophy of the Jedi as Barriss is making her lightsaber when Dooku attacks the Temple with some cloaked droids leading them nearly dying even though they manage to take out a lot of the droids. It is only when Padme and Yoda arrive that they are rescued showing just how threatening even the non-organics of the Separatists can be.

Yoda and Windu – These two are powerhouses and they earn their stripes as Master in this. It is very superpowered in some ways but given the mystique surrounding these characters it was great to finally see how powerful their connection to the force was in action. Yoda is extremely entertaining too as he has a great sense of humor to balance out Windu’s seriousness. He feels like the wise sage in this.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – In this we see how great Anakin and Obi-Wan’s friendship is as Obi-Wan goes against part of the Council to promote Anakin becoming a Knight. It shows that he knows Anakin is prideful and an outsider but truly values him as a friend and companion. We see Obi-Wan’s patience too as he fights an enemy who refuses to die (Durge) and is the calm to Anakin’s passion in their adventures when Anakin is Knighted. Obi-Wan is also always the diplomat as he learned countless languages from his time with Qui-Gon.

Anakin Skywalker – This series really shows Anakin’s fall as we see his obsession with winning and defeating his enemies lead to him chasing Ventress to a world where his troops are all killed by her and he is nearly killed as well driving him into a rage where he leaves to her die as he is consumed by his darkness. He later has a vision quest on a world where he seeking the warriors of their people and sees that he will someday become Darth Vader. This doesn’t stop him from saving the twisted warriors and bringing an end to the experiments showing that even in his rage, Anakin and Vader have some semblance of honor to what they do.

    This was a show that took it’s characters and worlds seriously. We see countless people die to the different forces and see just how much of a threat the Separatists truly are. It was a shame that “The Clone Wars” and “Episode III” turned Grievous into a joke (though I appreciate how much development it gave Ventress), the story is self contained and doesn’t feel like it is 2 hours long as it the action, animation and character development keep the story going to the point that you want to see more. In a way the biggest downfall is that we don’t get enough of Tartakovsky’s vision…we get a wonderful glimpse and story within the world he made but there is more that could have been told.

Final Score: 10 / 10. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Star Wars or his past works.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episode 11 – “Lightsaber Lost” – Learning Patience

Lightsaber Lost

    “Lightsaber Lost” is a good adventure episode that lets us explore Coruscant further and give Ahsoka good character development. It makes good use of the limited time to tell a good story, though some of the quotes from the Prequels are problematic and they come up here at the end. I’ll get into what I mean later.

      The episode was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Drew Z. Greenberg.

       The story involves Ahsoka’s quest to retake her lightsaber after a pickpocket on the lower levels sells it. As she investigates in her search from it Jedi Master Sinube works with her as he has not gone on an adventure for a long time and he specializes in the study of Coruscant’s criminal underworld.

The Pros: The Action – This is a good action episode as we see Ahsoka chasing a bounty hunter across the underworld of Coruscant and even into traffic as they jump from floating board to floating board. It’s a really cool action sequence.

Jedi Master Sinube – Sinube is an old Jedi who is super smart and slow. We see him figure out that the girlfriend murdered the boyfriend and he helps Ahsoka find them and learn patience. He is a great Jedi Master.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka is shown to be a lot like Anakin, from her attachment to her lightsaber, her willingness to attack for information first rather than question and how she jumps into everything without looking. She learns to step back from all of that though thanks to Sinube.

Palpatine’s Speech – This is a small note but I liked it. On his video to the public Palpatine is saying some suspect that the Jedi are trying to take over the government due to their expanding power during the war, he disagrees and asks for more wartime powers for himself and the Jedi…it’s a powerful sequence that is setting up the later fall of the Jedi really well. The public is already questioning them if they think they plan a government takeover.

The Cons: The Minor Characters – Everyone in the underworld isn’t fleshed out. The pickpocket is just a coward and has no motivation beyond greed, and the woman who killed her boyfriend and the bounty hunter are never given reasons for stealing the lightsaber and why they think it is so important. I never got reasons for anything they did, so even though they did the murder we never learn why beyond the lightsaber. This was poor writing on Greenberg’s part.

