Posted in Television

The Essential Clone Wars: “Ambush”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
S1:E1 – “Ambush”
Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Brian George, Corey Burton, Nika Futterman
Steven Melching
Dave Bullock
October 3, 2008
Yoda is lured into a trap by Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

My research for this episode was my first exposure to how wonky the Clone Wars episode chronology can be. I invite you to check out Lucasfilm’s chronological episode order to see what I mean. But apparently, if one were to watch all the episodes in chronological order, “Ambush” would be the show’s fifth episode, rather than the first.

If nothing else, I guess it’s consistent with the Star Wars brand. This is, after all, the movie franchise that started with Episode IV.

Chronological issues notwithstanding, this was a good episode to start with. Everybody knows Yoda, so that was a nice hook for viewers who weren’t as familiar with Star Wars. It also establishes some of the main villains, who the good guy and bad guy troops are, the nature of the war itself, etc.

I’ve never like when the battle droids are overly jokey. That started in Revenge of the Sith, and continued here. It was the only thing in the episode that grated on me.

For whatever reason the Toydarians, King Katuunko in particular, don’t look as richly detailed as the other characters. First episode stumbles, maybe?

Obviously, the highlight of this episode is Yoda having the clones take their helmets off and then addressing them as individuals. The best line in his little speech? “Deceive you, eyes can. In the Force, very different each one of you are.” That’s a great Yoda line. 

On the subject of Yoda, I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Tom Kane to voice that character. At this point, he’d already played the character for the Star Wars: Clone Wars shorts that aired between 2003 and 2005. But this was obviously of a much larger scale. The character was, and still is, so closely identified with Frank Oz. But to his credit, Kane managed to make the character his own. He’s not as vocally flamboyant with Yoda as Oz was. But I might argue Kane gives the character a little more grit, which isn’t uncalled for in a show like The Clone Wars.

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Posted in Movies

George Lucas on Star Wars: Gungans and the Vietnam War

***Think what you will about George Lucas, but in terms of Star Wars, it can all be traced back to him. That’s why I always find it so interesting to listen to him talk about it. His creative process, the reason certain decisions were made, and how these movies became pop cultural staples. This space is dedicated to just that. This is “George Lucas on Star Wars.”***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Scene: The Gungan army faces the Trade Federation’s Battle Droids on Naboo.

George Lucas Says (Via the Phantom Menace Commentary Track): “Having grown up in the shadow of the Vietnam War, the issue of a primitive society confronting technologically advanced society has fascinated me. Because that was the main event that was going on during my college years. And the fact that human determination and human spirit could overcome these vastly superior armies, I actually found to be rather inspiring. … [That’s] one of the main themes that has gone through all the Star Wars films.”

I Say: This “primatives vs. the powerful” narrative is something that dates back to some of the early drafts of the original Star Wars. Lucas has said that originally, there was a big battle between Empire and a society of wookies at the end of the movie. Obviously that was changed. But the idea re-emerged in Return of the Jedi, then again in The Phantom Menace, and Lucas finally got his big wookie battle in Revenge of the Sith.

For yours truly, Star Wars has served as a bridge into so many things, whether it’s other areas of pop culture, mythology, or in this case history. When you look at some of the circumstances of the Vietnam War and place them alongside sequence like this, it almost becomes an educational tool.

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