The Debut of Harry's STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS Special Edition Review... Yes, I still hate it, just a tad more clearly...
I’ve never hated a STAR WARS film before. I have weathered Jar Jar and any number of Ewoks. I even liked and loved them. I survived Hayden and a wooden Portman. I even accepted Jake Lloyd. I handled all that because it felt like STAR WARS.
I can accept all of Lucas’ flaws, so long as at its heart it felt like Star Wars. I can deal with politics in Star Wars. I can deal with trade skirmishes in Star Wars. I can deal with musical numbers, breathing in the vacuum of space. Basically – so long as it feels like STAR WARS – I can watch any of it.
Was I looking forward to STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (2008)?
I was dying. After Genndy’s CLONE WARS – I felt that perhaps Lucas “got it” – and that this new animated series was taking a lead from Tartakovsky’s brilliant assembly of pieces. Genndy’s CLONE WARS got STAR WARS better than anyone has got it since Lawrence Kasdan and Irvin Kershner. Genndy took designs and characters that folks were dissatisfied with and made them cool. He did this by using and adapting the themes created by John Williams, the wholly perfect entity involved with Star Wars along with… the sound effects of Ben Burtt. He understood speed and motion – not just with action, but in editing. He understood classic film composition and iconography. And he knows what BADASS is.
The folks behind this STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS movie… you could tell, they looked at what Genndy did – but they didn’t understand any of it. There’s a shitload of battles and shit going boom. There’s noise everywhere – fury everywhere… but none of it is directed. The music by Kevin Kiner is criminally bad. Why they didn’t employ Paul Dinletir and James Venable is beyond me. No, no – let’s hire the composer of WALKER, TEXAS RANGER. Ahem.
Before the movie started I was firing myself up to go out after the film and buy that new $200 Hasbro Millenium Falcon. I really wanted to go buy it, and I wanted this movie to empower my brain to go through with that. Instead, I found myself at home – putting on Genndy’s THE CLONE WARS – to try and rebuild my passion – so I can go get that new Falcon.
Anyway – I made excuses for this film as I was watching it. I don’t think you understand how much I love STAR WARS. Maybe you do, maybe you do too. But right from the very beginning, there was trouble.
From the beginning notes of “As Time Goes By” and the Warner Shield – it felt wrong. When the Lucasfilm symbol came up with radio static banter from fighter pilots… again it felt wrong. Then, when “A LONG TIME AGO, IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY” and a half hearted version of the classic theme belted out – and instead of an opening crawl, we had a very hammy voice over catching us up with what was going on in this galaxy far far away… it felt bad.
As I was watching the film, I was excusing the sloppy shots, the sloppy use of the Clone Troopers and Droids – undoing all the awesome work that Genndy had done – and the droids are silly again. At one point one Robot tells another a number identifying a sector in which he sees trouble and the other robot doesn’t get the number right. Who the fuck made these robots, the goddamned Marx Brothers? Seriously, why do the robots even speak to one another. The whole point of a Robot army would be one where each Robot was aware of the knowledge of every other robot.
The Clone Troopers are limp. Seemingly helpless without their Jedi masters. They seem badly trained. Gone are the cool moves, the silent commandes and the badass gadgets and equipment they had.
And the Jedi – they’re at 25% power from the mind of Genndy. But I was accepting that. I figured that was Lucas dialing back so that the animated series wouldn’t overpower his features. To me it was sad in the features that Jedi Knights apparently could not use the force as powerfully as the force could be used in my imagination – and when Genndy did that in his shorts – it underlined how awesome Jedi could be. It made them cooler than Neo, and that was needed.
Speaking of Jedi Knights – there’s a new Jedi introduced. Voiced by Muffy from THAT’S SO RAVEN is Ashley Eckstein’s AHSOKA TANO. Think Alien Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana with a light saber. She’s precocious, precious and very cute. That isn’t a bad thing, at least not to me. My wife hated her, but I found her to be a gateway character for girls that want to play Star Wars with their brothers. I was ok with that. I just felt that the writing on her character was subpar – and the voice work was overbearing. I just had the feeling that the voice didn’t know what it was saying. If that makes any sense. It was just an annoying voice and a character that hopefully in episodes to come will be treated better. But if you think she’s annoying… just wait…
Then they introduced Baby Jabba aka Rotta the Huttlet aka Stinky. At the point of this character’s introduction – it officially became, the worst character in the history of STAR WARS. If you hate George Lucas cutsiepoo bullshit – oooooooh boy. You’re gonna have a field day of venting and hatred directed at this unbelievably fucking awful little shit. It farts, makes pukey faces and is just unbearably bad.
