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Written by Scott Chitwood
Published on October 27th, 2003

Clone Wars Cartoon - Review of First 5 Episodes

This past weekend at the Sci-Fi Expo in Dallas, I was given the opportunity to watch the first five episodes of the upcoming Clone Wars cartoon series. (Many thanks to the fine folks at Cartoon Network for setting this up!) Rather than give you a full-fledged review of each episode, I?ll give you some general thoughts I came away with after watching the shows.

- I was struck by how little dialogue there was in the episodes. The first one has the most of any I saw, and it was minimal at best. The second and third episodes featuring a group of clone troopers on a side mission has almost no dialogue whatsoever. Fortunately, it works. While most of the character voices don?t match their on-screen incarnations, the voice of Yoda is dead on. It really sounds like Frank Oz (though I?m sure it?s not him). In the end, though, it?s the John Williams music and Ben Burtt sound effects that really sell these cartoons as being set in the Star Wars Universe.

- These episodes are almost non-stop action. Imagine the battle scene from Attack of the Clones being animated, and that?s what you have in this series. Each episode features a different battle. In fact, the first episode probably has the least action of any episode in the series despite the fact that it opens with a mind-blowing montage of battle scenes raging across a variety of worlds. You?re going to want to go back and watch this episode again frame by frame.

- Take the action from the films and turn it up to eleven and you have these cartoons. While the movies featured dozens of ships in battle, this features what seems like hundreds. The second episode features a swarm of ships invading a planet that is pretty stunning. You?ll also love how an ARC trooper takes out a tank in episode 3.

- The cartoons do an amazing job of taking background characters and making them cool. Kit Fisto is the star of episode 5 and he kicks serious butt. This cartoon will help further elevate him as a fan favorite. They even manage to make the rubber faced Mon Calamari and Quarren look cool.

- The cartoons expand on the established Star Wars universe well. Besides seeing favorites from the old and new trilogies, they also create new worlds, ships, and creatures that fit in perfectly with everything else. There are impressive new SCUBA Clone Troopers, neat new clone fighter ships (that have wings reminiscent of the Shuttle Tyderium), and strange new beasts that the Mon Calamari ride. Hasbro has lots of cool new toys they can make.

- The new bounty hunter Durge appears in Episode 4. While the comics made him into a loud-mouthed generic bad guy with an intriguing past, the Clone Wars cartoons turned him into the Terminator. He?s big, bad, quiet, and invincible. This cartoon is what convinced me that I liked the character. He leads a group of early IG-88 type droids into battle on swoops. Jousting spears are their primary weapons and they pick off the clone troopers on the field in a rather impressive way. You?re gonna love this episode and these characters.

- I don?t think you can judge the series from the first episode. It?s a little different from all the subsequent episodes in format. While the other episodes are mainly focused on action sequences, this one sets everything up and it has more quiet moments devoted to the characters. You are treated to a moment between Yoda, Obi-Wan and Palpatine (who looks particularly sinister). There?s also one rather touching moment at the end of the first episode between Anakin and Padme as he goes off to war (in his hot new Jedi Starfighter). These brief few seconds seemed to convey more emotion between the characters than Portman and Christensen were able to in the movie.

- The episodes seem to end rather abruptly. The story will really get rolling, hit its climax, then end rather quickly. In most cases the story ends there, too. (Only between episode two and three does the story continue.) It?s either going to drive fans nuts or leave them begging for more. I felt both ways. Watching all five episodes back to back was a great treat. I don?t know if I could have stood watching them each in three-minute segments. While the creators are able to accomplish an incredible amount in that short time, I can?t help but think that Lucasfilm made a mistake by restricting the amount of time. This should have been a half hour series rather than something shoved in among commercials between Pokemon and Adult Swim. Fortunately, the folks from Cartoon Network said there are talks going on about doing something more. Stay tuned with fingers crossed. You?ll also be glad to know they eventually plan on running them all back to back some time in the near future.

Overall, this series is not to be missed. I think Star Wars fans are going to be blown away. Also look for episodes with commentary online at StarWars.Com.

Feedback welcome


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