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HTF REVIEW: Star Wars: Clone Wars - Volume One



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#1 of 51 Michael Osadciw

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Posted March 22 2005 - 04:42 PM

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STAR WARS: CLONE WARS
Volume One





Studio: 20th Century Fox
Year: 2004

Rating: NOT RATED

Film Length: 69 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Action/Adventure

Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.78:1 enhanced widescreen
Colour/B&W: Colour

Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround[*] French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned: Yes
SLP: US $19.98





Release Date: March 22, 2005.



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Voices of: Corey Burton, Anthony Daniels, John DiMaggio, Nick Jameson, Tom Kane, Mat Lucas, James Arnold Taylor, Tatyana Yassukovich

Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky



The story of the Clone Wars animated shorts take off just after the end of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and is meant as a bridge between Episodes II & III. The Clone Wars are highly talked about in the Star Wars universe, but the wars are briefly touched on in the actual films. We see the beginning of the war in Episode II and the end of it in Episode III; so these cartoons that aired on the Cartoon Network as 3 minute animated shorts provide the opportunity for fans to see the many exciting stories that exist during this time period. There are 20 shorts on this disc.

There are twenty shorts in all of Volume 1. These were aired between the fall of 2003 to the spring of 2004. In these stories, we see a lot of fast action and new villains during the entire 69 minute viewing period. In brief, Ben Kenobi becomes general to check out a war on one of the planets while Anakin becomes bait by being pulled into a duo with a warrior from the dark side. We also get a glimpse of the newest villain General Grievous who will play a large part in Episode III.

The shorts work well on their own and are visually stimulating offering sights of new ships, aliens, and fights. I found that watching it as a whole can become a little tiring. Since these were aired as three minute shorts, they had to be packed full of information and be presented as fast as possible. This is fine for three minutes, but after 69 minutes the endless fighting does become a little fatiguing and you may find you need to take a ten minute break half-way through. I did find these shorts highly entertaining and true to the Star Wars universe, especially with its ability to create new worlds and inspire my imagination. Rated as the number one show on basic cable among teens, Star Wars: Clone Wars won an Emmy Award in 2004 for Outstanding Animated Program.


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I think the video presentation is fantastic! Presented in enhanced widescreen 1.78:1, this is one cartoon that is bright, colourful, and vibrant in every respect! It combines a bit of anime with traditional animation and the results are fantastic. The animation is clean and the DVD is free from problems. Except for the slight amount of compression artefacts during very fast moving images (very rarely – if you blink you’ll miss it), this THX approved transfer is exceptional in every way.


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The audio quality is interesting, but unfortunately not what I expected. The Dolby Digital 2.0 surround soundtrack is spacious only with the dynamic music score. It IS the music that stands out on this release – sound effects and dialogue seem to take a back seat. I want to tell you that the new music based on John Williams’s score sounds fresh and alive, more so than any movie I can think of recently. I want to say that the recording quality of it is excellent as it never sounds soft, bright, heavy, or veiled. It sounds like it was taken right off the recording stage. In comparison, the sound effects seem held back; they just don’t have the same dynamic range or punch as the music soundtrack does. They are a lot quieter and seem like they are afraid to stand out. This was disappointing. The sounds are taken directly from the Star Wars archive of sound effects so we are very familiar with these sounds already. But the swooping of the spaceships, the laser blasts, the big bang effects are all too relaxed. There is not much bass at all putting an emphasis around 100Hz and up. Sound effects are directional in the front soundstage so at least there is some simulated image width. I know these are just three minute shorts, but being Star Wars I expected a lot more.

Also disappointing was the dialogue – it doesn’t sound right all of the time. For those brief moments of talking, there was this “swshh swshh” noise surrounding the dialogue making it sound somewhat metallic. Once I noticed it, it became annoying and I just couldn’t let it go. I wonder why THX found this acceptable. Actually…I don’t wonder why at all… Either they thought this was the best it was going to be or something problematic slipped by again…

FYI, you cannot toggle between soundtracks using the “audio” button on your DVD player’s remote control. You must hit the menu button and go back to the “options” menu to select another audio option.


