Tag Archives: Dave Filoni

The Clone Wars Season 4 Episode 7 Review

Hello and welcome back to another review of Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 4! This week we’ll be talking about the first episode in the “Umbara” arc, Darkness on Umbara. The episode is very clone centered and brings up many interesting points, possibly even  foreshadows to order 66. Below are my thoughts on the episode.

When the Republic attacks the shadowy world of Umbara, Rex and the 501st are placed under the command of the legendary General Krell, a by the book, battle hardened Jedi, after Anakin has been called to Coruscant. The first fifteen minutes was what I’ve been wanting to see in The Clone Wars since Season 2, another full scale invasion. I was very impressed with how original it felt compared to some of the other landing sequences we’ve seen, mostly due to how hostile the environment itself is. With large, Sarlacc-ish creatures underfoot, and the clone’s visibility diminished by the hazy atmosphere, it put our characters in even greater danger than they were on Geonosis or Ryloth. What I liked about it were all the traps and looming dangers that we, and the clones, could not even expect coming. Another aspect that made this episode so great was the camera work, one shot in particular that was almost a first person perspective of a clone, which I can’t recall ever being used before in the show, and could symbolize the perspective we’re supposed to be viewing this arc from (hint: it’s the clones).

On a similar note, I thought the designs and lighting of this episode were very appealing for a battlefield setting. Everything from the environment, to the enemies they fought. (In which I was so glad they weren’t all droids; in my opinion the episode would just not have worked the same if they had fought only battle droids.) Also, the creatures seemed to have there own unique traits, and even Krell himself was very well done with a new, folding, double bladed lightsaber; they all seemed to match the mood perfectly. Another part of the design was the clone armor, which we have seen very little of this season. I was immediately blown away by the pictures we saw of Rex’s new gear in Pete’s last The Clone Wars Weekly Roundup. This was a great episode to introduce Rex’s, Fives’ and the rest of the 501st’s ROTS armor (could it possibly help foreshadow the events of the movie?).

This brings me to the most important part of this review, and the biggest question I have about the arc, its characters, and the impact. Is there a larger, more secretive motive by Krell than just being the most ruthless General in the order? It’s been hinted at in the episode by Fives, but is there any truth behind it? The first red flag I’ve got was in the very beginning, Anakin is sent back to Coruscant at the request of the Chancellor, could this be a plot created by Sidious himself? Could Rex be a danger to Sidious’s plan to turn Anakin? How is Krell involved? All I know is that there is something going on, and I have absolutely no clue how it will unfold, and this has only happened a few times in Clone Wars for me. Which is definitely a good thing.

I felt that Darkness on Umbara was Clone Wars tale-telling at its best. Even for an episode that’s just supposed to establish the story and set up later episodes, I would say that this is my favorite in season 4, so far. It had a great story, great animation, and great character. I liked that we did get to see some of season 2’s The Deserter shine in through Rex throughout this episode as he protects his fellow clones from the dangers of Umbara, and General Krell. Well, that wraps up my review for Darkness on Umbara! Thanks for reading and don’t forget to leave a comment below and let us at the Star Wars Report know what you thought about this episode! May the force be with you…always

- Ryan

The Clone Wars Season 4 Episode 3 Review

Welcome back! I’m Ryan Zasso and I’m here once again to bring you reviews on all the latest episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars! Below are my thoughts, opinions, and observations about last week’s episode, Prisoners.

 

Moving right into the episode, within the first five minutes, we are thrust right into the action. Anakin, Padme, Kit Fisto, and Jar Jar Binks are held prisoner and interrogated by our evil villain, Tamsen. In this episode, Tamsen’s evil meter is raised to the max when we find that he has plans to claim the throne of Mon Calamari, and basically succeeds. He leaves Padme to die, tortures Kit Fisto and Anakin with electric eels, sticks a few Mon Calamari and Quarren with exploding knives, and attempts to have Lee Char publically eaten by some shark-like aliens similar to himself. So yes, Tamsen’s evilness factor has definitely risen from the somewhat menacing military commander we saw in the first two episodes. Another dramatic character change we’ve seen from the last two episodes was Lee Char himself. He says, “The failure is mine, not the republic’s”. Rather than trying to find his foothold on the situation and his place as the leader of Mon Calamari, he has fully accepted personal responsibility for the fate of Mon Calamari and has finally stepped up to be a decisive ruler of all the people of the planet. The quote above shows how far he has come from relying on the Jedi and Captain Ackbar, and that he actually can become Tamsen’s match and reunite the people of Mon Calamari.

