Back around 1991 Star Wars fans were introduced to the “Expanded Universe” with the publication of the novel Heir to the Empire. Where there had been a scattering of novels and a couple of animated series that had told a handful of Star Wars stories, this seemed to be different…bigger. This was a story involving all the major characters which picked up well after the end of Return of the Jedi, the first such story to be told. After that a swell of novels, comics and other media were released which told various stories in, for the most part, the post-RoTJ timeline.
But there was a sense that these stories would be confined to anything but movie theater screens. That was emphasized with the release of the Prequel Trilogy. Anything that was on the big screen was canon, anything that wasn’t wasn’t.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars changes that equation to some extent. While the movie wasn’t really meant from the outset to be a movie but instead was spliced together from the first three episodes of a new TV series, it did appear in theaters and so, rightly or wrongly, has to be judged against the six existing cinematic entries in the saga.
Against that measure it does not hold up particularly well. The Clone Wars is an interesting enough story (the Jedi have to rescue Jabba the Hutt’s son in order to maintain access to travel lanes that are important to the war effort), it’s unfortunately weighed down by too many things that seem out of place in the Star Wars universe.
Chief among them is Ahsoka, a teenage girl who is assigned by Yoda to be Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan learner. Right there we have a couple of problems. Not only is Ahsoka never mentioned in Revenge of the Sith (she therefore logically bites it at some point in between) but Anakin is not a Jedi Master and everything up to this point says only Masters can have Padawans. Anakin is only made a full-fledged Knight just before RoTS (in the “Clone Wars” animated series from a couple years ago, which adds even more confusion to the situation – where does *that* story fit into this timeline now?) and giving him a Padawan seems like a cheap excuse to wedge in a sassy teen character.
And it’s that character that is the other chief problem. There’s NO WAY someone with this sort of attitude gets past Master Yoda. She’s disrespectful, reckless and just plain annoying. Almost immediately she begins referring to Anakin as “Sky Guy” and throwing around all sorts of attitude that seems pulled straight from a Tiger Beat demographic survey. It’s best just to ignore her when she’s on screen.
It’s a shame that she’s around for so long because aside from her the story is actually alright. It’s certainly not on the scale of the other six Star Wars movies but does work if you view it as a TV show. The action is fast-paced (the Clone Troopers actually wind up being the most interesting characters) and the animation certainly is top-notch.
Overall The Clone Wars is a good lead in to the series and is probably best for an audience that doesn’t obsess over where events happen in the Star Wars timeline and other issues like that. If you can get beyond those problems it’s a pretty enjoyable part of the Star Wars saga.