Some thoughts on Clone Wars

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I took my kids Sam (7) and Kit (5) to see The Clone Wars. I’ve been reading so much invective directed against this movie, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Online voices are torn: some people seem to hate it, some people seem to merely dislike it, some people feel it is a monstrous act of betrayal. My favorite, a hysterical non-review by “Moriarty” at Ain’t-It-Cool-News, is so full of hurt and anger that it goes so far as to insist that the reviewer will never write about Star Wars ever again — You hear him? Never!  Take that, George Lucas!  Moriarty shuts the Iron Door.

I went in fully braced for an atrocity, a soul-scorching, childish, grating, dead-end cinematic nightmare.

Sorry haters — it’s actually not bad. It’s actually pretty good.

I’m still kind of stunned by the notion that, somehow, the “newer” Star Wars adventures somehow invalidate the “older” ones. Fans old enough to remember the releases of the originals seem to get more and more incensed with every new release. I understand if a movie doesn’t live up to your expectations, I even understand your anger if a movie betrays your understanding of the “deal” you’ve made with the filmmakers, as long as you understand that that deal exists only in your imagination. But the kind of anger I’ve seen directed at The Clone Wars just goes way beyond that. It’s as though George Lucas, while slowly eroding the dignity of his cinematic accomplishment, was also slowly eroding the dignity of his audience.

Well, I think neither is true. The movies — the six movies — are what they are. The Clone Wars isn’t pretending to be Episode II & 1/2, it’s its own thing. It makes that clear right off the bat: the music is different, the introduction is spoken instead of written, and the characters have been dramatically re-designed. This is all intentional, and the result, while less grand, less “important,” is more colloquial and human-scaled. (I’m a little baffled by the fans who think the Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars shorts are somehow “better” than Episodes I-III — they strike me as very much Genndy Tartakovsky shorts — jaw-dropping fights, no plot, and The Clone Wars kicks their ass around the block.)

The older fans think that Episodes I-III are bad enough, but The Clone Wars is just gratuitous salt in the wound. Well, I don’t know how to break it to those folks, but Sam has seen all six movies many times, and his favorite is Revenge of the Sith, followed by Attack of the Clones, followed by followed by Return of the Jedi. A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back don’t even make the list. Sam talks about Anakin Skywalker all the time, the battle on Mustafar and the slaughter of the Sandpeople and the fight in the droid factory and the arena on Geonosis. He reads Clone Wars Adventures and counts the animated shorts as canon. That is Star Wars to my 7-year-old, and The Clone Wars was an absolute feast for him, all Anakin and droid battles and crashing spaceships and well-staged, bloodless carnage. He watched The Clone Wars with a look on his face like he was worried that he was never going to remember all the cool stuff he was seeing. Both he and Kit loved the battle droids and their charming stupidity, they both loved Stinky the Hutt and felt genuine concern for his health. (Sam even checked with me afterwards to make sure if he had an accurate understanding of the “ticking clock” concept: he said “When Anakin had the Huttlet, and it was getting sicker and sicker, didn’t that make it more dramatic, because you didn’t know if they were going to make it back to Tatooine in time to save him?”) They’re too young to get the joke of a Hutt who sounds like Truman Capote (both of them thought Ziro the Hutt was a female, but they cheerfully went along with it when they found out he was not). I’ve read reviews by people disgusted by the idea of a stereotypical gay Hutt, or disgusted at the idea of a stereotypical black Hutt, or a stereotypical “Mammy” Hutt, all of which only proves to me that the joke went over these folks’ heads.

And both my kids love Asoka, the girl Jedi who acts as Anakin’s protege and foil. And you know what? I love her too — she’s a great character, the teenage girl who seems to be the only person in the galaxy who doesn’t seem that impressed with Anakin Skywalker. She gets a lot of screen time, she’s a girl of action, she’s smart and funny and she doesn’t take shit from anyone, much less Anakin. (Okay, she’s stuck holding the baby for a stretch, but credit where credit is due — she’s a huge improvement over the whining, helpless Padme of Sith.)

I’m also really impressed with the look of the thing. Sure, it looks cheap — we’re not talking about Wall-E here — we’re not even talking about Kung-Fu Panda, but the animators have taken the limitations of their budget and turned it into an asset. They do exactly what animators on a budget should do, they lean into their limitations, they make the characters look like they’ve been carved out of wood and then painted with some kind of sticky, quick-drying paint, which makes them both strongly stylized and minutely detailed. Take, for example, the lipstick on Asajj Ventress — she’s got these cruel black lips, but in close-ups we can actually see that her lipstick isn’t applied evenly: it gets caught in the creases of her mouth and, here and there, doesn’t actually make it out to the edges of her lips. Similarly, Asoka’s face paint looks like it’s been applied in layers over a period of time — she’s got streaks and splotches here and there, and in other places her salmon-colored skin shows through.

