This Week's Feature:
Star Wars : The Clone Wars
Welcome to the first in what is hopefully multiple editions of "New Adeventures in High-Def". Before I start with my review of my first film, I would like to share how I become a fan of electronics - especially home theater. I remember back in the late 1970's when my father purchased two VCRs and would rent movies from the local store and make copies to watch later. He had a catalog of 100s of movies very quickly. He would connect the VCR to his hi-fi stereo system and it was almost like being in the theaters. Well, for a 6 year old.Fast forward 20 years. DVD was just coming into its own and the technology was groundbreaking. After an unfortunate death in my family, I had a little money to spend. I bought my first DVD player (Phillips, ugg), surround receiver (Pioneer, not bad), 5.1 speakers (Yamaha, OK), and 36" TV (Sony XBR, very nice). The first movie I bought was Ronin and the DVD player came with a free copy of Batman & Robin (never watched it). I was amazed at the new 5.1 experience. An obsession was born. I couldn't wait to own a home and have my own 100" TV.Fast forward another 10 years. I have finally realized the dream. I just bought a new projector, 106" screen, and have a sweet 7.1 surround system with speakers that I built with my own two hands. So now I want to take my obsession to another level and try my hand at reviews. With that, it is time for my first review. This will be the format going forward - first a basic summary of the movie, then a review of the movie itself, followed by a review of the audio and video quality. I will rate the movies, audio, and video quality on a A - F scale and will provide a final recommendation (Skip It, Rent It, Buy It, Love It). Now on to the review:STAR WARS : THE CLONE WARS
THE SUMMARY: We all know the story of the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker through Star Wars I - VI. This animated movie details the story of the Clone Wars that takes place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The movie was released to theaters as a lead-in to the Cartoon Network series of the same way.
THE MOVIE: I rented this with the lowest expectations. I won't go as far as some and say Lucas raped my childhood, but Star Wars I-III definitely creepily watched 7 year old Royce take a shower through a hole in the wall. The prequels failed to capture the opportunity to tell the story of the Clone Wars in epic detail. Like most geeks born in the 1970s, I can vividly remember going to the theaters to see Star Wars. I remember hearing about the Clone Wars in the movie and the sense of wonder when Lucas announced that SW:ANH (as it was later called) was part 4 in a 9 episode series (later shortened to 6). My friends and I would always speculate about what parts 1-3 would be about and we always came to the same conclusion - The Clone Wars. Well, that never happened. Instead we got a dopey kids movie, a speech about how sand chaps young Vader's ass, and a nightmare scene where it actually look like Anakin is choking his chicken. We never got to see the clones until the last 20 minutes of AOTC. Instead, Lucas chose to tell the story in animated form. Right away, the movie distances itself from the original trilogies by using a slightly different theme song. We are soon introduced to digital Obi-Wan and Anakin fighting in an off-world skirmish. I was quite impressed. The animation looked smooth and the voice acting was better than average. Within the first 15 minutes we are introduced to a new Jedi padawan: Ahsoka Tano. I expected her to be annoying on a Jar Jar level but to my surprise, she wasn't that bad. Yeah, she had a mean habit of giving people awful nicknames (Sky-guy, R2-ey) but I could deal with it after sitting in line and with the same people that Triumph the Insult Comic dog eviscerated during the first day AOTC was released. No, I wasn't the douchebag who dressed up like Qui-Gon and recreated TPM.Anyway, I thought the pacing of the movie was good. There was plenty of action and nothing that brought the movie to a screeching halt (like the said sand chaffing scene in AOTC). Things got a little odd when Jabba the Hut's brother Ziro the Hut is introduced (I never knew that Hutts could be trannies, too. Now I know) but he comes in late in the movie and by that time I loosened up and just let myself enjoy a new chapter in the SW saga. Yeah, it was no Empire or even Jedi, but it came close enough to fulfilling the wishes of a 6 year old boy. I look forward to renting the TV series when it comes out on Blu-Ray. Of course, I could just watch it broadcast on Cartoon Network now as by my POS cable provider doesn't have CN in high-def.
THE VIDEO: The 3D animation takes a bit to get used to, but it looked spectacular once you get going. Bright colors, sharp picture. This is definitely a movie you could use to show off your new HDTV.
THE AUDIO: The Blu-Ray features Dolby TruHD sound. Even though you get High Def sound, the soundtrack is nothing spectacular - especially since this is a Lucasfilm feature. The surrounds were not as active as I had hoped, but there were some good low subwoofer scenes. Dialog was pretty clear and the sound effects didn't over take them. All in all, a good effort, but I've heard better on the regular SW DVDs.
OVERALL: This movie is really for the hard core SW fans. This wouldn't be for someone unfamiliar with the saga as it is not a good jumping on point. So my overall rating will only pertain to the SW fan. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. Is it someone I will watch over and over again? No, not when I can watch A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back on DVD. But I will say that I did enjoy it and can recommend a trip to the video store (or mailbox if you use Netflix).
OVERALL RATING: Rent It
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