Posted ImageSPECIAL FEATURES Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

There are some nice special features on this DVD. They are short, just like the episodes themselves, but provide a little insight into the making of. First we see a seven and a half minute featurette called Bridging the Saga. Presented in 1.78 enhanced widescreen, we get small interviews with George Lucas and the animation’s creators. They discuss about how these little shorts form the bridge between the two movies. Also included is another featurette (4min) that seems to have been created just before or when the shorts aired in 2003. It almost provides the same information as in the newest featurette, but is presented in 4:3 and it doesn’t look that great either.

Also included on this disc are two commentaries by director Genndy Tartakovsky, one being the Hyperspace commentary. Flipping between both of them (by reverting back to the main menu since you can't toggle audio on the fly), both commentaries sound virtually identical. From what I was listening to, I never heard a difference.

Also on this disc are still galleries that include sketches and storyboards and posters and artwork. A video games section is also included featuring an Episode III Game trailer, Star Wars Republic Commando Game Trailer, and a Star Wars Republic Commando X-Box Demo (I did not try this out on my X-Box).

Now you didn’t think they wouldn’t try to create hype over Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, did you? As a final feature there is a short teaser trailer for Episode III. It really is nothing more than a teaser. There isn’t much new information in this; it’s mostly scenes of Ben Kenobi talking about Darth Vader in Episode IV. Still, I am looking forward to this last entry in the Star Wars saga.


IN THE END…

With eye-popping visuals and cool battle scenes, this beautifully presented DVD is a must-have for Star Wars fans who want a glimpse into the exciting stories during the Clone Wars. While I wish the soundtrack was done a little better, it doesn’t completely take away from the non-stop excitement – and at many times violent action scenes (makes me wonder why in the world a few seconds of blaster shots were taken out of Episode IV’s 1997 & 2004 versions – there’s nothing wrong with a little violence in Star Wars). This DVD will beat watching this show on basic cable any day. So what are you waiting for? Let the Clone Wars begin in your home theatre now!

Michael Osadciw
05.03.23

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#2 of 51 John Swarce

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Posted March 23 2005 - 09:26 AM

Nice review, Michael. I bought this blind yesterday and have not had a chance to watch it. I don't get the Cartoon Network on cable.

One question...This is Volume One with the first 20 episodes on it. How many volumes are planned and will they be released before Episode III?

John
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#3 of 51 Greg_S_H

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Posted March 23 2005 - 09:39 AM

You can assume one more volume. This week, the second "season" of Clone Wars is being run: 5 episodes running approx. 12 minutes each. So, roughly the same total length as the volume you have. The final chapter will tie directly into Episode III. In fact, as they put it in the extras on this disc, they are basically "animating the opening crawl."

There will apparently be more Star Wars TV in the future, but the Clone Wars are done.

#4 of 51 Michael Osadciw

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Posted March 23 2005 - 04:04 PM

20 Shorts on Volume One. There will be one more Volume.

Mike

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#5 of 51 Joel...Lane

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Posted March 24 2005 - 02:14 AM

Don't forget that there is around 15 seconds of new ROTS footage of the opening battle at the end of the Bridging The Saga featurette.

#6 of 51 Mike Williams

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Posted March 24 2005 - 03:21 AM

Did anyone notice the nice little foreshadowing when:

Anakin was having the dogfight in space with the female Sith wannabe, got her ship locked in his target sighting and said, "I have you now."


I thought that was really cool.

#7 of 51 Cameron Yee

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Posted March 24 2005 - 03:59 AM

Quote:
I thought that was really cool.


They've been doing this more in the second volume currently airing. I suppose it's a result of having more dialogue, but it's becoming annoying. The continuance of "I have a bad feeling about this..." is fine, but unless you're trying to present some theory about the cyclical nature of the universe it just amounts to excessive winking to fans and is ultimately a distraction.

Thanks for the review Michael.
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#8 of 51 Jason Walstrom

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Posted March 24 2005 - 04:24 AM

i didnt watch this when it first aired cause the shortness of each episode being annoying so this dvd is the perfect time to check it all out. My favorite chapter would have to be the Mace vs. Hundred Super Battle Droids and the Anakin vs. the Sith Wannabe.
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#9 of 51 Tarkin The Ewok

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Posted March 24 2005 - 03:34 PM

Michael - There are also two commentaries by Tartakovsky on this disc. They are found under the options menu. They both contain roughly the same information, but the Hyperspace commentary is slightly better.

