STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS Premiere Brought Awe, Teases

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS S4 Premiere

Since the opening episodes of season four of Star Wars: The Clone Wars take place underwater, it only made sense to host the premiere at an aquarium. The cast and crew from the series, costumed characters from the 501st and Rebel Legions, press, and families gathered at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California on Saturday September 10, 2011 to kick off the season in style.

Matt Wood & General Grievous

Before the private "4D" screening of the first two episodes of season four, an impressive gathering of the cast and crew of the series stopped by the blue carpet to talk about the upcoming season. Newsarama spoke with several of them including Dave Filoni (Supervising Director), Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker), Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano), Dee Bradley Baker (all of the Clones),  Matthew Wood (General Grievous and Supervising Sound Editor) and more. Each representative expressed excitement about the upcoming season, and they all commented on how far the series and their characters have come. All of them stated their love for the Star Wars universe and how lucky they feel to be a part of it.

When discussing season four with the cast and crew, one word came up repeatedly: Umbara. The planet that sits in constant darkness will be the setting of an upcoming episode arc that both Dee Bradley Baker and Matt Lanter specifically mentioned looking forward to. Captain Rex will be key to the story, and Bradley Baker is especially excited for the audience to see what happens with one of his favorite clones. Lanter said that Anakin will return to the "darker place" (no pun intended) in his character, similar to where we saw him go in the Mortis trilogy in season three, that deeply explored the mythology of the Force. From the technical side, Matthew Wood stated that some of the more interesting noises he's created for the series will come up in the Umbara arc.

Ashely Eckstein,

voice of Ahsoka Tano

Season four will also bring more changes to the relationship between central characters Anakin and Ahsoka. Lanter said that Ahsoka "isn't really a kid sister anymore." She's become a trusted friend, and Anakin is comfortable with her abilities. He says that when something – whatever it will be – happens to Ahsoka (who is notably missing from Star Wars: Episode III, the next story chronologically in the saga after Clone Wars) it will be another reason for why he falls to the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader.

Likewise, Ashley Eckstein stated that season four will show how strong their Padawan/Master relationship has become. Ahsoka adores Anakin, and she thinks the best of them. Eckstein doesn't even think Ahsoka is aware of Anakin and Padmé's relationship simply because "she doesn't believe Anakin would break the rules." She'll be breaking off more on her own in the upcoming season, too. She's absorbed the training she's received, and she doesn't second guess herself as much anymore, Eckstein told us. She'll also be experiencing some teenage angst, and she'll have to deal with some personal situations.

501st Clone Troopers

Dave Filoni said fans can really look forward to everything being stepped up this season. He told us the vine planet, Wasskah, in "Wookiee Hunt" at the end of the third season was the most difficult environment to develop so far. The level of detail and all the nuances with lighting were hard to get right, but the look in the end "was worth it." In fact, he said it's been the inspiration point for everything they've done for this season. For example, for the Mon Calamari home world in the season premiere they had to create a whole new city civilization plus soldiers and civilians for each side. When things are difficult to pull off, Filoni takes that as a sign that they should push onward and figure it out. "We're not going to cut corners, we're going to do what it takes to get it on the screen."

Filoni also mentioned that they will continue presenting stories in three to four episode arcs when it makes sense to do so. As they've gotten more sophisticated with what they're able to do, they've challenged themselves to do more – not just with the visuals, but with the stories. He says something that's helped is that they "collaborate more." They have a writer's room now, and they're able to sit down with Star Wars mastermind George Lucas and toss around ideas and sketches as a group. He thinks that lends to "better" and "more creative" ideas.

Lightsaber Duel

The blue carpet and screenings were just a small part of the day. LucasFilm and Cartoon Network worked closely with the Aquarium to set up interactive events for the general public. Guests could try out the new Clone Wars Adventures free-to-play online game, and kids could participate in lightsaber training. And since LucasFilm was giving away lightsabers, there were many Padawans in need of guidance on how to avoid shins of passersby. A dive tank in the lobby featured Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, and Kit Fisto among the fish and kelp. Volunteer scuba divers donned Clone Wars shirts, armed themselves with specially made lightsabers and performed underwater duels. These events kept the crowds entertained while waiting for the screenings of the premiere episodes.

The season four trailer was projected on the walls of the lobby area every hour. When the lights dimmed, children and adults all stopped in their tracks to watch. The kids flocked to Captain Rex and ran away from General Grievous. Even civilians were affected, as people who just came to see the sharks walked away clearly curious about  Star Wars: The Clone Wars. 

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 4 premieres on Cartoon Network Friday, September 16, 2011.

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