As a Star Wars fan from the ’77 Generation, I remember vividly the yin-yang effect of the seemingly endless wait between Episodes when it became apparent that George Lucas’ unexpectedly successful space-fantasy film was part of a larger storyline that was once rumored to span nine parts.
On the one hand, my friends and I looked forward to the release of first The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and later Return of the Jedi (1983) with both enthusiasm and impatience, with thoughts such as Man! Three years till the next one? That’s like freakin’ forever! often crossing our minds.
On the other hand, the waiting period also became a time of much speculation about the characters, possible story developments, and both the characters’ origins and possible future fates. And as often happens with adolescent fans, hours were fruitlessly spent on such now-trivial issues as:
Was Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi a clone? (For years there was a bizarre theory that Ben was a clone based on his “real” name sounding like OB-1. I never really took it to heart, but lots of fans did.)
Who would Leia choose, Han or Luke? (This was, of course, before Episode VI’s big “reveal” that Luke and Leia were twins.)
Would there be a big final battle on the Emperor’s throne world, perhaps on a lava planet? (While there was a big climactic battle involving the Emperor, the technology that made the prequels’ depiction of Coruscant – the city planet – possible didn’t yet exist, so Lucas set the final clash between Sith and Jedi aboard a second Death Star.)
Oh, sure, there were attempts – some good (Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye) and some horrible beyond the pale (ABC’s Star Wars Holiday Special) – to at least “fill in the blanks” between Star Wars (now retitled Episode IV: A New Hope) and The Empire Strikes Back, but none of them really became part of the “official” (canon) story.
As far as the Prequel Trilogy is concerned, new and old fans have been better off, not only because some really good writers (Foster again [The Approaching Storm], as well as Michael Reaves [Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter] and James Luceno [Cloak ofDeception, Labyrinth of Evil]) have written excellent novels set before and between each Prequel film, but also because Lucasfilm Ltd and the Cartoon Network teamed with Samurai Jack director Genndy Tartakovsky to produce Star Wars: CloneWars.
Divided into 25 chapters and aired over two seasons on the Time-Warner-owned cable network dedicated mainly to cartoons and other children’s programming, the George Lucas-sanctioned microseries bridges the three-year time span between Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
In the first of two DVDs, Clone Wars: Volume One, we see how, as Yoda says in the first episode’s voice-over introduction, “like fire across the galaxy, the (conflict) spread.” The badly outnumbered Jedi (less than 10,000 strong) are now teamed with white-armored Clone Troopers and sent into action on many fronts as the CIS, also known as the Separatist movement, deploys its droid armies on such planets as Dantooine, Muunilist (home of the InterGalactic Banking Clan), and Mon Calamari. Volume One also depicts Anakin Skywalker’s prowess as a starfighter pilot and his harrowing encounter with Sith-wannabe Asajj Ventress on the fourth moon of Yavin.
More importantly, it ends on a cliffhanger note as Chapter 20 introduces the malevolent Jedi-killing cyborg General Grievous, one of the main villains in Revenge of the Sith. Grievous has killed several Jedi Masters on a barren planet and has trapped Ki-Adi Mundi, Shaak Ti, and Ayla Secura in the crashed wreckage of their Republic starcruiser.
Star Wars Clone Wars: Volume Two, released in December of 2005, contains the final five chapters of the Emmy-winning animated series and not only begins where Volume One ended (showing how elite ARC troopers rescue the three surviving Jedi Masters from Grievous’ deadly lightsabers) but ends minutes before the exciting opening sequence of Episode III.
Although the style of the animation is the same as in the first season’s batch of chapters, Volume Two’s episodes are longer (12 minutes or so each) and are more character-oriented. For instance, there is great emphasis on the friendship between Obi-Wan and Anakin – there is one scene where the hotheaded Skywalker does snap at his Master, but Tartakovsky and his team of writers wanted to focus on the warm bond between the two Jedi. It not only makes Obi-Wan’s line to Luke (in A NewHope) about his father being “a good friend” more believable, but it also adds a stronger emotional shade to the tragic rift between Kenobi and his former apprentice in Episode III’s climactic third act.
The illicit relationship between Anakin and Senator Padme Amidala also gets some badly needed attention; in their brief scene together we see both Anakin’s growing irritation at having to hide their marriage (remember, Jedi Knights are forbidden to have any attachments of any kind) and Padme’s devotion to her young and impetuous husband. This is one of my favorite scenes, for we not only get to see C-3PO in his new gold plating, but we hear Anakin react to this “reveal” by uttering a line he will later say as Darth Vader: Impressive. Most impressive.
Star Wars fans will also get to see the secret ceremony in which Anakin is given the rank of Jedi Knight of the Republic before undergoing his trials, a harrowing mission against a Separatist stronghold out on the Outer Rim, plus the valiant efforts of a handful of Jedi Masters to protect Supreme Chancellor Palpatine as General Grievous launches a sudden surprise attack on Coruscant…a devastating raid with a single goal: to capture the Republic’s Chief of State and hold him hostage!
(Oh, and if you watch carefully, you’ll see why Grievous has that nasty, nasty cough in Revenge of the Sith.)
While Tartakovsky’s animation style does take some getting used to, the slower pace and more detailed development of character and storyline makes Clone Wars: Volume Two more appealing to the viewer, particularly older fans, while still being kid-friendly. The quality of the writing really shines, and there are sequences and even single lines of dialogue that link various Episodes together, including a Force vision that blends elements from The Phantom Menace and The Empire Strikes Back.
Corey Burton…San Hill/Count Dooku/Warrior #2
John Di Maggio…General Grievous/Padawan (2004)
Nick Jameson…Supreme Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious (2003)
Mat Lucas…Anakin Skywalker
Daran Norris…Durge/Aide #2/Henchman/Warrior #3/Ki-Adi-Mundi/Master Barrek
Kevin Michael Richardson…K’Kruhk/Human Male Jedi Master (2004)
André Sogliuzzo…ARC Captain/Battle Droid/Clone Trooper/ARC Trooper/Captain Typho
Cree Summer…Luminara Unduli (2004)
James Arnold Taylor…Obi-Wan Kenobi/Aide #1/Aide #3
Tatyana Yassukovich…Barriss Offee
Jerome Beidler…Young Anakin
Terrence ‘T.C.’ Carson…Mace Windu (2003-2005)
Grey DeLisle…Asajj Ventress/Padmé Amidala/Shaak-Ti
Wanja Gerick…Anakin Skywalker
Richard McGonagle…General Grievous/Kit Fisto (2005)
Philipp Moog…Obi-Wan Kenobi
Fred Tatasciore…Qui Gon Jinn (2005)
Available Subtitles: English
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
Commentary by: Genndy Tartakovsky and his band of artists (Unknown Format)
Exclusive “Connecting the Dots” featurette takes you inside the creative process that Genndy Tartakovsky and his team used to link Clone Wars to Revenge of the Sith.
Two galleries of concept art, storyboards, sketches & more!
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith launch trailer
Star Wars: Battlefront II video game trailer
Star Wars: Empire at War video game trailer
“Revenge of the Brick” trailer from LEGO
Access a special Xbox-playable demo with two entire levels from the new Star Wars: Battlefront II video game