As promised the review, originally published in The West Australian Newspaper.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (PG)
Voices of Samuel L Jackson, Christopher Lee, Matt Lanter
Directed by Dave Filoni
Review: Sue Yeap
Star Wars fans are a devoted, patient and occasionally weird lot. I am not ashamed to count myself among them, having seen the original Star Wars trilogy more times that I can count using all my fingers, toes and then some.
That said I found it hard to work up much enthusiasm for this new instalment, an animated feature which sits between Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones and Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith.
There are two inherent problems with The Clone Wars. The first is that by virtue of its setting, it cannot and does not really add anything of real consequence to the existing mythology, storyline or timeline.
Sure we get to see Anakin Skywalker reluctantly training a new young padawan, Ahsoka Tano, but will anything he learns in the process stop him turning into Darth Vader? No.
Second, The Clone Wars has the depth and appearance of a computer game. A really slick and expensive one, granted, but a computer or console game none the less.
Pixar has set the bar for animation so high and audiences have become so eagerly embraced their fantastic films, it is hard for any other studio to compete. I read somewhere that even George Lucas has admitted Pixar is in a different league.
The “human” characters have been inspired by anime yet have the gait of Thunderbirds or their counterparts from the popular Lego Star Wars games. Only in the shoot-em-up space scenes with star destroyers and lots of explosions does the CGI really sing.
The battle between good and evil, the force and the dark side, is something the animated feature has in common with its six live-action predecessors.
Here, the Jedi Knights continue their mission to maintain freedom and restore peace to the galaxy, using their army of clones against the massive droid army under the command of General Grievous.
Count Dooku is again up to no good, hatching a plot to kidnap the son of Jabba the Hutt, with whom the Jedis are planning to sign a treaty to guarantee safe passage to the Outer Rim. Helping Dooku is his evil henchwoman Asajj Ventress, who previously appeared in the animated Clone War micro- series of 2003 to 2005.
It becomes the task of Anakin and Ahsoka to rescue Stinky and return him to Jabba, who believes the Jedi are out to kill his son.
Giving the tadpole-like blob of a baby a name like Stinky is evidence this film is not without humour. Strangely, the funniest lines come from the enemy army droids, usually as they are about to be destroyed.
Unfortunately like many live-action films the potential for a speedy resolution ends with the introducing of a secondary hostage plot twist that adds at least another 15 minutes.
Lucas has said there will be no more Star Wars live action feature films. As such this first animated feature basically serves as an introduction to the upcoming Cartoon Network TV series.
Director Dave Filoni (Avatar: The Last Airbender) is also overseeing the series, which is predicted to eventually have more than 100 episodes or mini-features.
Given their placement in the Star Wars timeline, the film and series steer away from the Skywalker saga and instead out the back story of the legendary Clone Wars and how the republic would eventually become an empire.
Lucas has clearly pitched The Clone Wars at the younger, wired generation, those who perhaps first met Luke Skywalker on PlayStation, not on the big screen.
In doing so he has ensured the longevity and popularity of the franchise but may have disenfranchised those who are not 12-year-old boys; the fans who were back there a long time ago in a galaxy called 1977.