“Star Wars: Clone Wars” (2003) TV SERIES REVIEW
Written by Jambareeqi
“Star Wars: Clone Wars” is an animated micro-series from director Genndy Tartakovsky. It serves as a midquel series set between episodes 2 and 3 of the Star Wars movies saga.
The biggest strength of the series is how it illustrates the sheer scope of this war, by detailing it’s ramifications on a galactic scale. The show pans between various raging battles across the galaxy, vividly painting the possibility of a successful Sith uprising, by showing that there’s now a chance that the Jedi COULD be outmatched.
The series also stays very true to the recurring themes of the Star Wars prequels. Anakin and Obi-Wan’s bond is carried on, with the two sharing a lot of scenes together that demonstrate their relationship – that being wise master and disobedient student. Palpatine is also still doing his best to convince the Jedi Order that he’s not really Darth Sidious, by keeping up his efforts to retain a consistent act and pretending to be a naive old man.
Although, a larger purpose for this series is to provide a bridge between episodes 2 and 3. At first, I wasn’t sure how it was going to do that? But we do get to see many important firsts! Big moments that further explain story beats that were maybe glossed over in the prequel movies. While there’s a wink to the audience about some more cosmetic developments (like C3PO’s new gold plating), the show knows how to handle certain integral changes with nuance, and will tastefully address these scenes with the required level of grace.
However, the most important part the show plays in the franchise, is how it examines Anakin’s relationship with his future. Throughout the series, Anakin displays both contrasting sides of his personality: reckless immaturity and heartfelt compassion. The show uses a spiritual journey plot to foreshadow Anakin’s path, while also admitting that this wasn’t always set in stone, and that there was a glimmer of hope for him to go another direction.
This space war maybe a series of relentless battles, but that’s not to say that the action is just repetitive sequences of explosions and gunfire; heck I’d say it’s anything BUT uninspired. Each action scene is oozing with charismatic tension and inventive tenacity, always finding ways to make the fights visually impressive or simply badass cool, but all while never forgetting the purpose of each confrontation.
Genndy Tartakovsky maybe renowned for his more comedic work, like Dexter’s Lab or the Hotel Transylvania films, but he’s also the visionary behind more dramatic animation projects like Samurai Jack and Primal. While Tartakovsky’s art style is quirkily angular and his animation techniques rely on a snappy dynamic, this never takes away from the seriousness of the war narrative or any intense tragedies that play out. Quite the opposite actually! The show uses it’s uniquely bold aesthetics to enhance character’s emotions or intensify gestures.
Heck, there are scenes in this show that are down-right cinematic! Little atmospheric sequences that let weather elements or empty silence set the stage for drama. Not to mention, Tartakovsky REALLY knows how to take advantage of the 2D animation medium, giving us imaginative imagery that would have had a different impact in live action, because the effects are so uniquely set in this animation style. Side Note: expect a couple of nods to the cult anime Akira!
There’s comedy here or there, but never in a distracting silly way. It’s the kind of dry humour you’d expect from Star Wars in general, with an emphasis on character relationships to spur on snarky banter – particularly derived from the brotherly bond between Anakin and Obi-Wan. Tartakovsky tones down the inherent cartoony nature of his animation, and let’s little tounge-in-cheek exchanges sell the subtle comedy.
To Conclude, Tartakovsky’s “Star Wars: Clone Wars” serves as a highly satisfying middle chapter for the Star Wars prequels. If Lucasfilm released this as “Star Wars Episode 2.5: Clone Wars”, I would have believed it was intended to be an official prequel film, because it bridges the gap THAT smoothly. It stays true to George Lucas’ mythos and lore, but relies on it’s chosen animation medium to embrace ideas that could have looked too over-the-top in live action.
Now, I know that we were given ANOTHER Clone Wars animated TV show years later, but I’ve not seen that rendition yet (though I have watched the pilot movie, which I’ve reviewed on my Youtube channel). However, after seeing this series, I am curious how Lucasfilm expanded this arc into something longer! I’m wondering what more could be explored in this timeline. Maybe I’ll give it a watch someday, but no promises when though.