Any Star Wars fan that sat through the cinematic sick burp that was the recent Clone Was movie will probably have a good idea whether or not the animated TV series of the same name is actually for them or not, but (unlike said movie) there are at least a few signs of promise here. Though they share a similar name and address the same period in the Star Wars timeline, this should not be confused with the Genndy Tartakovsky’s production that was cruelly cut short after just two seasons. No, this iteration adopts a new, but equally impressive, art style that is served particularly well by a high-definition presentation and follows the exploits of various Jedi and their (impossibly annoying) Padawan during the fabled galactic conflict.
Sacrifice and death are certainly not shied away from and unlike most kids’ offerings, the studio isn’t afraid to throw in a few casualties of war. But dead clones or not, children are certainly the audience here and old-school Lucas loyalists hoping for a spot of original trilogy magic will be sorely disappointed, as George is headed on a very definite path with Star Wars now and is giving the old guard nothing. To accuse the arrival of Clone Wars as ruining the franchise would be missing the point as this is Star Wars now – a kids cartoon to be digested along with their Corn Pops – and as long as you understand that, there’s enough here to enjoy.
Though the juvenile exchanges between main players Ahsoka and her ‘Sky Guy’ can be irritating and the comic-relief Separatists droids grate a little, there’s plenty of impressive galactic dogfights, some unexpected treachery and evidence of the Sith seed beginning to flower in Anakin to help to keep things interesting over the 22 episodes. In fact, with the Jedi’s story already set in stone it’s nice to see LucasArts establishing the Clones as a much more rounded group of characters in episodes like ‘Rookies’, making their eventual betrayal all the more surprising.
There’s a clear rise in quality as the series progresses, which perhaps makes season two a more appealing prospect, but if you’re willing to accept the new face of the franchise, an episode every now and then should sate your Star Wars craving.
The Clone Wars will certainly polarise Star Wars fans, but if you can lose the baggage it offers fairly solid entertainment.
Creator: George Lucas
Starring: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor
Released: 16 November 2009