Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) – A Story Ruined By Excess and Horrible Dialogue

Attack of the Clones

   “Attack of the Clones” is a film that could have been and wasn’t dead from the beginning like “The Phantom Menace” there are good ideas here…a Galaxy on the brink of war, forbidden love as well as the chance to explore politics and philosophy…sadly we don’t get very much of any of this at all. There are inklings of all these ideas here but the script fails to execute them choosing instead to focus on fight and chase sequences that go on way too long and just bring the film down.

      “Attack of the Clones” was directed by George Lucas who also co-wrote it with Jonathan Hales and was produced by Rick McCallum.

     The story involves strife in the Republic as a faction of the Republic looks at leaving while an assassination attempt is made on Senator Amidala (Natalie Portman) leading Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and his apprentice Anakin (Hayden Christensen) to investigate the assassination attempt and protect her.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is great. Love in a time of war, politics of grey and a mystery to be solved as a huge point of the plot is discovering Jango Fett’s origin and why the assassination on Padme happened. Sadly the same cannot be said for the execution of the premise.

 Ewan McGregor – I’m not putting Obi-Wan down because his character is not written consistently (sometimes calm and collected, other times more reckless than Anakin), but Ewan McGregor really does a wonderful job with all the dialogue and lines he is given. He gets into it fully and he is never boring to watch.

Palpatine/Darth Sidious – Ian McDiarmid is wonderful as Palpatine as we get to see him deftly manipulate everyone around him once more. He is good at playing it sad when he is given an army and when he talks to Anakin there is warmth there showing just how great of a sociopath Sidious is.

Okay: Padme – Padme was okay, she is there teach Anakin empathy and does a good job of it as she is the one calling him out on things (except when he kills the Tuscan Raiders). Sadly her motivations are never shown and we never get to see her faction in the Senate or her interact with them. This was a shame as it could have established Bail Organa as more than just a cameo and given us motivation. I had no idea why Padme made the choices she did.

 Contrast – One thing that was pulled off decently was contrast. Padme came from wealth and was from a beautiful world and had a family, Anakin’s world was desolate where he lost everything and had no support. Already they have trouble relating to each other which sets up the failed relationship better later on. It wasn’t great due to dialogue and things that were written but the idea and the contrast shown was decent at least.

The Cons: The Republic – The Republic never shows us the players outside of Palpatine, Jar Jar and Padme. All we get is the Naboo story and we never see the political factions, even the one Padme is a part of and what they are doing to fight for peace and keeping the Republic from militarization. It never gets past the idea and tell phase, we never see show.

The Jedi – The Jedi are also an idea when they aren’t cops or superheroes, which is a shame. War is going on and except for Yoda saying that they haven’t won and the the Clone Wars has begun we see nothing to really understand or know the Jedi. They come off as bland, faceless bureaucrats, just like the Republic and Separatists.

The Separatists – Dooku says the reason they are leaving is because the Sith are controlling the Republic, ironically he is one too but I never got that the Separatists were anything more than selfish businessmen using robots to fight their wars. This faction isn’t humanized and is simply there to be shot at. So much potential lost to show us complex players since this is supposed to be an era of grey that completely fails.

Sword as Life, The Death of the Jedi Philosophy in the Prequels – Obi-Wan tells Anakin “Your sword is your life.” This is messed up and unbalanced as Jedi are supposed to be more than the tools they use. Sadly the tools are all they are as we see Yoda pull out a lightsaber and fight Dooku when in “Empire” he tells Luke that weapons and war do not make one great and that size doesn’t matter. This entire film counters that as we see him use a tiny lightsaber…whatever happened to the philosophy of the force? I guess stupid action is easier.

Editing – “The Phantom Menace” had decent editing, this one has a lot of very awkward scenes that end before jumping somewhere else. It breaks up the flow of the film and was really distracting.

The Dialogue – I don’t need to say much here. Lucas can’t write romance and it really shows. Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen aren’t bad actors but the dialogue is bad they just come off as unnatural and stilted. There is nothing to believe and it isn’t just them.

Excess – Excess is a major theme of the film, especially excess of action. The Battle of Genosia goes on way too long, the chase to catch the Bounty Hunter Jango Fett hired goes on way too long, Jango hunting Obi-Wan goes on way too long, the droid factory is just thrown in there and countless other events that I could point out. They seem to be there because visually they might look good, but it doesn’t mean anything. All we get are pretty colors and it doesn’t mean anything at all. Also Anakin killing the Sand People and wanting to stop death…excess and everything being over-dramatic really brought it all down.

