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Clone Wars – Destroying Malevolence REVIEWED!

18

Oct

Posted by Steve

SW_TCW_Destroy_Malevolence_small.jpgI haven’t done any reviews for The Clone Wars series since the movie was released. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t want to step on my friend Michael Cohen’s toes or because I just haven’t thought about it. However, after tonight’s episode, I can’t help but geek out about it.

“Destroying Malevolence” wrapped up a three part story surrounding a secret weapon developed by the Separatists that was leaving no witnesses to it’s destructive power. In the first part, “Rising Malevolence,” Jedi Master Plo Koon was rescued right in the nick of time by Anakin and his padawan Ahsoka after having his fleet destroyed by Malevolence which employs a huge ion cannon to disable a fleet of ships’ power and then the huge vessel uses turbolasers and vulture droids to destroy the ships leaving no survivors, and no witnesses. In the second episode of the trifecta “Shadow of Malevolence,” Anakin and his fleet join with Obi Wan’s fleet and use information from Plo Koon to track Malevolence and attack it head on. In an awesome space battle, Anakin and a small fleet of clones, using early Y-Wing bombers destroy the main weapon and put Malevolence on the run.

In the newest episode, “Destroying Malevolence,” the fleet has the ship on the run, and Greivous and his droids are looking at a huge defeat and a colossal failure in the eyes of Count Dooku. In an effort to play off of the sympathies of the Jedi, Darth Sidious has The Banking Clan feed Chancellor Palpatine (I know, I know..but let’s pretend we don’t ok?) false information concerning their desire to defect from the Separatists. Senator Amidala is given coordinates to go meet with the head of the Banking Clan and work out the negotiations. Padme, along with C-3PO (See Threepio) (Vintage action figure collectors, see what I did there?) come out of hyperspace right in the path of Malevolence and are promptly captured by it’s tractor beam. As she is being taken aboard the massive warship, Padme gets a call to the ships of the Republic and Anakin, along with R2-D2 (Artoo Deetoo)(Did it again.), Asohka, and Obi-Wan, launch a rescue mission into the ship.

What’s great about this episode?

First, the references to lines in the prequels, and there were several. The first involves a maneuver Anakin uses to dock at an emergency air lock. As the air lock opens Obi Wan tells Anakin, “You know, spinning is not flying.” To which Anakin responds, “Yes, but it is a good trick.” What a great throwback to Episode I! Never thought I’d be happy to hear lines from the prequel movies referenced. As much as I love them, I never thought that they were very referenceable. (Not a word, but it fits.)

Later, Obi-Wan and Anakin are separated and Obi Wan comes face to face with Greivous and a group of battle droids, super battle droids, and destroyer droids. As Greivous walks up in the room he looks at Obi-Wan and says, “Hello there.” We know that a few years later, Obi-Wan will turn the greeting around on the cyborg. Awesome.

There is a great interaction between Anakin and Padme here as well. After Anakin takes out a group on the bridge, Padme tells him that ever since she first met him he’s been playing with droids. Their banter is witty, funny, and their enjoyment of being around each other is evident even in the most dangerous of situations.

That’s the next thing I loved about this episode. Padme and Anakin. For the first time, I felt like I didn’t have to be an apologist for them. There was a great flow to the relationship, and it was really easy to believe.  Padme was definitely not the typical damsel in distress and from the trap she sets for the droids on her ship, the way she carries herself through all of the danger,  and her skills in taking out droid starfighters from the gunner position on the Twighlight (Anakin’s ship that he’s kept from the movie) one can see where Leia gets her scrappiness in the original trilogy.

Finally, there was the action of this episode.  It felt like Star Wars.  The cast was out of one situation into the next right until the droids activated a little creative jury rigging that Anakin did with Malevolence’s hyper drive nav computer and ran the ship into a lifeless moon destroying it.   This episode made me want to watch Star Wars, prequels or otherwise.  I’m sitting here, legitimately wanting to pop in a DVD and just get right back into that galaxy far, far away.

What wasn’t so good?

Basically, the same things that everyone has complained about thus far.  The battle droids continue their Three Stooges, very cartoonish antics.   I’m not sure how kids watching feel about the gags, but my hope is that Dave Filoni and crew will scale back and learn the proper balance between the battle droids being funny, while at the same time feel like a real threat to Republic forces and Jedi, similar to the feel they had in THE PHANTOM MENACE.

The music is still not John Williamsy enough for me, but it works for the show,  and this episode’s music was the best so far.   That’s the other hope I have for this series, that Filoni and crew will encourage Kevin Kiner and the music editors on the show to dip even more into the classical feel of John Williams.  I feel that a move like that would only improve the show.   Just watching the commercials with music ripped straight from the movie soundtracks makes the show better.

So, while I have truly enjoyed every episode of The Clone Wars so far, especially the first episode, “Ambush,” this episode seemed to kick things up a notch for the series.  While, as with any series, I don’t expect them all to be winners, I think that this is going to prove to be one of the most consistently good shows on television.

Next week?  Looks like we’re going to get a very “Clone-centric” episode.  Should be interesting.  Make sure to check here for my review.

As for this week, I have to give the episode a full 5 out of 5 giant warships.  It was honestly that good.

Before I go, however, if you are a total prequel hater, this episode may actually shift your attitude toward the prequels, or at the very least this series.  Here’s my disclaimer however, if you are a total prequel hater, you’re probably still gonna hate this show.  So, go pull out your original version of the original trilogy and enjoy it…it’s still good.

And of course, may the Force be with you.

Begun The Clone Wars Have – Star Wars: Clone Wars Reviewed.

16

Aug

Posted by Steve

star_wars_clone_wars_poster.jpgBefore we get into things,let’s review. First, I’ve loved Star Wars my entire life. While I don’t know Plo Koon’s family history, I can’t tell you how much a mug of Corellian Ale costs at Dexter’s Diner, and I don’t know all of Jodo Kast’s vital statistics, I do consider myself pretty well versed in the Star Wars Universe. Secondly, I truly enjoy the prequels. I am well aware of the weaknesses of the what has become the red headed step child of the Star Wars saga, but I still love the movies.

Now, I feel like I need to explain why I am even reviewing this movie. Of course, it is encumbent upon me as the owner and operator of Geek Out Online (The website of which Geek Out Loud is the official podcast.) to write up a review for you the fellow geek. Moreso, however, I feel like there needs to be a balance of sorts to the quite negative reviews that are out there. So, quite honestly, this review is going to be more of a reaction to those reviews I’ve read that range from “I hated a Star Wars movie” to “George Lucas is the devil.”

In my opinion the biggest weakness of any of the prequel material we’ve been given over the past decade is not the acting, the stories, or the characters. It’s the expectations of the fans. Let’s face it. Lucas fought a losing battle with Star Wars fans by trying to tackle twenty plus years of the collective imaginations of fan-fic writers, toy collectors, and Star Wars fans of all walks of life. Nothing could have lived up to what people imagined the Clone Wars were, much less the stories surrounding the Wars.

I don’t think people who didn’t like the prequels are haters. I don’t think people who didn’t like Clone Wars are haters. I think they are real fans of Star Wars for a long time who built up a mystique and a certain amount of wonder that NO filmmaker could have satisfied. That’s not really a bad thing until that twinge of disappointment turns into attacks on the hard work and creative minds behind the movies. I guess what I’m saying is, I’m ok with criticism. People need it. It hurts, and it’s not fun to be criticized, but there is a fine line between legitimate criticism and pointless complaining, and I think a lot of fans have crossed that line way too much over the past nine years. Sadly, it’s become cool for geeks to hate what has been done. So, it comes as no surprise to me that there are many self-proclaimed critics out there with nothing good to say about what they have seen with the advent of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS.

The biggest complaints I’ve heard and read so far have been the animation, the childish humor, the music, and…uhm…that’s about it.  Seriously, those are really the biggest complaints I’ve seen.   AND PEOPLE SAY THEY HATE IT!!!  From this point on there may be spoilers, so you have been warned.

The movie opens with the Warner Brothers logo and the Lucasfilm logo.  In the background there is the static filled transmission that hearkens back to the Clone Wars cartoon series from Cartoon Network a couple of years back.  Then silence, and I was surprised to see in the classic blue letters, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”

As the Clone Wars logo appears on screen and backs away from the camera into distant space, the new theme plays before we are treated to 1940′s newsreel type voice over bringing us up to speed on the Clone Wars as they stand at the time of the movie.  From there, it’s right into the action with the four minute clip we’ve seen online, with additional action of course.

As I watched this movie, I kept checking my watch.  Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I was surprised at how much  content was squeezed into the movie and yet how well it was flowing.  I was seriously expecting a cliffhanger with a “to be continued in the Clone Wars television series” at the end.

However, what we got is a coherent story from start to finish with some neat character work on everyone from Anakin and his new apprentice to the Clone Troopers.  Particuliarly, Captain Rex, who I am a big fan of now.

The action is ramped up throughout this movie.  There is a ton of lightsaber action.  The battle scenes are huge and intense.  The stakes seemed to be greater than what they were even in the Tartovsky cartoons.  I think this is due mainly to the fact that in the Cartoon Network series we were dropped into a battle here and there with very little explanation and more often than not, they were over in three minutes.

I heard someone say that this movie lacked the character development of the Cartoon Network series.  To that comment I respond with a, “WHA-HUH?”  There was little to no character development in the Clone Wars cartoon series.  Don’t get me wrong.  I loved that series.  I had a blast with it.  But to say there was actual character development is a bit of a misnomer.   We got to see more of peripheral characters in action, but I don’t know that they were actually developed.

In this movie though, we see Anakin’s and Obi Wan’s relationship begin to develop beyond master/teacher.  We see Anakin thrust into a situation that causes him to have to grow and expand his self centered way of doing things.  We see Padme actually show a little of the fire of her character from Episode 1.   There are just some really good things about this movie.

Is it geared toward kids?  Yes.  Is that a bad thing?  Not at all.  How many of us were kids when we got into Star Wars?   A lot.  So, it’s nice to see kids excited about this thing.   It means it’s going to get to live on even longer.

One of the strongest points about this movie is how likeable Anakin is.  I think the biggest success of the series will be that we come away actually liking Anakin and seeing how good he was, so when Obi Wan is shocked that Anakin would turn, we are able to better understand his surprise.

Asohka, Anakin’s new padawan, adds a new dimension to things, and the repoir that she and Anakin strike up makes for some fun as well as some nice moments of seeing not only how powerful he is, but how much he truly believes in the Jedi way.   That’s a pretty big deal considering that he turns his back on it all.

Don’t be deceived though, there are the same struggles that we see in the prequels there for Anakin as well.  It’s not lost on the film makers that Anakin has to return to Tattooine the planet that is home of the greatest personal tragedy of his life.   The way he chooses to deal with it is pure Anakin, and it serves to set up concern from Asohka for her master.   Then, as he duels with Dooku on the dune sea, his pain and loss come into play once again.

I was a little jarred by the animation style.  Particularly, in the hair of the characters.  It’s very static and doesn’t move at all, giving the characters a plasticky look.  I wondered about this, knowing that Lucasfilm could pull off more realistic looking hair.  Then it occurred to me…not on a weekly show they can’t.  At least not for a reasonable amount of money.  So, I can give it a pass.

The music is another point of contention for some viewers.  No one can do John Williams as good as John Williams.   I guess, knowing that they couldn’t get John Williams to score individual episodes of a television show, the film makers decided to go with someone they could use on a regular basis rather than simply recycling Williams’ music cues throughout.  I like the music. I have the soundtrack.   However, it is so much better when heard in the context of the movie.   I know, I know, when you think Star Wars you don’t think electric guitars….until you listen to the Attack of the Clones soundtrack.  (The Chase scene people….it’s there.)  The music here sets up some great themes that I’m sure will be used in the television series and, as I said before, I think it all works quite well for the movie and the eventual TV show.

Finally, there’s a lot of talk about burp and fart humor.  I expected a lot of it from all the complaining.  There are two instances.  So, not too much, and let’s be honest, Lucas likes that kind of humor.  You do too, if it’s not in a Star Wars movie, so let it go.

In the end, I give this movie a solid 3 1/2 out of 5 of whatever I give on these things.  I don’t give it a 4 or 5 because I don’t want to overhype.  If you hated the prequels then you won’t find much to like here.  If you liked the prequels, you will probably like this.  If you love Star Wars in all its forms…you should enjoy this movie greatly.   I know I did.  So, have fun…that’s what it’s all about anyway.  Oh…and…may the Force be with you.

Anger, Fear, Aggression, The Dark Side Are They…THE CLONE WARS? LOOKS FLIPPIN’ AWESOME!

9

Aug

Posted by Steve

I’m sure you’ve seen them by now, but at Yahoo! Movies you can watch the teaser, the full theatrical trailer and seven clips from Star Wars: Clone Wars.

It has taken watching the original trilogy last weekend, picking up a few action figures, geeking out about Star Wars on Geek Out Loud and rewatching these clips today, but I am now officially more excited about the Clone Wars than I ever was about The Dark Knight. I know, I know, in terms of money at the box office, Clone Wars probably won’t put a dent into what the Dark Knight has done. That doesn’t even matter to me. The animation looks great. The clips are exciting, and right now At Amazon you can preorder and listen to snippets of the amazing Clone Wars soundtrack and get even more stoked for this movie. Just click on the highlighted words and check it out. (If you happen to preorder the CD or download through that link then you help the site out.)

All in all, my anticipation for this movie has simply gone through the roof. I know anger, fear, and aggression lead to the dark side….what does the Jedi Code say about anticipation?

