Clone Wars Weekly: The Movie Versus the Series

Clone Wars: Movie Versus Series

Image from the animated 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' feature film, opening August 15th
Image from the animated 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' feature film, opening August 15th
While we see the end of the two-part ‘Droids story this weekend, we’ll take a pause in the weekly action to go back to the original pilot film released last August.

There's a preview of this week's episode here, by the way

A while back, we interviewed voice artist Tom Kane, the voice of not only Yoda, but the announcer on SWCW the TV series. At that time, he told everyone that we shouldn’t judge the franchise based on the pilot movie. The truly good stuff won’t happen until 5-6 episodes into the series.

With the DVD release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, one can see just how true Kane’s statement was. Released as a 2-disc set, it’s a true must-have for hardcore fans, and not just because the debut is still a lot of fun (see my original review for more details).

The first thing fans should really do is click on the commentary track. Featuring series director Dave Filoni, series editor Henry Gilroy, producer Catherine Winder and editor Jason WA Tucker, it’s an eye-opening recollection about not only getting the film, but the studio and TV series off the ground… all at the same time.

For those not familiar with the animation process, simpler sequences are usually produced first. This gives the animators time to work kinks out so they can get to more dynamic and complex shots. During the commentary, Filoni, Winder and company point out early sequences, and one can see how much simpler they are when compared to later parts, such as the segment where Anakin, Ahsoka and their clone army scale a vertical mesa wall to attack a Sith/Separatist stronghold. The differences between these scenes are amazing. After completing a sequence like that, where perspective is more up and down as opposed to right and left (but not forgotten), it must make episodes like the three-part Malevolence arc seem like a piece of cake.

Another thing one quickly learns is one certain Mr. Lucas is never too far from his crew. As the commentary implies, he watches every sequence before it’s finished and adds what sounds like a lot of notes, primarily details that add to the entire production process. This must surely add its share of time to the entire process, and with the aforementioned monster deadline that Filoni and Winder in particular must have endured, one really has to respect their tenacity to get the film out on time at all.

Explore the commentary deeper and you find out Filoni and Tucker did develop some interesting shortcuts to meet this deadline also. For instance, to quickly populate Jabba’s lair, they would save time by taking the body of Palpatine and some other characters and replace the heads with new ones. From there, these composite characters are kept in the shadows so it takes a truly trained eye (or Tucker and Filoni pointing it out) to spot them.

That isn’t all fans are going to get either. The second disk is full of all kinds of spoilers and inside peaks that should keep the Jedi among us busy for a couple hours at least. This includes a segment entitled “The Untold Stories” where the crew give us peaks of what looks like the entire first season. No, they don’t give it all away. Still, it’s nice to get an idea of what the episode “Cloak of Darkness,” written by Paul Dini, will be about and see some of the primary characters of that episode in action to boot.

Another fun segment is meeting the primary voice cast, from main actors Matt Lanter (Anakin), Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka), James Arnold Taylor (Obi Wan) and the aforementioned Mr. Kane, on to some of the more important recurring characters, such as Nika Futterman (Asajj) and Dee Bradley Baker (the clones). It also brings an interesting chicken/age question. One wonders if Lanter was cast because he does look like a young Hayden Christenson or the character of Ahsoka is modeled after Eckstein? Would be fun to find out.

Don’t get it wrong. While the movie may not be the best animated release this year (especially with Pixar’s Wall*E coming out next week, it several galaxy’s away from being one of the worst either. In fact, I would put it in my top five for animated features this year, especially domestic releases.

Also, as episodes like “Rookies” and “Ambush” have now shown, there’s an incredible amount of even better stories made. When you factor those two episodes in particular, the best of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is definitely in the future. From what I’ve seen of “Cloak of Darkness” one shouldn’t be surprised if it’s the very near future, too.

Special Note: Cartoon Network has added another repeat of each episode starting this weekend. CN will repeat the Friday 9:00 p.m. episode every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. Sounds like a good way to while away the time instead of more repeat viewings of Spectacular Spider-Man. Of course, when the webhead comes back with new episodes…

NEXT COLUMN: Jar Jar Binks a Jedi Knight? As C3-PO might say, “oh, dear.”.

Clone Wars Weekly 11: Let's Hear it for the Little Droids!

Clone Wars Weekly 10: Voicing ALL the Clones

Clone Wars Weekly 9: The Continuing Malevolence

Clone Wars Weekly 8: Continuing the Story

Clone Wars Weekly 7: Debut Week

Clone Wars Weekly 6: Writer Henry Gilroy, p3

Clone Wars Weekly 5: Writer Henry Gilroy, p2

Clone Wars Weekly 4: Writer Henry Gilroy, p1

Clone Wars Weekly 3: Creating a New Clone Wars

Clone Wars Weekly 2: From Big Screen to Small

Clone Wars Weekly 1: Director David Filoni

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