Star Wars Clone Wars Season 2 Blu-ray review
|REVIEWS - BLU-RAY REVIEWS|
Season one needed work, and season two proves that the work has been done...beautifully.
Finding itself far more focused than the first season, season two of George Lucas's Star Wars TV spin-off continues the saga by embroiling us even further in the Clone War conflict and a galaxy at war. As the fight between the Republic and the Separatists escalates, season two takes us through 22 episodes of action, adventure and high-quality animation.
All the characters are back: Obi Wan, Anakin, Windu, Padme, Dooku, Grievous, the ever-obnoxious Ahsoka, and an increasingly bitter Bobba Fett. There are new characters of course, and the expansion of the Star Wars universe gains plus points with these new additions. Fett fans in particular will enjoy one particular story arc concerning the young Bobba and his rag tag band of bounty hunters.
Other highlights include a two-part story arc concerning the Zillo Beast, a monster of gargantuan proportions allowed to run amuck on Coruscant; while the episode ‘Bounty Hunters’ pays homage to Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, as Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka team up with Aurra Sing and her gang to protect some local farmers from a band of pirates.
High praise should also be given for the action sequences this time round. Light-sabre duels in particular are taken up a notch, while space battles and even run-of-the-mill action scenes are, more often than not, better than those seen in the films. Of course, this raises the question: why couldn’t the prequel trilogy have been more like this? Even the dialogue is better than what some of the prequel actors had to spout.
Adding further insult to the memory of the much-maligned prequels is the CGI itself. Aside from the brilliant animation and design of the characters, the animation and background ‘set pieces’ (if you can call them that) are equal to, if not better than those depicted in the films. Coruscant in particular looks better, and more realistic, than ever.
"Even the character of Padme (originally played by Natalie Portman) seems to have developed a personality and, dare we say it, a pulse"
The same holds true for the characters, with the actors turning in far more worthy performances than those delivered by the likes of Christensen (Anakin) and McGregor (Kenobi). Even the character of Padme (originally played by Natalie Portman) seems to have developed a personality and, dare we say it, a pulse.
Another improvement is the insights we’re given into relationships between the characters. Thanks to the extra screen time a television series affords, we now have a much better understanding of the relationships between Padme and Bail Organa, Windu and Anakin, and a far greater empathy with the young and vengeful Bobba. There are other story arcs too, and the characters, old and new, take on more meaning and tend to serve a greater purpose when it comes to telling the tale of George Lucas’s space saga.
One thing lacking from the series, though, is the continuing decline of Anakin as he edges toward the dark side. Yes, there are flashes of the growing menace and feelings of conflict within him, but these are only brief and do nothing to indicate the dark lord he will eventually become. However, Chancellor Palpatine and his sinister ways are on display for all to see, and it will be good to see how his relationship with Anakin develops in the next series. Another relationship that needs to be developed further is that of Anakin and Ahsoka. The paternal protectiveness Anakin felt toward his young Padawan is waning in this series, with Skywalker becoming more of a big brother than an authoritative mentor, while Ahsoka becomes much more assertive and independent in her own right. All these things considered, I will be interested to see where this relationship goes. Knowing that they will have to part eventually, lets hope the young Jedi will meet a suitable end in forthcoming series.
Overall though, it’s fair to say that this series has learnt its lessons from last time, with improvements clearly noticeable. Whereas season one was, at times, misguided and seeming to lack a clear direction, season two is tighter, more succinct and much more focussed than its predecessor. Characters are more developed, with performances outstripping those of their live action counterparts. Likewise, the animation and artwork are of the highest order, again surpassing the designs seen in the films. Story and structure are entertaining from start to finish, with rarely a dull moment sneaking onto the screen. There are highlights and guilty pleasures for the hardcore fans, while those with only a passing interest will no doubt enjoy as well.
Worthy of multiple viewings, season two of The Clone Wars delivers where previous Star Wars outings have stumbled. By no means perfect, it’s certainly entertaining and proves there’s still a bit of life left in the Star Wars story, with this release proving a very welcome addition.
Behind the scenes featurettes on each disc: ‘Attack of the Zillo Beast’, ‘Magic of the Holocron’, ‘Return to Genosis’, ‘Creating Mandalore’.
64-page production journal – Including early sketches, artist notes and concept art from season two.
Blu-ray exclusive: The Jedi Temple Archives: An extensive database exploring special effects footage, early concept art, 3D character and object turnarounds and early animation.
Running Time: 500 Minutes
RRP: Blu-Ray £49.99 / DVD £39.99
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 2 is released in the UK on the 15th of November
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