Star Wars: The Clone Wars (film)
|Star Wars: The Clone Wars|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Dave Filoni|
|Narrated by||Tom Kane|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
|Running time||98 minutes|
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a 2008 American computer-animated space opera film that takes place within the Star Wars saga, leading into the TV series of the same name. The film is set during the three-year time period between the films Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith (the same time period as the 2003 Clone Wars television series). Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, which also holds the home media distribution rights to both this film and the TV series, the film premiered on August 10, 2008 at the Grauman's Egyptian Theatre, while screening in wide-release on August 14, 2008 across Australia, and August 15 in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The Clone Wars was an introduction to the television series of the same name, which debuted on October 3, 2008.
This Star Wars spin-off is notable for being the first animated theatrical film for the franchise. The film is also the only film not distributed by 20th Century Fox, which distributed the entire saga, until the Lucasfilm acquisition by The Walt Disney Company, while also being the third theatrical Star Wars film to be directed by someone other than George Lucas including The Empire Strikes Back's Irvin Kershner and Return of the Jedi's Richard Marquand. It is also the only theatrical Star Wars film to date not scored by John Williams — Kevin Kiner was hired to compose original music, which was combined with selected John Williams themes from previous Star Wars films.
The Separatists control the majority of the hyperlanes, leaving Republic forces stranded in different parts of the Outer Rim. Jabba the Hutt's son Rotta is kidnapped as part of a plot to make the Hutts join the Separatists. Meanwhile, a fierce battle is taking place on the crystalline planet of Christophsis between the Republic's small clone army and the Retail Clan forces. With the help of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, the clones steadily advance on the Separatists' forces, gaining the Republic an early victory. It doesn't last long, though, as the droid army soon returns. With no communications or the ability to fly in reinforcements, the fate of the few remaining clone soldiers are in the hands of Obi-Wan and Anakin. A shuttle arrives, but without the needed reinforcements. Instead, it is a young Padawan named Ahsoka Tano, who insists that she has been sent by Master Yoda to serve under Anakin. The battle soon commences yet again, with the Separatist forces advancing behind an expanding energy shield that artillery can't penetrate. Anakin and Ahsoka succeed in penetrating the enemy lines while Obi-Wan stalls for time by holding a fake surrender negotiation with the droid army commander.
Soon after the final victory for the Republic on Christophsis, Yoda arrives and brings the Jedi up to date on the situation concerning Jabba's son. The Republic needs Jabba on their side to ensure unfettered travel through Jabba's trade routes. Anakin and Ahsoka are tasked with retrieving the child, while Obi-Wan flies to Tatooine to assure Jabba that Rotta will be retrieved. On the planet of Teth, Anakin, Ahsoka and their clones assault a monastery that sits atop a high stone pillar. They find Rotta, but discover that he is ill, requiring them to get him help immediately. But they have been caught in a trap by Count Dooku, who hopes to frame the Jedi for Rotta's disappearance (and possible death), thereby ending any chance of the Republic striking a deal with Jabba. He sends his assassin, Asajj Ventress, to secure fake evidence of the Jedi's supposed double dealing, then to recapture the young Hutt and return it to Jabba, putting the crime lord in the Separatists' debt.
Anakin and Ahsoka manage to escape the trap along with R2-D2 and hijack a derelict transport which they use to travel to Tatooine. Obi-Wan, alerted by Anakin, arrives just in time to relieve the clone forces and engages Ventress in a lightsaber duel where he manages to defeat her, though Ventress flees in the face of capture. On board the derelict ship, Ahsoka manages to cure Rotta by the use of medical supplies on board. In the meantime, Senator Padmé Amidala learns of Anakin's mission and fears for his safety. She decides to contact Jabba's uncle, Ziro, who lives in a shady part of Coruscant. The Hutt refuses to cooperate, apparently believing that it is the Jedi who are responsible for the situation. Padmé, however, soon discovers that Ziro has actually conspired with Dooku to engineer the downfall of his nephew in order to seize power over the Hutt clans. Padmé is discovered and detained, but a chance call by C-3PO enables her to summon help, and Ziro is arrested.
Upon their arrival on Tatooine, Anakin and Ahsoka are attacked and shot down. Faced with a long trek across desert sands and relentless opponents, Anakin devises a ruse: he confronts Dooku while carrying a decoy Rotta, leaving Ahsoka and R2-D2 to take the real Rotta to Jabba's palace. While Anakin fights Dooku, Ahsoka is ambushed by three Magnaguards. As Anakin and Dooku fight, Dooku activates a mini holo-image projector, showing Ahsoka nearing defeat. Dooku then explains that the Magnaguards are there to kill Rotta, and bring Ahsoka to Jabba for punishment for Rotta's murder. Believing that Ahsoka's life is in danger, Anakin abandons the fight to help her.
Anakin arrives at Jabba's palace to find that Ahsoka did not yet arrive with Rotta. Frustrated, Anakin activates his lightsaber, holds it at Jabba's throat, and demands Jabba tell him what he has done with Ahsoka. Just as Anakin is about to be shot down by the guards, Ahsoka enters, with Rotta, having defeated the Magnaguards. After Rotta is handed over to Jabba, Jabba orders Anakin and Ahsoka to be executed. Just before they can be shot down, Padmé contacts Jabba with the news that Ziro has agreed to admit working together with Dooku in having Rotta kidnapped, and the Jedi framed for the crime. With the truth now revealed to him, Jabba agrees to allow the Republic to use his trade routes. With their mission accomplished, Anakin and Ahsoka are triumphantly retrieved by Obi-Wan and Yoda.
The film does not feature most of the original cast from the prequel trilogy, with the exception of Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew Wood, and Anthony Daniels who reprise their roles from the previous films.
- Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker
- Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano
- James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, 4A-7
- Tom Kane as Yoda, Narrator, Admiral Yularen
- Christopher Lee as Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus
- Dee Bradley Baker as Captain Rex, Commander Cody, Clone troopers
- Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
- Nika Futterman as Asajj Ventress, TC-70
- Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
- Ian Abercrombie as Palpatine / Darth Sidious
- Catherine Taber as Padmé Amidala
- Corey Burton as Whorm Loathsom, Ziro the Hutt
- David Acord as Rotta the Huttlet
- Kevin Michael Richardson as Jabba the Hutt
- Matthew Wood as Battle droids, General Grievous
Star Wars: The Clone Wars was made to serve as both a stand-alone story and a lead-in to the weekly animated TV series of the same name. George Lucas had the idea for a film after viewing some of the completed footage of the early episodes on the big screen. Those first few episodes, originally planned for release on television, were then woven together to form the theatrical release. The story of the kidnapped Hutt was inspired by the Sonny Chiba samurai film titled: "Shogun’s Shadow".
Warner Bros. had tracked the series' development from the beginning, and Lucas decided on a theatrical launch after viewing early footage declaring "This is so beautiful, why don't we just go and use the crew and make a feature?" Lucas described the film was "almost an afterthought." Howard Roffman, president of Lucas Licensing, said of the decision, "Sometimes George works in strange ways." Producer Catherine Winder said the sudden decision added to an already large challenge of establishing a show "of this sophistication and complexity," but she felt it was a good way to start the series, and thought budgetary constraints forced the production team to think outside the box in a positive way.
Lucasfilm Ltd. and Lucasfilm Animation used Autodesk software to animate both the film and the series using the Maya 3D modeling program to create highly detailed worlds, characters and creatures. The film's animation style was designed to pay homage to the stylized looks of both Japanese anime and manga, and the supermarionation of the British 1960s series Thunderbirds. At a Cartoon Network-hosted discussion, Lucas said he did not want the Clones Wars film or television series to look like such movies as Beowulf, because he wanted a stylized look rather than a realistic one. He also felt it should not look like the popular Pixar movies such as The Incredibles, because he wanted the film and characters to have its own unique style. Lucas also decided to create the animated film and series from a live-action perspective, which Winder said, set it apart from other CGI films. Essentially, it "meant using long camera shots, aggressive lighting techniques, and relying on editing instead of storyboards." Animators also reviewed designs from the original 2003 Clone Wars series when creating the animation style for the film and the new series. In charge was Steward Lee, working as the storyboard artist during filming.
On the 2-disc DVD, there are some deleted and extended scenes.
