August 11, 2008 / 3:30 AM / 10 years ago

"Star Wars" cartoon a misfire

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Situated chronologically between the “Star Wars” prequels “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith,” the animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is largely uninspired.

George Lucas, the executive producer of the new animated film "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" poses with his girlfriend Mellody Hobson and a Storm Trooper character (L) and character from the film Ahsoka Tano (R) at the film's U.S. premiere in Hollywood, California August 10, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Frankly, given the newer installments’ increasing reliance on computer-animated effects, the transition from live action to animation isn’t really all that dramatic — and that’s part of the problem with the latest adventure, which Warner Bros. will release on August 8.

In the absence of any extensive innovation, the video game-ready results play more like a feature-length promo for the imminent TV series of the same name than a stand-alone event.

Given the prolonged awareness factor, the fanboys and junior Jedi Knights should still be out in full force — at least in the opening weekend — producing stellar though unlikely out-of-this-galaxy results.

Briefly alluded to in the aforementioned “Episodes II” and “III” as well as the subject of a very different-looking animated TV series from a few years back, “Clone Wars” finds Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Matt Lanter) reluctantly paired with overeager Padawan learner, Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein), on a mission to rescue crime lord Jabba the Hutt’s kidnapped baby.

There are admittedly some eye-catching sequences in the production, directed by Dave Filoni (Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender”), from a script credited to Scott Murphy and TV animation veterans Henry Gilroy and Steven Melching.

But the distinctive animation style eschews photorealism in favor of something more of a high-tech marionette look recalling Sylvia and Gerry Anderson’s vintage “Thunderbirds” and “Fireball XL-5” ‘60s series.

Unfortunately, that wood-carved appearance is all-too-fitting considering the less-than-fluid movement of the characters (they all appear to walk like C-3PO) and the lifeless dialogue.

Strained attempts at comedy are reserved for the constant bickering between Anakin and Ahsoka, who form something of a bizarre dysfunctional family along with the Hutt-let.

While the vocal talents of originators Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor and even Yoda’s Frank Oz are nowhere to be heard, a welcome bit of continuity has been provided by Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee and Anthony Daniels, who lend their voices to Mace Windu, Count Dooku and C-3PO, respectively.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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