Friday, April 15, 2005

Star Wars: Clone Wars

Ah, now I'll post a more geeky thing than yesterday. How can I post something MORE geeky than an essay on designing games? By posting a review of a Star Wars cartoon. Wheee.

Yesterday, I got my hands on a movie cartoon thing called "Star Wars: Clone Wars", which is evidently a legal, franchise-endorsed set of short stories based during the Clone Wars. It is done by the Samurai Jack people. I'm not sure that Jedi Jack was a good choice for representing the Star Wars universe, but since I can't imagine any other affordable representation being any better, I won't hold it against them.

It was an hour's worth of EXTREMELY short stories, on the order of three minutes each, for most of them.

What did I think? I wasn't impressed.

I should say, I wasn't DEPRESSED, either. It was... okay. Some really good moments, a lot of boring ones. If I was thirteen, it probably would have rocked. It was definitely worth seeing as a STUDY of storytelling.

These guys decided that FIGHTING was the way to go. Having listened to the commentary, it sounds like they decided that the cool fights were the 'core' of Star Wars. Furthermore, since they were doing a WAR STORIES collection, it was an obvious choice.

And I'll admit, there were a few cool combat scenes. But combat is NOT what makes Star Wars cool. What makes Star Wars "Star Wars" is reveling in the existence of a mysterious and grand new universe. You know what the cool parts were in these cartoons?

The Jedi master and newborn Jedi Knight straining to hold up falling rocks, suspending debris and crystals in mid-air around them (VERY nice shot). That was freaking cool. The Storm troopers communicating by hand-signals, infiltrating an enemy base. That was awesome. The sight of a fleet of heavy cruisers LANDING in an OCEAN. That was cool, especially when one got blasted apart later.

There were a lot of cool things but, you know what? The fights were only a part of it. In fact, many of the fights were BAD, because despite many years of Samurai Jack, they evidently still haven't discovered some of the weaknesses of cartoon fighting - so the fights often ended up painfully cartoony. Other fights were just boring, because we didn't care about what was going on. If they had more set-up, or more cool things that weren't fights, it would have been far better. Because it's not the fight that's cool. It's what the fight is THREATENING that is cool. Maybe I'll talk about that later.

Well done: The voice acting was excellent, save for Anakin, who couldn't voice-act his way into an infomercial. C3-PO was voiced by the ORIGINAL C3-PO, which explains why he sounds a little bit off, but still very good. Although the voice acting was good, I wouldn't say the dialogue was good. :P

Poorly done: Lances. I don't know why they even made it to storyboard, let alone actual final product, but the jousting was just a poor idea, okay?

Weirdly done: The seismic tank, consisting of a huge piston which rams the desert hard enough to create a shockwave of sand. An INCREDIBLY lame idea, but spawning some of the coolest fight scenes in the whole series, so it paid off.

Final rating: Better than the new movies, but worse than a solid episode of Samurai Jack.

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