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While STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS ($36) will definitely be of more interest to the kiddies, rather than adult STAR WARS fans, the film is far from the atrocity that some have made it out to be. Sure, THE CLONE WARS is a lightweight CGI animated STAR WARS adventure that serves to launch a TV series, but as an entity unto itself, it is more than respectable entertainment. In the filmís favor, it does prove that viable CGI STAR WARS animated adventures could be produced, that is, as long as George Lucas could be convinced to tweak the story material and animation style to suit a more adult audience. Certainly, there is enough story material in the "Expanded Universe" to make CGI animated films for decades.

The premise STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS is set between the events of ATTACK OF THE CLONES and REVENGE OF THE SITH and finds that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are in the midst of dealing with The Separatists, who control the majority of the hyperlanes, which has left much of the Republicís forces stranded in different parts of the Outer Rim. To make matters worse, Jabba the Hutt's son is kidnapped as is part of an elaborate Sith plan to discredit the Jedi and trick Jabba into joining the Separatists and further isolating the Republicís forces. Master Yoda assigns a young Padawan named Ahsoka Tano to serve under Anakin in the quest to rescue Jabba's son and convince him to align himself with the Republic. Since STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS is a launching point for an animated series on Cartoon Network, the film does get bogged down in a bit too much juvenile humor; however, the action sequence are effectively handled and serve to give one hope that something more adult will eventually come out of all this. STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS features the vocal talents of Matt Lanter, James Arnold Taylor, Ashley Eckstein, Tom Kane, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Nika Futterman, Dee Bradley Baker, Catherine Taber, Anthony Daniels, Ian Abercrombie, Matthew Wood, Corey Burton, David Acord, and Kevin Michael Richardson.

Warner Home Video has made STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation is really terrific looking, even if the characters designs arenít particularly attractive. CGI animation tends to look quite beautiful when rendered in high definition and STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS continues the tradition. As expected, the image appears wonderfully crisp and beautifully textured, with all of the work that went into the animation being fully evidenced. Colors deeply saturated and are rendered with complete stability. Blacks are perfect, as are the whites. Contrast is as excellent as one will find in computer animation. Not surprisingly, there are no flaws or apparent grain in the image.

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. In comparison to the mixes found in the prequel trilogy, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS falls kind of flat. It may be that the sound design was geared more towards cable television airdates than home theater playback, because it lacks the power, epic sweep and intensity found in the prequel trilogy. The aggressive sonic barrages that one expects from the battle sequences are somewhat under whelming. Perhaps I am expecting too much from the sound design of a film geared towards a twelve year old. Fidelity is very good, but doesnít leave one awestruck. The bass channel is suited to the task, but isnít all it should be. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. English, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. A standard definition Video Commentary is edited together with the participation of director Dave Filoni, producer Catherine Winder, writer Henry Gilroy, and editor Jason W.A. Tucker. Featurettes include The Clone Wars: The Untold Stories (twenty five minute promo for TV series), The Voices Of The Clone Wars (ten minutes with the vocal talent) and A New Score (eleven minutes, new composer). Other supplements feature: Deleted Scenes, Webisodes, an artwork Gallery, The Hologram Memory Challenge Game, Theatrical Trailers and a Digital Copy of the film.

While STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS is definitely geared toward younger audiences, it also serves as a proof of concept that more adult oriented CGI STAR WARS adventures could be possible. The Blu-ray presentation looks great and sounds pretty good.



Star Wars: The Clone Wars (+ Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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