Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, Anthony Daniels, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee
Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching, Scott Murphy
While Hayden Christensen is nowhere to be found in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," a CG animated film being released by Lucasfilm Animation that takes place between "Revenge of the Sith" and "Attack of the Clones," the woodenness of his performance can be felt throughout this remarkably dull and, even more surprisingly, unimaginative film that attempts to continue the "Star Wars" saga without being weighed down by that nasty ole' live action.
"Clone Wars" follows Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Matt Lanter) and Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein) paired up in an effort to save Jabba the Hutt's baby.
Director Dave Filoni does fairly well, at times, with the film's inevitable action sequences, but the animation style is retro style...an odd choice given the futuristic nature of the film.
While none of the principles return from the live-action "Star Wars" films, fanboys aren't left to be completely disappointed as Samuel L. Jackson voices Mace Windu, Anthony Daniels brings back C-3PO and Christopher Lee is unforgettable as Count Dooku. For obvious reasons, this is the first film to not include Frank Oz as Yoda and he is missed. Tom Kane tries to carry on the Oz tradition, but Oz owned this role and Kane comes off as a pale imitation.
The characters all have the appearance of puppets, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, in particular, immediately brought to mind the recent "Beowulf." For the record, that's not a compliment.
To be sure, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" was not made for me. While I enjoyed the first trilogy from the Hamill, Lucas, Ford days, I found the last 3 films disappointing despite the final film's vast improvement over the others.
"Star Wars: The Clone Wars" will likely do solid opening weekend business, given the long history of the series and the fanboy anticipation. It's difficult to fathom, however, that even the most diehard fanboy will be pleased with this disappointing transition from live-action to animation.
Far from awful but woefully disappointing, here's hoping that the folks at Lucasfilm figure out how to clone the magic that existed between Hamill, Lucas and Ford and make a decent film next time around.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic