Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Blu-ray) (2008)
Audio Commentary-Audio & Video Commentary
Featurette-Behind The Story
Game-The Hologram Memory Challenge
|Year Of Production||2008|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Dave Filoni|
Warner Home Video
James Arnold Taylor
Dee Bradley Baker
Samuel L. Jackson
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 EX
English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (640Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (640Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (640Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (640Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Clone Wars is the first Star Wars film to be released in high definition. Sadly, it's easily the worst of the seven Star Wars films. It seems that George Lucas' faraway galaxy has become an ever-expanding commercial universe with one galactic hand in our pockets. Lucas' growing love of FX and CGI over genuine emotions and human performances has reached its natural conclusion, as the Clone Wars is completely computer-animated. Over recent years, Star Wars fans have grown accustomed to disappointment, and even though my expectations have been continually lowered through Episodes I to III, the Clone Wars still manages to disappoint me again. This debut feature film from Lucasfilm Animation is really just a pilot for the new series of children's television Clone Wars cartoons, and a lengthy advertisement for all the merchandising to follow. At least the direct-digital high definition transfer is flawless.
Mentioned briefly by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode IV, the story of Clone Wars takes place between the events of Episode II and III. In case you are confused, there are three Clone Wars - the 2003 animated television series, the 2008 animated television series, and this feature film, which is really a pilot for the 2008 series. The story at first seems to revolve around a series of land and space battles between the Empire and the Separatists. But then rather late in the film the central plot is introduced: Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and his new apprentice Ashoka (Ashley Eckstein) are ordered to rescue Jabba the Hutt's son (Jabba has a family?) who has been kidnapped. By rescuing Jabba's son, the Jedi hope to make an alliance with the Hutts, against the Separatists. This baby Hutt character, referred to as "stinky" serves only to provide childish humour and another cute Lucas character - just think of a baby Jar Jar.
Clone Wars includes characters from all of the films of the Star Wars saga, with Jabba, Yoda, C-3PO, and R2D2 from the original trilogy, and Anakin, young Obi-Wan, Padme Amidala, Mace Windu and Count Dooku from the prequels. Some different voices are used for the main characters, but Samuel L Jackson (Mace Windu), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Christopher Lee (Count Dooku) return to provide the voices for their characters. New central characters for the television series are provided by two female apprentices - Count Dooku's sinister Asajj Ventress (Nika Futterman) and Anakin's padawan, Ahsoka Tano, a feisty teenager. But the only new interesting or entertaining character is the effeminate, Ziro the Hutt (Corey Burton). This camp villain slithers into the story with flamboyant colours and a Truman Capote-like voice, providing (for me anyway) the film's only entertainment.
Directed by television animation supervisor Dave Filoni (Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender), the finished film's animation seems a strange mix of some photorealistic backdrops and galactic battles, contrasted with simplistic, anime-style characters. All of which seems to be interspersed with scenes of video game-style battles.
Sequel fatigue seems to have set in, as can easily happen when a franchise gets to number seven, not counting the other spin-off films such as Ewok Adventures (Caravan of Courage/The Battle for Endor) or the Star Wars Animated Adventures Droids and Ewoks, or the The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) which George Lucas has been able to successfully deny and bury. The script here seems to have run out of fresh ideas, and the Clone Wars seems to merely rehash some of the themes (and scenes) from the prequels, and clumsily lift plots and characters from other Star Wars films.
The direct-digital transfer for Clone Wars is of excellent quality. It has been mastered in 1920 x 1080p, using VC-1 compression.
The High Definition transfer is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in a native 16x9 frame.
Although some of the animation is a little soft, the sharpness of the high definition transfer is perfect, capturing all the available detail included in the original source. For example, consider the fine detail in the expansive space scene at 21:05 and the definition in the droid battle scene at 23:12. The black level is excellent, with true deep blacks.
The colour is perfect, with a rich palette of perfectly-saturated colours. There are some rare moments of artistry in the art direction, with some scenes reminiscent of Japanese art, such as the shot of the remote monastery at 10:25.
There are no problems with the transfer in regards to MPEG, film artefacts, or film-to-video artefacts.
Seven sets of subtitles are provided. The English ones are accurate. One annoying feature is that the English subtitles automatically play if you select any of the extras, and have to be manually turned off each time.
This is a BD-50 (50 GB Blu-ray disc), with the feature divided into 46 chapters.
The audio is of excellent quality, but disappointing when compared to the recent Star Wars films.
Originally released theatrically in Dolby Digital, dts, and SDDS surround audio, there are five audio options on this BD: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 EX Surround, English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX Surround, French Dolby Digital 5.1 EX Surround, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 EX Surround, and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 EX Surround.
The dialogue quality and audio sync are generally very good throughout.
The original orchestral musical score was provided by Kevin Kiner, and it is derivative of John Willams' brilliant work.
Dolby TrueHD Lossless audio is capable of carrying up to eight discrete audio channels, at a sample depth and rate of 24-bit/96 kHz. The maximum bitrate that can be encoded is 18 Mbps. But the lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 EX is largely wasted here. The Clone Wars audio is not the surround-sound bombardment we enjoyed with the prequel Star Wars films. The film betrays its television origins and often sounds a little thin or constrained throughout, rather than the epic film it aspires to. That noted, at times there are some nice surround effects, and the placement of directional sound through the rear speakers is often quite good.
The subwoofer is utilised to support the many sound effects and explosions throughout.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a number of extras, most of which relate to the 2008 television series, as opposed to the film itself. The highlight for me was seeing the clips from the original trilogy in high definition. Star Wars fans will probably enjoy the extras and the discussions relating to the wider Star Wars universe.
As with other BDs, the menu can be accessed while the film is playing.
Audio & Video Commentary
Behind The Story
The Hologram Memory Challenge
A simplistic memory game for kids.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Our BD appears to be identical to Disc One of the US BD - it even has the US anti-piracy warning at the beginning. But the US two-disc BD offers a digital copy of the film (in standard definition) on the second disc.
The Force is not strong with this one. For children and die-hard fans only.
The video quality is excellent.
The audio quality is also excellent, but limited by the source material.
The extras are interesting for Star Wars fans.
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic High Definition 50' Plasma (127 cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Samsung Pure Digital 6.1 AV Receiver (HDMI 1.3)|