For those who want more content related to Clone Wars, you should check out the fan audio commentary at Star Wars Fanworks.

This DVD was definitely a step up from the previous Star Wars TV-on-DVD releases, but I think they can do better in the future.

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#10 of 51 Dane Marvin

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Posted March 24 2005 - 03:49 PM

Episode III is less than two months away. Is it unrealistic to think Volume 2 of the Clone Wars might be out on DVD before the theatrical release? I want to watch this volume, but wouldn't be able to see the complete story before episode III comes out because I just can't catch the cartoons that are airing now on CN.

#11 of 51 Craig Beam

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Posted March 24 2005 - 04:17 PM

Dane, you can watch the current episodes on the Cartoon Network website....

#12 of 51 Greg_S_H

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Posted March 24 2005 - 04:18 PM

You can watch them a day after they air at starwars.com. It's a little small, but you can at least see them.

#13 of 51 Tim-H.

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Posted March 24 2005 - 04:36 PM

Am I crazy or is there a variation on the 'Lawrence of Arabia' theme in Chapter 16 when we see
Yoda and the 2 Jedi emerge out of the snow on the horizon?
I'll have to listen to the commentary...
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#14 of 51 TravisR

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Posted March 24 2005 - 10:49 PM

Dane, Cartoon Network is re-running all five new chapters on Saturday night from 8 PM to 9:30 PM. Set your Tivo/DVR/VCRPosted Image

Or like someone else said starwars.com has them too.

#15 of 51 Donnie Eldridge

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Posted March 25 2005 - 03:06 AM

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Or like someone else said starwars.com has them too.
Are you able to download them or are they just streaming?
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#16 of 51 Phil Iturralde

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Posted March 25 2005 - 03:55 AM

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Are you able to download them or are they just streaming?

If you're a member, my son said you can view the larger video version and I think he said that he also downloaded all of them.

Otherwise, you can view the 320x163 small video size - I'm not a member so I just viewed Chapter 21 & 22 yesterday. Next, Chapter 23!!!

I have the DVD & watched Chapters 1 - 20 already - way cool - might watch them again!

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#17 of 51 Nick Graham

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Posted March 25 2005 - 04:06 AM

Just watched last nights episode. A few of these shorts kinda go nowhere, but when they make contact, they hit it out of the park. Last night's was defintiely an out of the park one. The until now kinda dopey stuff with Anakin on that snowy planet just paid off big time, and the duel between the Jedis
and Grievous' crew inside the train station needs to be done in live action....even in low budget animation it was pretty breathtaking. The only downside to this series is how great it is in comparison to the last live action film....sad that the cartoon can actually achieve some dramatic impact on the viewer, but the last actual film was incapable.

#18 of 51 Joseph Bolus

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Posted March 25 2005 - 04:30 AM

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The only downside to this series is how great it is in comparison to the last live action film....sad that the cartoon can actually achieve some dramatic impact on the viewer, but the last actual film was incapable.


This was my exact reaction as well to my first exposure to this material. Why are these little cartoon shorts *so much better* (at least on an emotional level) than at least 60% of what we got in Episode II?

On the other hand, these "Anime-style" shorts could not be appreciated without the events that took place in "Attack of the Clones"; so I guess you could consider the movie to be a boring pre-requisite to the more satisfying "Star Wars: Clone Wars"!
Joseph
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#19 of 51 Tony J Case

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Posted March 25 2005 - 04:32 AM

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I thought that was really cool.

I, on the other hand, think is gratuitous fan-wank. Once in a while - a LONG while - is ok, but it seems that every episode in season 3 has a "What a wonderful smell you've discovered" or "Apologies accepted" or something recycled. It's gone from sly winks to beating you over the head with "Look! We're STAR WARS"

#20 of 51 Cameron Yee

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Posted March 25 2005 - 04:45 AM

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I, on the other hand, think is gratuitous fan-wank. Once in a while - a LONG while - is ok, but it seems that every episode in season 3 has a "What a wonderful smell you've discovered" or "Apologies accepted" or something recycled. It's gone from sly winks to beating you over the head with "Look! We're STAR WARS"


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