Star Wars: Clone Wars, Volume 1
September 20, 2005
The animated incarnation of Star Wars has come a long way since Droids and Ewoks back in the ‘80s. Clone Wars (2003-2004), which originally aired on the Cartoon Network, manages to reproduce the grand scale of the Star Wars films but trims them of unnecessary narrative fat and awkward dialogue that plagues Lucas’ recent trilogy. The DVD collects all 20 installments of this visually arresting animated saga.
Taking place between Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (2002) and Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (2004), Clone Wars chronicles the struggle between the Jedi and the Separatists. Count Dooku has begun a campaign to conquer an increasing number of planets in order to expand his empire. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker try to slow him down. Together, Dooku and Darth Sidious try to destroy Anakin through a series of traps.
Each episode is like a mini- movie with Genndy Tartakovsky’s uniquely stylized animation. He keeps the pace brisk with lots of exciting action: elaborate space battles, large scale ground assaults and plenty of fast and furious lightsaber-induced carnage. The battles rage in outer space and underwater (with an amphibious Jedi no less!). It all spools out like the vintage serials from the ’30s and ‘40s that originally inspired George Lucas.
The style of animation is definitely cartoonish and exaggerated with a bit of a Japanese anime feel to it and this works, adding to the pulpy/serial vibe. Tartakovsky understands that you don’t need a lot of dialogue when you have such arresting visuals that can speak for themselves. This results in a leaner, tighter, more exciting story. This mini-series is everything that the new Star Wars movies should be.
The “Director Commentary” provides a new cure for insomnia as Tartakovsky tends to narrate what we are seeing and explains the characters, vehicles and so on, which gets tedious very fast. If you enjoy hearing a lot of comments like, “Here are the Separatist drones…” or “And these are giant cannons,” then this is the track for you.
The “Hyperspace Commentary” is a vast improvement as Tartakovsky talks about technique and explains the look of the series, voice casting, etc. He points out the use of CGI and how it was blended in with the regular animation.
“Bridging the Saga” is a seven-minute featurette that examines the Clone Wars’ place in the Star Wars universe. Lucas says that the animated series allowed him to show the Clone Wars, which in the films only starts at the end of Episode 2 and ends at the beginning of Episode 3.
“Videogames” features trailers for two Star Wars games and a playable XBox demo.
“Behind the Scenes” is a featurette that gives a brief look at how the mini-series came together. Various crew members geek out as they finally realized their dream of contributing to the Star Wars universe. There is brief footage of the voice actors at work and galleries of sketches, storyboards, posters and various other artwork.
Finally, there is a teaser trailer for Episode 3.