'Star Wars: Clone Wars' *** 041405
DVD Review (2004)


The Work = ***
So I am going to say something that will sound like blasphemy to some of you: I was not that big a fan of Genndy Tartakovsky. Oh sure, I really liked 'Dexter’s Laboratory' but for the life of me I could not get into 'Samurai Jack'. After watching Clone Wars, I’m admitting that was my bad. (I’m told I have simply not seen the right episodes.)

For those of you who don’t know Tartakovsky is a director working in animation. He has a distinctive style that I almost instantly recognize in anything he does. To my knowledge there really aren’t any other current directors working in animation these days who have such a distinctive look and are so successful. (I suppose, Mike Judge, Matt Groening and Seth Macfarlane also fall into those categories but they are strictly making comedies.)

I think my problem with 'Samurai Jack' was that it was advertised as an adult oriented show. When I heard that I thought it would be, you know, adult oriented, something tonally akin to say 'The Shield' or 'Sopranos', or hell even 'South Park'. It’s not. It is still a cartoon for all ages and as such has a light tone about it. However, what Tartakovsky does do is work in fairly complex storytelling while still making the show something for all ages.

That may have been what George Lucas saw in Tartakovsky when he asked him to make the 'Clone Wars'. Tartakovsky leaps in headfirst and seems to be a natural at adapting the series. Clearly a fan, he pulls in many details while still adding his own touch to the series. I enjoyed 'Clone Wars' more than 'Attack of the Clones'.

Of course 'Clone Wars' had the advantage of a much shorter running time. Actually, at first I was not into Clone Wars, it was just a lot of fighting with not much story. Slowly though Tartakovsky works in several stories within the action. We see Anakin pitted against a young up and coming Sith and we Obi-Wan go up against a bounty hunter.

I really got in to the brief section following Mace Windu. Mace got way too little screen time in the movies and here in 'Clone Wars' I got to see him strut his stuff. Mace takes on an army of robots all but single handedly and the way he dispatches them shows off Tartakovsky’s ingenuity and skill as an animator and storyteller. Good stuff.

This is not a long flic. It was originally several short episodes and here on the DVD it is presented as one long unedited feature. It still only runs around an hour. I think Lucas should have given Tartakovsky more time and money to make a longer feature.

Look, I make the worst animation in the world so my opinion doesn’t count for much but Tartakovsky is an impressive director. I recommend this short series on the bases of what he is able to do with a short running time. I wish it had been longer and he had been given more freedom. It would be nice to see what he could do with a feature release. I look forward to seeing more from Tartakovsky and I have read that he is working on an 'Astro Boy' feature film.

DVD = ****

The Look
'Clone Wars' gets a great transfer. It is presented in the anamorphic widescreen ratio of 1.78:1. The colors looked great. The detail looked sharp. This looks to be about as good as it gets for a television cartoon DVD transfer.

The Sound
While not bad, the Dolby Digital 2.0 transfer isn’t exactly great either. Sort of just a basic transfer. Certainly not as good as it could have been

The Bonus
I have read reviews that talk of the wealth of extra features on this DVD. I have to say while some of the features were really good, there still could have been more. We get two commentaries by Tartakovsky. The first is just so so with some gaps and with Tartakovsky generally just describing what is going on onscreen.

The second so-called “hyperspace commentary” is much better with the director talking about behind the scenes info on working on this 'Star Wars' adaptation. Although there is no explanation on the DVD, searching on the internet revealed that the second better commentary track was originally a member exclusive. It would have been nice to have had some explanation on the DVD as to why one commentary is good and one does not have any real behind the scenes info.

There are two brief featurettes on the making of the cartoon. They have some neat interviews that give some interesting behind the scenes information but I wish they were longer. There were also some game trailers, one of which was for 'Episode III' so I didn’t watch that much of it since it seemed like it might show half the new film in videogame form. There also still image galleries and lastly a demo of the game 'Republic Commando' for the Xbox.

All together = ***
Tartakovsky is a real talent with a distinctive style. There may be a handful of other animators working in main stream animation today that could make the same claim but they all deal strictly in comedy. Tartakovsky has proven he can do comedy with 'Dextor’s Laboratory' but he is capable of drama too. 'Clone Wars' is a family drama but it is still a drama and Tartakovsky shows he has real skill even while being constrained by the fairly strict Lucas 'Star Wars' universe.


PS. If you want to see some bad animation and bad 'Star Wars' humor than I say go check out episodes 2 & 3 of 'Real 'Political Face Talk' over in the episodes section HERE.

'Star Wars: Clone Wars' Links:


My review of 'The Amazing Screw-On Head' can be seen HERE.

Copyright 2005 - 2012 Nate Bundy. All rights reserved.