Questions and Things That Didn’t Make Sense – Why did Jango hire a Bounty Hunter? Didn’t his boss hire him to kill Padme? Was Sidious always planning the Clone Wars since the army was ordered 10 years prior? Who is Sifo-Dyus? Why did Dooku leave the Jedi order? Who are the factions in the Senate? Why do the Separatists want to leave and why would they trust the Trade Federation after Naboo?

Reference – “The Phantom Menace” had this problem too but it was bigger here. Jango being Boba’s father, certain scenes shot to be like “Empire” it was like George was afraid to just give us a story and had to tie everything to the Originals even if it didn’t make sense.

  This was a film that could have easily beat “The Phantom Menace” but fails to hold up under scrutiny. There are fewer pros in this one than “The Phantom Menace” but the cons are overwhelmingly worse. So often it felt like I was watching a videogame that I could not play and was expected to believe things I was told while never being shown the actions. The opening was meant to give us complexity but all we get were bland heroes and villains who left no impact.

Final Score: 3 / 10

Upcoming Reviews – The “Star Wars” Films

Star Wars Films

    With “The Force Awakens,” coming out in 6 Weeks I am going to begin reviewing the “Star Wars” Film series. I am only r reviewing Original Theatrical Releases as I’d rather not see them marred by what George Lucas did to them later in regards to the Original Trilogy until I can dedicate some to just describing everything he changed. This also I think gives the fairest comparison between the different films as I will be watching the Theatrical release of “The Force Awakens” not the “Special” or “Extended” Edition of “The Force Awakens.”

     It has been a while since I’ve watched these films though “The Empire Strikes Back” and “A New Hope” are two of my all time favorite films and I’m curious to see how they compare now that there is so much distance from when I originally saw them, as well as the Prequels.

      My approach is going to be like the reviews I’ve done in the past, listing the pros, cons and what was okay. I know humor isn’t my strong suit and if you want to see some comedic takedowns of the prequels there is always Redlettermedia or if you want to see a defense of Episode 1 there is Moviebob’s look back. These films are such a part of our cultural mindset and have already been creatively taken down in so many ways that I just want to talk about them with my own voice and perspective given how long it has been since I’ve watched them and fully explore the pros and cons of each of the films.

     I’ll be starting with “The Phantom Menace” and working my way up to “Return of the Jedi.” So here we go. I’ll be reviewing around a film a week with “Return of the Jedi” being reviewed the week before opening week of “The Force Awakens.”

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

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   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.

Top 5 Episodes/Arcs of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”

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     “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” was at the end of the day a really good show. When it had arcs and stories that mattered it us some of the best that has come out of animated television here in the United States. These 5 episodes and arcs I will be listing are the ones that stood out the most and that I’d recommend. There are many more favorite episodes and arcs I have on this show, but the best deserve special recognition.

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5th Place

“Heroes on Both Sides” – Season 3, Episode 10

  Written by Daniel Arkin, this episode showed us that there were Separatists that wanted peace and showed how Dooku was using their idealistic dream of a government that respected them and their beliefs existance was as much a tool as the Republic. We see Padme go against the Republic to try and open up talks and even see Ahsoka make a friend and learn that the Separatists aren’t all Droids and Grievous and showing the Jedi aren’t all faceless soldiers willing to kill for their supposed greater good. It is really great and we see the chance for peace stifled by Palpatine and Dooku and how Ahsoka’s prejudice changes as she sees the people and no longer just the enemy faction. The main reasons it isn’t higher on the list is we still see mostly humans as the good face of the Separatists (Padme’s friend) and the fact that it contrives a romancish for Ahsoka.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-3-episode-10-heroes-on-both-sides-the-complexity-of-the-separatists/

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4th Place

“Children of the Force Arc” – Season 2, Episodes 1-3

Cad Bane is one of the best characters to come out of this series and this where he is introduced and we see him be one step ahead of the Jedi as he is kidnapping force sensitive children for Darth Sidious for payment and how he will sacrifice anyone to get the job done. He is brutal and it takes a lot to bring him down. Also once he is trapped by Anakin and Obi-Wan he quickly escapes when he lures Mace and Obi-Wan into a trap where he is holding the Jedi Holocron that has the information on the current force sensitive children in the Galaxy. This episode is good in that Palpatine and Bane outsmart the Jedi and still win even though the end plan is stopped.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-2-episodes-1-3-children-of-the-force-arc-the-sith-agenda-and-the-amazingness-of-cad-bane/

