Clone Wars: No More for Me, Thanks, I'm Driving

It almost stuns me to say it, but there's a Star Wars movie in theaters and I have absolutely no intention of going to see it.

I mean, I'm a product of the Star Wars generation. Saw the original in theaters at age 7, played with the action figures, collected the trading cards, read the Marvel comics.(Valence the Hunter! the Wheel! Baron Tagge!) Between HBO and the coming of the VCR, I watched and rewatched Star Wars enough times in my formative years that to this day I know from memory that the hatch to the Death Star trash compactor is 3263827! A lot of my lifelong love of SF and all things geeky stems from that magical time of the late 70's, weaned on Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Battle of the Planets and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

I don't live, breath, and eat Star Wars, my interests have greatly diversified as I've gotten older, but I've kept my proverbial toe in the SW pool and remain a fan. I've probably read 60-70% of all published Expanded Universe material (and when you consider how much of it there is, that's a decent amount), and have done my damdedest to defend the prequels (well Eps. 2 and 3, anyway) from many a naysayer.

I've come this far, but no further. This new Clone Wars con is a dealbreaker for me, I'm afraid.

Let's face it, first and foremost it's been getting just abysmal reviews. Even a pro-genre site like Ain't It Cool News posted scads of dismissive early looks. Alexandra DuPont found it "depressing" and gives a pretty thorough explanation of why it isn't worth your time. Capone says it's actually better than the Phantom Menace (not that that's particularly high praise), but ultimately "a huge missed opportunity." And the Headgeek himself, Harry Knowles, says "I hated the film. HATED IT. REALLY HATED IT." Feel free to use that quote on your poster, George Lucas!

More mainstream critics were equally unkind. Richard Roeper does his best Yoda impression to proclaim "Sucks this movie does", Roger Ebert gives it a star and a half and says "you know you're in trouble when the most interesting new character is Jabba the Hutt's uncle" and Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman plasters the flick with a resounding 'F'. Rotten Tomatoes has given it a score of 18%, and yes that's out of a possible 100!

And by the way, let's get rid of the notion that this is a movie. It's not. What we've got here is three episodes of the upcoming cartoon show, welded together with the commercials removed. This stuff was made on a limited budget for a TV screen. We're being sold a bill of goods, people. Of course, this isn't a new concept. I remember nagging my dad to take me to the theater to see the Battlestar Galactica movie, only to find out once we were there that it was simply the pilot episode with the bass turned up real high so when the ships rumbled by the whole movie house felt like it may shake apart and collapse on us.

Also, the fact that Revenge of the Sith has already come and gone makes this a real lame duck project to begin with. Nothing significant is likely to happen to the main characters, their ultimate fates are already known. Even a relatively insignificant blip in the SW canon like Asajj Ventress meets her destiny elsewhere. So where is there an iota of mystique or tension here?

Some diehard defenders might try to sarcastically argue that perhaps there should never be any new stories about World War II, since we already know how that turned out too. But no, the difference here is that WWII is inherently interesting, with battle on multiple fronts, with many nations all with different cultures and different goals, and fighting on vastly differing battlefields. Story possibliities set during WWII are limitless. Clone Wars stories are a different gundark. We're talking about vat-grown insta-soldiers marching against idiot robots, and blowing stuff up real good.

Didja ever play with toy soldiers when you were a kid? For the most part, the Clone Wars are about as meaningful as that. Don't forget that the ultimate sick joke of the whole thing is that both sides of the war essentially work for the same man, Darth Sidious. It's all a calculated means to an end, but really when it comes down to it, evil wins whether the Republic or the Seperatists come out on top.

Finally, assuming you do enjoy the time period, and want to geek out on all the clone-on-droid action, there is already a perfectly good cartoon series showcasing this time frame, not to mention a hundred comics, a couple dozen novels, and a video game or two. Generally I try to avoid video games because they're such a potential time suck, but I'd bet I'd have roughly 10x more fun playing a Clone Wars scenario on Battlefront than watching this new "movie". Hell, Matthew Stover's EU novel Shatterpoint is probably in the top ten Star Wars novels I've ever read!

Don't get me wrong, I'll no doubt check the contents of this release out when they air on Cartoon Network for free in a couple of months. Hell, I might even like 'em better than some of the bitter folks on the internet. But shell out $10 for a movie ticket? Your Jedi mind tricks won't work on me, George. Not this time.

No comments: