Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Directed by Dave Filoni. Starring Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane, Nika Futterman, Ian Abercrombie, Corey Burton, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Daniels. (2008, PG, 98 min.)
REVIEWED By Josh Rosenblatt, Fri., Aug. 15, 2008
Remember, a long time ago, when the most powerful agent in George Lucas’ universe was the Force? Remember how simple and compelling the idea was? A faceless, benevolent energy binding the galaxy together, fueling good and fighting evil, and easily interchangeable with whatever mealy-mouthed spiritual half-traditions audiences were comfortable with? Then came The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and suddenly the greatest power in Lucas’ cosmology wasn’t the Force but endless, grinding exposition spread thick over soulless technological flimflammery, leaving anything resembling wonder or excitement out in the cold. Well, with Lucas’ new animated prequel/sequel, The Clone Wars (which takes place between the events of Attack and Revenge), there’s a brand-new power rearing its ugly head, and it’s a beast more horrible and more terrifying than Darth Vader could ever hope to be: the tween girl. (It squeals! It texts! It shops! It consumes everything it sees!) In our new tween-dominated star economy, with Miley Cyrus and other Disney Channel starlets printing money, I suppose it was inevitable that the shamelessly market-savvy Lucas would seize an opportunity to do the same. Enter Ahsoka Tano, a sassy young Padawan, or apprentice Jedi, who arrives (looking like a chorus member from The Lion King stage show) to study under the future Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker, who’s busy leading the clone armies of the Republic against the droid armies of the evil Separatists while trying to secure the safe return of gangster Jabba the Hutt’s infant son, who was kidnapped by Separatist leader and Jedi-gone-spoiled Count Dooku in an attempt to frame the Jedi and convince Jabba to open his trade routes to the Separatist army, thereby clearing the way for total galactic domination … not that any of that matters. Story is entirely insignificant in The Clone Wars, as it has been in the Star Wars universe since the closing credits of Return of the Jedi. The only important thing is that viewers are blown away by the movie’s endless and pointless laser battles and that young Ahsoka has as much super, sassy, awesome, girl-powered fun as possible bounding about and cutting down droids by the dozen, while still finding time to call Skywalker “Sky Guy,” nickname Jabba’s son “Stinky,” and declare, in the spirit of original teen-girl heroine Barbie, “Being a Padawan is tough.” That and math, Ahsoka, that and math.