/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 67 mins .
PG . PAL
There seems to be a trend in Hollywood of late. Not just in the trendy films being produced but in the trends that these trends tend to lend to others following the trend and thus fulfilling the trend of trends being followed. Yeah, that was intentional and I'm hoping none of the other reviewers on here follow that trend.
Dooku-ing it out.
Ok, so what's the trend you ask? Well, it began with the Matrix, when the little animated feature called the 'Animatrix' was created to bridge that small gap between the first and second movie. Yeah, that's the word: 'bridge'. What better way to capitalise on a movie and it's sequel by providing a short piece of the puzzle in the form of some cheaper to produce animation that begins at the end of the first movie and ends at the beginning of the second movie. You still with me? It's the sticky tape that binds the 2 movies together, it penetrates into the fabric and all that yodaness.
But for a trend you need atleast another movie to do the same thing to 'confirm' that a trend has occured. Ok, let me put to you a little 20 minute animated feature called Chronicles of Riddick - Dark Fury, and another non animated 'Directors Cut' of xXx focusing on Xander inadvertantly handing over the title to Lipton Ice. Oh and I seem to recall another such 'cut' on the Too Fast, Too Dubious DVD release providing a little 'bridge' extra feature.
Mace - not just a pepper spray.
Now that I have your attention, any attempt to capitalise on the Star Wars franchise is mighty fine by me and in these animated adventures of the Clone Wars we get some mighty cool looking animation and adventure coupled with the traditional John Williams score linking the final moments of Episode II with those that will begin in Episode III. The separatists and their army of droids are doing their worst to make some semblance of plot viable whilst the newly formed Clone Army of the Republic are fighting back with the help of the Jedi.
Whilst all this is going on, lead puppeteer and out-and-out bad guy Senator Palpy is just enjoying his little chess game, wielding his pawns and apprentices into place as he a) destroys one army with his own personal, yet to be realised, clone army and b) having a private Jedi/Sith Coruscant Idol type elimination show to get that ultimate apprentice by his side, all the while knowing it will be Anakin but just needing to coax the naive little boy into stepping into the shoes of the man who killed him, from a certain point of view. We're introduced to a few new characters in particular General Grievous, leader of the droid army and all out Cirque Du Lightsaber one man band.
Anakin ignites his mosquito zapper.
The animation here is pretty impressive and compliments the movies adequately. Sure it's on a smaller scale but it's so fresh and entertaining that you start sampling a bit here and there and find yourself having watched the entire series yet again. They were created for the Cartoon Network, made their way onto starwars.com in small quicktime versions and are now available on DVD. Each episode averaged around 3 minutes in duration but are featured as one continuous movie on this DVD. The standout has to be Mace Windus cooler than cool display in chapter 13. If this is what we can expect from him in the actual movie then I'm sold no matter the plot.
Presented to us in anamorphic 1.85:1 aspect ratio with a Dolby Surround soundtrack we have an exceptional little package here. Given the amount of computer aided animation was used here I wouldn't go past Lucasfilm from doing an all digital transfer for us. The image is totally clean, vibrant in color, sharp as a tack and oh so nice to watch.
These new ABBA outfits are fantastic.
The audio soundtrack is a well suited compliment to the visuals and has all the hallmarks of a Star Wars feature film in its tone and granduer. I was surprised to realise that the soundtrack was only provided in Dolby Surround given the 5.1 efforts commonly put into this product at Skywalker Ranch. Granted, it does not at all detract from any expectations you may have and is pretty darn good.
With a pinch of extra features added just for some spice, we begin with the 2 audio commentaries, one by director Genndy Tartokovsky and the other a fan commentary originally made exclusively for Hyperspace members. The latter is by far the choice of the two, but even then feels a little too fan based. I guess you're a die hard or not. Personally I enjoy the movies for the popcorn flicks they are but with the drab, almost closed captioned type, commentary offered by the director the Hyperspace commentary just shines.
The new member of Hi-5.
There are 2 featurettes included. Bridging the Saga takes a short 8 minute look behind the scenes for the inspiration to do these cartoons and the process in doing so. Short, sweet, to the point and holds your interest well. The process seems like a fun little project. Short interviews with the director and George Lucas himself are sprinkled in for good measure.
The rounding up of the usual suspects include production sketches, storyboards and a game trailer for episode III. Oh, and there's a short brief clip of an actual battle from Episode III if that's all you need to know to buy this DVD. I know there are a few of you out there that will do so just because of this snippet. It's called addiction and there's no known cure, just ask Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. (Do a google search).
So does Clone Wars 'bridge' Episode II and Episode III as intended? Well, from a certain point of view. Not that it was really necessary to do so given that Georges opening scroll usually does enough to bring us up to date. But given it's popularity, a second series has been planned and is already available online at starwars.com and they are literally presenting us the animated version of the opening scroll to Episode III and from what I've seen, it's another winner for Star Wars fans.