Star Wars The Clone Wars Trespass

3rd Place

“Trespass” – Season 1, Episode 15

“Trespass” is a great episode as it is one that the Jedi aren’t really the focus at all. Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan are there to offer guidance but it is really a story of sovereignty and respect for native populations as the Imperial Pantora must deal with their internal politics and come to respect the natives who are already on the moon and find a way to speak to them without being annihilated. The stakes are high and the Senator and the Minister are complicated…as are the native population of the Talz. I’d highly recommend this episode as it shows that the writers don’t need the heroes from “Star Wars” to tell a story that is one of the best to come out of “Star Wars.”

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-1-episode-15-trespass-sovereignty-and-imperialism/

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2nd Place

“The Clone Conspiracy Arc” – Season 6, Episodes 1-4

 This is the arc that explores Clone Identity (a major theme of the series) really well as we see Fives resisting his programming and seeking the truth, even as he is losing his mind and has been labeled an enemy of the state. This arc showed that the Clones don’t get a happy ending. They are programmed to turn on the Jedi, even if the Jedi have become friends and no one will stand by them because in the end they are property. The arc is really tragic and brings an arc that has been going on for 6 seasons (Fives’s arc) to a close as he finally finds peace in death as well as giving us the truth of the nature of Order 66.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-6-episodes-1-4-the-clone-conspiracy-arc-when-the-only-freedom-is-in-death/

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1st Place

“The Lawless” – Season 5, Episode 16

This episode made a bad decision (bringing Darth Maul back) go somewhere! In this we see that there are 3 Factions now in the Clone Wars. The Separatists, Shadow Collective and the Republic and in the process this war tears apart Mandalore and ends in the death of Duchess Satine is Maul murders her for Obi-Wan defeating him. From here things fall into chaos as Death Watch turns on Maul and Darth Sidious arrives, ending Savage Opress and making Maul his weapon again as Death Watch asks Obi-Wan for Republic help…spelling doom for Mandalore, one of the strongest Neutral worlds that will now be under future control by the Empire.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-5-episode-16-the-lawless-the-dynamic-of-power/

The episodes didn’t make the list because I had so many others that were in competition but I’d check out any Asajj Ventress episodes as well. Her arc is one of the strongest in the series, and she is one of my favorite characters. She is complicated and changes over the course of the series as she loses so much but endures. Also any Mandalore episode is good too, that planet and people were handled really well in this show.

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Retrospect – There Were Amazing Stories But Star Wars Prequel Problems Haunted This Series

Star Wars The Clone Wars

  “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is a show that is a favorite. It had a lot of problems that could have killed the series for me, but when it had strong episodes and arcs…it gave us some of the best stories on television. Politics and war are complicated as are issues of identity and when this show was at it’s best it did that. It was far superior to Episodes I-III because it took it’s subjects serious and gave us complexity that made even Anakin a compelling character who was worth investing it.

      The series was created by George Lucas with the main developer, head writer and director being Dave Filoni (from “Avatar: The Last Airbender”)

        The story is about the Clone Wars, where we learn of love lost, Clones and their identities, adventures with Droids, Anakin’s descent to the Dark Side and the plots and manipulations of Count Dooku and Palpatine and the story of those caught in the middle who weren’t on the Separatists or the Republic side and how they are faced with choices as the Clone War is forced upon them.

The Pros: The Animation – The animation is fantastic! Lucasfilm animation really did a fantastic job on giving life and diversity to the characters and worlds that made up this series. Each alien race was unique and even the Clones were shown to be distinct in their personalities and identities as shown through the animation.

The World – The world of “Star Wars” gets so much exploration in this! From droids, to Clones, to Neutral Worlds, to Republic and Separatist worlds and also Senate Politics, Bounty Hunters and so much more. I’m glad it went for 6 Seasons and in many ways wish it had gone longer.

The Cost of War – The cost of war is huge in this and we see that the Separatist Parliament is as much a pawn as the Galactic Republic’s Senate. So many die, from countless Jedi, to Clones we come to know…the neutral worlds that are pulled in and destroyed in the war. There is also a loss of innocence too as the war drives Anakin to greater extremes and the Jedi Council is shown to be both incompetent and rather corrupt.

Politics of War and Sovereignty – Sovereignty is a major issue of this series that is explored in detail in the stories of Mandalore and countless other Neutral Worlds that are pulled into the conflict and are torn apart from within by it or consumed by it when the Separatists usually attack, and even the worlds that are saved lose their sovereignty to the Empire later.

Nationalism – We see Nationalism exploited by Palpatine to control the populace but also see it used by Viszla, Padme and Satine to try and get their agendas on what they want for their people passed as well. We also see Toxic nationalism too in the assassination of a Senator when an aid was angry that he had joined the Republic.

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Clone Identity and the Clones – I really like the Clones. Fives who is the rebellious Clone who is nervous at first but risks all to find out the truth that they are slaves to a chip set to go off when the time is right and with the murder of the Jedi…we see him lose his Brothers and end up as the last one of the Clone Cadets still standing. We also see Rex face a Clone who has left the force and respect his choice and the fact he is fighting for his family. There are others too but Rex and Fives best represent development over multiple episodes throughout the series as a whole.

Clovis – This is a great minor character who is Padme’s ex and a Separatist spy who in the end tries to re-write that wrong by saving the Banks but ends up a pawn once more and loses everything because he had the willingness to hope in the good of others and in his trying to do the right thing, ends up dead.

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Asajj Ventress – Ventress goes from Dooku’s apprentice, to seeking revenge to finding her own path as Bounty Hunter who is neither good nor bad. She protects Ahsoka when the Council turns on her when she is framed and we see that she is no longer Sith as she trusted Dooku but he turned against her the moment Sidious asked. At this point she knows revenge isn’t possible as every plan fell to Dooku and she opened up another enemy in the war by corrupting Savage Opress and turning him into a monster, something that it seems to imply she regrets as her quest for revenge lead to the loss of all her people, the Nightsisters.

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Cad Bane – I really like Cad Bane. He is the best original character to come out of this series as he is a dark shade of grey. He will kidnap children and kill anyone for enough money but he also respects those who save him and are efficient in their mission, which leads to a mutual respect of Obi-Wan when Obi-Wan is undercover. He has also broken out of prison multiple times and is truly the best Bounty Hunter in the Galaxy as he can hold his own against any Jedi and only lose from being outnumbered. He had a great character design and was part of some of the best stories in the series where we see him turn losses into wins.

Savage Opress – Savage is voiced by Tom Clancy and is wonderful as a boy who loses his innocence in Ventress’s quest for revenge. He is a protector of his brother but in the end kills him after he is pumped full of Dark Side magic. He later carries on this protector role towards Darth Maul even though he is unstable from all the magic coursing through him and has gone kind of crazy. In the end Sidious kills him when he and Maul briefly form a 3rd Faction in the Clone Wars, The Shadow Collective. I really liked this character.

Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus – Dooku is fantastic in this series and I really respect him as a character after this. He is one of the core manipulators of the Jedi and we even see him try for Sith Master a few times until his weapon of Opress turns against him. It is really his loss of an apprentice that dooms him to Anakin in Episode III. If he hadn’t turned against Ventress he would probably still be alive as she won him many battles, as Grievous was not the best of antagonists or generals.

Palpatine/Darth Sidious – Sidious is evil and loves it and Palpatine is really good at using people’s honesty against them. He turns Padme’s idealism into a weapon, Anakin’s affection into jealousy and makes possible through his planning with Dooku, the invasion of countless worlds by the Republic. In this way he never loses and this series lays the ground work for Order 66 and the rise of the Empire. Ian Ian Abercrombie and Tim Curry did a wonderful job.

Mandalore and Death Watch – Iszla was voiced by Jon Favreau and played a Mandalorian extreme Nationalist who wanted to bring back the Warrior Mandalore. He faces off against the pacificist Duchess Satine and even wins at one point when he aligns with Maul’s Shadow Collective, but loses when Maul turns against him. Satine also fails in creating a Neutral and peaceful Mandalore as she is killed by Maul as Maul recognized Obi-Wan’s love for her. He later uses the corrupt Prime Minister as his pawn until Bo-Katan and the remainder of Death Watch start a Civil War to retake their world and ask for Republic help.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan is someone who chose duty or love and in many ways has some regret as he knows he isn’t the prefect Jedi and in it fears failing Anakin. He loses Satine his ex-lover and friend to another’s hatred and revenge and we see him unable to deal with Anakin’s dark side actions either as Anakin kills many times for the final end and doesn’t even allow the chance of a peaceful solution. This dilemma is part of what makes him compelling.

Anakin Skywalker – Anakin is shown to be very flawed in this. From jealous, to attempts to be controlling, but also someone who will risk everything for another…whether it be one of the Clones, a civilian or a Jedi. In this we see Palpatine feed his ego and how the Council’s own misconduct drive him towards hating and distrusting them as he feels more and more isolated as the lie he is living with Padme as their marriage cannot be open weighs on him.

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Ahsoka Tano – Ahsoka is Anakin’s apprentice and is stubborn and egotistical, much like Anakin but also more of a Jedi than Anakin as she never kills and no matter how difficult things get she stays true to herself. Her jumping into things gets her into trouble many times though as does her attachment as she nearly gets the Republic involved in conflicts they shouldn’t be in because of her emotional investment. She is also a grey Jedi too as she leaves the Jedi Order after they turn on her when she is framed and goes her own way, which ends up saving her from Order 66. She was one of my favorite characters in the show.

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The Cons: Jar Jar Binks – He’s just as annoying as he is in Episode I and II and nothing can save him. It doesn’t matter how many times you make him a hero, it is an embarrassment to any serious conflict going on as he takes away from the drama with his stupid jokes and ways.

General Grievous – This guy is an embarrassment to the Separatists for most of the series and spends the majority of it running away and even getting captured and beat by the Gungans of all people. He is better in the last few episodes he is in but all he is really good at is running away. When Episode III roles around he isn’t much better. We only know he is a threat from what the narrator tells us, not from his actions during an episode.

Bringing Back Darth Maul – Darth Maul should have stayed dead as all he did Opress could have done under his own power and for Maul even when he learned about his brother. All his being brought back does is look like a cheap move for profit given how iconic the character is. He is handled well in “Lawless” and the “Shadow Collective Arc” but that doesn’t change the fact that bringing him back was a mistake.

Boba Fett – Fett is a punk kid who loses everything he gets into. He doesn’t get revenge on Mace and I never believed that the older Bounty Hunters had any reason to follow him until his last episode he appeared in. This character like Maul worked better as a mystery.

Blank Pacifist Species – Too many to name but they are the faceless victims of the Separatist and are there just to show that Dooku and his generals are bad. Beyond that they serve no purpose.

Blank Slate Jedi Masters – Plo Koon, Mace Windu and a few others are just as blank as they are in Episodes I-III and have no flaws. They are fortune cookie philosophers and in the end the conflicts they are put in are only compelling because they might die. This was a missed opportunity of the series to show them as flawed individuals not Perfect Avatars of Peace.

This is a series well worth checking out. I wouldn’t watch the Jar Jar episodes or Boba Fett episodes again personally and some of the Droid episodes are pretty weak but anything with Cad Bane, Clone Identity or politics and war are some of the best writing on television, especially for a kids show. This is a show that shows death, corruption and destruction and isn’t afraid to shy away from the evil that people are capable of…nor is it afraid of showing courage and strength of character as so many of our heroes go their own way and make their own path in the Galaxy far far away and so long ago…

Final Score: 8.5 / 10. One of my favorite shows and worth checking out. It isn’t as good as “Star Wars Rebels” Season 1 but it is still good quality overall.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episodes 10-13 – “The D Squad Arc” – Exploring Droid Sentience Could Have Been Better

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    This was an arc that tried to be both comedic and dramatic. It mostly failed on the comedic and had a few moments of awesome for the dramatic and profound…shortly after to waste them on comedy. It was still an enjoyable adventure to say the least, but you really don’t need to watch this arc.

    “Secret Weapons” was directed by Danny Keller and written by Brent Friedman who wrote the rest of the arc. “A Sunny Day in the Void” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy, “Missing in Action” was directed by Steward Lee and “Point of No Return” was directed by Bosco Ng.

    The story is that of D Squad who serve under General Gascon. Their mission is to retreive Separatist plans for a surprise attack on the Republic. After recovering the plans they must escape the Void and finally stop the ship that plans to destroy an important conference taking place in the Republic.

