SW: The Clone Wars: Clone Cadets and ARC Troopers Review - Mania.com



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  • TV Series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  • Episode: Clone Cadets and ARC Troopers
  • Starring (Voices): Matt Lanter, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Ashley Eckstein, Matthew Wood, Tom Kane, Anthony Daniels and Nika Futterman
  • Written By: Cameron Litvack
  • Directed By: Dave Filoni (Clone Cadets) and Kyle Dunlevy (ARC Troopers)
  • Network: Cartoon Network
  • Series:

SW: The Clone Wars: Clone Cadets and ARC Troopers Review

The third season of Star Wars: Clone Wars Begins.

By Rob Vaux     September 17, 2010


The Clone Wars Season 3 Reviews begin..
© Lucasfilm/Bob Trate

 

Many fans view The Clone Wars TV series as proper atonement for the shortcomings of Episodes I through III. I’m a defender of the live-action films and even I see how the animated show steps up its game. It finds the right combination of fun characters and spectacular visuals, while its storylines adroitly combine extended narrative arcs with terrific stand-alone episodes.
 
The mixture allows them to make full use of the richness of the Star Wars universe. We can take side-trips to visit interesting locales or hang out with little-known characters, then return to Anakin, Obi-Wan and the gang for some righteous droid butt-kicking without losing a beat.
 
The Season Three premiere--comprised of two distinct but interrelated episodes--delivers a first-rate blend of all of those elements, while keeping the show’s shortcomings to an absolute minimum. Annoying characters are nowhere to be seen (though I’m sure Ahsoka “I Lost My Lightsaber” Tano is just waiting to run her nails down the blackboard when the opportunity arises) and the script shows a crispness and buoyancy that the show’s weaker episodes often lack.
It also pulls off the not-insignificant trick of giving a group of clones some viable personalities.
 
We’ve seen it before--notably with Captain Rex--but the first story here demonstrates the comparative difficulty of the task. It focuses on five clone cadets, comprising a single squad and struggling through their training on Kamino. Director Dave Filoni likens their exploits to Band of Brothers, as they bicker and fight with each other rather than concentrating on their task. They run the risk of being demoted to maintenance, an ignominious fate reserved for the lowest of the low in clone society. In order to persevere, they need to come together as brothers and recognize the value of their individual skills within the greater whole.
 
Though trite and hastily developed, the formula still endears us to the figures at the center of it, while illustrating the nifty way Jango Fett’s Mini-Mes slowly develop their own personalities. In and of itself, it’s merely serviceable--a fast-paced bit of training-style action slightly hampered by a pedestrian script—but it pays big dividends in the second episode, “ARC Troopers.” We return to Kamino a short time later, along with Obi-Wan (voiced by James Arnold Taylor), Anakin (voiced by Matt Lanter) and the veterans of the squad in the first episode. They aim to stop an invasion of Kamino by General Grievous (voiced by Matthew Wood) and Asajj Ventress (voiced by Nika Futterman). By knocking out the Clone facility, the Separatists would gain a huge advantage in the war, something the Jedi must stop at all costs.
 
First and foremost, “ARC Troopers” serves as a textbook showcase of how animation benefits the Star Wars universe. As the heroes and villains square off against each other in their expected pairs--with Obi-Wan battling Grievous and Anakin taking on Ventress--director Kyle Dunlevy delivers an astonishingly kinetic series of duels. Here, Clone Wars’ use of animation really shines, with the combatants attacking at inhuman speeds and Grievous’s scuttling, insect-like gait moving him in all manner of surprising directions. It uniquely encapsulates how the Jedi move in our mind’s eye, something no live-action production (however advanced) can quite match. Coupled with the imaginative choreography (and the fact that lightsabers are still too damn cool for words), it makes the episode a feast of eye-popping action.
 
More importantly, it gives the first episode a poignant sense of closure. “ARC Troopers” intercuts the Jedi battles with the clone squad’s efforts to stave off invasion. We see the pride they carry in their “home world” and the gruesome losses they bear in the prosecution of this war. The clones basically serve as “heroic” Separatist droids: each one interchangeable and ultimately replaceable. Clone Wars shows us the halting, struggling way they find their individual souls, while still creating a “culture” of sorts for which they’re willing to fight and die. It lends the action just enough thoughtfulness to remind us why the Star Wars universe remains so awesome. That, and the return of terrific figures like Ventress to the fold, spells great things for the season to come.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 10
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Chris Beveridge 9/17/2010 9:06:33 PM

 I'm still so far behind. i just finished the first season on Blu-ray last month and am now waiting for the second season to hit. I'm definitely enjoying the show, though it took some time to get into the first season even though I loved the movie a lot. 

freespirit 9/17/2010 10:42:01 PM

 loved the 2nd episodes, and how it brought several different clone characters from seasons 1,2, and 3 together.  Theres definitely a more intense feel to it this season.

TheWORstFan 9/18/2010 6:09:05 AM

Did the third season already premiere?

freespirit 9/18/2010 6:16:42 AM

 yea, last night. you can check out reruns later this week in  the evenings or on starwars.com

DarthDuck 9/18/2010 8:54:10 AM

Fantastic epsiodes to start the new season.

POTENTIAL SPOILERS

As you stated, the first episode was a very formula-driven story but it still worked.  Seeing the clones go from numbers to names and personalities was a lot of fun.

99 was a great, if cliqued, character.  While heavy-handed at times the idea worked and as much as I enjoyed him I was glad to see his story end the way it did.  Any more 99 would've been too much.

 

As for your comments on Ashoka, I've done an almost complete 180 with the character.  She's supposed to be young and annoying, but I can understand why that gets her so much hate from older fans.  Young and annoying is an ever-present theme in the Saga.  And "Lightsaber Lost" was an awesome episode.

Chopsaki 9/18/2010 2:19:47 PM

Awesome episode, unfortunately Jar Jar shows up next week...NOOOooo...

thorin02 9/18/2010 5:22:40 PM

Chopsaki as much as it pains me to say this the writers on Clone Wars actually succeed in making Jar Jar a tolerable character.  Not a great character, not even a good character but he's no where near as annoying as he was in Episode I.  

freespirit 9/19/2010 12:07:02 AM

 thori02-wow, now thats sacrilegious lol

DarthDuck 9/19/2010 7:09:33 AM

he's not wrong.  the name of the episode escapes me at the moment but when Jar-Jar gets mistaken for a Jedi its actually a pretty amusing episode.

wildwestie 9/20/2010 7:04:29 PM

Love the series, love the animation.  As the reviewer says, it allows the Jedi to move as we've always imagined, without trying to use live-action to animated double back to live-action.  As much as I love the movies, i've always "seen" the Jedi do more with their powers.  As for the clones, their story is compelling and if you dig this series, check out Karen Traviss' novels about the Republic Commandos.  Very deep and very well written.  It moves a group of Commandos from Geonosis through Ep III into being Imperial Commandos after the fall of the republic.  Many tie-ins to Jango and Boba and how the bounty hunters and Mandalorians played a part in raising and training the different squads of clones, from cadets and regular troopers to the ARC and Null troopers to the Commando's the story focuses on.  I see several similarities to this series, though there was a storyline last year that had a deserter have a family with a Twi lek.  The books had a commando get together with a Twi lek as well but established since they were different species, couldn't have offspring.  Such a minor detail but it would've been nice to have a crosscheck for some continuity.  All in all, enjoying the series.

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