STAR WARS: CLONE WARS
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Rating: NOT RATED
Film Length: 69 minutes
Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.78:1 enhanced widescreen
Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround[*] French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
Closed Captioned: Yes
SLP: US $19.98
Release Date: March 22, 2005.
Entertainment Rating: /
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.
VIDEO QUALITY /
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.
AUDIO QUALITY /
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.
SPECIAL FEATURES /
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!