Star Wars: Clone Wars, Vol. 1 DVD cover art

Film:
DVD:

Series Created by Genndy Tartakovsky based on Star Wars by George Lucas
Starring the voices of Mat Lucas, James Arnold Taylor, Tom Kane, Grey DeLisle, Daran Norris, Corey Burton, and Anthony Daniels

Features:

  • All twenty first season episodes
  • Two running audio commentaries by Tartakovsky
  • Featurette: Building the Saga
  • Behind the scenes featurette

Released by: Fox Home Video.
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: Yes, my master.

My Advice: Rent It.

As we learned in the events from Episode 2, the galaxy is getting its war on. In this corner, we have the Clone Army of the Republic led by the Jedi Order. In the other corner, we have the Separatist Droid Army led by the Sith Lord, Count Dooku (Burton). As befits a galactic war, there are battles on many fronts from the seas of Mon Calamari to the crystal caves of Ilum. One of the main fronts is the banking planet of Muunilinst where General Obi-Wan Kenobi (Taylor) and his ARC troopers face battle droids and the mysterious bounty hunter Durge (Norris). Above the planet, Anakin Skywalker (Lucas) encounters the Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress (DeLisle) and they engage in a ferocious dogfight then a vicious lightsaber duel on the strangely familiar moon Yavin 4. These events will have great consequences on the Clone Wars and the future.

For this animated series, Lucas let Tartakovsky (Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack) play in his toy box. Tartakovsky wisely filters out all the Joseph Campbell philosophy, the failed romantic subplot, and the rest of the filler to give us small powerful doses of kick ass action. The episodes are only four minutes a piece. The short play time lets the action go at breakneck speed without wearing the viewer out. It also leaves the viewer hungry for more. So don't expect major character development, complicated plot, or anything substantial. Even the dialogue is kept to a minimum. But that's not what you watch Star Wars for, is it? Still, the major Star Wars themes are present: the dangers of over relying on technology, the power of the lone hero against vast odds, and the risks of allowing your emotions to control your actions.

Troopers from Star Wars: Clone Wars, Vol. 1

Tartakovsky tells several stories in his series so we get some variety in the kind of battles we see. Along with the obligatory lightsaber duel and starfighter dogfights, we see types of combat not presented in the movies. We get action underwater, urban combat with commandos and one Jedi going Force wushu on a droid army. He even manages to put more oomph in the traditional battles with the Jedi using their abilities to the full without worrying about real world physics and the limits of CGI. Tartakovsky is also careful to construct the soundscape which has been one of Star Wars' strengths. It's the trademark sounds that really makes the cartoon feel like Star Wars.

Obi-Wan from Star Wars: Clone Wars, Vol. 1

The extras are kind of irritating. There's the usual behind the scenes featurette and a commercial masquerading as a featurette talking about the next series of Clone Wars. The two commentaries are odd. One is a little more on the technical side and one is more about the story concept. You do learn that Lucas and company pretty much signed off on every crazy thing Tartakovsky wanted to do with the series and that while he is a proponent of hand drawn animation, he used CGI for the starfighter sequences for better results. But through most of them Tartakovsky is saying the same thing in both commentaries. I actually got confused about which one I was listening to. Tartakovsky also engages in commentary of the blind, telling us what's on the screen when we can plainly see. Maybe some of the detail is necessary for viewers who aren't that familiar with the Star Wars universe, but there must be a better way to deliver that information to the less knowledgeable. But even if the extras were better, I still recommend only renting Clone Wars. Seeing what the recent trilogy could have been is just too painful. If you'll excuse me, I need a tissue. *sniff*

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