Finally, after much side-stepping and smack talking, I have seen the new CLONE WARS movie.
It is, with excruciating, painful reality, every bit as horrible as all of the negative press out there says it is.
Truly, this is a film that was custom made to viciously assault the loins of every last Star Wars fanboy still hanging on since the prequel trilogy.
This being said, and my being one of the aforementioned fanboys, I girded my loins with steel and went into this bastard addition into the SW universe with a specific mission: FIND SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT IT.
I have to give it to Harry Knowles right out of the gate. He said that the soundtrack was not entirely John Williams, and that was detrimental. He was right. There are battle scenes that don't need cute drum beats, but the standard blast of horns that Williams has been delivering for decades.
The characters were off too. Samuel Jackson's voice was actually lent to the project, but as I watched and listened, he sounded completely subdued. It wasn't the Jackson delivery that we all know. Yes, his part in the film was simply that of a delivery system for a plot point, but he sounded completely bored out of his Windu head. The Anakin looked nothing like Hayden Christensen. The Obi-Wan did that stupid "two fingers forward, lightsabre back" pose that we all learned to hate in Episode 3. But the worst, absolutely most annoying thing to ever hit the Star Wars universe by far was the introduction of Anakin's Padawan, Ahsoka Tano. So irritating was the patter between Anakin and this pixie with a painted face that I had to stop myself from yelling back at the screen for her to shut up. The patter between Anakin and his Padawan was the same old cutesy Star Wars patter with no real point. It was a bunch of I told you so mixed with obvious musings regarding the surroundings. This is the part of the movie that I stamp FAIL on and hammer the back of the stamp with a brick for emphasis. It is such a horrible part of the film that it knocks the legs out from under it, and leaves it struggling on bloody, broken stumps trying to stand.
The battle scenes are epic. It is nothing short of money. Money money money. This film oozes with battle sequences that are dizzying and worthy of the Star Wars canon. The problem with such grand battle sequences isn't the sequences at all, it is that they are completely CG. There is a discount that comes with this film because of its complete CG nature. People walk and talk funny. Physics are strained and can be strained because everything in the tapestry is malleable. This universe HAD to have its battle sequences in order. There was no excuse. This HAD to work. however, it isn't the Star Wars universe that we know. The people are not the people we know...the feel, texture and look of things are off slightly. There is never the free moment to detach into this film. I posit that the CG presents itself as a bad translator of whatever the Star Wars universe was supposed to be this time around. The CG is the trickster, and the trickster has been programmed by some people who were off the mark. This makes the entire film a sort of chore, visually. This being said, I must reiterate that the battle sequences are spot-on. Whether it is outer space, or heavy cannon-fire, it works.
There are things about this universe that obviously show some care and dedication to the Star Wars craft however. There is a medical droid. There are IG-88s in Ziro the Hutt's hangout. There is the Cantina Band once again. Unfortunately, the music that they are playing isn't remotely catchy. There are bantha bones in the sand. The Jawas are pesky. There is a "death star droid" who actually talks and plays a few headgames. A crash landing by Anakin on Tatooine references the (superior) crash landing in Episode III. No one could have done Christopher Lee's voice for Dooku, and I hope that he was paid handsomely, because he delivers. C3P0 and R2D2 are there, and proving to be more and more useless with every new layer placed on the original Star Wars template. The different hairstyles of the clone troopers is amusing too. The stupid banter between the "roger roger" robots has been taken to a new level of retardation however. The hints at this being a spectacular film are all in place, but there is no foundation for them to grip and flourish under the two suns of Tatooine.
Now I have to confess to you something that happened to me whilst watching this film. I fell headlong into a lustful fit over the evil Sith woman, Asajj Ventress. There is something about her vampiric skin-tone and shaved head that drew me in. She looks like she is in her 70s in earth years, but holy nerf-herders, what a woman. She exudes power. She struts with two light sabres and cuts through steel in ways that make Qui-Gon look like a sissy punk. She is a mesmerizing character, and I only wish that there had been more of her onscreen.
However, with every good turn, there was an equally bad turn in character choices for this film. Now I must address Ziro the Hutt.
Ziro the Hutt was even more offensive than I had heard. CHUD.COM even referred to this character as "Homo the Hutt." In my searching for a picture for this blog, I came across the CHUD article, and saw that I wasn't alone in my assessment of this creature. Ziro the Hutt is fey beyond words. Ziro the Hutt also has a southern accent. This leaves anyone who has paid attention to Truman Capote in the past bit with a bad taste in their mouth. Ziro emulates Truman Capote in such an offensive way, that I was forced to master the accent on the drive away from the theatre. It was so obvious and so blatant a stereotypical homophobic mockery that I am really at a loss for words. The only thing that I can think of is that (and I hate even bringing this up) as Lando was the bad black man of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, he redeemed himself. Later for his prequels, Lucas introduced PANAKA and MACE WINDU as black characters who were actually good. I can only hope that Lucasfilm is going to swing the balance back and bring in some less stereotypical homosexual characters in the future. What a mess this aspect of the story was. Completely unnecessary, and built to offend or at least question. I am still aghast.
The bottom line? This movie is the worst of all Star Wars big-screen attempts. The absolute worst. It would have been better served as shown on the Cartoon Network before the inevitable upcoming Star Wars cartoon show. I went in braced with all of the hatred of the reviews that I had read beforehand. I went in after hearing some of the worst word-of-mouth about a film in a long time. I went in looking for the good of it all, and I did find some things to hang onto. I found them, but they aren't worth much. I hope that this is the end of it. I still like the Star Wars universe, but continual dilution of it with stuff like this is the kind of thing that will brings me to fear that they will continue in this craptastic direction. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering.