Star Wars: Clone Wars-Volume 1 (2003)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Director: Hyperspace Fan Club Edition
Featurette-Bridging The Saga
Trailer-Star Wars Episode III Game
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Gallery-Sketches And Storyboards
Gallery-Posters And Artwork
|Year Of Production||2003|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Genndy Tartakovsky|
Twentieth Century Fox
John Di Maggio
Kevin Michael Richardson
James Arnold Taylor
James L. Venable
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.49:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
"You fought in the Clone Wars?"
"I was once a Jedi knight - the same as your father."
Alluded to in the first film as the galaxy's greatest conflict, George Lucas was unable to find room in his Star Wars prequel trilogy to devote time to the action movie that fans of the series had been looking for and franchise novels had teased about for decades. In what is traditionally a disastrous move, the strong-willed, proprietorial creator of the series sent for a strong-willed, proprietorial creator of another series with an individual style in order to complete his work. In this case, however, he called on Genndy Tartakovsky - the creator of The Powerpuff Girls and Samurai Jack - and the partnership produced one of the finest pieces of TV animation in recent years.
The story of Star Wars: Clone Wars takes place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, with the war well underway. In fact, it's difficult to describe much more as the first series of Clone Wars is simply a series of battle sequences.
Perhaps I should explain. Designed less as an entity in itself than as a token to fans, Clone Wars began as a weekly three-minute interstitial shown on the US' Cartoon Network between its prime-time shows. The episodes were concurrently placed on Cartoon Network's website and at starwars.com. While the twenty episodes shown on this disc end-to-end unite to form a whole, the staccato nature of the episodes requires each piece to be a plot- and dialogue-light burst of action.
This isn't necessarily the drawback it might seem - the depth that emerges after the hour is surprising - but the goal of showing highlights of the Clone Wars is never far from the animators' minds.
Those who have seen Tartakovsky's other work, especially Samurai Jack, will recognise the director's unique personal stylings which are easily identifiable in Clone Wars. What is more surprising is how well this stylistic flavour has been entwined with Lucas', as these animations are identifiable not only from the use of elements from the movies (the ships, weapons, aliens and armour are all taken straight from Lucasfilm's canon), but the writers and animators regularly nod to the series' fans, whether by using Lucas' camera angles and wipes, by having characters express their bad feelings about "this" or the appearance of minor characters who have featured in Star Wars novels but never on film. The overall effect is to give the animation a distinct Star Wars look and feel, much truer to the original than previous animated series such as Star Wars: Droids, and if you attempt to delineate Lucas from Tartakovsky the analysis becomes quite unnerving.
One source of separation between the movies and this animated version lies in the voice acting. Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) is the only film actor to lend his voice here, and the remaining characters are voiced by imitators who previously voiced the characters for the Star Wars video games. Some are better mimics than others although, as Tartakovsky states in one of the commentaries, the direction given was for a somewhat more "animated" reading than the voice actors may have read themselves. Most of the characters are convincing - Anakin switches between a wooden tone and a petulant whine in a manner reminiscent of Hayden Christiansen, but Yoda's voice is a jarring reminder that some voices are harder to match.
Although the lack of plot or character development may leave some walking away unsatisfied after the hour, this disc is well worth a view by any fan of Star Wars or simply anyone with an interest in animation. The series won an Emmy for the season on this disc (admittedly in the relatively exclusive category of Outstanding Animation - one hour or longer), and has been nominated for another this year. Although the disc ends on a cliffhanger, this shouldn't be skimmed over as the cheesy franchise exploitation it might appear.
A mixture of CGI and tablet-drawn two-dimensional animation, it's no wonder that this disc looks exceptional - especially when there's no need for high levels of compression in fitting a 66-minute feature on the disc.
Although IMDB lists the original aspect ratio at 1.50:1, the version broadcast on Australian television matches the 1.78:1 ratio on this disc.
The sharpness on this feature is exceptional, and lines are clean. There is an element of blur on distant backgrounds, but this is an artistic feature present on other Tartakovsky discs and may be considered an artistic choice.
Foreground colour is bright throughout, often showing up duller backgrounds. Again, this is part of Tartakovsky's style as seen in other shows of his.
There is a very occasional and slight animation stutter that I could count three occurrences of throughout the feature - the first at 02:23 - these instances were confirmed on a second DVD player. Again, there appears to be substantial posterisation throughout, but this is the style of the director.
Although dialogue is limited, the subtitle stream of the feature is accurate. The subtitle streams of the two director's commentaries, however, were subject to substantial editing to keep up with the voice track.
The sole audio track is in English, being a Dolby Digital twin-channel track encoded at 192Kb/s.
The dialogue is sparse, but distinct. Although the audio does get away from the lips occasionally, this is the nature of animation.
Music is well presented, both that taken from the original film scores of John Williams and the original music derived from those scores.
Although only encoded as a 2.0 Dolby Digital track, the surround speakers are well-used to provide atmosphere during battle sequences.
The subwoofer, again, lacks an individual track but comes into play where it is required.
|Surround Channel Use|
When launching the disc, one of two animated menu sets (one showing Obi-Wan and the Republic, the other showing Count Dooku and the Sith) will be shown.
Somewhat obscured in the audio/subtitle selection menu is a THX optimiser which will allow you to perform basic calibration of your home theatre.
Unusually, director Genndy Tartakovsky has provided two commentaries for this feature - one for the DVD and one originally for members of Star Wars' "Hyperspace" fan club. Both are interesting, swapping back and forth between how effects were produced and how the interactions with Lucasarts were managed to ensure integrity to the movie series. Several nods to canon continuity that might otherwise have gone unnoticed are highlighted in these commentaries, and although they cover very similar ground and the one you hear second repeats much of the information in the first, the Hyperspace commentary is substantially more 'fannish' and has a tendency to point out everything Tartakovsky feels is "cool".
This featurette leads into the second series of Star Wars: Clone Wars, where Tartakovsky, Lucas and others reflect on the first series and hint at how the second series was used to lead directly into the Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith movie.
A trailer for the Revenge of the Sith video and computer game.
A short "making of" piece, demonstrating how the traditional animation was wedded to CGI and Lucasfilm's interaction in the series
Substantial still galleries, one devoted to sketches and storyboards, the other to finished art pieces and promotional posters.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The only differences between the two are that the Region 4 disc is PAL-formatted rather than NTSC and the Region 1 disc has additional French and Spanish Dolby Surround mixes. Unless you'd care for one of the dubs, I'd take the improved video display.
The feature is brief, but very much worth viewing - even if it simply looks like a disc thrown out to exploit the franchise. The video is sharp, and the audio is very much up to the job. Although you might regret buying the disc if it's released in a double-pack with series two, that release would be some time away.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Panasonic TX-86PW300A. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX-512.|
|Speakers||Wharfedale Diamond 8.3 fronts, Wharfedale Diamond 8.2 rears, Wharfedale Diamond 8 centre, Wharfedale 12" sub|