Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Review)
For my first post here with Animation Force, I wanted to take a look at the series that made me realize that animation was something I truly wanted to pursue - Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (not to be confused with its 2003 predecessor, Star Wars: Clone Wars) first aired on October 3, 2008 just months after the theatrical release of the movie by the same title. The series, directed by Dave Filoni, ran for five seasons on Cartoon Network until Lucasfilm was bought out by Disney. The sixth season (trailer above), which was in production when the show stopped airing, was released on Netflix on March 7, 2014 along with the movie and the previous five seasons. The series’ timeline fills the three-year gap between Episodes II and III. With many old (and beloved) characters, as well as some new faces, we follow Anakin Skywalker and his new padawan, Ahsoka Tano as they fight on the front lines. We gain a better understanding of the political corruption within the Republic Senate and experience the culture and brotherhood of a manufactured, human army.
I started watching Clone Wars on May 5, 2012. I remember this because it was the day after National Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with You). It’s tradition for my friend Alex and I to marathon the saga through the day. So, May 5th (Revenge of the Fifth. HA Star Wars puns), we begrudgingly decided to give the series a try. The first episode made an entertaining and endearing splash, but the following episodes were… well rough. The story was juvenile - with no real arc structure - and was stifled by poor pacing. The animation was choppy and Sims-like, but it was the evolution of this series that made me love it so much.
Filoni said in his introduction to The Art of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, “It began with a drawing of a young Togruta girl who would go on to become Anakin Skywalker’s padawan, Ahsoka Tano. From the first sketch, the series was born…” My first reactions to Ahsoka were very negative. She was disrespectful and whiny. But the series takes her from dis-likable to irresistible. She matures in mind, body, spirit, and skill. Even her design change - from original concepts, to Seasons 1-2 and 3-5 - (see below), makes her evolution as a character even more evident.
Like Padawan Tano, Star Wars: The Clone Wars was a TV series that matured beyond my expectations. The original, choppy, Sims-like animation of the first season was transformed into a fluid semi-masterpiece (Just look at those action sequences). The story switched to a 3-episode arc format, and every arc kept me on my toes. The characters also slowly unveiled a depth that was not present before as the timeline approached the end of the Clone Wars. I found myself feeling deeply for characters that I had known the whole series and characters I had just met. The soundtrack made use of themes by John Williams from the movie saga, and used it to their advantage. In all elements, Clone Wars became absolutely stunning!
The series was created by Star Wars fans for Star Wars fans. The creatorsalways said that they wanted the series to be an expansion of the Star Wars universe, which has reached far past the 6 movies and into novels, TV, video games, and comics. Because of this, they were tasked with designing and re-designing alien species and native beasts, weapons and armor, droids and technology, ships and speeders to entire worlds and civilizations that could have been seen during this period in the timeline. In his interview on the original Star Wars Concept Artist, Ralph McQuarrie, George Lucas comments, “Whenever you’re doing something like The Clone Wars, whatever we do, we use the library of information and and the drawings from the archives to say ‘We want things to be consistent.’” The amount of detail and research that was put into the creation of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was simply mesmerizing. I find that I learn something new every day.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is an original and beautiful masterpiece, different from any other cartoon on television. I cannot express how grateful I am that this series was created (even the rough beginning). It was the magic of its evolution that brought my passion for animation and story telling to the forefront. I highly reccomend this TV series to anyone, even those who don’t consider themselves Star Wars fans. The movie (which should be seen before watching the series) and Seasons 1-5 are available on Netflix and iTunes, but Season 6 is only available on Netflix. Happy watching!
Also! Keep and eye out for the series sequel, Star Wars: Rebels, set to premier this Fall on DisneyXD