The Pros: R2 – R2 is the droid with the most personality and the most memorable of the lot. He is the true leader of the group and helps them fulfill their mission on multiple occasions.

“Secret Weapons” – The infiltration of the Separatist Cruiser is pretty cool. We get to see each of the droid use their upgrade in a way that gets them closer to the data chip with R2 using his boosters to grab it. It was a lot of fun even though Gascon and WAC can get really annoying.

8 / 10

“Missing in Action” – This story is that of Gregor, a clone who lost his memory but recovers it when Gascon and the droids remind him of who he is. He is amazing and we see him defend them and get his freedom from the man exploiting his amnesia. I wish we’d had more time with this character, he has a moment of awesome though and takes on a whole squad of Droids.

9.5 / 10

Gregor – Gregor has a great arc and his discovery that he is a warrior and standing up for who he wants to be is fantastic! His Clone Commando gear is also really cool when he finally gets it back.

Abafar – This desolate planet is great in how it taps into our characters and we see how they clash and come together and also how wide the Separatist net stretches as they are mining resources from this world for their trap and turning a Republic Cruiser into a bomb.

Exploration of Sentience – WAC and Gascon discuss nature versus nurture in regards to genetics and nature versus programming and we see how similar they are. We never get Droid sentience officially recognized though it is a good start.

The Cons: Gascon – This guy was really annoying and definitely had Little Man Syndrome going on. He was arrogant and disregarded everyone until he needed them. We see him go insane on Abafar but that is about as interesting as he gets with his only good moment being how he helps Gregor find himself.

WAC – WAC is annoying, he is a Jar Jar like character who was made to be a comedic character and also was supposed to be profound. He failed on both counts and was a lot like Gascon. Really arrogant and stubborn and not much else.

Disposable Droids – From the Droid General to the rest of the astromechs, they are pointless and serve no purpose beyond plot convenience

Dr. Gubacher –  This guy had a small part but it was annoying as the Mad Scientist trope is over exaggerated. I didn’t believe that the Republic would use him or Gascon as assets.

  This was a fun arc but had a lot going against it, even though 2 of the episodes were at least solid, the rest was pretty forgettable and could be pretty boring. There were a lot of good ideas here but the Droids could not carry the episode and R2 is good but C-3PO and their dynamic is part of what makes him so much fun.

Final Score: 6 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 5, Episodes 2-6 – “Revolution on Onderon Arc” – The Process of Rebellion

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  The “Revolution on Onderon Arc” is a pretty good arc. I am pretty annoyed at the character of Lux at this point as I never understood the romantic tension he had between himself and Ahsoka, it felt tacked on, which is a shame as if his character could develop more outside of that he isn’t that bad. The side characters in this are great though!

  “A War on Two Fronts” was directed by Dave Filoni and written by Chris Collins who wrote for all the episodes in the arc. “Front Runners” was directed by Steward Lee, “”The Soft War” was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and “Tipping Points” was directed by Bosco Ng.

    The story involves the Jedi Council sending Jedi advisers to Onderon to train the rebels of Onderon who are fighting against their corrupt King who joined the Separatists in order to reinstate the old King. From here they must train the Rebels in the art of fighting while staying out of the conflict itself.

The Pros: The Politics – The fact that the Republic is involved via the Jedi but in a manipulative way is really interesting and shows that even they are playing with the definition of neutrality (though Anakin is for more overt involvement though he toes the line later). It’s fascinating as well as the rise of the rebellion in popularity and how they go about doing that, the military’s relationship to the people and the past versus the current King.

The Kings – Ramsis supports the will of the people but not a violent uprising until he sees that the Separatists will go to any ends under the once idealistic King Sanjay who usurped him. They have an interesting relationship as they are nobility so they respect each other.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka must be an observer though she nearly gets involved when the Rebels are about to be executed. In this she is torn for her feelings for Lux and friendship with the group and her role as an observer Jedi. It isn’t dealt with fully but for what they did with it was decent.

Obi-Wan and Anakin – These two are two perspectives. Obi-Wan for as little involvement while Anakin wanted full action initially. This leads to them getting weapons to the Rebels via Hondo when Anakin’s perspective wins out. He also warns Ahsoka about personal feelings as he probably realizes how much his relationship to Padme has cost him in regards to being a Jedi too.

