Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Matt Lanter) and his Padawan apprentice, Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), find themselves on a mission that bring them face to face with crime lord Jabba the Hutt (Kevin Michael Richardson). Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and his sinister agents will stop at nothing to ensure that they fail in their quest. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) and Master Yoda (Tom Kane) lead the massive clone army in a valiant effort to resist the forces of the dark side.

I've considered myself a diehard Star Wars fan since its debut in 1977, but George Lucas seems to be trying as hard as he can to subvert my loyalty to the franchise. The prequel trilogy pales in comparison to the first three movies, but taken on their own, I find Episodes I, II, and III enjoyable. Star Wars: The Clone Wars does nothing to enhance the Star Wars universe—in fact, one could make a compelling argument that the new movie mocks it. Lucas is clearly trying to attract a new generation of fans for his empire by catering to the youngling crowd, but my 10-year-old son and one of his friends wanted to turn Clone Wars off after the first 30 minutes. Sorry, George, you failed to capture your desired audience, at least in my house.

The VC-1 encode looks pretty good, although it doesn't approach the level of a Pixar release by any stretch. Colors are a bit subdued, and the animation is very blocky and marionette-like with unrealistic depictions of human beings. Black levels are decent with adequate shadow detail, but there's abundant banding throughout, which, given the animation style, might be intentional.

It's hard to fault the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack from a technical perspective, but it's too damn loud, which makes judging the dynamics all but impossible because there's never a break in the action. The bass is adequate with the occasional room-shaking crunch from a troop walker, and the surround channels deliver a lot of never-ending action that seems to last forever.

Although the movie itself is disappointing, the supplements are well done and mostly presented in HD, which I always appreciate. Features include a look at the untold stories of the Clone Wars, the people behind the voices, and a piece on the musical score. Also included is an introduction to Star Wars: The Clone Wars and five webisodes, a memory-challenge game, a video commentary, and a digital copy of the film for use on portable players.

I was less than impressed by this addition to the Star Wars universe. The presentation is solid in terms of the audio and video, and the bonus features are well done, but I have a hard time even recommending a rental to all but the most diehard fans.

Release Date: November 11, 2008

Movie: 3/10
Picture: 8/10
Sound: 8/10

Review System

Panasonic DMP-BD55

JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Onkyo Pro 85 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 Amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner

M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector