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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Space Opera > Science Fiction > Fantasy > TV > Star Wars: Clone Wars - Volume One (Animated)

Star Wars: Clone Wars - Volume 1 (Animated/2003)


Picture: B+     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Film: A



This DVD represents a convergence of sorts for fans of several different milieus. Star Wars fans will seek it out for its obvious connections to George Lucas’ second trilogy of films, the final installment of which, Revenge of the Sith (RotS), arrives in theaters in May 2005.  Animation fans will be drawn to Clone Wars’ slick production and high-impact storytelling.  A subset of this group, hardcore fans of Clone Wars’ director Genndy (Dexter’s Laboratory) Tartakovsky, will seek the DVD out to add to their already impressive collections of the man’s incredible body of work.  For the uninitiated, Tartakovsky has spent the last few years producing animated epics on cable’s Cartoon Network, with his Samurai Jack series being the most notable for its style, depth, action, and beauty.


Clone Wars originally aired on Cartoon Network in serialized form, presented in 2-minute bites that served to tantalize viewers while revealing the previously untold tales of the Clone Wars, and bridging the gap between the second and third films in Lucas’ series.  As good as it was when originally aired, the story works much better when watched as a fully integrated animated film.  With a running time of sixty-nine minutes, Tartakovsky and his crew have plenty of opportunity to cover the war’s myriad fronts.  Many of the Jedi characters from the first and second films are given moments to shine in Clone Wars, with two particularly amazing battle sequences featuring Kit Fisto and Mace Windu respectively.  Kit Fisto leads a team of Clone Troopers against a Separatist strike force beneath the waves of an alien world, and Mace Windu and a troop of beleaguered Clones battle for their lives against a terrain-smashing juggernaut on a different battlefront.  Each scene highlights the perfect synergy of the Star Wars universe and high-quality animation.  Tartakovsky and his team accomplish feats with their animation that stack up against the best that Lucas’ ILM studio has ever produced. 


Clone Wars manages many things in its sixty-nine minutes, fleshing out the struggles, advancing the character of Anakin (who will eventually fall to the Dark Side of the Force), and introducing a deadly new threat that will be featured in RotS.  All of this is accomplished without sacrificing any of the movie’s core attributes.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 picture quality benefits greatly from that kind of widescreen transfer, which in a word, is gorgeous.  It features the rich color palette that has become synonymous with Tartakovsky’s work and looks far better here than it could on cable or satellite.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has Pro Logic surround sound, and though this is not theatrical near-state-of-the-art 6.1 EX that the films have been made available (and the older films reformatted for), it still manages to give the Clone Wars viewer a movie-quality experience without washing out key bits of dialogue.  The disc also features a bevy of extras that is pretty strong for a single DVD, including a production featurette that discusses the issues surrounding the transition from the second movie to the third.  This includes director commentaries, behind the scenes pieces, concept art and storyboard galleries, an Episode III: Revenge of the Sith teaser trailer, and several video game previews make this a fat package of good stuff for any Star Wars fan.  Fox Home Entertainment should be commended for loading this DVD with so many high-quality extras.


Perhaps most important when considering the purchase of Clone Wars is that one need not be a fan of Lucas’ first two prequel films to understand and enjoy Clone Wars.  Knowledge of these films certainly helps to fill in a few story gaps, but this DVD stands quite well on its own merits.  However, it does indeed succeed in its mission to whet the viewer’s appetite for Revenge of the Sith.  If RotS manages to capture the flavor and dynamism of the animated Clone Wars, then George Lucas will be well on his way to wrapping up his prequel trilogy in grand style.



-   Scott Pyle


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