A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this CGI film is much tamer than the most recent live-action Star Wars movies, but it's still full of non-stop animated action, including weapon use (lightsabers, blasters, etc.) and several urban warfare sequences. The sci-fi settings, computer animation, and bloodless battles somewhat lessen the overall effect, but the level of intensity is high and constant. The plot also involves an alien infant being kidnapped; even though he won't look as cute or vulnerable to audiences as a human baby (he's basically a giant tadpole), younger children may worry about a child -- no matter what their shape or species -- in peril.
What's the story?
In STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS -- which is set between the films Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith -- Jedi knights Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Matt Lanter) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) are once again plunged into the thick of things, helping Republic troops seize a planet back from the robot army led by separatist Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). In the middle of the fray, viewers learn that Anakin's been assigned a new student by Master Yoda (Tom Kane) -- plucky young Jedi Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), whose skills are matched only by her impetuousness. When word comes that intergalactic gangster Jabba the Hutt's son has been kidnapped, Anakin and Ahsoka are dispatched to rescue the infant, partially in hopes that a placated Jabba will give free passage to Republic ships as they try to stop the separatists. But the separatists have their own agenda, and Dooku's assassin Asajj Ventress (Nika Futterman) is on the hunt for Anakin and his new student.
Is it any good?
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is aimed at kids, but it has a big flaw: the constant repetition of lines, themes, concepts, and information in the script. This suggests that the people who made it don't have a terribly high opinion of their target audience. The movie's computer animation also sometimes looks shabby and shoddy compared to other computer-animated films -- hair is stiff and unyielding, and skin textures look mottled and flat. The character of Ahsoka feels fairly generic -- she's plucky and spirited, sassy and yet eager to learn from her elders -- and is clearly being set up as a new lead character for future animated tales set in the Star Wars universe.
The film unfortunately has more in common with the heavy, clumsy paces of the "new" Star Wars trilogy than the more graceful, spirited ones of the three original films from the '70s and '80s. There are plots and conspiracies and stratagems, usually over-explained by characters appearing in a holographic communication with our heroes and villains; watching The Clone Wars feels like listening in to several tedious phone conversations, interrupted by fight scenes. Yes, the action is non-stop, but as The Clone Wars takes place between two movies viewers already know the outcome of, it's hard to shake the fact that the entire film feels like money-making filler, an attempt to wring more story -- and money -- out of a long-established franchise.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about different kinds of movie violence. Does the fact this film is animated make its depiction of war and combat more acceptable to viewers? Does the sci-fi angle make the consequences of the fights and conflicts seem less realistic? Families can also discuss how this film compares to the original 1970s live-action saga that many parents grew up with, as well as the more recent trilogy. Why do you think George Lucas decided to make another Star Wars movie?
- In theaters: August 15, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: November 10, 2008
- Cast: Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Matt Lanter
- Director: Dave Filoni
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Robots, Space and aliens
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi action violence throughout, brief language and momentary smoking.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.