Monday, August 18, 2008

Movie Review - Star Wars - The Clone Wars

Alright, so the Bear Squad, in general, is a bunch of big geeks. We love the Star Wars franchise, and we cling tenaciously to the idea that it can still be a great thing. I know I, for one, had very mixed feelings about the Prequels, in as much as I was indifferent towards Episode I, mostly hostile towards Episode II, and fairly okay with Episode III. So, with some trepidation, the Bear Squad headed to see the new computer animated Clone Wars movie.

So, we arrive in the theater, and we're immediately concerned. Admittedly, it's during the day during the week, and it's summer vacation, but the audience is made up of predominately kids around the age of 8-12. My other half looks at me and says, "Maybe we made a mistake." And he's the biggest Star Wars fan among us. But we decide to tough it out, and we sit down to watch.

The typical 20th Century Fox logo and theme...good...this is par for the course. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...good. We're in familiar territory here.

Then the music starts. I actually don't object to composer Kevin Kiner's reworking of some of the classic musical themes. It has a younger, more rock influenced sound, but it made me think, "Huh! Maybe this is going to be something new...a fresh way to watch Star Wars, but with nods to the classic feel."

The movie's not 100% awful. It has good action scenes, and it feels Star Wars-y enough, I suppose. There are lots of interesting touched, like having the various Clone Troopers distinguishing themselves with different hair cuts, tattoos, and the like. That's an interesting take on how a group of people who all look exactly the same might begin to branch out to look different. I liked that.

There's a slightly cringe-worthy character named Ziro the Hutt, Jabba's flamingly gay uncle, who speaks Basic with a high-pitched southern-accent. More than one of the Bear Squad likened him immediately to Truman Capote. But he runs a bar on Corruscant, so the idea of him speaking Basic isn't bad...and he's covered with these elaborate tattoos or body paint which made him visually interesting. In fact, a lot of the character design was pretty good.

The big trouble is this...I just don't care.

The main characters include Anakin Skywalker, Padme Amidala, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Commander Cody, Master Yoda, Mace Windu, Count Dooku, Jabba the Hutt...and I know nothing bad happens to any of them, because I've already seen Episode III. They introduce an extremely cringe-worthy eleventeen year old padawan Jedi named Asoka, and I know nothing will happen to her, because this movie is just the set-up for a T.V. series. They re-introduce the awesome and ill-used Sith apprentice Asajj Ventress from the old Clone Wars t.v. show...and I know nothing will happen to her, because she's in the new series, too.

In order to move somewhere with this franchise, the Lucasfilm crowd needs to go somewhere new. They need to get away from this pre-cursor time-period, because everything is set in stone already. Until they do, this franchise is doomed to stagnate.

One area in which it isn't stagnating is in the comics industry. For a look at what can be done in this setting, I recommend that you save your movie dollars, head to a local comics shop, and pick up an issue of Star Wars: Dark Times. This comic takes place during a time we know little about...the years between Episode III and Episode IV, introduces a new cast of characters, makes you care about them, and then does horrible things to them. Other than their most recent issues, which were tie-ins to the Star Wars: Vector plot that ran throughout all of Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars titles, the series has been fascinating.

May the Force be with you.

- The Happy Bear

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