While watching this arc unfold, I find that the Quarren are so much more than just the enemies, they are also what Lee Char needed to find a good conclusion to the arc. Right at the beginning of the first episode, we’ve had hints that the Quarren, while constantly at odds with the Mon Calamari, were still interested in peace. Mostly on the part of our main Quarren, Nosser Ri, who slowly begins to see the wrongdoing of the separatists on Mon Cala. And in the end, sees Lee Char as a wise leader instead of someone who inherits the throne. But I think it was necessary for Nosser Ri to maintain his position until the time was right. Without the struggle, Mon Cala might’ve been under the rule of an inexperienced leader who would’ve had no support of half the planet’s population which I think would’ve made matters worse by creating an unstable government. I think what Nosser Ri saw in Lee Char just before he betrayed the separatists, was someone who would lead justly. In my opinion, it wasn’t just the separatist’s plans for the planet that caused Nosser Ri’s turn. The conflicts within the Quarren people as Lee Char becomes the leader he is supposed to be makes this episode more character driven then the previous episodes and really is at the core of what makes this episode work so well. (Plus some really cool action scenes.)

After the Qurren have turned on the separatists, there is a frenzy of fighting with all the species of Mon Cala, clones, and Gungans, against the droid army. And personally, I thought the climax of this episode was so much more fulfilling then any of the fights from the previous two. Instead of all out warfare that lasted the entire episode, we actually had a great build up to what would be the fight that ties up the arc and unites the people once again. Though, I was a little surprised to see how graphic Tamsen’s death was. I’m not really too sure how necessary it was to show half of Tamsen floating down to the sea floor. But other than that, I thought the climax was well done and really fun to watch.

And thus concludes my very late review of Prisoners! All in all, this has been the strongest episode of season 4, both character wise and with action scenes. I know we can expect much more coming up in the rest of the season! Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you…always.

 

-Ryan

 

The Clone Wars Season 4 Episode 1 & 2 Review

Welcome! This is the first of many reviews I will be writing for each The Clone Wars episode this season, and hopefully many seasons to come! Below is my review for the premiere of The Clone Wars season four.

Let’s start off with some initial thoughts and the build up to this season. Season 3 had just ended, leaving fans with mixed feelings for about half of the season. We had a significant amount of political intrigue and mystery that made viewership and ratings drop for the first few months. Then came the Savage Opress story, the Mortis arc, and a great finale featuring Ahoska being captured by Trandoshan slavers. We left the season feeling good about the future of the show and knowing at least a little bit of the awesomeness that would ensue in season four. The animation was pretty good, a solid improvement from the previous seasons, and a much needed update of character models for Ahsoka, Obi-Wan, and Anakin. Over the summer, several trailers were released showing the potential for great action, adventure, story, and extraordinary animation. This brings us to our current episodes, Water War and Gungan Attack.

 

