Released in the Summer of 2008, after two of the best comic book films ever were released, The Clone Wars came and went with very little fan-fare. This was during my period of Star Wars apathy, so to speak and even though I kept reading about the animated series coming out I never jumped on board. I was happy with the films and the books that I would occasionally watch or read.
The release felt rushed and what advertising there was, was minimal to say the least and the reviews were shockingly poor. I was working in Edinburgh when it came out and even though I had the time to see it I never took the plunge, thinking that I would one day pick it up on DVD and that would be that.
I got the chance to watch it on a flight from Australia after my brothers wedding in early 2009. I had a row all to myself so I spread out, got comfy and started the film.
It was enjoyable. That was all I could really say about it. I thought that for what it was, a three episode story-arc put together to make a film to promote a new TV series, but was it cinema release worthy? Not really. Straight to DVD? Most definitely.
But it did the trick, I wanted to watch the series and I did when I could, which wasn’t often given that I didn’t have the means to do so easily.
I bought the film on DVD around the same time I got Phantom Menace on DVD in 2015 and have since watched it a few times and it’s incredibly enjoyable when watching it with the series although the change in voices of Mace Windu and Count Dooku is jarring if doing a marathon. Going from Samuel L. Jackson and Christopher Lee in the film to Terrence Carson and Corey Burton just doesn’t sound right, but agin that’s only when watching it as a marathon.
The film sets up the series really well. We are introduced to Ahsoka, Admiral Yularen, Captain Rex and Assaj Ventress, all new characters who are important in the series. We learn the Anakin and Obi-Wan dynamic has changed drastically from when Anakin was a Padawan Learner, they are more friends now than in Attack of the Clones which ties in with their relationship in Revenge of the Sith.
We also have returning characters like Jabba the Hutt and Count Dooku, Jabba plays a major role in the story and it’s his decision that will turn the tide in who Jabba will allow to utilise the Hutt controlled Hyperspace routes through the Outer Rim. Dooku is vying for the Hutt’s favour by manipulating events which lead to Rotta, Jabba’s son, being kidnapped. The Jedi are framed but it was actually Ventress, Dooku’s assassin.
The score is phenomenal, I found myself, as I watched the film again before writing this, blown away by Kevin Kiener’s score. From the opening fan-fare that is familiar yet different to the mixtures of instruments and musical styles. The stand out moment is when the Republic Forces start climbing the cliffs to the Teth Monastery, including a few AT-TE’s. The music is completely different from any track in a Star Wars film and it works beautifully.
The characterisations of familiar characters are on point. It’s hard to think of Obi-Wan and Anakin not being portrayed but James Arnold Taylor or Matt Lanter even though we know Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen play them in the films, but they are written so well in the series that both sets of actors blur. We get to see Anakin in a much less angsty time in his life, which my wife enjoyed when she saw this a couple of years ago.
The film didn’t do brilliantly in cinemas and the reviews weren’t amazing, but for what it is, a three part story-arc put together as a film it’s pretty darned good. Should it have been a theatrical release? Not in my opinion. Maybe a straight-to-DVD film or TV Special a couple of months ahead of the series starting (like Star Wars Rebels -Spark of Rebellion) and maybe it would have been more favourable at the time. But nowadays it’s essential viewing for anyone wanting to get more into our favourite galaxy far, far away.
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