If there is a complaint to be made, it’s that, for a feature film, there’s a lot of plot but nothing of consequence. Nobody important dies, there are no dramatic reveals or reversals, we don’t find out that Anakin is really a woman or that his father is really a B’omarr Monk. Essentially, it’s a lot of busywork, a bunch of “plot,” at the end of which everyone goes back to doing what they were doing when the movie started. And, as the movie is mostly plot, let me hasten to add that the plot is well-executed, well-paced, and fun to watch.

What The Clone Wars resembles is a pilot for a TV show, which it is, which is bad news for your feature-film dollar. But what it also resembles is my son’s home-made Star Wars movies, where he lines up the characters and then just lets them have at each other, with titanic battles and shifting alliances and dramatic duels and last-minute rescues and jaws-of-defeat victories. The older fans are outraged that Star Wars keeps getting diminished, but to my eyes The Clone Wars really is a new beginning, a redefinition for a different medium.


59 Responses to “Some thoughts on Clone Wars”
  1. eronanke says:

    The comparison for me is a technical one; think of the original six, (yes, even the lesser 3), as a Playstation 3 and this movie as a Wii.

    The Playstation is a beast in terms of computing power, it has much more adult games and content, as well as universally recognized better quality output.

    The Wii is fun. It’s games are cartoonish. There’s more immediate involvement for its users, it’s games are g-rated almost exclusively. It’s ‘fun’ and ‘quirky’.

    Hardcore gamers will prefer the former to the latter. It’s as simple as that.

    Although I cannot agree with you regarding
    I’ve read reviews by people disgusted by the idea of a stereotypical gay Hutt, or disgusted at the idea of a stereotypical black Hutt, or a stereotypical “Mammy” Hutt, all of which only proves to me that the joke went over these folks’ heads.

    I can never accept Lucas’ racial stereotypes as ‘jokes’. To whom are they funny? And how? What is the ‘Joke’ here? ‘A gay Hutt, LOL?’ I just don’t see how, given Lucas’ track record, that it’s a sendoff to Capote, just like JarJar was not a send up to Stepin Fetchit.

    • Todd says:

      If Ziro read as a stereotype, I didn’t see it. He has no stereotypical “gay” behavior, he just has a “funny voice.”

  2. jedisoth says:

    The problem with Star Wars these days are not the films, it’s the fans’ sense of entitlement. A lot of the haters (aside from the people who weren’t Star Wars fans to begin with) seem to think Lucas OWES them a movie that meets all their expectations and Damn Him to Hell if he doesn’t deliver.

    Lucas ruined your childhood? Really? How? Did he kill your puppy in front of you and kick the carcass? Did he stick hot skewers under your fingernails for bad penmanship? No, he made a Star Wars movie that wasn’t exactly the kind of plot and action you made up in your mind.

    Lucas has stated several times (as many filmmakers do) that he makes the movies for himself (and now for his kids). If you can enjoy his vision, great. If not, why all the hate? Is your life really so empty that you can’t accept that some things don’t perfectly mesh.

    Maybe my standards are too low, but I enjoy all three Star Wars prequels. They’re not perfect. In my opinion, they’re more flawed than the original trilogy, but I enjoyed the movies and will continue to enjoy them. I can fill in plot holes with explanations that are logical in my mind enough that it doesn’t cause me to hate George Lucas for it.

    And this was a LOT longer than I intended. I just feel strongly about Star Wars because seeing A New Hope is my earliest memory and it pains me to see all the hate towards a man who revolutionized the special effects industry and brought so much wonder and joy to an entire generation of movie-goers.

    • I completely agree with you.

      I saw the original Star Wars when I was 7 and it made a huge impression on me. One of those life-changing events.

      As an adult, I really enjoy the prequels. Like you said, they’re flawed–but after viewing the original trilogy countless times, I think those movies are similarly flawed. Frankly, I don’t think anyone’s really doing much of an outstanding acting job besides Harrison Ford. (Well, I think Mark Hamill does the quiet moments really well–and the big dramatic moments horribly. I think Alec Guinness is obviously phoning it in.) There are some great moments of dialogue and a lot of cheesey moments with clumsy dialogue. I think the original movies are so popular with older people only because they associate it positively with their youth, not because they really are great works of cinema.

      • charlequin says:

        I think there’s a lot to be said for Carrie Fisher’s performance (and a lot of it isn’t even bad!)

        The biggest difference on the “acting” front for me is that unlike the central Prequel couple, in the OT it’s easy to believe that Han and Leia actually want to have sex.

  3. planettom says:

    I liked it too, mildly. But then, I like PHANTOM MENACE best of the new trilogy (Ducks to avoid rocks thrown from the Internet).

    I’m a bit puzzled by the bile people produce for the new trilogy. Folks, you’re never going to be 11 years old again!