The story goes like this: Anakin, Padme, Ahsoka, and Kit Fisto aid the Mon Calamari after a civil war breaks out between the Mon Calamari and the Quarren. After the King of Mon Cala is mysteriously murdered, his son, Prince Lee-Char, tries to lead the people as best as he can even though the Quarren are set against him. When I saw the trailers, which showcased this episode a lot, I wondered how similar this arc would to be to the Genndy series. We have already seen episodes of The Clone Wars that relate to some other clone wars material out there. The season premiere last season was believed to be taken from the Republic comics. However, that turned out to be a lot different from what we were expecting, so this time around I was thinking it would also just be coincidental. In the case of Water War and Gungan Attack, it turned out to be different, but not so different from how the battle of Kamino was changed from the comics. The characters were mostly the same, the concept of a civil war between the Quarren and the Mon Calamari was the same, but that was about it. To me it seemed like the Genndy episode of Kit Fisto’s underwater battle could’ve almost been a part of Water War. Filoni and crew did a great job vastly expanding the storyline from what it originally was, without contradicting anything major with the Genndy show. It’s episodes like these that give me hope that the two series can live in harmony (if you paid close attention, there were a few shout outs to the old series). I’m not sure how much I would’ve enjoyed a complete re-do of the battle on Mon Cala without retaining at least a little bit of its roots. As far as the story goes for Water War, I enjoyed it. There was no deep meaning or unexpected reveal  that shatters the universe, but it puts our main characters in a unique situation that stretches their ability to function. Anakin losing his helmet is a perfect example, for obvious reasons. Pit him against our villain Tamsen, who is native to the water and therein lies an unusual challenge. This episode also created a number of fairly original fight scenes, the one that I remember the most was the climax; all our heroes fight in a whirlpool while being attacked by an shark type alien who can eat right through clone armor, how awesome is that!? This situation also allows us to see the best in characters, such as Kit Fisto. Water War and Gungan Attack did Kit Fisto tremendous justice, and stayed true to the original Clone Wars, and makes him probably the best character in the arc so far. I also think they’re doing a pretty good job of progressing the prince’s character along the path of being a hero, or at least a good leader, which we’ll be seeing (hopefully) in the next episode.

 

Now, my favorite part of the episode, the animation. Absolutely stunning! Some scenes could easily have been mistaken for one of the films (the space scenes particularly). At San Diego Comic-Con, the panel TCW  had showed how a lot of the character movements have changed and it shows. It’ll be hard to go back to season 1 after seeing how beautifully everything moves in season 4! Another thing I noticed was when the Republic ship exploded, the explosions they had looked very colorful, nice, and new. Also, the lighting was well done, that, along with the sound design (which was also phenomenal) really set the tone and made this underwater world believable.

 

There wasn’t much I didn’t like with this episode, but one thing that bothered me was the lightsabers not being affected in any way, shape or form by being underwater. It’s not a huge deal, but it threw me off a little. It’s probably just me still clinging to the Genndy series after all these years. That and the king’s death not being brought up at all after the first three minutes of the episode, and the characters not connecting that event to the separatist takeover were the only issues I had while watching.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this brief review of The Clone Wars season 4 premiere! Season four is shaping up to be a wild ride, and I can’t wait for the next episode! Expect these reviews to get more in depth as the episodes of season 4 get more in depth with their stories. Thanks for reading!

 

-Ryan

 

The Clone Wars Weekly Roundup

Welcome to this week’s The Clone Wars Weekly Roundup.

After taking a bit of a hiatus to provide a retrospective look back at the first three seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, we are back with our regular weekly roundup of this week’s TCW news.

This past Friday saw the premier of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season Four: Battle Lines.  The premier thrust us into the front lines of the Mon Cala civil war.

We won’t be reviewing the episodes in this column, but I will give a self serving plug to my reviews over on LightsaberRattling.com, Water War (4.01) and Gungan Attack (4.02).

There are some relatively big changes for Star Wars: TCW fans this season.  With the re-design of Starwars.com we have two major changes, one is good and one is bad.

To start with the positive, unlike previous seasons when you had to wait until Monday for the episode to appear as free streaming content on Starwars.com, now the episodes are free for all to view on Starwars.com starting on Saturday after the premier.  This is great for fans that do not have Cartoon Network and is a logical move in the face of on-line piracy.  I would much rather watch on Starwars.com on Saturday then watch a low quality version illegally and chance catching whatever viruses or Malware might be on the illegal streaming site.

The biggest change to Starwars.com is the content shift from written to visual.  While the focus on visuals makes for a very attractive site, it also means we are getting a lot less information about each TCW episode.  Previously you would get detailed summaries of the episode,  cast, crew and character information, and behind the scenes information.  Many of the little Easter eggs that are in the episodes were pointed out in the Episode Guides, as well as addressing continuity issues and inspiration for different characters or objects in the episode.  If you go to the slideshow section for each TCW episode, underneath each image there is a little information, but it is more of simply describing the image then what we used to get in the Episode Guides.  Author Dan Wallace addresses the format changes at StarWars.com in general without talking about the Episode Guides directly in his latest Blog.

If it wasn’t bad enough losing the Episode Guides, we have also have lost Dave Filoni’s video commentaries that used to accompany each episode.  This is a tremendous loss of content and hopefully something that is either resurrected or delivered in an alternate format.  I don’t think these changes will negatively impact viewership of the show, but for the more mature fans of the show, I think it does detract from the water cooler experience of talking about the show.

