MONKEY REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

August 15, 2008

The first feature length Star Wars inspired animated film is really just an extended pilot for the TV series to be aired on the Cartoon Network and TNT this fall. It gets off to a pretty rocky start, with a second rate, very uninspiring rendition of the Star Wars theme, and in lieu of a opening crawl explaining what’s going on in the Star Wars universe as the movie begins, there’s a 30’s newsreel style voiceover, the effect of which is somewhat jarring. Once the movie gets rolling, it’s actually not bad for its first two acts, as it’s filled with a lot of Star Wars style laser and light saber battles, and quite a bit of humor tossed in for good measure. The highlight of the movie, for me, at least, was a battle that mostly takes place on the face of a sheer cliff. The animation is pretty impressive, sometimes quite beautiful, even if the human characters resemble marionettes for the most part, though this is apparently intentional, inspired to some degree by the 60’s series Thunderbirds Are Go!. The story, which takes place between Episodes 2 and 3, involves Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi sent on a mission to rescue the kidnapped son of Jabba the Hut. There’s not a lot really at stake, since obviously nothing can happen to alter the events of Episode 3, but it’s mostly entertaining and engaging, until, that is, a third act that drags badly, and introduces a Jabba the Hut-like character that, for some utterly wrongheaded reason, speaks in an effeminate Southern drawl, not unlike a bad imitation of Truman Capote. Whatever the thinking was behind that, it seems offensive and inappropriate for kid’s fare. At any rate, the third act takes what was a reasonably fast paced movie and makes it seem like the longest 98 minute movie ever made. It doesn’t quite ruin the entire film, but it is a most disappointing turn for what was otherwise an entertaining Star Wars adventure.

P.S. I saw this at a midnight showing with my soon to be fifth grader nephew Louie. He thought it was “cool,” and the audience I saw it with applauded at the end. The showing was barely half full, which may be an indication that the box office reception to this movie won’t be on par with the rest of the theatrical releases.

MONKEY RATING: THREE (JEDI) MONKEYS

(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)

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