    The vertical assault on the monastery with the tank-walkers going right up the cliffs was spectacular.

    I could have done without Truman Capote the Hutt.

    But i look forward to the new series, and apparently Lucas is planning some 100 22-minute episodes.

    • Todd says:

      Planning? Good sir, they are already completed.

      • planettom says:

        All 100 are already done?! I wonder what timeframe they’ll be released in, over 4-5 years in 22-25 episode seasons, or just weekly for the next couple of years.

        • Todd says:

          Apparently, part of the deal was that Lucas didn’t shop it around until all 100 episodes were already completed. Or so I am led to believe.

    • eronanke says:

      I *loved* Phatom Menace. It had a strong heroine, trade embargoes, and a desert planet. All those add up to awesome, (minus a pod-race or two).

  4. eronanke says:

    To respond to the reply you put on the comment I had to delete/repost:

    While I appreciate the concept of a Literary reference to Truman Capote, what kind of audience would understand it in a movie primarily targeted at kids? I think it’s being generous to Lucas to say that he put the Capote!Hutt in for that purpose; I think this is almost a chicken-or-the-egg issue wherein is it a Gay Stereotype because it’s Capote or is it Capote because it’s a Gay Stereotype.

    I think this is Lucas choosing the latter; a Liberace reference wouldn’t be caught by kids, but the Capote (read: effeminate) voice might be. And what purpose does it serve to have Capote be in a Star Wars movie? If he were alive, even contributing the voice, that would be one thing, but removed of all context, I have to say it’s just cheap.

    • Todd says:

      Sorry for the misunderstanding — I only deleted my reply because I had misread your post.

      Perhaps a Capote joke is cheap, especially when you consider that Ziro has to speak English in order for the joke to scan. There is a looseness, a willingness to goof around in Clone Wars that I don’t find in the more expensive movies. That spirit is in the comics as well, an almost slapstick element that lifts the spirits of the piece. Which I welcome, and which my kids adored — when they got home they repeated every joke in the movie to my wife. It announces Clone Wars as having its own sensibility, and I admire its skill in doing so.

  5. r_sikoryak says:

    But what does Joe Biden think of The Clone Wars?

    • Todd says:

      “You and I worry about whether we can afford to take the family to a theater to see The Clone Wars. John McCain has to worry about which one of his seven theaters he wants to see it in.”

      — Joe Biden

    • greyaenigma says:

      “Why is this the first Star Wars to make it to the screen in years? Why is Asoka the first woman in the Jedi in a thousand generations to get serious screen time? Was it because George Lucas hates us?”

  6. charlequin says:

    I haven’t seen Clone Wars yet, but the thing that bugs me about it conceptually is that it sets up the fun young Jedi for kids to identify with (and finally acknowledges that, hey, female Jedi can have speaking roles!) who spends the movie hanging out with Anakin, all so that… what? He can have her, like all of her compatriots, brutally murdered two years down the line? Seems like a tone mismatch to me.

    • jedisoth says:

      I can think of several ways to remove Ahsoka from the picture without necessarily meaning her death (though, I admit her death is the most likely scenario). Yoda and Obi-Wan were never known in the original trilogy for speaking the literal truth all the time. So when they tell Luke that he’s the last of the Jedi, he could be, from a certain point of view.

      Maybe she leaves the order in disgust and renounces the Jedi altogether. She could fake her death, after all, Yoda and Obi-Wan hid well enough for nearly 20 years. There’s a whole host of ways to get rid of her before Revenge of the Sith that don’t end in the her death.

      Of course, I don’t believe any of those options will be explored, ’cause I think a lot of the new Star Wars stuff suffers from lazy writing (I still like to watch it, though. I just retcon that stuff in my mind if I need to use that history for RPG purposes).

      • Todd says:

        Everyone’s worried about the death of Asoka, why is no one worried about the death of Stinky? There is no Stinky in Episode VI!

        • jedisoth says:

          George Lucas ruined my childhood! I had a dog named Stinky and I saw him get run over by a school bus. DAMN YOU FLANNELED ONE!!

          Except for the ruining my childhood part, this story is actually true. :p

        • Er… that was one of the things I mentioned to my husband after we left the theater. I worried about Stinky! And I’m not sure how I feel about that.
          I was on board with Asoka until she started calling R2 Rtwo-y, Rtooey? Then I had issues with her.

      • faroffstar says:

        G4 went to Japan for some kind of big Star Wars convention and they spoke with the people who made Clone Wars and according to him, Asoka is alive and well. Also, in the film when Anakin first gets Asoka and Yoda comes to talk to him, there was a quick scene where Yoda spoke with Obi Wan alone and said that Asoka was a test for Anakin to become attached to someone and then have to let them go (I don’t remember the exact quote). So, some where along the line, Asoka and Anakin are parting ways.

        • Anonymous says:

          Asoka in III?

          I think Asoka dies in Revenge of the Sith, when the clones turn on the Jedis and start killing them. I think she’s one of the few Jedi’s that takes a few clones down with her.

  7. shekb says:

    Can’t say your son’s Star Wars preferences are that surprising. I was five when Jedi came out in the theaters, and Jedi was virtually the only movie I wanted to see for the next six or seven years.

    It was, at any rate, the Star Wars movie I had the most use for; we also had a copy of A New Hope that we taped off the tv, and I watched that one, too, but I never needed to see it like I needed my childhood Jedi fix. I remember being bored and confused by Empire, so I probably didn’t actually watch it all the way through until I was in the sixth grade or so. Even then, Jedi seemed to me to be the better one of the three.

    It was only as I marched toward and reached adulthood that I lost my taste for Jedi and grew to appreciate the other two movies on (what I perceived to be) deeper levels, especially after I caught a PBS American Masters special on Lucas that made him out to be this Campbellian myth master. I’ve since read well-researched essays explaining that the “adult” appeal of the early Star Wars films (particularly Empire) were almost accidental, the result of Lucas losing control of the kid-friendly space serials he wanted to make.

    The long and short of it is, Lucas’ original Star Wars audience loved his movies as kids, but could also appreciate those same movies (or at least 2 of the 3) as adults. Our collective expectation for the prequels was for three more Empires, which in hindsight is really just a misunderstanding of Lucas’ mission. The reality is that Lucas just wants to keep making Jedi, and the kids are all the happier for it.

  8. greyaenigma says:

    While the spoken narration did bother me, I did enjoy the film.

    I did like it, I love Asoka, and I continue to love the charmingly dim battle droids. And Ventress is a great villain. (It even inspired me to dig up the sculpture of Ventress I’d bought a few years back but had left in a bin.)

    I was expecting a different, darker movie. Partly because of my sister’s warning “it’s not for kids”, partly because of Yoda’s ominous wondering whether Anakin will be able to “let her [Asoka] go”. Which to me strongly implied her death. Could Yoda have foreseen her death — and let her go anyway? Or is he just talking about the point at which she would naturally graduate?

    But, not only did she not die, Anakin isn’t forced to choose between her and the mission — he puts all he squirmy green eggs in her basket and rushes off to save her (however ineffectively) when he’s told she’s in danger.

  9. Needless to say, I was a little bit surprised by your review for The Clone Wars. And I was even more surprised to see that you actually liked Ahsoka. I’m sorry, but a Jedi (er, sorry, barely Padawan) that already knows how to “organize” troops, fight three Magna Guards with a lightsaber and a baby slug, fly a spaceship, and question her master’s authority and is seemingly always right? She’s too perfect, very, shall I say, Mary Sue-ish. Even Anakin, the Chosen One, has faults. Even he had to learn. Ahsoka seemed to know everything.

    There were parts I liked (the emphasis on the actual clone troopers is awesome, as is the detail with them, down to the WWII gunship art), but there were just too many things that didn’t work for me, aside from the sub-par animation and plot holes everywhere (Anakin can have a Padawan and yet not be a Master in ROTS? Dooku didn’t sense that Rotta wasn’t with Anakin as they were dueling? Just to name a couple).

    I really wanted to like this movie. I went in ignoring the reviews, because frankly, critics have always shot down Star Wars after ESB. You can’t really trust them. I’ve always been a SW fan, ever since I was a kid (like most others). I knew this film wouldn’t be exactly groundbreaking, but I was very disappointed.

    However, my 10-year-old sister loved it, especially the character of Ahsoka. I guess with this day’s age of Miley/Montana and the such, girls immediately latch onto the perfect portrayals of young girls. Ah well. Maybe the series will be better than this, but as many characters have said before, I have a bad feeling about this.

  10. swan_tower says:

    What struck me when I saw the trailer was how little it made me care. I don’t know if they made more than one, but the one I saw basically consisted of “Look! Star Wars!” with the familiar music and some action and that was pretty much it. They failed to give me any hook, any reason to care other than the simple fact of it being more Star Wars. (And for me, that is not persuasive.) I don’t really have any idea what the plot of that movie is about, other than what the title tells me, and the trailer gave me no particular interest in watching the film.

    • strangemuses says:

      Same here. The Clone Wars trailer looks like an ad for a kids Star Wars tv show. Which is fine if you are a 6 year old. If that truly is the audience that Lucas is aiming for, then perhaps he has achieved his goal. I dunno.

      I loved the first (well, the original ‘first’) SWs film because it was rousing good fun. Deep? No. Fun? Absolutely. I liked the 2nd one. The 3rd movie, featuring a planet of talking teddy bears? Not so much. The recent lot of movies bored me. My nephews love them though, so clearly they work for kids.

