Let me start out by clarifying my stance towards the Star Wars franchise. It’s fun. Diehard, I am not. Avid enthusiast , I am not. But I enjoy the movies, (the original trilogy more than the prequels) and some of the video games such as Knights of the old Republic.
That being said, I was reasonably clear-headed when I heard that a new Star Wars movie was coming out nearly six years ago. And it was going to be a cartoon?! The idiots.
Years passed, during which my family somehow acquired Netflix, allowing us to watch movies and TV shows online. (Seriously though, if you don’t know what Netflix is, what are you doing reading online blogs?) And just this last March, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, movie, TV show and all, became available for instant streaming via Netflix.
Once again, it may have passed unnoticed by myself if I hadn’t have had my wisdom teeth removed last week. However, because of the surgery I had ample time to writhe in pain, gnash my remaining teeth and watch TV. For some odd reason, I ended up watching The Clone Wars.
At first, I was kind of entertained, but unimpressed. It was fun at times, with episodes such as “Rookies” or “Lair of Grievous” being very enjoyable, but it also had too many moments of “Ugh!”. The animation was good looking, as long as it kept to droids and action sequences (these always being small, pitting an army of ten battle droids versus a “huge” battalion of five clones). However, facial animation was rotten, the dialogue was worse, and the voice acting was noticeably less than par, albeit with a few exceptions.
Then I moved on to season two. And it got better. Then I moved on to season three. And it started to get good. Then in season four, it was good. By season five, I pretty impressed by what the creators of this show were able to accomplish onscreen.
Sparkling animation that would look beautiful on any big screen, story lines that involved, surprised and delighted anyone with a hint of Star Wars geek in them, and direction that made 20 minute episodes fly by in a few seconds. Battles became larger, lightsaber duels cooler, and small steps that added up to overwhelming detail abounded in most environments. This season also includes the coolest looking explosion in Star Wars history, bar none.
Any of the major lightsaber battles of the last two seasons are much, much more entertaining than the ones in the original Star Wars movies.
Perhaps that is why I liked this show, even more than any other reason. With each season, the creators attempted to do better in every respect, and they succeeded. By the time I reached the end of the series, it was hard to believe that I was not watching animated cinema, but a TV show created for kids.
But then again, it never tried to be a kids TV show, except maybe some in the first season. And while that decision brought about overwhelming excellence, it came at a price.
There is a dark side to everything Star Wars, (except maybe Jar Jar Binks) and it does not hesitate to show itself here. Stomach clenching moments in the later seasons abound, not lessened by the fact it’s animated, but the opposite. Face it, (pun) you don’t expect to see disembodied heads rolling around on a cartoon show.
Season 4 is especially noteworthy. People are blown into blood clouds underwater, heads are ripped off, men are squashed, shot, decapitated, dismembered, electrocuted, blasted apart, eaten, incinerated, and killed in ways innumerable. More than a few battle sequences would be easily rated PG-13 if in a live action movie, and at least one even if it was in an animated film. Season 5 and 6 do attempt to down the darkness, but it is still present.
Overall, it is immensely enjoyable for any age that doesn’t dislike Star Wars or cartoons, or feel that the combination is faulty in and of itself. And if you choose to watch it, do so in order. Not only do most episodes run in story arcs, but I do not doubt at all that the later season seem so excellent largely because of how low it started.