Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I know that some of you have been checking Chris Johnson Discusses Stuff to see if I have shared my thoughts on the new animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Well, wait no more my loyal readers. This is what you have been waiting for.

I used to read Harry Knowles' reviews and wonder why he spent so much time going into his backstory. I totally understand this now. Because to really understand why I enjoyed the movie you need to know a few things about me. For those of you that talk to me every day, none of this will be front-page news. But, lately my reviews have started being read by old friends who haven't had a real conversation with me in a decade or more. So, let me explain my history and loves within the Star Wars universe.

I grew up with and love Star Wars. In fact, I still own all of my childhood Star Wars toys and posess a vast collection of vintage graded toys and modern era figures. My favorite Star Wars character is Boba Fett. My second favorite SW character is Wat Tambor. (If you don't know who he is, look him up. He rocks.) I am a HUGE fan of the goofy aspects of the SW universe. I really like seeing Jar Jar step in Bantha shit and yell "icky-icky goo!" I like it when the Kadu farts in his face and he says "Pee-usa!" I have never had a problem with the acting skills of Jake Lloyd, Hayden Christensen, or Natalie Portman. Hell, I even like Flo the droid waitress that offer Obi-Wan a glass of Jawa juice! I do have to wonder, however, who in the hell would want to drink anything made by Jawas. Who knows, might be good. It's not like I have ever tried any Jawa food.

So, suffice it to say, I am not a prequel hater. I love them. In fact, my favorite time period in the SW timeline is the Clone Wars. Whenever I read the same old bullshit criticisms of the prequels I want to personally tell all of the haters to eat shit and die. For those of us that actually get what Star Wars actually is, instead of hating it for it not being what we think it ought to be, the new movies are pure joy. Now the EU shit like the Zahn books and the Yuhzan Vong sucks more dick than a gay prostitute in a San Francisco bath house. But I digress . . .

I had a huge smile on my face the whole time I was watching The Clone Wars. I knew going in that it was essentially a story arc from the series put together for a theatrical release. So, does it work as a stand-alone move per-say? Yes and no. Without the rest of the series to anticipate watching, we would be left to wonder whatever happens to Ahsoka before Episode III. But, knowing what the movie was, it works great.

The movie picks up immediately after Episode II. Anakin is now a full Jedi Knight. This is great because it makes it clear that the Gendy Tartikovsky Clone Wars (AKA Jedi Jack) are not canon since Anakin did not become a full Jedi Knight until right before Episode III in that continuity. Jedi Jack sucked ass. Thank you George for taking it out of the official canon. The movie picks up in the middle of a sweet battle.

We meet Anakin's new padawan named Ahsoka Tano. She's the same species as Shaak Ti but very young. She annoyed the piss out of me during the first 30 minutes but after her character was given time to develop she grew on me. I do question the wisdom of sending a young padawan learner into the middle of the Clone Wars but the Jedi are stretched thin so I guess they need all the help they can get. So give Ahsoka a chance and hopefully you'll start liking her like I did.

The plot revolves around Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress kidnapping the son of Jabba the Hutt and trying to frame the Jedi for it. Both sides want Jabba's favor so that they may travel freely in the outer rim territories.


I absolutely LOVED Jabba's son who Ahsoka nicknames "Stinky." The idea of a little baby Hutt being carried around in a backpack is just priceless! Hutts are like cats, they start off cute but become a nuisance when they get older. But wait, the Hutt fun doesn't end with Stinky! We also get to meet Jabba's uncle Ziro the Hutt. Ziro lives on Courascant in an area kind of like the French Quarter in New Orleans (pre Katrina). He talks in perfect English with a lisp and is painted purple with shapes and patterns on him. As best I can tell, Ziro is playing for the pink team. The character is just one of those things so absurd that you have to laugh. A gay Hutt? Completely unexpected and out of left-field. Just the kind of goofy crap I enjoy! He may go on to be one of my other favorite SW characters.

I love Battle Droid humor. This movies has it in spades my friends. There is enough "Roger Roger!" to keep a smile on the face of even the most cynical fan. I also love Jawa humor. Every time a ship lands, the Jawas come out of nowhere and try to steal as many parts as they can. Classic!

It was also really neat to see the likes of Anakin, Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Count Dooku at Jabba's palace on Tatooine. There are some great references for hardcore fans. My favorite was actually referring, on-screen, to the palace as a Bo'mar Monk monastery. We also get a scene that deals with Anakin's still seething anger over the death of his mother when Ahsoka asks him about Tatooine being his homeworld.

So, is it an equal of the live-action movies? No. But I didn't expect it to be. It can't be, not because it's animated, but because it isn't telling the main story of the Skywalker family. That is the job of the episodes of the saga. This is filling in some gaps. It does a really cool job of doing just that. If you are a Star Wars fan that doesn't have a chip on his shoulder about he prequels, you will enjoy the movie and the series to come. If you are still getting your panties in a wad over characters like Jar Jar and claiming Lucas "rapes your childhood", do us all a favor and just don't watch it. odds are we've heard it all before and the world will be better off with a little less bitching.

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