This Friday the third episode in the Mon Cala arc will appear, entitled Prisoners.  Starwars.com has a synopsis episode 4.03 Prisoners, along with some preview images and a video.

The synopsis is as follow:

“Crowns are inherited, kingdoms are earned.”

The Republic and Gungan forces have been captured by Riff Tamson and his Karkarodon enforcers. Now, it is up to Ahsoka and the young Prince Lee-Char to unite the fractured people of Mon Cala and drive out the Separatist invaders.

It certainly looks like we are up for an action packed conclusion to this story arc!  I can’t wait to find out what the next arc is going to be about after this one.  

Before we close this week, the crew here at the Star Wars Report would like to wish Ahsoka Tano actress and Her Universe Empress, Ashley Eckstein a very Happy Birthday.

 

Until next time, keep your Buy’ce on and your blaster handy.

- Pete

The Clone Wars Season Two Retrospective

You need to stand before you can walk; you need to walk before you can run.  Season One of The Clone Wars was very much the show finding its legs to stand.  Developing character models and animation techniques, actors were getting used to characters, and writers striking a difficult balance of appealing to both kids and adults, all while being guided by the stories that George Lucas wanted to tell.

Season Two was where the show really began to pick up some steam; there are very few bad episodes in Season Two.  Generally speaking, I think Season Two was consistently good, but there are a lot of episodes that I like fairly equally, it was hard picking a top and bottom three.

The Best: “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.”

Landing at Point Rain (2.05):

Now this is what I am talking about, when I think of the Clone Wars I think of the battle on the front lines.  Point Rain was a lot of fun, we have three different Jedi Generals, Ki-Adi-Mundi,  Anakin, and Obi-Wan lead a three pronged insertion onto Geonosis to attack and destroy the droid factory.  My favorite part of the episode was the touch of humor at the end with Ki-Adi one upping both Ahsoka and Anakin.  65! Suck it Separatists!

Lethal Trackdown (2.22):

Season Two really ended on a fun note.  I like the conflicted young Boba Fett.  I thought it was hilarious that Hondo has had enough interactions with the Jedi for one season, and is basically telling Aurra Sing to have fun with that.

The Deserter (2.10):

Bar none, The Deserter is one of my favorite episodes of TCW and one of my favorite Star Wars stories.  I am fascinated by the idea of a clone army.  The moral issues that cloning raises for the Jedi and the rest of the Republic, and for the issues it raises within the clones themselves.  How do the clones view themselves? How do they form their own individual identities and personalities? How do they view themselves and how do they view the Republic that they serve? In Karen Traviss’ Republic Commando novels she introduced Mandalorian training Sergeants that not only instilled the martial training that was necessary, but they also gave their clones access to Mandalorian culture and offered a sense of belonging and a moral code that goes beyond orders and flash learning.  How do clones who are not so fortunate adjust to life?  Do the clones worry about their future and what will happen after the war ends?

In this episode we meet Cut Laquane, his Twi’lek wife Suu and Cut’s two adopted kids.  Cut presents Captain Rex with a different perspective on the war and life as a clone.  I have a feeling the experience of meeting and debating with Cut will have a strong influence on how Rex’s views may change during the remainder of the series.  We know we are getting some more Rex focused stories in Season Four, and I have to believe that Rex will have an important choice or sacrifice to make by the times the series ends.

The Mandalore Plot (2.12):

Too many episodes I liked to pick just three, but this may be my most controversial pick.  You will hardly find a bigger fan of the Mandalorian culture or Boba Fett then me.  I was predisposed to have a fanboy freak out with this episode, however looking back with some perspective makes this one of my favorites from Season Two.

The issue of Mandalorian continuity probably caused the biggest conniption fit in fandom when the rumors first started spreading about Karen Traviss’ leaving the Star Wars franchise, resulting in the cancellation of two books (Boba Fett Stand-alone and Imperial Commando II).  When this show aired people freaked, pacifist Mandalorians, George Lucas had lost his mind.  Ok, everyone step back from the ledge.