Hondo – Delivers weapons to the rebellion in a really cool way, the fact that Obi-Wan and Anakin want him to keep it on the down low makes it even more entertaining and you can tell how much Hondo loves having a favor over the Jedi.

The Rebels – The rebels are decent (Lux) to great (Saw and Steela) I will go into them individually below. The leader of the military joins the revolution too when the Separatists kill King Ramsis too.

Saw – Saw is angry and the assumed leader of the group and has a major indepedent streak. He is brother to Steela who becomes leader and we see that he believes so strongly in the revolution he turns the General serving King Sanjay.

Steela – Steela is the revolutionary who defeats Sanjay’s and the Separatist forces, though she dies in the process. She goes from a sniper, to the rebel leader to finally the head general of the rebellion. She’s a great character and is the calmest who can see the long game. Only issue was her jealous of Ahsoka in regards to Lux and her relationship.

Rebellion process – First was being able to fight back and building a base, next was attacking a major target to rally the populace and finally fighting with the populace against the oppressive force. I really liked how they did it these episodes.

Okay: Lux – Lux is there primarily as a relationship foil for Ahoska and Steela and for being inept and being the political one, in the end he decides that Onderon should join the Republic, which wasn’t a surprise given he does tend to go with what profits most in the end.

I really enjoyed this arc and liked that it had stakes, Steela’s death actually meant something and in the end things aren’t clear as Lux’s initial assessment about the Republic and the Separatists both being corrupt was spot on. Onderon may not survive the coming Empire.;

Final Score: 9 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 14 – “A Friend in Need” – Don’t Trust Death Watch

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    This was an episode that had a lot of potential. We meet Lux again who realizes that Count Dooku killed his mother and he wants revenge. Sadly the more interesting part of the episode gets hijacked by this revenge arc rather than us being with Padme and the Republic with the Separatists representatives negotiating a peace. All that is left behind to show that Death Watch is horrible and that Ahsoka and Lux probably have a crush on each other, which is interesting but not as interesting as the politics that were left behind.

    The episode was directed by Dave Filoni and written by Christian Taylor.

    The story involves a Peace Conference between the Separatists and Republic that is interrupted by Lux who accuses Dooku of the murder of his mother. Things don’t go as plan though as Ahoska brings him to the Republic and he knocks her out to take her to the Death Watch base as Pre Viszla promised him Dooku dead through the use of Death Watch.

The Pros: Death Watch – These guys are thugs, like Mandalorians always were when they went warrior as we see them subjugate a local planet and take their food before they head out but not before they burn the village and leave the people to die. Viszla is a great antagonist as was his second in command Bo-Katan.

The Conference – “Will you recognize the Separatists as a Sovereign Nation?” This is the question Padme should have been wresting with this episode as it may have been the only way to bring about Peace and don’t they have a right? They have their own government. This was interrupted for a much weaker story sadly.

Okay: Ahsoka – Ahsoka is shown to be true to her friend and also may have feeling for him. This doesn’t make her stupid unlike him though as she fights Death Watch when they destroy the village and calls Lux out multiple times for his stupidity.

The Cons: Lux – His swearing to do his own thing and survive was stupid, especially since he had no allies and was alone outside of Ahsoka. It was this and his tacked on romance with Ahsoka when they were undercover that really annoyed me.

The Locals – They are just kind of there and we never get to know them as people, we only see them as oppressed and they never get the chance to fight back.

  This was an episode that should have been about the peace conference. Lux doesn’t feel fleshed out as a character and the contrived romance as well as making Death Watch outright bad were not good story decisions. So many missed opportunities, what a shame that this was the episode where Death Watch had to return.

Final Score: 4 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episode 4 – “Shadow Warrior” – Grievous Continues to Suck as an Antagonist

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   Gungans as the primary protagonists, and Grievous as the antagonist…I’m surprised this episode wasn’t worse than it was. It was still terrible as Grievous further embarrasses himself as an antagonist on this show, but the Gungans weren’t as bad they could have been.

     The episode was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Daniel Arkin.

   The story involves the prevention of a Separatist invasion as the Gungan Boss is being controlled by his Minister Rish Loo who is working with the Separatists. Things go awry when the Boss is injured and Jar Jar must pretend to be him when he meets with Grievous. Things come to ahead when Dooku lures Anakin into a trap and the Gungans capture Grievous.

