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20th Century Fox presents
Star Wars: Clone Wars Volume 1 (2003)

"Like fire across the galaxy, the Clone Wars spread"
- Yoda (Tom Kane)

Review By: Kevin Clemons  
Published: March 21, 2005

Stars: Corey Burton, Anthony Daniels, John DiMaggio, Nick Jameson, Tom Kane, Mat Lucas, James Arnold Taylor, Grey DeLisle
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for animated violence
Run Time: 01h:09m:41s
Release Date: March 22, 2005
UPC: 024543157922
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A B+AA- B+

DVD Review

Lately it seems that every big-budget summer film has had some sort of direct to video release that "brings you up to speed with what has happened between the original and its sequel." Yeah right. If anything, a release so touted seems to simply be a way to cash in on the buzz that comes with the release of an equally big-budget sequel. Bucking the trend is Star Wars: Clone Wars, a micro-series that aired previously on Cartoon Network and tells what happened between the close of Episode II and the start of Episode III, the final installment due in theaters this May.

Clone Wars is, by and large, the best piece of original programming released outside of the existing five feature-length films thus far. Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack) the series is told over 20 chapters that each run nearly five minutes in length , though here Tartakovsky has wonderfully blended the episodes together to form a more cohesive narrative.

The series focuses on three central plot threads that occur at the start of the clone wars; another installment is coming soon to Cartoon Network and will push the story further into the Star Wars timeline. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Taylor) leads a troop of clone troopers into a droid-filled complex, Anakin (Matt Lucas) engages in several aerial battles and shows his skill as a pilot, and Count Dooku (Burton) and Sidious (Jameson) look for a new assassin to help exterminate the Jedi.

In terms of plot information pertinent to the third feature-length installment, only one subplot involving a dangerous Sith lord named Asajj Ventress (DeLisle), who wields two light sabers at once and is, in plain terms, a badass, propels the narrative forward to the third episode. The main villain in Episode III, General Grievous (DiMaggio) does make a cameo at the close of the series but his involvement does nothing for the previous chapters except that we, for the first time, get to see his incredible abilities.

The two-dimensional animation is drawn by hand and for the most part it is a smooth experience. The brilliance of bringing the series to Cartoon Network rather than perhaps try live-action or computer animation is that its vivid colors and ace rendering actually helps this story rather than distracts from it. With the added bonus of Tartakovsky as director, it's ensured that each chapter has a sensible and serious feel, which helps to add to the depth of the story, specifically Anakin's slow turn towards the dark side.

In the end ,Clone Wars may well be better than the two movie installments that have come out in previous years. This is fantastic animation, action, and adventure that feels like an integral part of Lucas' magnum opus. It is hard for me to imagine leaving the Clone Wars series out when doing any type of Star Wars marathon. In short, Clone Wars offers more light saber duels, grander battles, and at times better writing than the prequel films.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Clone Wars is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and it is a fantastic recreation of the series. Colors are eye-popping and the light sabers offer great richness and depth as they move about the screen. This is a flawless transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround mix used for the series offers some thrilling audio with a great center channel that offers no distortion or dropouts, while the rear speakers do a good job of balancing out the sound field with ambient as well as some clever directional effects. Sadly, the one flaw is that the choice to not release the mix in 5.1 takes away from the impact that the series should have on an auditory level.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Star Wars: Episode III
1 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by director Genndy Tartakovsky
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Star Wars: Republic Commando video game trailer and XBOX playable demo
  2. Still Gallery
  3. Episode III video game trailer
Extras Review: At first glance, the list of extra features is impressive; upon closer inspection they prove to be the disc's one weakness. Two feature-length commentary tracks are offered by director Genndy Tartakovsky. The first is a track in which Tartakovsky discusses very little about the production of the series and instead tells technical stories and dictates what is happening on the screen, so overall this commentary slightly a bore. The other track, originally made exclusively for members of Hyperspace on the official Star Wars website, is a much more interesting and in-depth discussion on the creation of the characters, their animation design, and how closely Tartakovsky worked with Lucas to make the series.

Clone Wars: Bridging the Saga is a seven-minute look at the making of the series including interviews with Lucas and others as they discuss the reason for making the series as well as its attempt to expand upon the existing Star Wars universe.

Finally, there is a playable XBOX demo for Star Wars: Republic Commando, a look at the forthcoming Episode III video game, still galleries, and the single greatest feature on the disc, which happens to be the wonderful teaser trailer for Episode III.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

A "must own" for any Star Wars fan, Clone Wars is simply the best and most wondrous thing to come along in the Star Wars universe since the original trilogy. Highly recommended.

 


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