Star Wars: Clone Wars (2008)

Rated: PG for sci-fi action violence throughout, brief language and momentary smoking.
Length: 98 minutes
Grade: CBCC=C
Budget: $8.5 million
Box Office: $68 million (35 U.S., 32 Intl.)

Written by: Henry Gilroy, who has written for a lot of animated kids TV stuff, such as the Clone Wars series, Bionicle, Lilo and Stitch, Batman and the Tick.
Directed by: Dave Filoni, with his first movie.
Starring: The voices of no one you’ve heard of except Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Daniels, and Christopher Lee.

Somewhere in time between Star Wars 2 and 3, Anakin is assigned a young female Padawan learner, who accompanies him on a mission to rescue the kidnapped son of Jabba the Hut so that the Republic can use the Hut’s outlying space routes for troop movements in their fight against the separatists.

Entertainment Value: C
And I feel pretty generous at that. If you fell in love with Batman from the Dark Knight and Batman Begins and then hoped to reproduce that joy by watching the Saturday morning cartoon series, you’d be very disappointed. Same thing here. This is basically a cheap knock-off of Star Wars with the wrong voices, the wrong music, and the wrong basic content. Plus the characters are all simple and uninteresting. But George Lucas is presiding, so it’s not awful. I had it explained to me this way: imagine a 90 minute movie with 82 minutes of battle scenes and 8 minutes of dialogue and transition. Pretty much. Nonetheless, who can really dislike light sabers, Jedi, and spaceships? This is fake steak with a similar flavor but no real nutritional value. How can you start a Star Wars movie without 20th Century Fox music?

Superficial Content: B
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sex/Nudity A, Violence B, Language A, Illegal Activity A
Uh, there’s animated warfare, and animated killing of droids and faceless clone stormtroopers. I think the Huts smoke. I can’t believe that made it into the rating. I have no idea what the brief language was. Perhaps, “Scum?”

Significant Content: C
Good and evil are two sides and opposed to each other. Violence solves problems. If you’re reckless and headstrong, it’s okay so long as you have mad Jedi skills. Lying is bad. Teams are better than working solo. There’s surprisingly little “Star Wars stuff” like The Force and personal development here.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
It’s pretty and shiny, but that’s about all. If you’re expecting a substantial full-length Star Wars film here, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re expecting a glorified Saturday morning cartoon here, you’ll be satisfied. If you were frustrated that the epic clone wars battles never got made into movies because neither 2 nor 3 really showed them, you might find this more satisfying. I found myself annoyed that they did this in a cartoon instead of a real movie, but the lack of non-action content surely explains that decision, too. I particularly found the mashed together introduction hard to follow, besides the fact that there was no scrolling introduction like I’m used to.

Discussion Questions:
~Does Ahsoka seem to demonstrate the characteristics of a Jedi, even of a Jedi Padawan?
~If you loved the Star Wars movies, are you glad that this was made, or does it annoy you?
~If you had never known Star Wars, could you have understood this movie? Would you have liked it more or less?
~Have you ever been asked to take an apprentice or teach someone? Have you ever been an apprentice? What was it like? Would the apprentice system make more sense for the church to use than its current model of discipleship, whatever that may be?
~Which characters show humility, patience, peace?
~Have you ever been misled or deceived by someone who was trying to use you or harm you? How did you eventually find out? How did that affect your ability to trust other people?

~What is this movie trying to say about teamwork and being willing to let someone else do a task with you?
Overall Grade: C
I kind of wish I could justify giving it a lower grade, but I think that a C is fair. Now go away, kid, you bother me.

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