Lucas milks the cash cow with an efficient but uninspired cartoon, writes Donald Clarke STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS Directed by Dave Filoni. Voices of Matt Lanter, Ian Abercrombie, Anthony Daniels, Samuel L Jackson, Christopher Lee, Tom Kane
PG cert, gen release, 98 min AS THE Star Wars prequels eventually ground sluggishly to a welcome halt, astute TV viewers looked towards a considerably livelier and more imaginative retooling of George Lucas’s worn myths. Genndy Tartakovsky’s Star Wars: Clone Wars, running from 2003 until 2005, used innovatively bold animation to tell lean tales of events preceding Revenge of the Sith.
Despite the similarities of its title, this latest emission from Skywalker Ranch is a different beast altogether. Intended as the pilot for another new TV series, the film ditches Tartakovsky’s thick lines and manga framing for efficient, but singularly uninspiring, 3-D animation.
The good news is that, unlike the stories in those tediously overelaborate prequels, the script remains reasonably lucid and gratifyingly nippy. As cynical promotional tools for unnecessary products go, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (don’t forget the definite article) will do nicely enough until the Terminator 4 baseball hats come along.
Aware that many Star Wars nuts were put off by the prequels’ focus on arcane legislative and diplomatic detail, the writers have permitted only one significant allusion to the greater political domain – but they’ve made sure the characters repeat it over and over (and over) again.
Eager to secure Jabba the Hutt’s goodwill in matters relating to trade routes in the Outer Rim, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi set out to rescue the giant slug’s infant son from kidnappers. Why would they help Jabba? Because he has influence in the Outer Rim. In the Outer Rim! I’ll say it a few thousand more times in case you are still confused.
The bizarre decision to give Jabba’s uncle the voice of Truman Capote only emphasises how routine the rest of the voice-work and animation has turned out. Still, for all its ordinariness, The Clone Wars passes the time quite effectively and is certainly less tedious than either The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones. But the force is not quite with it.