Entry for August 18, 2008: Clone Wars

On Saturday, 16 August 2008, Janice and I took advantage of the sales-tax holiday in Massachusetts at various book and electronics stores before meeting Beruk A. and Thomas K.Y. for a late-afternoon screening of Star Wars: Clone Wars at the AMC Framingham multiplex. The computer-animated movie is the pilot for this coming autumn's series on the Cartoon Network.

Clone Wars takes place between the live-action Star Wars: Episode II–Attack of the Clones and Episode III--Revenge of the Sith, and after the animated shorts directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, the creator of Samurai Jack. The Jedi knights are scrambling about the galaxy trying to lead the clone armies against hordes of droids led by the nefarious Sith, including the evil Asaji Ventris. Anakin Skywalker reluctantly takes on young Ashoka Tano as a padawan, or apprentice, in a mission to rescue sluglike gangster Jabba the Hutt's child.

Many of the characters and locations familiar to viewers of George Lucas' blockbuster space opera are present, although it takes a while to get used to Tartakovsky's angular style in 3-D animation. As critics of the prequel trilogy (Star Wars: Episode I–The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith) might expect, the dialogue is stiff, and the plot is disjointed.

However, the youngsters in our audience seemed to enjoy Clone Wars, and the combat scenes are dynamic, the soundtrack is lively, and the underlying theme of political machinations and betrayal is preserved from Lucas' admittedly weak follow-ups to his original trilogy (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi).

The clone troopers begin to develop individual personalities, Ashoka is an appealing newcomer who adds a much-needed sense of humor to the proceedings, and returning cast members such as Christopher Lee and Samuel L. Jackson lend continuity and gravitas to the proceedings. Clone Wars does feel a bit like the old serials, such as Flash Gordon, that first inspired Lucas, rather than a stand-alone story.

While not as strong as its live-action or conventionally animated predecessors, I'd give Clone Wars a B- and still plan to watch the television series. It succeeded in whetting my appetite for more of this franchise, whether in novels, video games, Lego sets, or the D20 Star Wars: Saga Edition RPG.

After the movie, Beruk, Thomas, Janice, and I went to the British Beer Company, a pub near where I work. The food was good and reasonably priced, there was a decent drink selection, and service on a crowded Saturday night was swift. It's hard to believe summer's almost over!

On Sunday, Janice and I went to the Marshfield Fair, where we enjoyed the agricultural competitions, the craft displays, and of course, the fair food (although a book I just picked up, Eat This, Not That, provides many suggestions for healthy eating). I spent much of the rest of the weekend watching the Olympics and trying to back up my home computer's hard drive. Coming soon: Genre TV updates!