  11. the_stalwart says:

    The reason for the hatred seems pretty clear to me. Many fans have incorporated “love of Star Wars” into their identity. Witness all the tattoos, SW-themed weddings, internet handles, etc. When a fan like this sees a Star Wars movie they don’t like, they’ve got to hold two mutually-exclusive ideas in their head at the same time: “I love Star Wars” and “I hate The Phantom Menace.” It pushes them toward a crisis of identity. “If I don’t love Star Wars, who am I?”

    Rather than face that existential question, many fans find it easier to rage at Lucas for making this stuff that obviously *isn’t* Star Wars (because “I don’t like it, and I love Star Wars”) and slapping the SW name on it.

    • laminator_x says:

      That’s very well put. The new movies remind me of New Coke. New Coke wasn’t malted battery acid, it just wasn’t what Coke’s patrons had been drinking all their life.

  12. mr_noy says:

    I’m not going to get on the Lucas bashing bandwagon. He’s living the dream of many an artist; he came up with an great idea which he fully controls and profits by. More power to him. That being said, I can’t pretend that I’m as enthralled with his output of late.

    I really have no interest whatsoever in watching The Clone Wars. It feels like a movie aimed primarily at children as opposed to a film (such as the original Star Wars or, say, Wall-E that appeals to the whole family. Granted, I could be wrong about that. All I know about the film, apart from the dismal reviews, is gleaned from the trailer; and you know what bothers me? It’s not breaking with the traditional formula (new intros/music/computer animation as opposed to live action); that’s OK, and probably necessary to keep the franchise alive and fresh (although on principle I dislike the idea of a Hutt speaking English, as the Huttese language was one of the nice touches that gave the original series a real sense of verisimilitude).

    No, what bugs me is that Lucas keeps revisiting the Clone Wars period of the Star Wars continuity. I think Revenge of the Sith as well as the original trilogy took care of that narrative issue quite well. What more really needs to be said? Dooku and Anakin duel? Where are the stakes in that? We know what happens to both of them. We know how the Clone War ultimately pans out. Even Asoka, the new tweener Jedi, is destined to die after the Clones turn on the Jedi so asking us to care about her at this stage seems pointless as we (presumably) don’t get to see what happens to her later. We *know* all the major story points and where it leads to. I don’t care about all the minor background figures who have now been promoted to lead status. Just because you merit an action figure that doesn’t mean you deserve a whole story line. I would be interested in seeing any Star Wars tales that take place before or after the timeline of the two trilogies but to keep going over the same ground just seems to be leading towards diminishing returns. To me, what Lucas is doing feels more like ‘fan fic’. Let the fans do that if they must. I’m looking to Lucas to give us more than that.

    Tastes change and I’ve observed other people’s children embracing this new strain of Star Wars while the previous generation either shake their fists in rage or scratch their heads in disbelief. I won’t waste energy getting angry at it. To each his own but I am a bit disappointed. I think I’ve finally outgrown Star Wars and that’s a shame because I never thought that would happen.

  13. marcochacon says:

    I’m not a hater–I was a bit surprised that Phantom Meanace hadn’t “aged with us”–it would’ve been nice to see it get a little more sophisticated. The Midicholrians (which I think are stolen from A Wind In The Door‘s mitrochordria) were ill-wrought. And I felt the script was kinda weak.

    But if I’d been 8 when I saw it? OOhh, I’d have loved it.

    I think my problem is this: A New Hope was a pulpy-sci-fi movie that was possibly more brilliant than Lucas could have foreseen (the combination of David Prowse’s body and James Earl Jones’ voice was synergistic in ways I do not think anyone could’ve predicted). It gave us a dirty, richly mechanical view of the future. It was a home run.

    Then Empire “grew up.” The new script team gave us a darker–but still compatible vision with a breath-taking reveal and an ending that left the 3-years-older me in shock going “that can’t be right!? They can’t end it like that!?”

    And then Jedi gave us one of the goofiest rescue plans of all time (“Let’s get captured and break out!”) and Ewoks with mecha-killing death traps somehow constructed a few feet from a storm-trooper installation … or something.

    I think I and people my age, now 6 or 7 years older when they saw Jedi, felt maybe a little let down: the Ewoks were still for our 8-year-old selves (or however old we were). The movie hadn’t aged with us the way Empire did.

    I admit I expected that to be “corrected” with Phantom Menace–I thought we’d return to a darker era in the past which would now appeal to our 30-something year-old selves the same way Empire seemed calibrated for our 11-15 year old selves.

    It didn’t happen: Star Wars, Empire aside, is a kid’s pulp sci-fi adventure. I don’t think we have any right to be upset about that–but we can maybe lament that it’s not what we’d (For people who thought as I did) wished it was. But I also think it’s okay to be a little disappointed that we aren’t seeing something that gives us “shock and awe” today the same way A New Hope did when we were young.

    For what it’s worth, Sith is pretty grown-up … for my money more like Hope and Empire than the other 3.


  14. Anonymous says:

    Like many fans of the original trilogy who were let down by the prequels (although all the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that leads to the formation of the Empire is actually very well done), I was not thrilled by what of Clone Wars. So I, uh, just didn’t go see it. Problem solved.

    As for the Clone Wars animated shorts, I’ll agree that most of the first series is cool fight scenes, plain and simple. (Mace Windu vs. Giant Trade Federation Stompy Ship Thing? No contest.) But the longer episodes of the second series, with their greater room for actual plot, really shone in my opinion.

    The sequence where an ever-shrinking band of Jedi flee deeper and deeper into the bowels of Coruscant, trying to protect a (hilariously nonplussed) Chancellor Palpatine from the relentless pursuit of General Grievous, is in my opinion the equal or superior in pure filmmaking to anything Lucas ever did. It’s marvelously suspenseful, filled with cool action set pieces that help reveal character, and does a great job mixing humor and tension. And the scene where Anakin gets a glimpse of his future in stylized cave paintings, which ultimately coalesce into a split-second glimpse of the face of Darth Vader, gave me chills.

    — N.A.

  15. strangemuses says:

    Fans old enough to remember the releases of the originals seem to get more and more incensed with every new release. I understand if a movie doesn’t live up to your expectations, I even understand your anger if a movie betrays your understanding of the “deal” you’ve made with the filmmakers, as long as you understand that that deal exists only in your imagination.

    The only “deal” I expect from any filmmaker is that he/she delivers a solid story. Give me a good script, a director who knows how to use a camera to tell a story and good acting, and I am happy. About the only time I get ‘angry’ at a good filmmaker is when he/she turn out something that is, in my opinion, lazy work.

    So far as the SWs film are concerned, I am old enough to remember the releases of original trilogy. I loved the first one, really liked the second, and was only so-so about the 3rd. It felt to me like a mashup of a grown up story and a kiddie flick, and I didn’t think that it entirely held together. None of the recent SW films have held my interest, not because I feel like they’ve betrayed my own personal view of the first films, but simply because I personally found them to be dull. I can see how kids would love them though. My adolescent nephews go around quoting the films at great length, so I know that the films do work. They just don’t work for me. ;>

  16. stormwyvern says:

    I think there are at least two issues being discussed here, so I’m going to try and tackle both.

    I liked Clone Wars. It wasn’t perfect. There was some stiffness in the animation and most of the scenes where there wasn’t fighting didn’t play as well as those where a fight was taking place. There were pacing issues, which I’m guessing are largely due to the fact that this is not so much a movie as the first few episodes of a TV show. I don’t know if the theatrical release was the best move, but the animation holds up pretty well, the pacing problems aren’t nearly as bad as I had thought they would be, the battle scenes were fun to watch and the whole thing was generally entertaining. Ahsoka does do quite a bit to make up for Padme’s slid into a stereotypical background role. She may not be a perfectly realized character quite yet, but again, this is a pilot so we’ve got time to get to know her. I think the whole thing would have made a very impressive TV pilot, but as a movie, it’s merely good, not great.

    I went in with the expectation of seeing an introduction to the TV series rather than the seventh “Star Wars” movie, which may have helped my opinion. I’ve seen people getting upset about the different feel of the score and the newsreel style opening as opposed to the text crawl (which I’ve heard will begin each episode of the TV show, in which context I think it will make a little more sense), but it didn’t bother me because i knew from the start that this was going to be a different interpretation.

    (I am apparently being super long winded today. Post continued in following response.)

    • stormwyvern says:

      As to fans feeling shortchanged or betrayed by this movie, it’s something I’ve seen before, from “Star Wars” fans and fans of other properties. There are audiences who are getting superb reimaginings of the movies and shows and toys that they’ve loved for years (not in all cases, but a good number) who still find themselves able to complain about the new product for various reasons. Valid criticism is fine and if you really didn’t like Clone Wars, that’s fine. But I think that the problem that many people who go into diatribes about what an insult to the fans this new product is are really upset because it doesn’t make them feel the same way that the original did. And what they don’t realize is that it isn’t necessarily because the new product is inferior; it’s because the person experiencing the new product isn’t six years old anymore. You get older and you get more critical and less able to wholeheartedly embrace something the way you did when you were a kid, even if the new product actually improves on the old (though as I said, that is not always the case).

      That being said, I can sympathize somewhat with the criticisms of the “Star Wars” fans, mostly in some of their gripes about the prequels. Maybe not the level of hysteria, but the underlying complaint.

      “Star Wars” has always been this epic saga. But the movies first came out, there wasn’t really this big, thoroughly thought out galaxy. You had background characters made of costumes from other movies and spaceships made out of streetlamps and all kinds of stuff that comes from making an ambitious film within time and finance constraints. But the films were hugely successful, which meant there was going to be new stories in other media. And because there wasn’t a big database of the “Star Wars” universe and Lucas wasn’t yet overseeing the various fictions based on his movies, it was open season. “Star Wars” could be pretty much anything that anyone working on the latest “Star Wars” book or comic or TV series or whatever thought it was. It was messy and self-contradictory and at times very, very silly, but it also got us some good and fun stories.

      Time went on, the cult status of “Star Wars” grew, and Lucas started to take control of the various interpretations of his films. Details that were once left up to whoever happened to be writing that particular take on “Star Wars” were cleared up. Characters whose appearances in the movies lasted barely a second got names and species and backstories, which would be the only “true” stories of these particular characters. It was less messy and it didn’t contradict itself nearly as much. Sometimes, it was still very, very silly. But we still got some good and fun stories, and a sense of a more defined world. Fans started to get the message that if they knew the movies well and followed a lot of the other material, they would see one whole picture. That knowledge of the trivial details of the “Star Wars” saga would make the various stories – and possibly even the original films – more meaningful than they would be to someone who didn’t have this information.

      So I can see how some fans could get pretty upset when the prequels – real, Lucas-helmed, new “Star Wars” movies – came out and contained stuff that contradicted the original trilogy. I don’t mean the stuff that presented different interpretations of concepts fans thought they understood (i.e. midi-chlorians); I mean out and out, “this just doesn’t make sense” contradictions. There may not be a ton of these. I admit I don’t know enough offhand about any of the films to be sure. But still, there’s no excuse for there being any contradictions, not when you have a trilogy that’s been so thoroughly explored by creators and fans alike.

      I don’t like hysteria and I don’t like feelings of entitlement. Your life will not end if the latest “Star Wars” product isn’t up to your personal standard and neither Lucas nor anyone else “owes” you a better product. But an expectation that the people actually responsible for making “Star Wars” know and care about its history at least as much as the fans who have no financial interest in keeping all the facts straight, well, I don’t think that’s so unreasonable.

  17. faroffstar says:

    My husband loves star wars. He’s one of those guys that made their own Han Solo blaster by following the design for the original prop in the movie (we’re talking specific parts bought on ebay…). He even has a Rebel Alliance tattoo. He’s also a lot cooler than those two sentences make him sound. You might be happy to know that he enjoyed the film, because it was a star wars film and that’s what he enjoys. The only one that didn’t thrill him overly was Phantom Menace. But he loved the Clone Wars and he loved Revenge of the Sith and he loves the original trilogy. He says the lightsaber battles are way cooler in the new movies and that Ewan MacGregor’s Obi Wan Kenobe is awesome. So it is possible for hardcore, Han Solo quoting, Fans of the original to enjoy the new movies.

    And non a side note: let’s not forget that Padme kicked ass in the first and second films. Yeah, she rung her hands and fretted in the third, but she was pregnant and her husband was at war and an obvious pawn…let’s say it was hormones.

    • Todd says:

      I do like Padme in the first two movies, and for me, the kind of “betrayal” I feel as a moviegoer is when the filmmaker spends two movies developing a strong female character, then turns her into a whining, mewling idiot in the third for no narrative reason I can discern. In my experience, pregnant women don’t become helpless whiners, they become more focused on what is important.

      • faroffstar says:

        it’s true. it did bother me that she “died of a broken heart”. she had kids to take care of, damnit.

        I was trying to give george lucas the benefit of the doubt. but i can see no real reason for her to just crap out in the third movie. my pregnancy hormones have made me angrier and almost completely lacking in patience…not complacent and weepy.

        what padme should have done was slap the shit out of anakin before it ever got that far. think of all the younglings she could have saved.

        • stormwyvern says:

          Having watched the DVD of RotS, I sincerely wish that the subplot of Padme and some of the other senators trying to stop Palpatine through legislative means had stayed in. While it still doesn’t completely restore who to the active, capable character she was in the prior two films, it would have at least given her something to do other than chirp about “fixing up the baby’s room” and contract a bad case of the dead.

          As for her “dying of a broken heart,” what bugged me is that I think it could have been done in such a way that my reaction wouldn’t have been “Oh come on, movie!”You could easily change the dialogue to show that, while she’d normally be able to recover from giving birth, her emotional state (and maybe the fact that she was nearly choked to death quite recently) is keeping her body from recovering. Instead, we get “she’s absolutely fine, but she’s also dying.”

          • Todd says:

            Or, Lucas could have employed the time-tested device of “plot” to create a credible storyline that would end with her dying for a reason that made sense and was dramatically satisfying. Didn’t occur to him for some reason.

  18. dougo says:

    Do the two Kaminoans show up at all?

