Back come the recognisable good guys such as Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, Mace Windu and Clone Wars series addition Ahsoka Tano and from the original films come the distinctive voice talents of Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks. The 22 episodes cover a huge amount of territory from the invasion of Mon Cala in the first three episodes through to the much awaited reappearance of arguably Star Wars’ greatest evil character, Darth Maul at the end.
It’s known that George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars films and Executive Producer of the Clone Wars series, was heavily influenced by the Buck Rogers sci-fi series of the 1930’s and this Clone Wars series is probably more akin to his original vision of developing stories with a series of short, punchy episodes than expanding them into the feature film format. The storylines range from the epic through to the comedic and there’s lots to love about it, as it’s still clearly identifiable as the Star Wars universe richly filled with daring Jedi, evil Sith, scores of faceless troopers, the cantina in Mos Eisley and fabulous planet environment. Admiral Ackbar makes a youthful entrance as Captain Ackbar, R2-D2 and C-3PO make a welcome reappearance and much of the voice talent is very effective with the voices of Padme and Mace Windu in particular seeming to capture the original voices in a creditable way.
If you’re a long time Star Wars fan like I am then what you might really be wanting from the Star Wars franchise is the full on cinematic releases of episodes 7, 8 and 9 of the saga and (I wrote this before the LucasArts/Disney news broke… be careful what you wish for eh? ) there’s a temptation to be underwhelmed at the prospect of an extension of the animated series rather but actually there’s so much Star Wars packed into it that there’s enough to interest, and dare I say please, almost any Star Wars fan. Probably.
Say what you will about George Lucas you’d be hard-pressed to claim that he’s not afraid of challenging dearly held values and there’s some not so great stuff too and fans of the Star Wars films will know that not everything that George Lucas touches turns to gold. While much of the voice characterisation is great I didn’t find that the voice for Count Dooku’s massive shark-like minion Riff Tamson was deep enough or resonant enough to inspire appropriate levels of belief of his badness.
Even Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar Binks in the Episode 1 movie sounds like an unconvincing version of himself at points. I’ve never been able to do more than tolerate the Gungans but possibly even worse than seeing Jar Jar again is the snake-thing in Brothers (episode 21) who sounds like Po’s father from Kung Fu Panda having some kind of psychotic episode.
The whole series is supported by the score from Kevin Kiner, based on the John Williams original, and while the original Star Wars theme has been altered it’s still happily close enough to the original though the changes help serve to further distinguish this Clone Wars series from the films
“An extensive database exploring special effects footage, early concept art, 3D character and object turnarounds, early animation and more than 20 deleted/extended scenes. The Archives is a rare look at the assets in various stages of creation for The Clone Wars, with a wealth of surprises and never-before seen moments sprinkled throughout.”
Star Wars: The Clone Wars series 4 is available now