Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) – Best of the Prequels But Still an Idea Not Fully Realized

Revenge of the Sith

  “Revenge of the Sith” is the best of the Prequels and this isn’t just because episode I and II are so terrible. “Revenge of the Sith” at least has a focus and mission, which can’t be said for “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones,” which were muddled messes each in different ways. “Revenge of the Sith” is also the only film you need to see to understand “The Original Trilogy,” The Clone Wars and Anakin’s fall are the focus of this story and George Lucas actually does an okay job…though the ending is bad, the middle is really strong and for a moment Lucas seems to understand that you show events, don’t tell events. I’ll get into more of what I mean further down.

     The film was directed and written by George Lucas and produced by Rick McCallum.

     The story involves the end of the Clone Wars as General Grievous does a last ditch effort with Dooku (Christopher Lee) to capture Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Things soon go wrong for them when Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) arrive though all is not as it appears to be as after the battle Anakin finds himself being isolated around him and being offered a path to save the woman he loves through his friend and mentor Palpatine.

The Pros: The Action – The action in this is actually really good. Whether it is the battle to save Chancellor Palpatine or the attack on Grievous’s base we see that George Lucas does know how to shoot an action sequence when he is up for it, even the weaker battles like that between Dooku and Anakin.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan shows why he was made Jedi Master in this as we see him walk the line between supporting his apprentice and trying to look out for the well being of the galaxy. Ewan McGregor does a wonderful job and I felt for him at the end as the pain in his eyes at leaving his friend who had turned to the dark side felt real and had much more love in the acting than any scene between Anakin and Padme.

Yoda – Yoda has some great Jedi Master moments too as he forces Anakin to give up his attachments or to face losing them (which is the Jedi Way, much like Buddhism) and we see how the deaths around the galaxy touch him. Thankfully he doesn’t fight with a lightsaber that much (he like Sidious should be beyond using swords whether they are lazer swords or not) and him losing was after a tough fight. He was stupid in that he went alone. Palpatine could not have taken on Obi-Wan and Yoda together. I do like that he figured out how to train to immortality too via communion with Qui-Gon, that was a nice touch.

Anakin’s Choice – This is a great scene, the music is beautiful and we see Anakin thinking of Padme and dealing with the fact that Palpatine has been right about the Jedi so far, but how they are also his friends and he knows whatever choice he makes there is no going back. There is no dialogue and the scene is all the more powerful for it.

Anakin’s Fall – Anakin’s fall is a pro as we establish he’s already a bit of a sociopath (hello the Tuscan Raider massacre) and he has major anger and ego problems tied to the fact that I don’t think he loves Padme, not really. She represents his mother as she is safety and freedom which are two things he’s never had his entire life. She is a closeness and familiarity and he chooses that for understandable reasons as he would do anything not to lose her and he is a sociopath, so killing the Jedi though it would be hard. Anakin is already an established fascist so killing those going against the order (Palpatine) he supports is a tough call but in the end one he would make.

Order 66 – This was really well done. From Anakin’s march on the Jedi Temple and slaughtering the Younglings (Jedi Children and going to call them that from now on), which by the way is his second time doing this so he’s been a messed up murdering soldier for sometime. We see the Jedi fall on each of their operations as Palpatine had manipulated the war so well that there were so few to stand against him.

Palpatine/Darth Sidious – This guy is wonderfully evil and brilliant in a world where no one asks questions (no one does, not Anakin, the Jedi Order or even the Senate). So given this fact of course he rises to power and in the end helps the Sith reign supreme. The only scenes to watch in the Prequels prior are the Palpatine ones as he never stops being an interesting character and you get an idea of just how powerful of a Sith he is. He is one of the greatest if not thee greatest Sith for a reason and this film is his victory.

The Cons: Padme and the “love” story – The love story didn’t work unless they are both super co-dependent. Hayden and Padme’s acting doesn’t work either and the love story only works as an idea to bring about the fall. It’s more believable in both of the “Clone Wars” shows but for this film the crappy dialogue and sadly horrible acting more so coming from Natalie Portman is what brings it down. Her no longer having a will to live after Anakin turns on her doesn’t help matters either. She just feels more like a plot device meant to be fridged to finished Anakin’s fall.

Tone – There are still moments where slapstick is in with intense war scenes and it took me out of it in those moments. Lucas reeled it in at least and it doesn’t get as bad as past films.

General Grievous – What a joke. This is supposed to be our big bad? He is just bad as he is in the 3D Clone Wars. I never felt threatened by this guy and didn’t understand why anyone would make him a general.

