I went to go the The Clone Wars movie with mah folks today, and I have to say it was much better than I expected it to be. It didn't seem like the writer's and/or Lucas was trying to make it a big Star Wars movie (contrary to the attempts at hype). I haven't actually watched the Clone Wars cartoons yet, but the whole movie felt like a big cartoon finale, a la Avatar. Just, you know.... animated differently and in theaters.
There was some fun humor, much better humor than the last few actual Star Wars movies in fact, and a genuinely interesting new character in Anakin's suprise Padawan, Asoka. She was bright and spunky and not afraid to contradict Anakin, and she did it in a way that didn't seem like the writer's were trying too hard to make her so. I'm not sure how old she was meant to be (they mentioned she was a little young to be a Padawan, but Padawans pair up with Masters between the ages of 8 and 13?), but she seemed appropriately portrayed for a strong-willed thirteen to fourteen year old. Probably the only thing I didn't like about her was her penchant for nicknames. "Stinky" was good, because seriously... what else would you call a Huttling? "Skyguy" was alright, as it was a jab at Anakin's name, but I have to draw the line at R2-ie (Artooie?). Bleeeeeeh.
The plot of this movie was, as I had hoped, more than just Jabba's "son" (Hutts are hermaphrodites they're offspring should be called just "young" or "offspring") being kidnapped. The whole Hutt situation was over which side, the Separatists or the Republic, would have access to the Outer Rim shipping lanes. The Separatists use the Outer Rim planets as bases, so an alliance with the Hutts would further their goal, and the Republic troops need to have access to supply lines in order to attack. Very clever.
There are some assumptions with this, however, that I don't agree with. The first thing they assume is that there is only one Hutt clan, when there are in fact, many. The Tatooine area of the Outer Rim isn't even the Hutts' native origin. Making a deal with Jabba does not clear the way. There are plenty of rival clans who would want to side with the losers to get back at Jabba.
Secondly, they assume that Jabba is the head of a clan. It is my understanding that he is, at the time of IV, V, and VI the head of a clan, but it's my understanding, from what I remember of the Han Solo Triloogy, that Jiliac, one of Jabba's uncles/aunts, was the head of the clan until sometime in that book where something happened where Jabba might have killed him but I don't really remember. XD
In any case, they do make mention in the movie of another of Jabba's uncles/aunts, Ziro, who is a brilliant drag-queen-like character with a Southern accent. XD If I remember correctly and Jiliac was the head of the clan, then Ziro and Zorba would be the first to try and get to that position, unless Jabba had something to control them with. Which he might have, I don't know. It just kind of bothered me that I wasn't aware of enough Hutt history to be able to gauge the accuracy of Jabba's position.
(Wow, I just had a good time rummaging through Wookieepedia looking for Hutt information, but there's a lot more backstory there than what I could dig through for this review.)
Also, Jabba being genuinely overjoyed that his offspring was returned to him? Definitely weird. :/
I was mildly surprised to see that only Mace Windu, C-3P0, and Count Dooku had their original character actors doing the voices. James Arnold Taylor and Ian Abercrombie (another Ian!) do fantastic jobs as Obi-Wan and Palpatine- we were genuinely surprised to see that it wasn't Ewan and the other Ian. Matt Lanter does a much MUCH better job as Anakin Skywalker than Hayden Christensen ever will, which was nice to see. Anakin was still a bit of a pompous jerk, but the Padawan addition and the new voice really toned him down to a more reasonable level.
Which reminds me. Another thing I have an isssuueeee withhhh. It's another nit-picky thing to most people, but... the whole Padawan deal was wrong. :/
Basically, in the movie, Obi-Wan put in a request for a new Padawan, which I suppose they could do in war time even though Masters are supposed to go to the temple to watch initiates train in order to pick one they feel a connection with, but then Yoda's like, here ya go Anakin. You get her. :/
First of all, Yoda would never attempt to hand off a Padawan to someone. The first book of the Jedi Apprentice series is mostly Yoda trying to convince Qui-Gon that he wants to take on Obi-Wan, but he never forces Obi-Wan upon him. Secondly, he would never suggest taking a Padawan to someone he's not sure can handle it. He expresses some doubt during this movie and he's always doubted Anakin's emotions, so I feel like, unless Asoka expressed some connection to Anakin to Yoda, Yoda would not have made the suggestion.
And honestly, I sat there thinking, 'Anakin is not ready to be a Master.' He had barely grasped the concept of BEING a Padawan and he never developed the kind of Master-Padawan relationship that he was supposed to with Obi-Wan (basing this off of Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon's relationship from Jedi Apprentice, the comparison between the two in the JA Special Editions, the couple of books I've read of Anakin being an apprentice, and Episode II). He never really felt that Obi-Wan was his mentor and teacher; he was always second guessing Obi-Wan's guidance and, especially nearing his Trials, felt that he was a much better knight than Obi-Wan, which would not be the case if he had developed the proper relationship.
And if he did know how to form that relationship, he would not be able to kill his own apprentice when he turned- no matter how evil. Even the Sith do not kill their apprentices.
There's the music. Which I have many good things to say about it and one extremely bad thing.
It's pretty much a guarantee that John Williams has finally retired, as he was not the composer of this movie's soundtrack. It was composed by a brilliant man named Kevin Kliner, who did things quite differently but I ended up appreciating most of these things because this movie, again, wasn't trying to be a full-fledged Star Wars movie- they knew it was a spin-off.
Kliner used surprisingly few of Williams' original themes, which I actually liked because most of the movie was set on entirely new planets. He also used less brass fanfare which gave many of the scenes between Asoka and Anakin a more intimate feel, even though they were often in the middle of battle. There is one particular theme that I liked with a soft, chanting choral arrangement over the music as Obi-Wan and Ventress dueled on an abandoned monastery. Very nice job there.
AND I DON'T KNOW HOW HE MANAGED THIS.
HE DID NOT DO THE OPENING FANFARE CORRECTLY.
HE DIDN'T START WITH THE BRASS BLAST WHEN AFTER A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.... AND HE GOT THE FUCKING RHYTHMS WRONG.
THOSE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE EIGHTH NOTE TRIPLETS YOU ASSTARD. I HAVE THE OFFICIAL MUSIC- WHY DON'T YOU???!!!!
Seriously. I honestly thought I was going to hate this movie because it didn't open right. I was, of course, pleasantly surprised throughout the whole thing, and then he does the music for the last scene straight out of the John Williams archives, and then he attempts to do the classic opening reprise for the credits...
AND STILL GETS THOSE THREE NOTES WRONG.
You know the notes I'm talking about. Think of the Star Wars theme. You start with middle C 'Duhhhhh' go up to G 'Naaahhhhhh' and then you have three quick notes going down, F,E,D...
THOSE THREE NOTES HE GOT WRONG.
And I'm sure this only infuriates me because I am both a huge Star Wars nerd and a band geek, so I'm doubly appalled, but even my mom wasn't cool with that.
SO YEAH. Overall, much better movie than I expected with just a few bumps in the pavement there. Yep.
Seriously dude. Eighth note triplet. Not hard. :/