- In an extended scene at the beginning, when Anakin and Ahsoka are trying to destroy the shield generator, they lose the box they were hiding under as they come across some Federation tanks. The scene follows them jumping about and taking cover under the tanks before they get back under the box. It also shows Obi-Wan telling his clone troopers to hold the droids back as long as they can.
- Portions of the Anakin/Ventress fight scene were also cut. In this scene, Ventress comes into the room where Anakin, Ahsoka, Rotta and R2-D2 are trying to find a landing platform. R2-D2 activates a trap door that Anakin, Ahsoka, Ventress and Rotta fall into, in addition to some droids. Anakin and Ventress continue their fight, but Ahsoka accidentally releases a rancor which tries to eat her and Rotta. Anakin and Ventress fight on the rancor's head until Ventress falls off and the rancor lands on her. Anakin, Ahsoka, Rotta and R2-D2 escape. Ventress stings the rancor on the behind and pursues Anakin.
- In another extend scene, when Anakin, Ahsoka, Rotta and R2-D2 arrive at the backdoor landing platform, Anakin calls for a gunship, but a vulture droid destroys it, before landing and being destroyed by the Jedi. Ahsoka picks R2-D2 back up after the fight. Meanwhile, on Tatooine, Tyranus tells Jabba that his droids are near to beating Anakin and returning his son. He suggests discussing a treaty between the Hutts and the Separatists. Jabba insists that no treaty be discussed till Rotta is returned safe and sound.
- In a further extended scene when Anakin and Ahsoka are escaping Teth in the Twilight, Anakin says they must jettison everything in the cargo hold. Ahsoka goes to the cargo bay to open the doors and nearly falls out, but manages to destroy the vulture droids on their tail. When she gets back to the cockpit, Anakin points out that she could have just used the cargo bay door release controls in the cockpit.
The film's music was composed by Kevin Kiner. Some actors from the live-action films, including Anthony Daniels, Matthew Wood, Christopher Lee and Samuel L. Jackson, returned to vocally reprise their roles of their respective characters.
The original motion picture soundtrack was released by Sony Classical on August 12, 2008. The disc begins with the main theme by John Williams, followed by more than 30 separate music cues composed by Kevin Kiner. Kiner is known for his work on such television series as Stargate SG-1, Star Trek: Enterprise, Superboy and CSI: Miami. The soundtrack uses some instruments never heard before in a Star Wars score, including erhus and duduks and ouds.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars merchandise was first released on July 26, 2008. Hasbro released several 33⁄4-inch Clone Wars action figures, an electronic clone trooper helmet, a customizable lightsaber, and an electronic All Terrain Tactical Enforcer (AT-TE). Toys "R" Us mounted digital clocks in all 585 of its stores that counted down to the release of the Clone Wars toys, and more than 225 of the stores opened at midnight for the debut of the Star Wars products. Two of the Toys "R" Us flagship outlets in Mission Bay, San Diego and Times Square in Manhattan, New York City held costume and trivia contests on July 26, and gave away limited-edition Star Wars toys with every purchase. A section of the Toys "R" Us website was also dedicated to The Clone Wars. The toy line continues with The Clone Wars figures being well received by collectors for their detail to the characters and vehicles.
Due to Lucas's sudden decision to make the film, Lucas Licensing did not have time to enter into agreements with previous Star Wars marketing partners like Pepsi, Burger King and Kellogg's, with which the Lucasfilm licensing company had a 10-year marketing plan for the other films. When questioned by The New York Times about Star Wars merchandising in July 2006, a Pepsi spokesperson was unaware a new Star Wars film was even being released. Target and KB Toys also devoted shelf space for Clone Wars toys, but did not hold midnight releases or pursue the branding opportunities Toys "R" Us did. On August 15, McDonald's held its first ever Happy Meal promotion for a Star Wars film and for four weeks, 18 exclusive toys came in specially designed Happy Meal boxes.
Comics and books
Dark Horse Comics published a six-issue digest-sized comic book mini-series. Randy Stradley, vice president of publishing for Dark Horse, said the sudden decision to release the Clone Wars film required the company to temporarily delay plans for two other Star Wars comic book series, Dark Times and Rebellion. The Clone Wars comics did not receive the promotional campaign it otherwise would have due to the abruptness of the theatrical and comic book releases. Topps, the trading cards company, released a series of 90 Clone Wars cards on July 26, which also included foil cards, motion cards, animation cel cards and rare sketch cards by top Star Wars artists and Lucasfilm animators. DK Publishing and the Penguin Group released books, activities and other merchandise that tied in with the film. Also released was the Clone Wars: The Visual Guide, published by DK, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars in the UK, published by Puffin and in the U.S. by Grosset & Dunlap. The publishers also released a storybook, picture books and an activity book. At the American International Toy Fair, Lego announced a product line for the film and the TV series, to be released in July 2008 in the United States and on August 2008 in the United Kingdom.
The LucasArts video game developer adapted the film into Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Jedi Alliance for the Nintendo DS and Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Lightsaber Duels for Wii. A reviewer from PocketGamer.co.uk said his expectations for Jedi Alliance were low due to poor Clone Wars movie reviews, but he found the game "a varied and well-paced experience."
Portable media players
A Star Wars: The Clone Wars MP3 player was released in August 2008. The player includes one gigabyte of memory, which holds 200 songs or 20 hours of music and comes with three interchangeable faceplates: a green one with Yoda and a lightsaber on it, a silver one with Captain Rex and a Galactic Empire logo on it, and one with two Clone troopers on Coruscant. One review claimed it improved upon a Darth Vader MP3 player released in July 2008, which featured only 512 megabytes of memory and a dated visual display. A Star Wars iPod iSpeaker (a speaker/dock for iPods, iPhones and MP3 players) was also released. The speaker includes an image of Captain Rex and three other Clone Troopers.
A Star Wars: The Clone Wars open wheel car for the IndyCar Series was unveiled at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con International. The #26 car, which also included Blockbuster Inc. decals and was driven by Andretti Green Racing driver Marco Andretti, ran August 24 on the Infineon Raceway in the Sonoma Mountains in California. Andretti said, "I'm hoping that my upcoming battle at Infineon will be as exciting as anything in a Star Wars movie so I can win it for both Blockbuster and Lucasfilm." The car finished 14th at Infineon, which Andretti attributed to a slow pit stop early in the race; he added, "I just don't think it was a very good performance for us today." The Clone Wars car was the second collaboration between Lucasfilm, Blockbuster and Andretti Green Racing. It premiered as an Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull car at the Indianapolis 500 in May 2008.
It's hard to tell the droids from the Jedi drones in this robotic animated dud, in which the George Lucas Empire Strikes Back—at the audience. What wears you out is Lucas' immersion in a Star Wars cosmology that has grown so obsessive-compulsively cluttered yet trivial that it's no longer escapism; Because this movie has bad lightsaber duels and the lack of the original cast, it's something you want to escape from.
The Clone Wars received a 18% approval rating based on 157 reviews compiled by Rotten Tomatoes. The website's consensus reads: "Mechanical animation and a less-than stellar script make The Clone Wars a pale shadow of George Lucas' once great franchise." This constituted by far the lowest Rotten Tomatoes rating of any Star Wars film; the previous six theatrical films ranged from 57% to 97%, and even the made-for-television Ewok movies and the much-derided Star Wars Holiday Special garnered higher ratings, although their averages encompassed far fewer reviews. At Metacritic, the movie scored 35% based on 30 reviews, earning it the status "generally negative."
Ain't It Cool News posted two reviews of the film during the week before its release, but pulled them down due to an embargo placed on those attending the screening its writers attended. The same reviews were reposted on the site, on the day of the film's release. The retraction prompted some readers to allege a conspiracy by LucasFilm to keep negative press out of circulation until the release of the film, but although the review by site creator Harry Knowles was negative, Drew McWeeny said that his review was positive and that no such conspiracy existed.