This episode introduced Duchess Satine Kryze ruler of Mandalore and Pre Vizsla, Governor of Concordia and Commander of Death Watch.  Vizsla, voiced by Jon Favreau, was a very cool new character and villain.  The black, samurai sword like lightsaber is so wizard (That one’s for you Ani).  Satine is a character that grows on you.  The concept of Obi-Wan having an intimate relationship is an idea that had been explored in the EU, but this was the first time it had been explored on screen.  This relationship is explored in the other Mandalorian episodes but it first appears here.  Satine is an interesting parallel to Padme, both were rulers of a world, both are strong female characters prone to taking action, and both fell in love with a Jedi in spite of knowing the rules that forbade it.  It is clear that Obi-Wan loved and probably still loves Satine, but unlike Anakin, he is the master of his emotions and is not ruled by them.  Perhaps if Anakin was less self centered and more open and honest with his Master, guidance and even acceptance may have been found.  For the “chosen one” I think the Jedi might have bent the rules, after all they do it for the Cerean reproductive issue.  It’s not the attachment to Padme that is Anakin’s problem, it’s the fear of loss that stems from the loss of his mother and was transferred onto Padme, Anakin would keep a psychologist busy for decades.

This episode dealt with very mature issues, not only do we have the terrorism of Death Watch, but we also have a suicide.  Pretty tough stuff for some of the younger kids in the audience to deal with, but very powerful story telling.

The capture of Obi-Wan is a nice call back to Episode II, and the rescue by Satine has a very Anakin-Padme on Geonosis feel to it.

The only thing I didn’t really like about this episode was the uniformity of the Death Watch Mandalorian armor, but that is the legacy of reading so much EU with the rainbow of beskar’gam that we get there.

It seems pretty obvious that the Mandalorian Civil War that is eluded too and the fragile façade of pacifism that has been erected is only a temporary thing for Mandalore.  That is why Satine is so vehement in her quest for peace and neutrality, because she knows how fragile this peace is.

I firmly believe that before TCW series ends we see a return to Mandalore for the fall of Satine’s government, but I don’t think we see a successful Death Watch rise in its place, but a third faction restoring the Mandalorians closer to the EU version of the culture and planet.

Honorable mentions:  Holocron Heist (2.01) was fun; Bane is a good villain and who is cooler then Jocasta Nu?  As an EU fan I loved the Bariss Offee (2.06-2.08) episodes, the Medstar Duology is a very underrated set of books.  Lightsaber Lost (2.11) had its moments; I really dug Tera Sinube and his cane/lightsaber.  Cat and Mouse (2.16) was a very cool one off story, feels like Hunt for Red October.  Bounty Hunters (2.17) featured some cool new bounty hunter characters particularly Sugi and Embo.  Let us not forget about the Zillo Beast, I feel like playing Rampage all of the sudden.

The Worst: “I have a really bad feeling about this.”

Senate Murders (2.15):

Lt. Tan Divo really isn’t my cup of tea and Senator Lolo doesn’t make my favorite character list either. Frankly, the only memorable thing for me from this episode is the cool looking Senate Guards who got the full cape and plume treatment for the first time.  I love the Senate Guards both in the Prequels and in this series as precursors to the Imperial Royal Guards.

Senate Spy (2.04):

Padme has a special friend who is not Anakin.  Well there goes the image of a virginally pure Padme.

So Anakin basically condemns Senator Clovis to death by the hands of his Neimodian friends.  That is a pretty un-Jedi thing to do.  Clovis should have been brought back to Coruscant to stand trial for treason.  I wonder if Padme ever thinks about the fact that Anakin basically killed her ex even though that ex saved her life.

Children of the Force (2.03):

On the whole I actually like Children of the Force, it is certainly interesting to see Anakin going to Mustafar before Episode III and interesting to see that it is a go to hideout location for Palpatine, after all, he sends the Separatist Council there in Episode III.

What I didn’t like was the ending of the Episode.  It would have opened up much more interesting story telling potential down the road if Palpatine’s surgical procedure went to completion on the kids and they were rescued, or if they were not successfully rescued at all and they could be brought back in the Expanded Universe later as Dark Side operatives.

What did you think of TCW Season Two?  Leave a comment below and let us know!

Come back next week for our retrospective on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season Three.

~Pete