War is Coming – Countdown to the Clone Wars

29

Jul

Posted by Steve

I have been a bit silent on the upcoming release of the Clone Wars this Summer.  This is due mainly to the fact that it took me by surprise earlier this year.  In the past, we knew a new a Star Wars was coming.  There were three years worth of waiting on news, pictures, spoilers, music, and whatever else we could get our hands on.

For me, this movie has been a lot different.  For some reason I’ve kept forgetting it’s coming out. (That statement is not an invitation to the naysayers to start bashing the prequels.)

However, in the shadow of the Dark Knight, while wanting to believe, and still basking in the glow that has been an awesome Summer of movies, I now turn my attention that galaxy far, far away that we all know and love. 

There have been several trailers and TV spots, and every single one of them look better the one before it.  A couple of tidbits of news that have excited me are things like a likeable Anakin who is truly good and doing the best he can, Anakin’s apprentice (who is obviously destined to die [speculation on my part, not spoiler]), some uber cool action sequences, and just getting immersed in the Star Wars experience in a new and fresh way.

I hope that everyone understands, though, how much these cartoons will be geared toward kids.  In my opinion, that’s a good thing.  For all the haters of the prequels out there, I know a young person who’s first exposure to Star Wars was The Phantom Menace.  Guess what?  They have a fondness for Jar Jar, and actually decided to hate him when they saw that it was “cool” to hate on the Gungan.  So, let’s not ruin the experience for the kiddies and enjoy what’s coming, because I think it’s gonna be a great ride.

To that end, my friend and the designer of Geek Out Online’s awesome look (and forthcoming frontlines_card_hyperspeed.jpgawesomer look) Michael Cohen is starting up a podcast devoted to The Clone Wars Series, so head over to www.clonewarspodcast.com to check out his new site and the widget for The Clone Wars that has some neat trailers and cool clips. Yes, friends, Frontlines: The Clone Wars Podcast is upon us. If his podcasting skills are half of what his web/graphic design skills are, we are in for an awesome time with Michael….and I’m sure you can expect me to pop in from time to time. (YOU HEAR ME MICHAEL? I’M GONNA BE ON YOUR SHOW!!!! WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT)

For other Clone Wars related news and opinions, there’s always Theforce.net and the newly redesigned official Star Wars homepage. Here at Geek Out Online, expect my takes on the movies, my defense of the prequels, and even my defense of the Special Editions of the Original Trilogy. My Star Wars geek juices are starting to flow…and you may just get swept up in the movement of the Force if your not careful.

Clone Wars here we come!

The Return of the Jedi

12

Feb

Posted by Steve

Ever since Revenge of the Sith, we Star Wars fans have been chomping at the bit for some type of news concerning the new television endeavors of George Lucas. 

While a live action Star Wars television series still seems to be nothing more than a dream, The Clone Wars animated series is a reality.   Last year at Celebration 4, the makers of the series showed off a trailer of sorts for the newest bit of chewy Star Wars goodness to come our way.

Today, it’s been officially announced at starwars.com that the Clone Wars will be premiering in THEATRES!!!! On August 15th, I will get to do something I didn’t think I’d get to do again ever in my life. I will get to go to a movie theatre to see something new from the Star Wars Universe. After that, the Clone Wars animated series is going to be premiering on Cartoon Network with repeats on TNT.

The official site also released this video, the first in making-of type series of webdocs.

A few things (outside the fact that we’re getting NEW STAR WARS) that interest/excite me are:

1. Anakin’s got a padawan. This is interesting as it could play into the new Force Unleashed game slated for release later this year, and it could be something that plays in to Anakin’s ultimate downfall. The padawan could die giving Anakin yet another reason (beyond his mother and Padme’) to desire to find the power to keep people from dying.

2. Anakin and Obi Wan’s relationship will be explored more. I’m happy about this because, though we got to see the two actually working together in Revenge of The Sith, because of their constant bickering and Obi Wan’s nagging in Attack of the Clones, we never got to see how close they really had become. To get to see them working together and enjoying each other’s company is going to do a lot to enhance Revenge of the Sith and even A New Hope.

3. I will be buying a ticket to see a new Star Wars movie. Well, kind of. No details as to running time have been mentioned yet, but one has to assume that we’re looking at at least a 90 minute run time or the first three episodes of the series. It’s just gonna be cool to watch these things on the big screen.

I’ve stated several times on the podcast and here in the blog, that I am a Star Wars geek before anything else. So, you can expect constant updates and info and links to videos and reviews as we get closer and closer to the release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

I’m so excited right now.