Non-Characters – Dooku’s death felt meaningless and I feel bad for Christopher Lee because of it. Mace Windu also felt invisible. There characters never felt like characters, just ideas and plot devices for Anakin’s fall…like Padme and Anakin’s love in this film which wasn’t real but had to be there due to plot.

Excess – This really comes out in the final fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin…the fight lasts 20 minutes and there is no reason for any one on one fight to go on that long. It took me out of the moment and emotion behind the characters and made only pointless action. The only symbolism we had was the fact that Mustafar looked like hell. The tell not show dialogue didn’t help matters either in these scenes.

The Dialogue – The dialogue is still bad, especially at the end. At least there are moments where Lucas remembers to show and not tell us so that’s a win! Sadly his dialogue he has Vader makes the ending worse.

No!!!!!! – This scene. Vader should not say “Padme” it sounds weird and all it would have taken was a simple “No.” There was no reason to ham it up at all. It made no sense and I don’t understand why it was there. We already know Anakin is broken we don’t need it turned up to 11 to see that.

    I actually listed quite a few pros this time around as this isn’t a bad film, it just isn’t an especially good one. There are moments where Lucas actually knows how to write! Sadly rather than just showing the story he continues to tell us it, especially at the end. After I finish rewatching all the films I’ll do a write-up on the Prequels as a whole and a comparison with the Original Trilogy. Much of this film was made better for me because I got to see a lot of the show in both “Clone Wars” tv shows and that made the story here stronger as characters actually mattered, Jedi weren’t just faceless blank slates who used the force, they were people and monks who had ideals they were fighting for. I would probably have not enjoyed this film as much as I did without that context because it does make scenes stronger.

Final Score: 7.3 / 10

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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) – An Unfocused Mess Ruined by Child Actors and Comedic Relief

The Phantom Menace

    Before I say anything specific about “The Phantom Menace,” I have to admit now that I’m not looking forward to “Attack of the Clones” and can fully understand why George Lucas lost the rights to “Star Wars.” I wanted to like this film, it’s “Star Wars” after all and a part of my childhood, but nothing can save this mess of a film and script. No amount of nostalgia can change the bad ideas that lead to the creation of certain characters and how they were portrayed and this film is easily a net negative versus net positive neutral in overall quality.

     The film was directed and written by George Lucas and produced by Rick McCallum.

     The story involves the Trade Federation blockading Naboo to force a treaty that favors their monopoly leading to Chancellor Valorum sending the Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) to resolve the dispute. Manipulations of the Sith soon complicate things leading to the Jedi on the run as they seek to protect the Queen (Natalie Portman) and save Naboo.

The Pros: The Universe – The Old Republic is fascinating and there is so much we could have been shown instead of told. The Republic is corrupt and the Sith are clearing manipulating a lot behind the scenes but we don’t get any of that…we don’t even know how the Trade Federation really works and they are the main antagonists besides the Sith. Still, a lot of good ideas here just poorly executed.

The Soundtrack – It’s John Williams, you can’t go wrong with the soundtrack and even with very crappy dialogue and characters we still have a soaring score that works really well, especially in the fight with Darth Maul.

Qui-Gon Jinn – I actually liked this character. He is very much the maverick and a bit of a sociopath in how he manipulates others but it makes him compelling. I wish we had gotten more on why he clashed with the Council and the reason behind his focus on the prophecy. He is very much the chaotic monk and it makes him a lot of fun. Liam Neeson does a great job too. I actually cared that Darth Maul killed him and I wish he’d done something about the slave trade on Tatooine as the Council was clearly doing nothing.

Darth Maul – Darth Maul is wonderful and really should have survived this film. He has the same threatening feel as Vader did being the Emperor’s dragon and keeping him around would have given the chance to grow his threat and establish him as the corrupting influence on Anakin and even Obi-Wan. He is the enforcer and a truly terrifying character with an awesome character design. I know he was brought back in the “The Clone Wars” but he deserved that same chance in the films as the mystery of his character gives so much to explore.