Several critics compared The Clone Wars to a Saturday morning cartoon and described it as little more than a plug for the upcoming animated series. Linda Barnard, of the Toronto Star, said the movie "pretty much drives a stake into the heart of every loyal fan of the movies. And now [George Lucas is] out to stick it to those too young to know about Jar Jar Binks." Variety magazine reviewer Todd McCarthy said, "This isn't the Star Wars we've always known and at least sometimes loved." Joe Neumiar, of the New York Daily News, wrote, "If this were a true Star Wars film, right about now somebody would say, '...I've got a bad feeling about this.'" In his review for Entertainment Weekly, critic Owen Gleiberman gave the movie an F grade and wrote, "George Lucas is turning into the enemy of fun." Carrie Rickey, of The Philadelphia Inquirer, said, "The best that can be said about the movie is that it's harmless and mostly charmless. The Clone Wars is to Star Wars what karaoke is to pop music."
|Remember how people talked about the Star Wars prequels like they were the worst movies ever made, when really, come on, they weren't THAT bad? The Clone Wars actually IS that bad.|
|— Film critic, Eric D. Snider|
Many criticized the animation as cheap, wooden, non-engaging, and out-of-date; some reviewers drew negative comparisons to 1960s marionette-based shows Thunderbirds and Fireball XL5, although George Lucas previously said the animation style was a deliberate homage to such shows. Tom Long of The Detroit News said the animation "is downright weak compared to what's generally seen on screens these days" and said the characters are so stiff they look like they were "carved by Pinocchio's father." Roger Ebert said "the characters have hair that looks molded from Play-Doh, bodies that seem arthritic, and moving lips on half-frozen faces—all signs that shortcuts were taken in the animation work." McCarthy said "the movements, both of the characters and the compositions, look mechanical, and the mostly familiar characters have all the facial expressiveness of Easter Island statues." But some of the same reviewers who criticized the animation acknowledged some positive elements about it; McCarthy said it allowed for "somewhat more dramatic compositions and color schemes," and Carrie Rickey, of The Philadelphia Inquirer, said the scenery and backgrounds were "vivid and alive", although she said the characters "move as you would imagine the statues at a waxworks might."
Reviewers also criticized the dialogue, which Ebert said was limited to "simplistic declamations" and Claudia Puig of USA Today described as "stilted and overblown, a problem also in some of the live-action incarnations." Many critics also said that the battle scenes were repetitive and lacked tension; McCarthy described the action sequences as "a little exposition, an invasion; some more exposition, a lightsaber fight; a bit more blah-blah, a spaceship dogfight, and on and on." Linda Stasi, of the New York Post, also described the lack of character development in the film, writing that whereas the original Star Wars films dedicated time to allowing viewers to get to know the characters, "Director Dave Filoni is so concentrated on the action that we're never given the chance to care who lives and who is blown into spare parts." Jason Anderson, of the Globe and Mail, wrote that although The Clone Wars is intended for younger audiences, "parents may be perturbed by the film's relentless violence." Ebert also found protagonist Ahsoka Tano "annoying," and Michael Rechtshaffen, of The Hollywood Reporter, said the attempts of humor amid the bickering between Tano and Anakin Skywalker are "strained". Puig said she enjoyed the character, and that "her repartee with Anakin enlivens things."
The movie was a moderate box office success. The Clone Wars earned $68,282,844 worldwide, including $35,161,554 in North American domestic box office grosses and $33,121,290 in international grosses. The film earned $14.6 million on 3,452 screens in its opening weekend, including $6.22 million on its opening day, August 15. It was the third-highest earning film of the weekend, behind Tropic Thunder and The Dark Knight, which earned $25.8 million and $16.3 million, respectively. Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures, said the box office performance met expectations because two-thirds of the audience were families and the budget for the film was $8.5 million, frugal considering it was a CGI film, and because the movie was meant to introduce the animated series. Fellman said, "It was targeted to a specific audience for specific reasons. We accomplished that mission, and it will continue in another medium." When The Clone Wars dropped to $5.6 million in its second week of release, ContactMusic.com described it as "the first bona fide Star Wars flop." The film also earned $23,428,376 from DVD sales in the US.
The film's two-disc DVD and Blu-ray Disc was released on November 11, 2008, in the United States and on December 8, 2008, in the United Kingdom. The film was released as a single-disc DVD, two-disc Special Edition DVD, and Blu-ray Disc. The standard-definition versions include the film in widescreen format with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX sound, and with feature-length audio commentary.
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