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February 26, 2004

Review: Clone Wars Chapters 11-20

By Jon

We've seen the second season of "Star Wars: Clone Wars". And boy oh boy, does it rock. Beware spoilers in this review.

So, let's start with Chapter 11. It begins right where we left off, with Anakin chasing a strange ship above Obi-Wan's battle, and then through the city streets. It doesn't take long for him to realize his target is not a droid, and strong in the Force; when the ship jumps to hyperspace, he's soon behind. This episode was sort of a "Chapter 10 lite"; while the frenetic starfighter battles of today--animated by computer, of course--are more fast-paced and visceral than those of yore (e.g. A New Hope), they just plain aren't as easy to follow, and thus are not as enjoyable to me. At least Chapter 10 had swarms of these fast-moving ships, masses of projectiles, and a whole lot of things going boom all over the place. This episode is just a ship-to-ship duel, which, while not quite boring to watch, is not as engaging as it could be. Still, the targetting homage to A New Hope is nice.

On to Chapters 12 and 13. These are Mace Windu's chapters, and he is pretty awesome, with or without a lightsaber. In fact, I daresay he is more effective barehanded than armed. We haven't seen the classic Jedi vs. blasters in the series until now, and it's pretty sweet. Eventually, Mace gets to the point where he barely moves a muscle other than his arm to block the onslaught of blaster bolts. Favorite moment? His Force-powered "disassembly" of an enemy droid into its component parts. Just. Plain. Rocks. Oh, and the giant floating sandcrawler-like stampy thing is crazy.

Barriss Offee and Luminara Unduli spend Chapter 14 trying to protect a sacred ice temple against a swarm of cloaking probe droids. The good in this episode is pretty good: we get to see an actual positive master-padawan relationship, as the two of them fight as a team and look out for each other. The action is nice, too, and the two of them are left in a nice, tense situation as we find Yoda sensing something wrong...

Chapter 15! Yoda! Padme! Jedi Mind Trick! Poor, weak-minded Captain Typho. They kept the gag going a bit too long, I think, but it was cool to see Yoda use his mind whammy for once. Then he goes to the ice planet and fights more cloaking droids. Love the shot of him surrounded, holding his lightsaber and walking stick. And love the avalanche. Another winner!

Chapter 16 is Padme's time to shine! While I can't say I approve of her voice, animated Padme is cute, capable, and smart enough to take on a few inviso-droids herself. Still not sure about Threepio becoming the Jar Jar of the Clone Wars era, but he hasn't had a lot of screen time 'til now, so at least he gets some laughs in before we go back to the serious stuff.

Now we go back to Anakin, in Chapter 17, as he emerges in a familiar locale: Yavin 4, home of the Rebel base in A New Hope. A few clones, sent by Obi-Wan, catch up with him, but are quickly dispatched by an unseen force. I half-thought Anakin himself was taking them out at first, but then you realize that it's Asajj all the way, being her badass self. Takes out all the clones herself. It's kinda cool to see each clone trooper taken out in a different (but invisible) way. But get to the lightsaber fight already!

And get to it they do in the next chapter. Chapter 18 has some nice lightsaber-on-lightsaber action, though one can tell Anakin is holding back (but that's for the next chapter). The chapter ends as it begins to rain, and no progress has been gained for either side (besides Anakin starting to look a bit tired). This chapter I liked. Nice, simple fighting. These three-minute episodes don't have much time for exposition, so it's always nice when it's dispensed with entirely in favor of ass-whuppin'.

Ah, Chapter 19. Poor, sweet Chapter 19. Anakin finally gives in to his anger and hate, and, well, it makes him pretty damn strong. This episode was the emotional climax of the season for me, and it paid off: this guy really starts to scare you! Loved Anakin's flashes of various Jedi faces as Asajj falls to her doom.

That brings us to the much-talked-about final chapter, with the introduction of the new Episode 3 villain. All I have to say is this: if they get him to move in Episode 3 like he moved in the cartoon, I'll be a happy, happy man. This guy is insane! He's like a robotic lightsaber-wielding monkey on steroids. And he has an awesome Wind Waker-style spin attack that made me grin. Yes, the future looks bright.

And that's pretty much it. High points: Chapters 13, 16, 19, and 20. Low points? Heh, you know better than to ask that. Even my least favorite chapter was better than most stuff on TV. So, come the end of March, enjoy.

 
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