Star Wars The Clone Wars on Blu-ray disc
Time to move on, George.
Star Wars The Clone Wars is an animated feature set between Star Wars Episode II (Attack of the Clones) and Episode III (Revenge of the Sith). This means we get a pre-Darth Anakin still working for the light side of the force, a Jedi in this case who finds himself saddled with his own Padawan Learner (much to his initial chagrin).
The movie is supposedly the pilot for a new CG TV series we haven't seen – and after watching this feature length version, we aren't unhappy about that lack in our lives. And some would consider us die hard Star Wars fans.
The storyline here follows Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi and their pet army of clones. The enemy, not surprisingly, is Count Dooku, who has kidnapped Jabba the Hutt's infant son (a mini-slug) but has ensured the Jedi are blamed for it instead.
Anakin gets the baby-rescuing gig, helped by his Padawan Learner Ahsoka Tano. Do the two Jedi manage to fulfill their mission, rescue the little slug and save the galaxy far, far away until the next adventure?
The movie uses computer animation for everything except the character voices (most of which are not done by the original actors such as Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid etc.), but while the human characters (and aliens such as Yoda) are recognizable, they look kind of angular, like a Saturday morning cartoon version of the Star Wars universe. The technology – spaceships and the like – look much as they did in the movies, however, which lead us to a kind of "reality vs. unreality" disconnect.
Perhaps a good analogy of how this movie looks is that it resembles those animated cut scenes you get between levels on a computer game. Overall, the animation is very good, but we expected more from Lucasfilm, a company that has pushed the state of the art for decades now.
Other than that the scale of the movie is like you'd expect – huge battles full of good guy and bad guy forces and their weaponry, thousands of robots and laser blasts, etc.
There's plenty of action, as you'd also expect from Star Wars, but not as much plot as we expected (to some, no Star Wars movie has much of a plot, though we've always disagreed with that assessment), and that was also a downfall of Clone Wars. And what script there is is not up to the Star Wars universe' standards.
Again, think "Saturday Morning TV Cartoon" and you get the idea: there's plenty to like, but it's like cotton candy, giving us little to sink our teeth into. It's an hour and a half of babysitting.
Warners' Blu-ray is a decent presentation, however. The picture, of course, is presented in widescreen (2.4:1, the box claims) 1080p and the picture is sharp and clean and crisp and colorful, with excellent contrast and detail.
That also works against the movie, because rather than popping off the screen like some CG features such as Shrek the Third and Cars do, the movie ends up looking low rent.
Audio is presented in lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and it's okay. We've never been satisfied with the sound of a Star Wars disc (though, alas, this is the only chance we've had to audition a Star Wars Blu-ray so far, since the six films aren't available yet), and Clone Wars continues that unfortunate tradition.
It isn't that the sound isn't good, but it just doesn't have the punch, the dynamics that so many good movies – and good Blu-rays, have.
Warners and Lucasfilm do give you plenty of extra material, though. There's a video commentary that uses picture-in-picture, and "The Hologram Memory Challenge" reminds us of the old TV game show "Concentration."
"Untold Stories" is basically a nearly half hour-long promo for the TV series, while "Voices of Star Wars: The Clone Wars" is a short behind the scenes look at the voice actors. "A New Score" introduces us to compose Kevin Kiner, who discusses the thankless job he had adapting the great John Williams' great scores, as well as showing us some of the recording sessions.
There's also a stills gallery, deleted scenes, "webisodes" (six featurettes focusing on the new characters, the battle scenes, etc.) and a couple of trailers.
You also get a second disc with a digital copy of the movie on it.
Now, Mr. Lucas, how about abandoning Star Wars and Indiana Jones and giving us a new mythology we can love? Perhaps a 1950's alien invasion-type thing such as you attempted in Indy 4, but with new heroes? We have confidence that you can do it!
Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.