'Star Wars': Game Over

Friday, August 15, 2008

The ossification of "Star Wars" continues with "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," an animated sub-chapter (appendix? owner's manual?) of George Lucas's cynically plundered saga. This one shucks off all pretense that "Star Wars" has a wonderfully universal appeal and instead unfolds with all the entertainment value of watching somebody else play a video game.

Lucas fulfills his lifelong dream of completely dehumanizing his space opera, replacing it with a digitally animated style that is somewhere between cartoons, Christmas specials and panoramic paintings on the side of a van. One thing is definitely intact from the most recent prequel episodes: From the first frame, all but the learned geeks in the audience won't know what the heck is going on. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker (celebrity voices impersonated) are in the midst of the legendary and pointless Clone Wars, the battles of which seem to transpire on either Planet Marriott Airport or Planet Phallic Symbol.

Zap! Pow! What's? Boom! Happening? But wait: Now Yoda has ordered our heroes (accompanied by their inappropriately dressed teenage Jedi summer intern, Ahsoka Tano) to help rescue the kidnapped toddler of Jabba the Hutt. That's right: There's a Baby the Hutt. I'd go on explaining "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," but you'd think I was high. In a summer of stoner movies, "Clone Wars" fits right in.

-- Hank Stuever

Star Wars: The Clone Wars PG, 98 minutes Space violence, momentary smoking, mind-numbing levels of "Star Wars." Area theaters.

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