After thirty years and two lavish, billion-dollar-earning trilogies, it is becoming exceedingly clear that creator George Lucas cannot let go of the enterprise that made him a household name. Without "Star Wars," he would have virtually nothing to call his own. Lucas' desire to suck a few more dollars out of the consumers' pockets has led to a roaring creative misstep, at least within the pantheon of feature films in the franchise. As a means of segueing into a planned half-hour series on the Cartoon Network, the CG-animated, theatrically-released "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" does the trick, but it feels like little more than a cheap ploy and an afterthought.
Frenetic and bombastic, the film acts as sensory overload for children with short attention spans while giving them absolutely nothing to take away from the mindless experience. Meanwhile, adults who grew up with the live-action "Star Wars" features will see this as an impostor that adds no insight or value otherwise to the character of Anakin Skywalker or the story as a whole. It is difficult to take seriously something that bills itself as legitimate, but encapsulates the visual style of a "Lego Star Wars" video game, and even harder to do so when the thin-as-a-rail plot and empty script have so carelessly been thrown together, as they are here.
Chronologically set in between the events of 2002's "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
" and 2005's "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
," the ceaseless Clone Wars of the title now rage on between the Confederacy and the Galactic Republic. When Jabba the Hutt's young son, Rotta the Hutt, is kidnapped by mysterious renegades, Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Matt Lanter) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) are called in to assist in Rotta's rescue. With the devious Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) out to wreak havoc on the Republic, Anakin, Obi-Wan and determined Padawan apprentice Ahsokoa Tano (Ashley Eckstein) have their work cut out for them as they journey deeper into the crosshairs of battle.
"Star Wars: The Clone Wars" has been directed by Dave Filoni (an alum of the animated "Avatar: The Last Airbender" series) and written by Henry Gilroy, Steve Melching and Scott Murphy. George Lucas has downgraded himself to the producer seat, but he is still the main man responsible for this picture's dubious existence. Taken as a kid-friendly trifle, albeit one fitted wall-to-wall with action, violence and explosions, the film starts off well enough with a tautly-paced setpiece amidst the clone armies and a reintroduction of characters that anyone versed in "Star Wars" lore will be familiar with. Still, by dropping the viewer into the midst of battle without giving them an adequate explanation for what is going on, and why, younger audience members will have no choice but to just go with the flow. The flow, unfortunately, consists of endless chaotic sequences of laserfire and destruction, each more numbing than the next. With no time to stop for a breather or treat the characters as anything but pawns, the film becomes mechanical, tedious and even depressing.
Since "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" is aiming for the family market and is impossible to misconstrue as a science-fiction epic, let it be known that parents who take their kids to see this instead of something valuable that might expand their minds and imaginations, like "WALL•E
" or "Fly Me to the Moon
," are doing an outright disservice to them. "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" is cinematic junk food, plain and simple. It goes in one ear and out the other, and the only thing it will leave you with afterwards is a headache.