Have Netflix? Then you can now enjoy the engaging story that is Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Don’t automatically discount it if you didn’t like the prequels – don’t be one of those geeks. It’s okay to give things a chance and then dislike them but don’t write them off with an air of superiority before you’ve given it any of your time. Being snobby doesn’t make you cool. Anyway, back to The Clone Wars. It’s a series that deserves your attention for not only the stories it tells – and those are layered and impressive – but also for the animation quality, the lighting, the voice talent, creature design… okay, all of it. Let me go into specifics.
First of all, it’s more Star Wars. Though we’ll soon be inundated with new films every year, right now there’s no such thing as too much. You get to explore more of the galaxy than ever before and spend time with the supporting cast. Many faces in the Clone Wars appeared in the prequel trilogy at one point, but now you get to know them and learn more about how the Jedi interact with a galaxy at war.
You can dive into the history of the Clone Wars. The battle was a pivotal time in the galaxy and ultimately allowed Emperor Palpatine to come into power. Many of the nuts and bolts were glazed over in the prequels, but not here. In fact, sometimes too many scenes are spent delving into the specifics of the banking clan and the politics of the Separatists. But, it’s all important. Wars are multifaceted, and for a children’s show, the Clone Wars goes above and beyond in looking at the bigger picture.
They don’t shy away from discussing some of the hairier topics of the time period as well. For example, why were the Jedi – peacekeepers of the galaxy – leaders of the Republic army? Why were they even involved? That discussion isn’t necessarily tackled head on, but it is addressed.
The Clone Wars has the time to focus on Anakin and illustrate his fall to the Dark side with greater depth. In the films, it happened lightning fast. He went from eager if sassy Jedi to a killer of Younglings in what felt like a blink of an eye. We also didn’t get to see a lot of him being a hero and an amazing pilot in the prequels. It’s all here in the animated series though. Every slip, every triumph, and everything in between. Actually, you get to know Anakin so well in this series that after watching it, his transformation to Darth Vader will absolutely and totally break your heart.
He’s not the only character the series who develops either. Padmé’s strength is on full display. Yoda shows more of his wisdom but also a streak of silliness, and Palpatine. Wow. I don’t feel like people give him enough credit. Many consider Darth Vader to be the biggest and baddest villain of the saga, but I disagree. Palpatine is the patient puppeteer with no qualms about knocking people in his path out of the way. He’s incredibly smart and was able to maneuver so many pawns into place that it blows your mind. The Clone Wars shows him patiently waiting in the shadows and carefully dropping a word here and a speech there to turn everything in his favor. It’s chilling.
Then, there are the new characters. Ahsoka Tano comes to mind first. The spunky female Togruta is Anakin’s Padawan and watching her grow over the series is a joy. She starts as a bratty little sister type and evolves into a capable young woman who has obviously been influenced by her Master’s training. Anakin’s devil may care attitude is infectious, and she picks up the best of it.
It’s definitely one of those series that only gets better as the seasons progress. Though the animation and lighting is quite good from the beginning, it hits damn near cinematic quality over time. The stories get more complex, and multiple episode arcs are introduced in season three. The three and four episode plots are more intricate than what you’d expect for a children’s show, and they cover some serious territory. Force mysteries, the construction of lightsabers, the nitty gritty of Order 66… there is fluff and there are definitely some clunkers but overall? It’s storytelling at its finest, and you won’t regret giving it a shot.