Your Lightsaber is Your Life – This is a messed up idea and one that Ahsoka tells the younglings. It is this mentality that makes the Jedi more of a military order than anything else and with it also cult like tendencies too. Your life is your life and the lightsaber is a weapon to protect your life and the lives of others. This was first mentioned in Episode II and I hate that it made a comeback too. Yoda at Dagoba was big on weapons not being the way of the Jedi and wars not making a person great, though I guess the Prequels changed that…in my opinion for the worse.

   This was a fun episode that is worth checking out. The murder mystery could have been a lot better but Ahsoka and Sinube have a great dynamic and it was fun seeing Ahsoka’s recklessness getting her into trouble that she had to get herself out of. She’s a flawed Jedi and that is part of what makes her so interesting as a character.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episodes 18-19 – “The Zillo Beast Arc” – Star Wars Tries Going Kaiju

Zillo Beast

     “The Zillo Beast Arc” was trying to do a really cool idea, sadly so much of it didn’t work. Kaiju films have a lot of tropes, there are the soldiers (Clone Troopers and Jedi) those who want to use the Kaiju as a weapon or kill it (Palpatine and Anakin) and those who want to save and protect it because it is last of it’s kind (Padme, Mace Windu and the Scientist Sionver), it was also awoken by the equivalent of an atomic bomb in the Star Wars Universe, so these episodes are going full Kaiju. They even have the “Monster Destroys the City” and “Monster is Intelligent” tropes in full swing. Sadly it doesn’t really work, even though all the things that need it to work are present.

    “The Zillo Beast” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Craig Titley while “The Zillo Beast Strikes Back” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Steven Melching.

    The story involves the Republic uses a Super Weapon on Malastare which awakens an ancient Zillo Beast which they have to defeat and later take to Coruscant for containment, from here it escapes after Palpatine orders it killed and the Republic Heroes race against time to stop it and the Chancellor.

The Pros: Palpatine – Palpatine Palpatines this episode as we see him wanting to use the Zillo’s Beast armor to upgrade the troops and later wants it cloned after it’s defeated. The creature stares him down when he orders it’s death on multiple occasions and you never see him fully give into fear. He truly is the future Emperor. Ruthless, intelligent and a bit bad (cloning the beast is a wonderful, terrible idea).

Anakin – Anakin is the middle road on this where he sees why Palpatine needs to kill the beast (it keeps doing damage and can’t be contained). He also sees the ends justify the means in regards to the war and is Anakin and Padme’s main protector during the beast’s rampage over Coruscant.

Mace Windu – Mace Windu has a soft side, especially for nature. We this in his advocating for the life of the Zillo Beast and the ends he goes to to save it. I liked this even though it make him a bit lawful stupid.

Okay: Malastare – The Dugs are alright but they were pretty weak and we never get to know their world.

Dr. Sionver – She is fascinated by the beast but helps design the weapon for it. She is mostly a pawn of Palpatine because she values her job so much. This character had potential but didn’t have enough interaction with anyone outside of Palpatine which limited her development.

The Cons: The Zillo Beast – The design looks like plant meets reptile and could have been really cool, but it was way too lanky and hands were too papery to feel like a threat. I liked the ideas behind the Zillo Beast, just not the execution, much like the episode.

Lost Potential – We have the factions…those who want to kill and save the beast, but no one attempts to save it when it escapes and it starting on Malastare was bad given how boring the planet was, even a nuke and Separatist army couldn’t make it interesting. There should have been Dr. Sionver’s faction and Palpatine’s faction with the military being the ones in Sionver’s role of trying to weaponize the scales of the Beast. So much potential was lost this episode.

   I liked the ideas of this episode, but not the execution and so many characters had potential that was never truly explored. For this reason I can’t recommend it. The two episodes are okay but aren’t good or great.

Final Score: 5 / 10. Average adventure.