The Pros: General Tarparls – Grievous kills him and he sacrifices himself to capture him, which is a pretty cool way to go as this General was decent in Episode I and wasn’t annoying.

Minister Rish Loo – This guy could have been a great antagonist if his plan had been successful, which I hoped it would have. Civil War on Naboo would have been a great arc. I’m putting him as a pro because he does make his escape and he was winning for a while it is only due to Dooku that he dies.

Anakin – Anakin goes after Rish Loo and is captured by Dooku where his ends justify the means guilt grows as he is traded for Grievous, which keeps the Clone War going.

Padme – Padme is really driven on ending the war and even after Anakin is captured she is fighting against her feelings to rescue him as she knows with Grievous captured they could end the war. She is the one facing the dilemma and goes forward only after pressure from Jar Jar showing just how driven she is to end the war.

The Cons: General Grievous – Loses to a bunch of Gungans. Guy is an embarrassment and is a big reason this episode was only okay. You expect more from the General of the Separatists.

Jar Jar – Still annoying and him acting “Comedic” to get out of situations grows old really fast, especially when something as big as war is going on.

  I didn’t like this episode. The only good parts where Anakin and Padme’s dilemma and seeing Count Dooku beat Anakin. Making Grievous lose to Gungans didn’t help this series when people keep describing Grievous as the big bad of the Separatists.

Final Score: 4 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 4, Episodes 1-3 – “The Fight for Mon Cala Arc” – Earning the Right to Lead

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    “The Mon Cala War Arc” is a decent arc. My biggest issue with it is that the Separatists are evil for the sake of evil and it is hardly to believe Count Dooku would be as stupid as he comes off here. My guess is this was for narrative purposes, which I’ll go into later as the entirety of the arc is Prince Lee-Char earning the right to lead Mon Cala.

    “Water War” was directed by Duwayne Dunham and written by Jose Molina, who also wrote the next two episodes. “Gungan Attack” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and “Prisoners” was directed by Danny Keller.

     The story involves the Civil War on Mon Cala as the Quarren join the Separatists so that they can rule the planet as they do not recognize Lee-Char as the leader. They soon find themselves in over their head though when the Separatist General Riff Tamson will go to any lengths to control the world for his people. Lee-Char must fight to free his people and their allies as they fight a losing battle against the Separatist forces.

The Pros: Mon Cala – I like the power dynamic on Mon Cala as we see how easy it is for outside forces to overwhelm them and how weak the Mon Calamari and Quarren are on their own. They can only really unite from an outside threat, which luckily for the story, happens.

Ahsoka – Ahsoka is Lee-Char’s teacher and helps him develop a spine as well as the ability to stand up for himself. She does a great job in this and she is the reason that Anakin and Padme are able to get rescued.

Captain Akbar – Akbar is all about tradition and believes in the Prince but still manages to counsel and lead and is the one who helps Lee-Char become a leader. It was great seeing Akbar before he became an Admiral.

Anakin and Padme – Both trapped and unable to do anything. See them in close quarters in danger manages to give us some good exploration of their feelings for one another and we see their romantic feelings too.

Riff Tamson – Cool design (looks like a shark) and manages to captures Anakin and Padme. He is a good threat I just wish he hadn’t been so stupid in regards to ruling. Being a ruler doesn’t have to be explicate and best not to enslave the population you plan to rule. He was a great military threat though.

Okay: Prince Lee-Char – He’s okay, he an arc at least. He goes from doing what he’s told to leading his people and fighting for all the people of Mon Calamari.

The Cons: The Mon Calamari – So they have a royal family and traditions? Give us more details. Don’t start fleshing out a world and characters and drop it.

The Quarrens – The Quarrens are seeking their independence but they never find it. This isn’t made explicit though as their leader talks about ruling and he made an Alliance with the Separatists. These guys were major missed potential.

Jar Jar and the Gungans – Why did they have to bring these guys in? They just get captured and are useless. Wish they hadn’t been used as they took away time from knowing the Quarrens and Mon Calamari who we never really got to know.

This was an alright arc but would have been a lot better if the Quarrens and Mon Calamari had been fleshed out more. We know they are at war but we don’t know why it started or why the Quarrens were even following a Mon Calamari King. This all made no sense and Dooku putting someone else in charge rather than the Quarrens was idiotic as he immediately made them his enemies in the process.

Final Score: 6 / 10