Review: ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Lands on Netflix

Star Wars the Clone Wars

Star Wars” is always better when it leans toward its darker side, and that’s certainly true of the batch of “The Clone Wars” episodes, dubbed “The Lost Missions,” premiering exclusively on Netflix. A huge coup given the importance of fan passion in driving subscription enterprises, these episodes are more adult in tone than many past installments of the animated series, including an extended interlude that could easily be dubbed “The Last Temptation of Yoda.” Frankly, just trumpeting a “Star Wars” property is a win for the streaming service; to quote a certain green-hued sage, that the episodes are good, a happy accident, that is.

Animation — and particularly the half-hour format — has proved especially beneficial to this permutation of the “Star Wars” franchise, given the shortcomings (clunky writing, stiff performances, wonky dissertations about tariff policies) that tended to leech some of the fun out of George Lucas’ most recent film trilogy.

“Clone Wars,” by contrast, was practically stripped to the bone — a much leaner machine, able to indulge in various kinds of stories from that rich far-far-away galaxy, while showcasing the kind of wholesale action that animation makes economically feasible.

The previewed episodes of “The Last Missions” harbor additional resonance because they expand upon a story thread from “Attack of the Clones,” delving into the commissioning of a clone army by the Jedi knight Sifo-Dyas, as well as attempts by Yoda (voiced by Tom Kane) to identify the nature of the Sith threat they face. That latter objective pushes the ancient master into a weirdly trance-like state with surreal aspects (at one point, he battles a Golum-esque version of himself), while the Jedi ability to see into the future and past creates an opportunity to explore matters dealt with in the prequels without completely obliterating the movies’ time line.

Navigating, as it does, the asteroid field between movies, there are obvious narrative limitations on “The Clone Wars.” After all, nothing beyond a stalemate can happen whenever Count Dooku shows up.

Nevertheless, the beautiful visuals, abundant action and creative latitude to plunge even further into the “Star Wars” universe’s nerd-obsessive quadrants (as in “Omigosh, it’s Yoda’s first trip to Dagobah!”) make the show considerable fun, especially for anyone who has ever waved a toy lightsaber at a John Williams concert.

As the proprietor of Lucasfilm, Disney can take full advantage of that in promoting its own TV channels. So it’s an endorsement of sorts to see this deal with Netflix, which was extremely shrewd to ante up for fanboy properties, including this most recent season of “Clone Wars” as well as repeats of previous seasons shown on Cartoon Network — and new series featuring second-tier Marvel characters from the studio.

Because whatever the price, given the marketing force “Star Wars” still wields, the streaming service should have a very good feeling about this.

Review: 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Lands on Netflix

(Series; Netflix, March 7)

Production

Produced by Lucasfilm Animation.

Crew

Executive producer, George Lucas; producer, Cary Silver; supervising director, Dave Filoni; director, Brian Kalin O’Connell; writer, Christian Taylor; editor, Jason W.A. Tucker; music, Kevin Kiner. 22 MIN.

Cast

Voices: Matt Lanter, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane, James Arnold Taylor, TC Carson, Catherine Taber, Ahmed Best, Barbara Goodson, Tim Curry, Ian Abercrombie, Corey Burton, Robin Atkin, Liam Neeson, Mark Hamill.

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  1. Aimee says:

    I’m so happy that Netflix finally got Clone Wars on streaming. I just finished season 5 and actually had tears in my eyes when Ahoska left. I agree with everything rebel scum posted. *THIS* is the Star Wars prequel we should have received. Everyone involved with this series should be quite proud.

  2. rebel scum says:

    A great series. (Implicit spoilers below.) As many have said already, *this* is the Anakin Skywalker we expected in the prequels – genuinely heroic, likable, fun, with a believable psychology and descent to the dark side not dependent on him being an easily-panicked whiny little b*tch. A more sensible depiction of Anakin also helps Padme and Obi-Wan, since now they don’t look like blind idiots for associating with a stupid, immature fool. The breadth of the series is truly epic, covering everything from the theology of the Force to the criminal underworld of Coruscant, bounty hunters and droid “culture” as well as more explanation of the political motives of the Separatists, much more development of the Clones and a travelogue of dozens of amazingly beautiful and diverse worlds out there in the galaxy, rendered breathtakingly by state of the art animation. I wish they’d had time to bring Ahoska’s story to a real close, but I’m sure that zany kid will show up again, now that they’ve given her a free pass to survive the coming Jedi purge…

  3. Steve says:

    Just finished all of Season 6. Amazing work they did! :) I’m very proud of everything they’ve accomplished here.

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