Anakin Skywalker in Star War: The Clone Wars
By CAINE GARDNER
After the 2005 release of Revenge of the Sith, it looked like Star Wars fans would never be clamoring to get inside a theater to see a new story from that galaxy far, far away again. Then came Aug. 15 and a new era in the Star Wars saga began.
You fought in the Clone Wars?
That simple phrase fired off the imagination of millions in the late '70s. Fans hoped that at some point in the ensuing sequels that the Clone Wars would be defined in some way, shape or form. Ultimately it took 31 years for that dream to be realized.
The story finally comes full circle as that simple narrative in a low budget sci-fi flick back in 1977 is brought to the big screen.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is an animated feature that came about almost by accident. Clone Wars was slated to hit television screens as a series in the fall, but after executive producer and saga creator George Lucas saw early footage that was coming in, it was clear this story needed to have the silver screen treatment.
"The first few shots came back and I looked at them on the big screen," Lucas explained. "I said 'This is fantastic. This is better than we ever imagined it would be and this is so good it could be a feature.' We wanted to make the best television series that had ever been created, and it ended up being good enough to be a feature."
So it begs to be asked -- What is the future of the Star Wars saga?
Sure there's talk about re-releasing a tweaked saga, a possible 3-D saga but what is concrete that fans can actually grab onto and sink their teeth into? What will fill their insatiable appetite for all things Star Wars?
Lucas had said there would be two Star Wars series gracing the small screen in the years following Sith and now the first of those is knocking on our door.
The Clone Wars will be anything but your typical animated TV show. Lucas and company's goal from the get-go was to produce a weekly, 30 minute TV show that had the same quality look as its film counterparts. The problem? Production costs. How could they get the most bang for their buck and deliver a series that is visually stunning, yet have a small budget. Lucas did what he does best; he created a new way of doing things.
Lucas noted that that feature animation cost 20-30 times what TV animation costs. Instead of throwing money at the problem, Lucas and his team set strict restrictions on themselves and had to work within those parameters. The results?
"Given enough time and money, anybody can create anything but given a very, very restricted budget and very, very restricted resources, it's a challenge," Lucas said. "So, we had to build studios. We had to build a studio from scratch, train people from scratch, artists. Developed new techniques.
"We did not make this in the normal way you make an animated feature," Lucas explained.
Begun, the Clone Wars (merchandizing) has
Midnight Madness for Star Wars fans has become a ritual -- a rite of passage; and like the movies, fans worried that with Sith, the midnight run for new merchandize would be over.
On July 26, the Clones descended on retail outlets and brought a new onslaught of goodies for fans. Figures, ships, children's costumes and a reassurance that Star Wars is here stay.
You're our only hope
With Lucas adamant that there will be no new live action features to hit screens, fans will have to hope that the small screen hold big payoffs.
The Clones Wars is scheduled to begin airing Oct. 3 on Cartoon Network with rebroadcasts on TNT.
So far the film has been criticized for being too stylized, being too cartoonish and being a light movie. Critics of the movie should remember that Lucas has been adamant that Star Wars is a kid film and if that doesn't satisfy them on a cerebral level, then that's too bad.
Don't underestimate the power of the force
Although The Clone Wars feature was met with mixed reviews from critics and fans alike, one this is for sure; when the series debuts, the numbers will be huge. A chance for fans to tune in and go on new adventures with the familiar faces of the saga is as close to guaranteed business as you can come.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Genres -- Science Fiction/Fantasy and Animation
Running Time -- 1 hr. 38 min.
Release Date -- August 15th, 2008 (wide)
Rating -- PG for sci-fi action violence throughout, brief language and momentary smoking.