Flashback Review: Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003-05)

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After Disney snatched up Lucasfilm three years ago and announced a sequel Star Wars trilogy, fans were generally excited for the saga to have a chance to redeem its legacy, following the disappointment caused by the prequels. A minor tragedy soon revealed itself however, as the vast majority of the expanded universe was erased from the canon and re-branded as Legends. That being said, this does not imply that we can’t still enjoy Genndy Tartakovsky’s excellent Star Wars: Clone Wars for what it is – a wonderfully executed bridging of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

Not to be confused with the still-canon 2008 animated show Star Wars: The Clone Wars (they took the time and effort to add the word ‘the’, in order to distinguish it from Tartakovsky’s series), this Clone Wars-themed microseries focused on the many battles of the titular war, first mentioned way back in A New Hope. Having originally created Cartoon Network classics Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack, Tatakovsky brought his same stylish flair to Clone Wars, and gave us a character-driven set of Star Wars stories that also looked aesthetically amazing, something that George Lucas unfortunately couldn’t quite grasp with his prequel trilogy.

Despite only being presented in three minute segments for the first couple of seasons, the characters in Clone Wars still feel rich. The actual design of both the old and new characters is brilliant too, with Palpatine’s distorted-looking face hinting at his evil nature, and the thrilling introduction of fan favourite Asajj Ventress (the first female Sith) proving to be a memorable image.

Action in cartoon – or in any medium really – can end up being rather boring and tedious after a while, but in Clone Wars the vast array of fight scenes and lightsaber duels never feels dull, although maybe a little repetitive when watching all of the episodes back-to-back. It is mainly the over-the-top style of these scenes that makes them feel so fun, and while this might not necessarily fit in with the tone of the original trilogy, it still certainly feels like Star Wars, just from a different perspective.

Clone Wars made the two feature films that preceded it look weak in comparison, but gave hope for the third movie in the trilogy with all the characters and plot lines that were being set in place. While Revenge of the Sith was a great improvement on its predecessors, it was still distinctly average, and sadly disregarded a lot of what Clone Wars set up. Most notably, while baddie General Grevious came across as formidable and legitimately scary in the animated series, he really is not given much to do at all Episode III and is reduced to just being a bit of a coughing mess. Thankfully though, we still have Star Wars: Clone Wars to fall back on, a series that cemented itself as one of the best – if not the best – Star Wars television shows.

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