An Adventure of Intergalactic Proportions
Written by Noel T. Manning, IIStar Wars-clonewars
It has been over 31 years since I first explored a galaxy far, far away with the likes of Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and an old hermit with supernatural powers named, Obi Wan Kenobi. Yet, when I think back to that stormy summer evening in 1977 when I ventured into a theatre in eastern North Carolina to be introduced to the Star War universe… I still get chills. It was one of those unforgettable childhood experiences that will be forever branded in my memory. But, why? Was it the story, the new brand of sci-fi film, the beautiful Princess Leia, or was it the ultimate battle between good and evil? It was all of those things and more. It was something unexplainable that became an international pop cultural phenomenon.
This weekend, the 3.5 billion dollar man (and Star Wars creator), George Lucas brings to the screen his 7th feature-length film following the Skywalker family tree. In the new animated release, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” audiences are greeted by the familiar faces of heroes and villains including – Yoda, C-3PO, Mace Windu and Count Dooku.
In this new Star Wars installment, we are in a time between the “Attack of the Clones” film and the “Revenge of the Sith” release. The Clone Wars is a period when an intergalactic conflict exists between the Galactic Republic and a separatist group known as the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Led by the powerful peacekeeping Jedi, the Republic has created an army of cloned soldiers to battle against the evil forces of Count Dooku and his army of robots and androids.
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” follows the tumultuous mentor/student relationship of Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker (pre-Darth Vader days) and his new young female apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. As the battle for control of numerous star systems continues during this Clone Wars saga, Skywalker and Ahsoka are sent on a mission to rescue a high profile victim of a political kidnapping. In this intriguing sci-fi game of cat and mouse, the kidnapped son of “Return of the Jedi” villain Jabba the Hutt may be the key to helping the Republic win the war against the separatists. If Skywalker and Ahsoka fail, hope for the Republic may be lost as well.
The characters and Star Wars world seen in this film have a hand-painted, sculptured look that combines elements of the puppet-filled 1960s children’s TV show “Thunderbirds” with Japanese anime. This Clone Wars feature film is not the first time George Lucas has taken on this subject in the animated realm. In 2003 -2005, “Samurai Jack” creator, Genndy Tartakovsky directed a series of Clone Wars cartoon shorts for the Cartoon Network. After the success of that series, Lucas set up Lucasfilm Animation with sights set on a new Clone Wars cartoon series with 3-D CGI animation. The Cartoon Network and TNT have picked up the series with 40 episodes already approved and plans for 60 more. The new TV series debuts with 30-minute episodes in October.
This PG-rated film is aimed for a family-friendly audience and is a throwback to the Star Wars films to the ‘70s and ‘80s with an emphasis on action, adventure, high impact visuals and humor. The screen was filled with light saber duels, star battles and epic confrontations of good vs. evil. I watched this film with my 8 year-old son who said that the movie “had an interesting storyline, was action-packed, offered awesome graphics, was perfect for 6-10 year-old kids and was pure fun.” That child critic gave it an A- rating. I echo his sentiments exactly and believe that if this film is any indication, a new generation of young Star Wars fans will be talking about their first “Star Wars Moment” three decades from now.
Noel T. Manning, II is a charter member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and hosts two weekly radio shows dedicated to the world of film on WGWG 88.3 FM (wgwg.org). He has also won awards for his documentaries and worked on the Academy Award-winning film, “Last of the Mohicans.”
August 15, 2008