Artificial Continuum

Saturday, August 21, 2010

With the latest season of the Clone Wars approaching release and gaining hype, I decided that perhaps now is the best time to offer my own in depth commentary on this series. Ill be using the next four days to lay down what exactly I love and hate about the series, and what works and what does not.


Ever since it first aired The Clone Wars has been a source of controversy among the Star Wars community. Everything from the writing, animation, and design was hotly debated and picked apart. For many, their first impression of the series was enough to scare them away. However, I managed to stick it through both seasons of the series. Through its highs and lows, I've stayed loyal to The Clone Wars, and for the most part it was worth it. Despite this, The Clone wars is not a perfect series. It has its problems, and many things I dislike. And before I begin my commentary on why the Clone Wars works, I must first examine why it does not. Here is my list of the top five things I hate about the Clone Wars.

5. Lack of Tension
Perhaps one of the least obvious issues with the Clone Wars is something that plagues almost any story taking place before an established work. Going into the series the audience knows the fates of the majority of the main cast, which is unfortunate for a series that relies heavily on action and suspense. While it is interesting seeing characters grow and evolve into their ultimate shapes and mindsets, its uninteresting to see a lightsaber duel between Obiwan Kenobi and Count Dooku. We know that the fight will not end in any climactic results for either party, because the destinies of both are already known. It makes for awkward storytelling, and a frustrated viewer.

4. Uninticing Action
An issue that has slowly been remedied by the current creative team are the sometimes bland action set pieces in The Clone Wars. Originally limited by a small budget and an inexperienced animation team, The Clone Wars sputtered along with providing unengaging and boring scenes. One aspect that was evident early on and continues to be a major issue for the show is that animated lightsaber battles, atleast done so in the manner portrayed in the Clone Wars, are just not fun to watch. While certain episodes such as Cloak of Darkness have done their best to add in some greatly choreographed scenes, watching animated models swing glowing lightsabers at one another will never be as exciting as watching real life actors and stunt doubles battle it out. Compound this with the lack of tension mentioned earlier, and one can imagine why watching Obiwan duel General Grievous for the fifth time in one season can grow boring.

3. Dialogue/Voice Acting
An issue that has plagued Star Wars for the past decade has been unbearable dialogue. Most evident in Attack of the Clones, simple conversations can become nearly unwatchable due to unnatural writing and bland acting. Unfortunately, in many ways the Clone Wars follows this trend. While it has slowly improved with each passing episode, there are still several cringe worthy lines, particularly surrounding the romance driven subplots. The voice acting also has its moments worthy of disgust. Particularly surrounding Matt Latner's portrayal of Anakin Skywalker, a role that seems cursed to any actor. Also frustrating is the overly childish approach given to Ahsoka Thano by Ashley Eckstein, although once again this is an approach that has slowly been fixed as the show has progressed.

2. Humor
The most frustrating aspect of the series at first glance is its repeated attempts at humor. Mostly portrayed through the bumbling villainous battle droids, these annoying pun and slap stick moments of attempted comic relief are more irritating then laugh inducing. In many instances incredibly dark or engaging moments will be ruined by a joke so uninspired and irritating that it can ruin whole episodes at a time. Two perfect examples can be seen in the season one installments "Defender's of Peace" and "The Blue Shadow Virus". Both episodes center around violent and dark themes including bioterrorism and death of innocents. However, any intelligent material is overwhelmed by poorly executed slapstick. Most unfortunate of all is the inclusion of Jar Jar Binks. Yes, arguably the worst character in the history of Star Wars does have a role in The Clone Wars (though thankfully its regulated to the first season.)

1. Retcons
The most frustrating aspect of the Clone Wars as a Star Wars fan are the numerous retcons the series has created. Star Wars is a universe that has become infinitely expansive since its birth in 1977. Thanks to the contributions of the creative works behind video games, comics, and novels Star Wars had become a vibrant world filled with lore and creativity. This is why George Lucas's unappreciation and constant retconning of previously canon works is frustrating to numerous fans. Until the second season of the show the retcons had been a bearable grievance. However, this changed when Lucasfilm announced the numerous changes made to the beloved Mandalorian culture for a midseason arc. While this initially infuriating change was eventually revealed less far reaching then believed, this sudden change to a previously standing work was an unsettling move. With news breaking regarding season three, further retcons are to be expected. We can only cross our fingers and hope that further works are not ruined.

Ultimately, I still have a great appreciation for The Clone Wars. While the series is still flawed, it increasingly gets better with each passing episode. Look for further commentaries later this week.


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