Palpatine/Darth Sidious – The guy is surrounded by idiots and manipulates them so well. From setting up Padme to call the vote of no confidence leading to him becoming Chancellor to never revealing his intentions and remaining cypher so he can use all the factions of the senate. Ian McDiarmid is fantastic and is one of the interesting characters in the films as it really is about his rise to Emperor.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Ewan McGregor was a great casting choice for young Obi-Wan and we see echoes of who he will become as he is cautious and tends to go with the Council versus Qui-Gon who could care less. In this we already see the Lawful Good Jedi Master he will become. He is also cold in his own way too as he talks about how Anakin should not receive training to Qui-Gon in front of Anakin…so he isn’t prefect and we see how his duty to the Council and Qui-Gon is why he decides to become Anakin’s master in the end. He also avenges his Master and is the one to defeat Darth Maul.

Okay: Tatooine – The Pod Race is cool but useless in the end as they could have found another way since all they had to do was get in contact with the Capitol, though we do get some good exploration of Padme, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon at least.

Padme – She’s a cipher and she doesn’t approve of a lot. In the end she makes peace with the Gungans and is shown to have humility (learned from the Jedi?) but that is about it. She’s okay as a character but not great.

The Cons: The Jedi Council – These bland folks are not fleshed out at all and are oblivious to the corruption around them. It’s a sad state but we are never able to fully see just how corrupt and inept they are because they are heroes simply for being Jedi. I hated Windu and Yoda in this as they are just tools who fail to see past the Temple and never send any help out even when they know a Sith is probably going to be on Naboo. They are useless.

The Senate – The Senate like the Jedi is useless as we see that everyone is either a tool (Valorum) or a manipulator to their own ends (Palpatine). Like the Jedi they are a useless organization and how they got that way is never explored at all.

Naboo – Naboo is a blank slate as the Gungans are just aquatic rabbits and the people are people we never interact with or see. We hear about their suffering and dying but never witness any of it. We have to take everyone’s word on things when we have no reason too given the corruption established in the opening credits.

Midi-Chlorians – The force is not physical, Yoda establishes this in “The Empire Strikes Back,” I remember that and I haven’t watched the film for years. The very existence of these things cheapens the force and turns Anakin into “The One” which misses the point of the force being something that binds “All” of us together and is always with us. If only special people have it, than it ceases to be what binds us together it becomes something no more than genetics.

Anakin Skywalker – I’m sorry Jake Lloyd, but you can’t act. His lines all fit the “perfect child” syndrome that is a problem in a lot of movies and making him “The One” gives him plot armor enough to destroy a Droid Base in space when he’s never flown a ship before…and it all happens by accident! If he’d been a young adult at least there would be the excuse of him having experience from delivering stuff for Watto or the huts like Luke got experience playing with his friends.

Jar Jar Binks – Comedic relief and bad comedic relief at that. There is no point to Jar Jar as he is there for fart jokes, poop jokes, his stupid voice and mannerisms and trying to appeal to kids. Yet he is made core to the plot! He hooks up with Qui-Gon and is there through the entire film distracting from whatever is going on and making scenes worse. There can’t be a serious tone when Jar Jar is around so it makes all the other threats moot. This idiot was made core to the film which was one of the worst decisions George Lucas made. He gives nothing to scenes and only makes them worse as his jokes break the tone, his mannerisms and voice are incomprehensible…and yet he is made to be one of the heroes alongside the Jedi…

The Ending – Anakin destroys the reactor and there is peace on Naboo. The only interesting thing that kind of works is Obi-Wan adopting Anakin as his apprentice and the final fight with Maul. The Celebration at the end doesn’t mean anything because the people of Naboo are invisible to us. We never saw their struggles only heard about it. The planet was nothing more than statistics.

The Writing – The writing was the biggest problem. From having Anakin be a child, to Jar Jar being core to the plot and from the motivations of the Trade Federation, Senate and Jedi being big giant question marks. No one’s motivations are clear except Obi-Wan and Palpatine which is sad given how large the cast is. There is so much that could have worked if this script had not been written George Lucas as his world is compelling, “The Clone Wars” and “Clone Wars” are living evidence of this…but not so for “The Phantom Menace.” When George Lucas wrote and directed this story he killed whatever promise there was with a lot of poor writing and directing decisions.

    Anakin should have been a teenager already or Luke’s age, Midi-Chlorians should have never been a thing and Jar Jar should not have been in this film and Obi-Wan should have been the character we were following with Qui-Gon along as a rogue Master. If these things were done this film would have actually been good, even with the stilted dialogue as the circumstances of these changes would have forced a greater exploration of the world like the corruption of the Senate and the ineptness of the Jedi Council. Instead we got very bad comedy and mostly uninteresting characters in a world that didn’t feel lived in. The CGI isn’t the problem I remember, the problem is the script and the character choices that were made. You take away those things and we would have had a good film where what happens in the film would have felt real, had stakes and in the end, meant something. I get why Disney owns “Star Wars” and George Lucas no longer does. The choices made in making this film are ample evidence that George Lucas clearly had no idea what he was doing.