  19. rennameeks says:

    A random note on Hutts: the species actually isn’t gendered. Yep, they’re hermaphrodites. Given, a lot of the information about Hutts was developed in the Expanded Universe (the catch-all term that applies to any Star Wars-related media not in the six main films), so there are inconsistencies, but take it as you will.

    Regardless of whether or not any of this is canon, it adds a whole other level to the Capote reference.

    I myself have no interest in seeing The Clone Wars because, as you already mentioned, nothing really happens because it CAN’T happen or it will be inconsistent with the six films. The Clone Wars shorts had much the same problem – although they were very shiny. These different explorations of the Clone Wars are so limited by the time period they take place in that the war (or should that be wars? Just how many wars WERE there? You would think one would be enough…of course, the plural sounds more exotic.) itself it actually more dull than the events that led to its beginning and its end, which is why the latter were featured in the second and third episodes.

    I personally would only have been truly offended as a purist if these Clone Wars movies and mini-movies had been live action. The Ewok adventure movies didn’t bother me because they had nothing to do with the main characters from the main movies (although they did bother me because they introduced the use of non-Force-based magic into the universe, which seemed like cheating to me; shouldn’t be able to mix magic types). Reinvention of the concept of Star Wars is okay as long as the original trilogy (in particular) isn’t “ruined” by it.

    (Don’t mind me; I’m not a completely rabid Star Wars fan. I’ve just been studying the series in depth for pretty much all of my lifetime, so it’s the story that I’ve revisited the most and am therefore the most familiar with overall. My first awareness of filmic structure came from the original trilogy. Hence the overly detailed analysis and occasional obscure note regarding Hutt sexuality.)

  20. rennameeks says:

    And mind, undoubtedly.

    Oh, and on another note, it still annoys me that female Star Wars fans never got to see a lightsaber-wielding female Jedi who was a main character until the various spinoffs. I like the concept of Asoka, but I wish there had been a way of working her story into the main plotline without getting too sidetracked. Seriously, trade Jar-Jar for her. Please. x_x

    • Todd says:

      The list of things wrong with the Star Wars universe is long indeed.

    • stormwyvern says:

      You barely got to see a lightsaber-wielding female Jedi at all until Epsiode….Three? Maybe Two? Original 2D “Clone Wars” helped a bit between Shak Ti and Asajj (who was a bad guy, but still possessed of mad skills) and a few other female Jedi. But it was one of my big letdowns in “Phantom Menace.”

      • rennameeks says:

        The first high profile female Jedi to appear in a film with a lightsaber was Aayla Secura in Episode II. She would have been more exciting as a “different” sort of Jedi (not wearing the traditional robes to be independent, etc.) if she wasn’t one of the very few female representatives. My initial reaction was “Finally, a female Jedi! Too bad female Jedi apparently have to be scantily clad.” -_-

        This also applies to female bounty hunters, by the way. Sure, Aurra Sing is theoretically more dangerous because she doesn’t go running around collecting bounties in massive amounts of armor like the men, but once again, the first female representative was a bit lacking in the clothing department. Thankfully, Zam Wessell, who ended up being featured in Episode II instead of Sing, was more from the Boba Fett mold.

        I do realize that this sort of thing is to be expected in this field. It just annoys me that the token female flavor characters heavily fall into the scantily clad camp when the medium they are presented in is visual.

        Definitely agreed about Shak Ti and Asajj; they should have appeared in something with more of an actual impact as opposed to the “filler” Clone Wars. Did we REALLY need Darth Maul? Darth Tyrannus? Couldn’t Asajj have been worked in? Or swap in Shak Ti for Ki-Adi-Mundi; would it have hurt for a female Jedi on the Council to have a speaking role? Such a simple thing to do….

        • Todd says:

          Sam and I have a special place in our hearts for Aayla Secura, but we can never remember her name — we always call her “Blue-skinned Girl Jedi.”

          Do we even know that Zam Wessell is a female?

          • rennameeks says:

            I had to look up the spelling on Aayla’s name myself, actually. xD I do like her….I just didn’t like the idea of her being the first poster girl for female Jedi in general. :/

            I did manage to fail horribly at spelling Zam Wesell’s name right, despite the link – oops. I have never seen anything that said she wasn’t female. Her natural Clawdite form isn’t very feminine (most likely why her usual form of choice was a human female). Of course, with all of her armor on, it’s harder to be 100% sure that she’s female at a glance.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I hear you

    I haven’t seen it, but I think I know what you mean. Sometimes you can really fall in love with that kind of melodramatic stuff because, as corny as it might be, it gets you where you live. Old Star Trek (the good ones) are like that.

    I’ll have to check it out.

  22. Anonymous says:


    hey ))
    its very reasonable point of view.
    Good post.
    realy gj

    thank you 😉