On Sunday, I told my kids they could write down any two things they wanted to do this week, and if the requests were reasonable (Disney World, for example, would be out of the question) we could do what they wanted. My four-year-old daughter wanted to (1) play with her toys [DONE!] and (2) go swimming [not yet done, but the weather around here hasn't exactly co-operated], while my seven-year-old son listed (1) buy a pack of Chaotic game cards [DONE!] and the thing he really wanted to do most was (2) go to the theater and see Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
He even got my daughter excited about it. Every day this week, she'd ask, "is it Clone Wars today?"
I don't hate the Star Wars prequels. They just make me sad, and I don't have any desire to watch them again. Particular scenes? Maybe. The entire movie of episode one, two, or three? Not so much. But this Clone Wars movie seemed interesting. Sure, the last I'd heard, it was supposed to be a television show and the pilot somehow ended up with a theatrical release. Sure, the designs were a strange mix of the Cartoon Network Clone Wars animation and some bad video game modeling. Sure, I really had little interest in the adventures of young Anakin.
But an action-packed Star Wars movie sounded like fun at least.
It is not.
It is a very bad movie.
My son liked it, and but he likes every animated movie, and he's a video game addict, so the look of this movie was just what he was used to. But that's the problem with the movie--it is a video game, except you don't get to control it. It's got those cinematics where the characters describe the mission and tell you what's at stake, only instead of reaching for your controller to bust out some lightsaber skills or pilot your ship through an asteroid field you watch as the animators do it for you. And not in any particularly exciting way.
My daughter, who sat through Indiana Jones IV totally engrossed, couldn't sit still during this movie. She not only squirmed around and looked bored, but she actually asked to leave. She's never done that in a movie before. I would have left, too, except my son was enjoying the action.
I will say this: the stiffly animated Anakin Skywalker was a more interesting portrayal than the Hayden Christensen performance in the prequels. I'm not saying that to be snarky. I'm serious. The pixellated Jedi was far more engaging than his real-life counterpart. But it still wasn't enough to make the movie watchable.
I won't bother you with plot specifics, but the main thread deals with Anakin and his precocious young apprentice trying to get Jabba the Hutt's kidnapped baby back from the bad guys. There are plenty of jokes about how stinky the baby is, and tons of scenes about Anakin not knowing how to handle a trainee, and important life lessons about not judging a book by its cover, and plenty of dull, poorly paced fight scenes.
I didn't expect much from this direct-to-video, but-somehow-on-the-big-screen little Star Wars movie. And it still felt like a waste of time for everyone involved.
Half the people in the audience clapped at the end of the screening. I wonder if they were celebrating because it was finally over.