Before anyone wishes to praise “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” for its originality, I present examples of its sparkling dialogue:
“We’re going to need reinforcements.”
“What’s our plan of engagement?”
“Sir, we’re taking heavy fire.”
“Commander Cody, prepare the ground ships for assault.”
Oh well, what else does one expect from a Saturday morning cartoon, although even the movie’s detractors will be forced to acknowledge that this George Lucas production is the caviar of Saturday morning cartoons; after all, it’s a precursor to a “Star Wars” cartoon series scheduled to debut in October on television.
You may want to know why, at 64, a man with Lucas’ brains and talent is still intent on creating high-tech kiddie fare instead of seeking out more challenging projects — but you might note that the director is not Lucas, but Nickelodeon veteran David Filoni, who does a creditable job of managing the action in this take-me-to-the bank feature that will entertain kids and treat “Star Wars” junkies to an animated spin whirling around with familiar characters, not a one of them live.
Put yourself in kiddie adventure mode and you will have some fun watching the wooden figure of Anakin Skywalker, voiced by Matt Lawless, reluctantly take on a Padawan apprentice named Ashoka. A cross between Pocahontas and an adolescent Cleopatra, she is voiced by Ashley Eckstein. The two bicker and tease each other as they search for, rescue, and then struggle to return Jabba the Hutt’s kidnapped baby back to him.
Meanwhile, Count Dooka, voiced by Christopher Lee, conspires with evil forces to convince Jabba that the Empire has slain the kid. Lose Jabba and the Force is done for, since there will be no protection on the critical outer rim of the galaxy. As for rendering the characters in animation, the figures are wooden, the voices singsong cute, and the staging of battle scenes efficient. We come upon the only spark of originality when we visit a jazz-gangster club lorded over by Jabba’s brother, a villain with the lazy Southern accent of Truman Capote. We’re talking maybe two minutes here. Let’s face it: Kids do not care that the “Star Wars” franchise is 31 years ancient, and I can assure you that if I had young children with me or adults who refused to grow up, I’d take them to it in a galactic second. Pared down to its core, though, it’s a clichéd adventure borrowing heavily from a gazillion war movies. It’s a work in need of reinforcements.