Final Score: 5 / 10. 50%, the reason it isn’t lower is because of Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmond and the fact that Darth Maul was used very well as a Dragon.

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 6, Episodes 8-9 – “The Disappeared Parts 1 and 2” – Force Users Outside of the Jedi and Sith

EpGuide609

    This was an episode that would have been better if it would have had done more than just given us a pacifistic species of force users and a sacrificial tribe of force users and had not included Jar Jar and Mace but instead someone like Obi-Wan who actually had a relationship with the overarching antagonist of this arc. Suffice to say this is the weakest arc of this season so far.

    The episodes were directed by Steward Lee and Bosco Ng and written by Jonathan Rinzler.

    The story involves the Peaceful world of Bardotta where the Masters there are disappearing. The Queen requests Jar Jar Binks due to their relationship and the Jedi Council sends Windu to investigate. From here the story unfolds as the Queen is captured and they must race to rescue her.

The Pros: Mace Windu – Mace Windu is shown to be walking the line between Light and Dark in how aggressive he is as a Jedi, but he is also one of the best as we see him take on multiple enemies. He also develops a respect for Jar Jar and has a lot of patience with him, which showed strong character, which given how blank most Jedi Masters are on this show it was nice to see personality and characterization.

Mother Talzin – She makes an appearance at the end is seeking to steal the force from life which strengthens her own and the Nightsister’s power. It is a cool concept and I liked seeing her again as she was well matched against Mace Windu and nearly succeeded in her plan. I still think her final exit could have been better though and done more to tie her to the Nightsisters again, though it’s cool to see her influence expand beyond her world.

The Cons: Bardotta – The peaceful denzines of this planet are again the pacifists ruled by prophecy. They didn’t feel very fleshed out so once again we got a species that exists as an idea and never get to see how exactly they are even connected to the force.

The Demon Cult – The Demon Cult also doesn’t have any personality. They are tools of Mother Talzin but we never get their motivation or why they want to bring about the Shadow. They were there just to be an antagonist.

Jar Jar Binks – His relationship to the Queen wasn’t believable and he was again the guy always getting into trouble. He wasn’t as bad but he wasn’t needed in this story and them trying to make it a fun adventure given the Dark powers that the story deals with just took away from the story and gave it a strange tone, this I attribute a lot to Jar Jar. Jar Jar doesn’t work in stories a whole, but especially serious ones.

   This was the weakest arc in Season 6 and struck me as a story that would have been in Season 1-3 when they were still figuring out how to tell more serious war stories. This was a big reason why in the end though I found the episode entertaining but it wasn’t one I’d watch again. Mother Talzin could have been used for so much more and a much better story. Where was Obi-Wan? Where was Talzin? Where was Dooku? These are characters related directly to her who would have given this story power and meaning.

Final Score: 4 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episodes 20-22 – “Boba Fett’s Revenge Arc” – Boba Fett is Ruined

BobaBosskCastasSing-TCWS2E20

       This arc was okay, it wasn’t great as we get a lot of beige Jedi and Boba Fett was too, there was so much potential with his character that was just wasted since the show wasn’t willing to go as far as it could have for showing an orphan who had been raised by the best Bounty Hunter in the galaxy. Most of that was abandoned for overdone cliches and the most interesting parts of the episode were Anakin’s reaction to things and Captain Captain Hondo.

      “Death Trap” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Doug Petric, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen. “R2 Come Home” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Eoghan Mahony, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen and “Lethal Trackdown” was directed by Dave Filoni who was one of the writers along with Greenberg and Larsen.

    The story involves Boba Fett’s quest for Revenge with Sing to kill Mace Windu for the murder of his father. From here things unfold as he destroys a Republic Cruiser to trap them and deals with the threat of the Jedi closing in as he seeks to bring about his revenge and deal with his conflicted feelings over the people caught in the crossfire.

The Pros: Captain Hondo – This guy is back as Sing’s ex and he has a great dynamic with her and the Jedi as he doesn’t want to get burned from either side. Seeing him play the neutral party for once when he is usually an antagonist was pretty awesome.

Anakin Skywalker – Skywalker almost dies but through R2 manages to save himself and Windu. He is the one all out for killing Boba and if Boba kills Jedi later, he wouldn’t be completely wrong. In this we see how driven Anakin is by ends justifying the means and that there isn’t any accountability as Windu never calls him out fully on being so focused on himself and his ego.

Okay: The Bounty Hunters – They all have cool looks but we never get to know what their drive is beyond money or why Sing is helping Boba. Wasted potential but they weren’t completely useless.

The Cons: Boba Fett – For a character that is supposed to be the greatest badass later he mostly just frowns and fails in his mission and feels bad about the innocents in the crossfire later. Very poorly handled as a character.

The Jedi – Windu and Plo Koon are blank slates in this and we never get to know Ahsoka either because Plo and Windu take up so much of the screentime.

  This was an arc that was okay, but had way too much going against it. It would have been better to leave Boba out and make his story a mystery as now he has been even more ruined by the influence of the prequels.

Final Score: 5 / 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.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episodes 1-3 – “Children of the Force Arc” – The Sith Agenda and the Amazingness of Cad Bane

Sidious_hiring_Bane

     “The Children of the Force Arc” does two great things that we haven’t seen before. We get to see more of Sidious’s long term agenda for the galaxy and his quest for Acolytes and are introduced to Cad Bane, one of the coolest Bounty Hunters and one of the best antagonists in the series so far outside of Count Dooku and Ventress.

     “Holocron Heist” was directed by Justin Ridge and written by Paul Dini. “Cargo of Doom” was directed by Rob Coleman and written by George Kristic and Scott Murphy and “Children of the Force” which was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Henry Gilroy and Wendy Meracle.

   The story involves Darth Sidious hiring out Bane to capture a Holocron and Kyber Crystal that will allow him to find all the Force Sensitive children in the Galaxy in order to make an order of Acolytes to serve him. From here Anakin and Ahsoka work on capturing Bane but don’t succeed in doing so until after he’s already started capturing children. From here the Jedi seek to find where they are in order to stop the plot as Bane plots his escape.

The Pros: The Premise – I like that everything that is done and secret, the first episode is heist and it never lets up from that since Bane is a bounty hunter and he has know help beyond those who he uses so he depends on deception to defeat his enemies who far outnumber him. The antagonist having high stakes against him and him rising to the challenge and defeating the protagonists multiple times in creative means make him compelling and gives tensions to the story.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka is driven by revenge a lot in this one and it costs her when Bane uses her to get Anakin to open the Holocron. She learns from the experience though and is the one who captures Bane when he goes undercover as a Clone Trooper to make his escape after Anakin and Ahsoka destroyed the ships Gunray gave him.

The Sith Agenda – The Sith plan is to turn the Force Sensitive children into slaves that can be used as weapons. In this you see just how great Sidious’s disregard for life is. He is fast too and quickly destroys the data on Mustafar so the Jedi won’t learn of his existence. We see him play Anakin at one point too when Anakin suspects someone is behind Dooku pulling the strings.

Anakin Skywalker – Anakin shows that he will risk all for an individual and helps Sidious by his attachment to Ahsoka. She begs him not to help but Anakin is so afraid to lose others he will go to any means to save the ones he loves. Whether it is torturing Bane or risking important information and his life for his Padawan.

The Space Battle Against Cad Bane – Anakin drops three walkers on the ship and begins tearing it apart as Bane puts his ship on self destruct and uses the many Republic troops around as his means to escape and to cause chaos, as well as to capture Ahsoka. It is brilliant and you see how smart he is and how Anakin’s recklessness makes him unpredictable and dangerous as an enemy.

Darth Sidious – This guy is evil, smart and a genius. He is planning far enough ahead that he’ll have pawns after the war and is so good at covering his tracks no one even knows he exists. It is brilliant that Palpatine manages to do all of this and control the Republic through legal means.

Cad Bane – Bane is one of my favorite antagonist. We see him dress like a Jedi once to capture the Holocron, hold Ahsoka hostage when he looked defeated and escape from Obi-Wan and Mace Windu when he took them to his base after they were inside of his head. He is a worthy opponent and I hope he survives the series. This villain is fantastic. He is true to his deals, is brutal and cares nothing for life and has a sense of humor about it too.

    This was a great arc and all the episodes are really solid. We have great antagonists at work who at different points are the underdogs and have the strengths of our heroes used against them. This creates a masterful story in which Cad Bane is still out there to fulfill whatever his agenda is, which at this point probably includes Revenge against the Jedi.

Final Score: 10 / 10.