Friday, August 15, 2008

Does sweet’um want some num-nums?

I never thought I would come out of a theater having just seen a Star Wars film and say, "wow, that really sucked." But here I am.

As you might imagine from my grognardy ways, I was one of the bazillions of kids who saw Star Wars when it first came out in 1977 (and, incidentally, when it was still called "Star Wars" and not "Episode IV: A New Hope"). I cut school to see Jedi on its opening day (which was, coincidentally, my birthday). I was enthused as most of us were when Phantom Menace came out, and I actually don't hate the prequels like so many long-term fans have come to do.

But this... this was garbage. An utter waste of my $9.50. It makes me yearn to see Jar Jar Binks on the screen, for crying out loud. This was so bad it is difficult to put into words, but I'll give it a try.

First, the good (what little of it there was). I thought the scenes with the clone troopers were great; I really got a vibe like they were old soldiers and real professionals. I liked the way they tried to individualize themselves with hair styles and tattoos, even if it did run counter to what we see in Revenge of the Sith (which actually comes after this cartoon). And the music when they were on the planet with the monastery I thought was excellent; really evocative and different for a Star Wars movie, and I thought it fit well. Watching Anakin and the old clunker starship was fun for a few minutes. And...

Well, that's about all I liked.

The stylized characterizations were quite obviously cribbed from the Clone Wars shorts that were shown on Cartoon Network a few years ago. Even some of the scenes were taken straight out of that (quite excellent) series-- I think particularly of the scene with clone troopers swooping down on ropes, firing at the droid troopers as they did. The fact that Lucas seems to be deliberately sweeping Genndy Tartakovsky's work under the rug seems almost criminal, considering that many of the images the new movie (and the coming television show, no doubt) uses come directly from there. Little things like Dooku, Mace Windu, Palpatine, and Obi-Wan, etc.

To say that the droid soldiers were even dumber in this movie than they were in the prequels is to do a disservice to dumbness. How the hell can a droid forget a 7-digit number it was just told?? How the hell can it just fall off a cliff out of clumsiness? The Jedi finally manage to figure out a way to make destroyer droids, well, destroyable. Why don't we ever see that trick again, I wonder? Oh yeah, because this film doesn't give a crap about continuity with the other films in the series! Where the hell were those non-clone, non-Jedi officers before now? It was cool when it seemed like they were waiting in the wings, ready to take over for the Jedi once they'd been annihilated by the clones. Now, they just seem to blip in and out randomly.

Then there's the dialog. Ah, the dialog. Gems like the line I used as the title for this post. It is so obvious that Lucas is trying to just wring a few more dollars out of my seven-year-old that it's embarrassing. The excrement jokes in Episode I and the burping jokes in Episode VI cannot hold a candle to the inanity of the lines that are thrust into the yawning gobs of these characters. Well, they would be yawning gobs if they actually opened their mouths at all; so little was spent on the animation for this travesty that it almost seems like they could have done it in Syncro-Vox and had it come out better.

Someone on another blog said something to the effect of "Now I understand what those folks who hate the prequels must feel like." Yeah, I'm feeling like that right now.

EDIT: And the less said about Ziro the Hutt, the better.


Kevin said...

So, is this movie REPLACING that other Clone Wars cartoon that came out? Or a remake of it? Or just an alternate version of it?

grodog said...

Haven't seen this yet, but my son Ethan (4 years old) is a big fan of the Clone Wars DVDs, and wants to see this, so we'll probably catch a matinee this weekend. Hopefully I won't want to burn my eyes out afterward ;)


noisms said...

As the BBC reviewer Mark Kermode said: "George, have you not got a big enough house already?"

Joseph said...

I'm not sure if this is intended to replace the original Clone Wars cartoons or not. I'm inclined to say that it is actually set in between the two seasons of the original; Ventress is already established as a character, and season one of the original set forth an origin. But it's not a sure thing by any means; they could very well provide an alternate origin as soon as the television series gets going.

grodog said...

Saw it today with Ethan, and he loved it :D

I read another review @ which helped set my expectations a bit more in terms of how kid-oriented the film would be, which definitely helped me enjoy it more.

Timeline wise, I think it's supposed to be after the first two Clone Wars DVDs, and will then springboard into the series this fall, which will then (I guess?) line up with the beginning of the third prequel film. I'm thinking that since Anakin is sans padawan by then, that Dooku kills his charge, which would certainly help explain his willingness to kill Dooku in the intro battles of the third prequel.

Anyway, thanks for the review Joe: balancing your view with the video review above definitely helped me to enter this thing in the right mindset to enjoy it as much as was possible :D


Joseph said...

Thing about the older Clone Wars series is that the second season ends literally before the crawl at the start of "Revenge of the Sith".

So the new television series is either going to have to exist completely between the two older seasons, or some interesting overlap will be taking place.

Or, as I think is more likely, they'll just ignore what has gone before.

Bruce said...

Is it honestly worse than "Battle for Endor"? That movie ruined "Caravan of Courage" for me. And I'm not kidding... why go to all the trouble of rescuing the parents and then kill them off in the first 5 minutes of the next film? So angry!!!