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Ban Clones! 

The new 'Star Wars' is great if you enjoy violence, inconsistency and meaninglessness

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is one of the more innovative attempts at capitalization upon a franchise, in that it's not a sequel or a prequel, but instead takes place between two of the existing films.

In fact, it not only comes between two of the films; it occurs between two seasons of the animated TV series that's set between the two films. It's like a transitional fossil in the Star Wars archaeological record, slipping itself into an increasingly narrow space in order to give us a more complete account of every tiny thing that's happened to the characters we stopped caring about 10 years ago.

So the story begins somewhere between, but not immediately after or before, Star Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith. News comes in to the Jedi temple that Jabba the Hutt's son has been kidnapped, and Palpatine decides that the Jedi must offer aid. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are trapped on some backwater planet fighting Count Dooku's droid army with their clone army while Asajj Ventress plots to frame them for the kidnapping, thus discrediting the Jedi and opening the space-trading lanes for the separatist army.

If any of that doesn't make sense to you, stay home, because Clone Wars is drenched in Star Wars trivia, none of which is explained.

As the fighting rages around Obi Wan and Anakin, they call for reinforcements. Unfortunately, instead of sending a few battalions of soldiers, the powers that be send in one sassy-mouthed tween-age girl. Clearly, being on the receiving end of sass can be emotionally painful, but it's of little use in fighting droid armies. Nonetheless, it's quite clear that the one thing the Star Wars movies were lacking was a sassy-mouthed tweenager, and Jedi-in-training Ahsoka Tano is meant to fill that role. She's like a combination of Urkel, the Fonz and Webster, only dressed up in a two-piece leather bikini, knee-high boots and elbow-length gloves. Which is doubly weird, because the other characters keep talking about how she might be too young to be a Jedi, but no one mentions that she might be too young to be dressed like a stripper. Though maybe that's just the norm in the Star Wars galaxy, as two-thirds of the women in this film dress like strippers. I know that for a fact, because there are only three women in it, so it was easy to do the math. Besides Ahsoka the sassy-tween, there's Asajj the evil bald chick who does a sort of goth-stripper thing, and Senator Amidala. To her animated credit, Amidala starts out the film fully dressed in official robes. It's not until near the end that she strips down to a skin-tight cartoon suit, and the camera settles in on her curvaceously animated ass.

But the point of Clone Wars, other than to milk money out of this dying franchise, seems to be to throw the new mini-Jedi, Ahsoka Tano, in your face as hard as possible. The story kicks into gear when Ahsoka is assigned to be the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker. Only he doesn't want an apprentice, because, I don't know, he's retiring in two weeks with a full pension and he's a maverick who doesn't want a desk job and he just bought an RV and is planning to travel across the country with his wife or something.

Much of the film is dedicated to establishing a hate-hate relationship between experienced-but-reckless Anakin and sassy-mouthed Ahsoka. Neither of them really act like Jedis, who are not supposed to know anger, nor hatred, nor love, nor sassy catchphrases. But whatever; I guess getting the tween breakout character in was more important than consistency with the existing stories.

What is most consistent with the series, though, is that Clone Wars continues the trend of the last six movies in that it's more violent than its predecessors. The film is almost nonstop shootings, explosions, light-saber duels and decapitations. I couldn't count how many clones and droids got offed in this thing, but it was quite clear that Star Wars is not a pro-life franchise, at least when it comes to clones and droids.

With its nonstop action and sassy dialogue, I found Clone Wars difficult to sit through. It's kind of like having your head stuck in a bass drum while looking through a kaleidoscope as a 12-year-old reads to you from a joke book: It's amusing for the first few minutes before it becomes increasingly Abu Ghraib.

Which is not to say that there aren't some good parts to this film. Like, there's a subplot involving Jabba the Hutt's gay uncle Ziro who dresses in feathers and speaks with a New Orleans accent. It's just nice to see slug-shaped, gay space aliens finally getting some representation in modern cinema.

Other than that, I can only imagine that adults will find Clone Wars somewhat painful, while hyperactive youngsters might actually be soothed by its cacophonous soundtrack of explosions, screams and sass. So if you have to bring the kids, I'd recommend getting drunk first, but only because if you're the kind of parent who thinks kids should watch stuff like this, I imagine you're not averse to drinking in front of them, either.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Rated PG · 98 minutes · 2008
Official Site: www.starwars.com/theclonewars
Director: Dave Filoni
Producer: George Lucas and Catherine Winder
Cast: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane, Samuel Jackson, Anthony Daniels, Christopher Lee, Ian Abercrombie, Nika Futterman, Corey Burton, Catherine Taber, Matthew Wood, Kevin Richardson and David Acord

Trailer


More by James DiGiovanna

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What others are saying (1)

Portland Mercury Worse than Jar Jar Is Star Wars: The Clone Wars a new start for the series, or just another attack of a clone? by Erik Henriksen 08/14/2008

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