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“Star Wars: Clone Wars” review: The hidden gem of “Star Wars”

There will be spoilers below.

“Star Wars: Clone Wars” showcases everything fans love about the franchise but jacked up on steroids. Have you ever wanted to see Mace Windu obliterate an army of battle droids with his bare hands? It’s here. What about clone troopers jousting on speeder bikes? This show has you covered. It dials the action and the animation up to 11 in the best way possible.

The series from Genndy Tartakovsky dropped on Disney+ on April 2 as part of the service’s new “Star Wars: Vintage” collection. Set between Episodes II and III of “Star Wars,” the show follows Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and an assortment of other Jedi as they valiantly lead the Grand Army of the Republic against the Separatist droid armies, led by the fiendish Count Dooku. 

This 2D animated micro-series originally aired on Cartoon Network as a series of three-to-five-minute shorts in 2003. After winning an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, the series returned for a third season in 2005 and extended its runtime to 12-15 minutes for each episode. 

Tartakovsky takes the audience on a ride that paints the war as a stylized folk tale of what many thought it was like. 

The Jedi knights heroically leap into battle against evil. The clone troopers are the perfect soldiers, and the battle droids are an overwhelming destructive force. It’s epic, grand and an absolute blast to watch.

The crowning jewels of the series are the action sequences. The fights unleash chaos on the screen as they move at such a fast rate. Just when it starts to overload, it takes a second to slow down and get your bearings before propelling you back into the fray. Tartakovsky and crew stage epic brawls, with choreography that fluidly moves across the screen. The camera follows closely with the subject, pulling the audience into the scene.

A standout sequence goes to Skywalker and his fight with a dark side assassin on the jungle planet of Yavin IV. With the ominous red glow from the nearby planet, Skywalker succumbs to his rage, foreshadowing his eventual fall. The frantic choreography made for exciting television, but the moments where Skywalker and the assassin stood, blades drawn, looking for the perfect time to strike made for a terrific tool to build tension.

Tartakovsky previously worked on classic animated shows such as “Dexter’s Laboratory” and notably “Samurai Jack” before landing this project. The influence of “Samurai Jack” runs rampant throughout this show, from the fight scenes to the honorable, “samurai-like” nature of the Jedi. The heavily-stylized animation mixed with Tartakovsky’s knack for framing epic shots makes for some stunning animation.

“Star Wars: Clone Wars” masterfully bridges the gap between Episodes II and III. It illustrates what this conflict was in the most fun ways possible while setting the stage for “Revenge of the Sith.” Coruscant lies under siege as Grievous captures Palpatine, and the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin flourishes from master and apprentice to brothers-in-arms. 

Split into two volumes at around one hour each, the show makes for an easy, enjoyable watch for any fans of the movies.

cbskbf@mail.umkc.edu

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