August 18, 2008

New Force Field ; Film of the Week: Star Wars – The Clone Wars Movies/Reviews

By Ellie Genower

BACK in the mid-70s, young writer/director George Lucas was struggling to get his grand space opera movie made.

Disappointing box office returns for his films THX-38 and American Graffiti meant he didn't hold out much hope his saga would ever make it into cinemas.

"The original Star Wars was one movie and I wrote a back story and script to it which came out to 200 or so pages," George recalls. "I couldn't do it because they only gave me EUR3m. So I cut it up and put the other acts on the shelf.

"My assumption was it was going to fail, because at this point in my career, I had done THX, which had failed, and American Graffiti which they wouldn't even release because they felt it was so bad.

"And now I was doing this crazy wacky thing.

"A studio executive said, 'I don't understand what you're doing. I don't understand the story. I don't get seven-foot dogs and robots talking. It doesn't make sense. But I like you and I think you're very talented and you're going to go someplace.'

"So I figure, I've got a shot.

I'll do this, and then somehow, I will get these other two films made, but it's going to be a struggle to convince people to spend more money on something that didn't make any money," he adds.

"So when it was a hit, I was the most surprised of anybody."

George's wacky space opera captivated fans worldwide and made instant stars of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.

The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi soon followed, enabling George to set up his own businesses including production company Lucasfilm and special effects corporation Industrial Light and Magic.

Now, three years after the last Star Wars prequel, George turns his attention to a computer-animated look at the universe.

New feature-length movie STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS is set between Episodes II and III, Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith and follows Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle evil Count Dooku.

It also introduces a few new characters - Anakin Skywalker's young Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, and evil Sith Asajj Ventress.

George intends the film to be a launch pad for the animated TV series of the same name to be shown in the US on Cartoon Network this autumn.

"This feature film came by accident," he says. ""It had to do with doing a TV series and developing new techniques and studios.

"When the first few shots came off the assembly line, I looked at it on the big screen and thought 'this is fantastic. It's so much better than I thought it was going to be.

Why don't we make a feature film'?"

"So that's how this happened. Primarily because I thought a lot of the fans would probably like to see this on a big screen."

FEATURING: The voices of Samuel L Jackson, Christopher Lee, Matt Lanter, Ian Abercrombie, Anthony Daniels, Tom Kane, Ashley Drane, Matthew Wood DIRECTOR: Dave Filoni CERTIFICATE: PG RUNNING TIME: 98mins REVIEWER'S RATING: *** SHOWING: Cineworld, VUE, Showcase VERDICT: A brief appearance by C-3PO ensures Anthony Daniels is the only actor to have appeared in all seven films

Review: Star Wars The Clone Wars

IT may be little more than a glossy teaser for a new TV series, but Star Wars: The Clone Wars boasts eye-popping action sequences including a terrific opening as the Jedi Knights and droid army lock horns.

It's a neat touch seeing the battle from the perspective of a clone trooper dodging enemy cannon fire. All the action, like a duel between Dark Jedi assassin Asajj Ventress (Futterman) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Taylor), is well choreographed.

The plot revolves around the kidnapping of Jabba The Hutt's son Rotta, known affectionately as "Stinky".

"There's more to this kidnapping than it seems," ponders Mace Windu (Jackson).

"Greater than we think this mystery may be," affirms Master Yoda (Kane) in his trademark gobbledygook.

Anakin Skywalker (Lanter) and young padawan Ahsoka Tano (Eckstein) lead the rescue charge to planet Teth, but the kidnapping is, in fact, part of a dastardly scheme by Count Dooku (Lee) and Jabba's power-hungry Uncle Ziro (Burton).

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