Oh – but wait… Little Stinky the Hutt isn’t the worst character in the history of STAR WARS… because Stinky got introduced about halfway through the film. As much as I hated lil Stinky… I was weathering Stinky. I seriously was. But later there was a character of such immense shit – offensively bad. The character was so bad, so incredibly awful – that it was a slap to the face. It woke me out of my shit-accepting stupor and made me angry. SUDDENLY my “inner fanboy rage” was awoken.
As I watched this terrifyingly awful character named Ziro the Hutt. A seemingly female Hutt or at least a Drag Queen Hutt – with tattoos and make-up that sounds like a racist take on a Black New Orleans Crack-Dealing Whore. Because this Hutt speaks ENGLISH – and it is many times worse than I’m actually describing. This character was actually too much for me. So bad that every flaw I was looking past, was now a road sign to inadequacy and mediocrity. All of a sudden my brain realized that Asajj Ventress’ voice no longer was acceptable – and sure enough – the amazing Grey DeLisle, who originally voiced the character back in 2003 – had been replaced by a Nika Futterman – and that voice was missed. The character didn’t have that snarling menace anymore.
I realized that nothing in this animated film felt right. I felt time expanding. It seemed that the film was dragging – nevermind that lots of shit was firing all over the place – and stuff was going boom and things were being revealed. And light sabers were all over the place. But frankly, I just didn’t care because this wasn’t what I wanted. I don’t want Light Saber cartoon battles. I just want STAR WARS to be done right and cool.
If they say that STAR WARS is about the kids – they’re partially right. STAR WARS is about being a kid. It’s about buying toys and wearing goofy clothes and playing make believe. It’s about dreaming of far away lands, of groovy space travel and crazy monsters and technology. It’s mostly about the awe and wonder of the imagination of science fiction and fantasy.
This film had me asking myself what STAR WARS was. Is it STAR WARS because I see light sabers and laser battles? Is it Star Wars because I see C3PO or R2D2? Or hear OB1 or Skywalker? I don’t think so. After watching this – I think STAR WARS has more to do with John Williams than any of us could have imagined. Hearing electric guitars and junky funk music isn’t STAR WARS. To not use his music properly. To not play up Ben Burtt’s phantasmagorical sound library. To not have moments where characters realize where they are and take in that view. There is no romance here. I’m not talking about a boy and a girl and a love story, I’m talking about the Romance of Adventure. The Romance of the Fantastic.
I hated the score, the animation, the shots, the characters and most of all the retarded fucking idiot story. I hated that it made me not want to come back this Friday. I hated that I left a theater hating the movie so much that I couldn’t take my nephews glee of Star Wars and share it with him. I didn’t attack his passion. That would be wrong. Evidently the film will work for an 8 year old. But I’m not a grown up. I’m not too old for Star Wars. I love Star Wars too much to love this shit.
I hated the film. HATED IT. REALLY HATED IT.
Does this mean the whole Star Wars Animated Series is doomed? No – but it isn’t a good sign. So much of this is awful because of the Hutt plotlines and character. I also feel that Dave Filoni must be a hack. His work here is sloppy – and depending on writers and directing talent – individual episodes may be better. I’ve heard rumors of some pretty great writers working on some of the future episodes, and I’ve heard of some talented folks that will be taking part in the series. This film was several episodes all strung together – my prayer is that the individual episodes will be both great and awful – and we’ll discover which talents are responsible for each. The film had about 30 minutes of fun material, and as a 30 minute series, it could work. As a feature narrative, it drags badly and runs out of good ideas quickly and often.
That said – the audience did have light applause. My father liked it. My sister felt too much was going on. Me nephew really liked it. That said – Yoko was complaining right along with me. She thought it was shit too. I know Moriarty liked it. Quint thought it was boring. Massawyrm hated it.
Fuck. I hated a STAR WARS. That fucking sucks.