- The Washington Times - Friday, August 15, 2008

A long time ago in our very own galaxy, the opening of a new “Star Wars” movie was an Event. No longer.

The substandard “Star Wars” prequels clearly bloodied the franchise to the point that “Star Wars:The Clone Wars” is more curiosity than summertime attraction.

The finished product confirms those suspicions. The computer-animated film’s nonstop action and simplistic dialogue will be gobbled up by younger viewers. The older demographic, and anyone weaned on the original trilogy, will merely accept another serviceable Lucasfilm production.

Chronologically, “The Clone Wars” takes place between “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones” and “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.” Call it “Episode 2.5: The Lost Years.” Kevin Michael Richardson). The bloblike creature may be intergalactic scum, but sometimes a Jedi must break bread with the enemy.

Meanwhile, the war between the Separatists (boo, hiss!) and the Republic rages on. The former’s droid armies blast away at the latter’s Clones, all of which is choreographed with workmanlike precision - and little passion - by director Dave Filoni.



The new characters introduced in “The Clone Wars” goose the film in predictable ways. Anakin is assigned a Jedi apprentice in the form of Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), a scrappy gal with red skin and a hairstyle that looks like Wolverine in his golden years.

New villainess Asajj Ventress (Nika Futterman) uses her dual light saber to slice and dice her way through Republic forces - but why does she enter the film as late as she does?

“The Clone Wars” offers brilliantly rendered spaceships, planets and explosions, but the humans are more stylized and less believable. Perhaps the software required to make their movements lifelike wasn’t in stock during pre- and post-production.

Suffice to say the Anakin of “The Clone Wars” is just as wooden as the one portrayed by Hayden Christensen in the last two prequels.

Oddly enough, “The Clone Wars” delivers a story line that’s more streamlined, and absorbing, than the past three “Star Wars” prequels. There’s little talk of interstellar politics, just the need to keep a space route open for warships on both sides of the struggle.

The smaller stories, like finding and protecting Jabba’s son, will be met with wide-eyed amusement by younger “Star Wars” fans.

“The Clone Wars” is a precursor to a new “Star Wars” television series, and nothing in this cinematic start-up demands a big-screen treatment. Even the score, cobbled together from scraps left behind by George Lucas at this stage of the game.

★★½

TITLE: “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”

RATING: PG (Science-fiction action and brief harsh language)

CREDITS: Directed by Dave Filoni. Written by Scott Murphy, based on a story and characters by George Lucas.

RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

WEB SITE: www.starwars.com/ clonewars/site/index.html

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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