With Star Wars, it appears more obvious than ever that you can’t go back again. The glory days of 1977-1980 are from a galaxy far, far away. But George Lucas can’t stop trying.
The latest dip in cinema’s most profitable well, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, picks up events between the two most recent Star Wars films, during the galaxy-wide confrontation known as the Clone Wars. Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Lanter) is still a good guy, and is tasked with saving the kidnapped son of Jabba the Hutt, as well as breaking in a new Jedi apprentice, a feisty teenager named Ahsoka (Eckstein). Most of the usual characters are on hand, including Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, RD-D2 and the villainous Count Dooku.
What works? The painterly animation style, which renders the onscreen textures somewhere between charcoal and clay, is an intriguing stylistic departure. And the action, anchored by those familiar and grand Star Wars sound effects, is solid enough. An attack on a cloud-piercing monastery has some of the visual grandeur of the (actual) films.
Nevertheless, I couldn’t tell you why this movie was made. For one, we know how it all ends. Two, the events of the Clone Wars have already been depicted in Genndy Tartakovsky’s stylish (and superior) 2003-2005 animated series, which managed to preserve the relatively serious tone of the films—you know, the whole galaxy is kind of at stake. This new film instead attempts to capture the fun, lively spirit of the first Star Wars and fails quite spectacularly. The terribly grating banter between Skywalker and Ahsoka, a precocious pupil who must have just stepped off the set of a Nickelodeon show, is actually worse than anything Lucas himself has penned.
And if that’s not bad enough, there’s Jabba’s kid, a little pipsqueak slug referred to as Stinky, and Jabba’s uncle, a flamboyantly gay crime lord who appears to be masquerading as a nightclub chanteuse. It’s more a spoof of Star Wars than the real thing.
There are still stories in the Star Wars universe that could be riveting entertainment. For anyone older than 12, and for all fans of the saga, this ain’t one