This is my post for The Star Wars Blog-a-Thon going on over at Edward Copeland On Film.
To me, Star Wars I, II and III are part of a great story, but as actual films they serve as a good example of a once great artist that has lost touch with his audience and with the craft of film making. It is depressing to watch the first three in the story and know that in doing those, Lucas has not only made three bad films, but the stink of those films is so strong it has tainted A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back as well. But I'm a bright side kind of guy and I like to look for the good in things. And there was good that came from the first three stories. It was in the form of a cartoon that ran in three minute stories on Cartoon Network titled Star Wars:Clone Wars. It was fantastic and seeing it for the first time was as magical as seeing the original Star Wars.
The Clone Wars Volumes I and II not only rekindled my love for the entire Star Wars story, it made me hopeful that Revenge of the Sith was going to be an incredible finale. Unfortunately what it did was show me how good Episodes I, II and III could have been under different management. That being the management of Genndy Tartovsky. If you've ever seen Samurai Jack, you know how good he is at telling stories with little dialogue, great sets and incredible action sequences.
Tartovsky takes this same approach to Clone Wars, giving us few lines and lots of action. Yet, I never felt slighted. Quite the contrary actually. I felt I learned more about Anakin's character in these two cartoons then in any of the three films. I think of a scene where Anakin is going off to fight in a war. He flies by Padme's window and places his hand on the glass of his ship as if to reach out and touch her. This simple scene, only seconds long tells me pages and pages of their relationship and the pain they feel for having to keep their love a secret.
My complaint of the first three is that I never felt like the Jedi got their due. Not so in Clone Wars. There is a chunk of time dedicated to solely demonstrating the badass that is Mace Windu. In one spectacular scene, Mace takes on armies of droids as well as a machine whose sole purpose seems to be to flatten large parcels of land. The scene feels epic in its storytelling and the fact that it's not only animation but 2-D animation makes it all the more amazing.
General Grievous also makes his debut here and unlike his treatment in Revenge of the Sith, he is one scary mother here, destroying Jedi left and right and displaying their light sabres on his body like badges of honor. This is not a character that runs off to the darkest places of the galaxy to hide. This is a menacing foe in which you should flee if you ever cross his path.
I am usually not one to welcome the over-telling of a story. I liked A New Hope picking up in the middle of the story and am not a fan of Lucas going back to start from the beginning. I would much rather imagine on my own how things went down. The same could be said of the Clone Wars. In episodes I, III, IV and V, the Clone Wars were briefly mentioned as these epic battles that changed every one's path forever. I liked the mysticism that was attached to those wars. The fun was in not knowing.
But now that Tartovsky has told us, I'm glad he did.