Star Wars: The Clone Wars (PG)
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Caution: potential spoilers.
In 2003, Cartoon Network aired an animated microseries called Clone Wars, which shows some of the events that transpired between episodes 2 and 3 of the movie series. But now, in 2008, they're making a new, CGI animated series, The Clone Wars, set in the same time period. Apparently, George Lucas liked it so much, he thought it should appear in theaters first. So okay... we get a lead-in to the TV series. As for the movie, I thought the visuals were pretty decent. Not the best CGI I've ever seen, but certainly not the worst, and it definitely looked like a Star Wars film. Plenty of cool battles and backgrounds. The dialogue wasn't that great, but for the most part it was tolerable, and I enjoyed the story. There was also some quite good background music in some of the scenes.
So... the plot. Oh, first I wanted to mention, the exposition that is normally done by those scrolling paragraphs you have to read... is instead narrated in the style of old movie news reels or whatever. Which is simultaneously kind of cool and kind of disappointing. Plus, since it's voiced by Tom Kane, one can't help but think of The Powerpuff Girls, which is rather distracting. But anyway... the film is, as I've said, set between episodes 2 and 3, during the Clone Wars between the Republic (with the Jedi Knights and the clone army) and the Separatists (with their droid army, led by Count Dooku, a Sith who is also known as Darth Tyranus, who of course serves Darth Sidious, who is secretly Chancellor Palpatine, who is supposedly on the side of the Republic). Anyway, Generals Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker (both Jedi, as you know) are leading a group of clone soldiers on a planet called Christophsis. They had apparently taken the planet from the Separatists, so now they're free to take on a mission, the only two Jedi who aren't tied up elsewhere at the moment. It seems Jabba the Hutt's son has been kidnapped, and Palpatine wants Mace Windu and Yoda to send Obi-Wan and Anakin to find and rescue the baby Hutt. Jabba, of course, is a gangster, but he controls star lanes on the outer rim, which could serve as important supply lines for the Republic, and they want Jabba's support, in letting them use these routes.
Communication with Christophsis is impossible at the moment, so Yoda sends a young Togruta named Ahsoka Tano, to deliver a message to the two Jedi there. She is also to become Anakin's new padawan learner, which he isn't happy about. Since Anakin is no longer an apprentice to Obi-Wan, the latter has applied to be given a new padawan, but Anakin himself has no interest in being a teacher. He thinks a padawan would just slow him down. Um... I wanted to mention, at first I thought I must've seen Ahsoka in some previous incarnation, either the microseries or one of the prequel movies, but I guess she just reminded me of a Jedi named Shaak-Ti, who is also a Togruta (a species that looks a lot like Twi'lek, since both races have "lekku," tentacles that grow out of their heads). Always thought it would've been nice to see more of Shaak Ti, so I guess Ahsoka makes for a nice consolation character. Anyway... she's pretty headstrong and reckless, not unlike Anakin himself. She calls him "Sky Guy" (and she calls R2-D2 "Artooey"), and her attitude and snippy comments lead Anakin to start calling her "Snips." At first she seems to aggravate him, but he comes around, and accepts her as his padawan.
However, they weren't able to look for Jabba's son right away, because the Separatists renewed their attack on Christophsis. So... there's more fighting to do there, and Ahsoka helps out. Meanwhile, the Republic has sent a pair of trackers to find the kidnapped Huttling, and they follow bounty hunters who had been sent by Jabba to locate him. He's being held on a planet called Teth, by Dooku's apprentice, Asajj Ventress, and a bunch of droids. I want to mention that the 3-D character designs for this series are sort of based on the 2-D designs from the microseries, though I think I liked Asajj better in the microseries. I don't remember for sure, though.
Eventually the situation on Christophsis is resolved, and Obi-Wan heads off to Tatooine, to negotiate with Jabba, while Anakin and Ahsoka head to Teth with a group of clones, to rescue the Huttling. But Dooku also talks to Jabba, and convinces him that the Jedi are the ones who kidnapped his son, and intend to kill Jabba himself. He says his people will try to rescue the Huttling, in the hopes that Jabba will join forces with the Separatists.
Back on Coruscant, Senator Amidala learns about all that's going on, and goes to see Ziro the Hutt, Jabba's uncle (who actually speaks Basic, something I never expected to hear coming out of a Hutt's mouth; he also seems rather... flamboyant). He controls several of the Hutt clans, though not as many as Jabba, I guess. Amidala wants to convince him to help her get in touch with Jabba, to explain the truth to him. But instead, Ziro takes her prisoner. Though she later learns an invaluable piece of information about Ziro, which will ultimately save both Anakin and Ahsoka....
Um, I feel like I'm leaving lots of stuff out. Of course I'm leaving out the ending, not that it really matters. I mean, whether Jabba joins the Republic, the Separatists, or neither, we already know how the war ends. And we already know Star Wars movies can end with either the good guys or bad guys winning, because the overall story is... you know, episodic. But maybe I'll update this after I get the DVD, whenever that may be. But anyway, it seemed like a lot happened in the movie, I thought. Wish I could think what else to say. But I enjoyed it well enough.