Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Rated R) - 3 stars

    {mosimage}If you are willing to approach The Clone Wars (98 minutes) as a movie primarily for kids, you will have a lot more fun with it. Politely ignore all the plot holes, visual mistakes and narrative inconsistencies because the entire movie is a set-up for the television series debuting in October. This film, the first animated theatrical release in the Star Wars series, is set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, so Anakin isn’t Darth Vader yet, the Jedi are still friendly with the Boba-clones and Count Dooku is still leading the Droid army against the Republic. While George Lucas did produce the movie, he neither wrote nor directed. Directing credit goes to Dave Filoni, who along with first credited screenwriter Henry Gilroy will work on the series.
    In a move clearly designed to be kid-friendly, the usual opening text crawl is replaced by a voiceover explaining the events so far. The Separatists (led by the evil Count Dooku, voiced by Christopher Lee) have cut communication and blocked travel, stranding Republican forces in the Outer Rim. Rotta, the son of Jabba the Hut (Kevin Michael Richardson) has been kidnapped by the Separatists in a slightly confusing plot to manipulate the Hutts (powerful gangsters) into rejecting the Republic and working with Count Dooku. 
    Meanwhile, Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) and Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) battle a droid army and wait for reinforcements, which arrive in the form of young Padawan, Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein). Master Yoda (Tom Kane) has decided that Anakin needs a disciple, but she is so determined to prove herself that she sometimes acts before she thinks. Though at first Anakin is reluctant to take on the responsibility, eventually he decides to accept the inevitable and is sent with his new Padawan to rescue Jabba’s son from Count Dooku and his assassin, Asajj Ventress (Nika Futterman).
    In the “B” plot, Senator Padme Amidala (Catherine Taber) is determined to assist the Jedi in their negotiations with the Hutts. Though she is captured soon after she discovers the details of a plot against Jabba, she manages to signal C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) for assistance.
    The animation is heavily influenced by video game graphics, which work on the sweeping space shots. Unfortunately, the facial features and close-up details shots suffer from lack of attention, and seem rushed. George Lucas is not renowned for his stellar dialogue, but he is worlds above Henry Gilroy whose screenwriting in this instance is utterly clichéd and stale. The light sabers look fantastic, which is good because there are about hundred extended battles between Jedi and droids. The pacing seems off, with the film lasting about 20 minutes more than it needed to. Of course, in a film designed to introduce audiences to a new television series, a film that reads like a really long TV episode should not be a surprise. 

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