With excitement building over the coming release of a seventh season of The Clone Wars in 2019, we’re taking a look back at each episode of the first six seasons – doing so in chronological order. Today, we’re looking at the third ‘episode’ chronologically, The Clone Wars theatrical release.
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker lead the Republic forces on Christophsis, and while they see victories, they also soon find themselves pushed back by the Separatists, led by General Loathsom. The Separatist siege of the planet has resulted in the Republic being without communication and without reinforcements, until a shuttle arrives carrying Obi-Wan’s new padawan. The padawan arrives and introduces herself as Ahsoka Tano, but reveals that she has actually been assigned as Anakin’s padawan. This frustrates Skywalker, but he takes Tano along as he and his new padawan sneak behind enemy lines while Kenobi stalls by pretending to negotiate his surrender with Loathsom. Thanks to the actions of Anakin and Ahsoka, the tide of the battle is turned and the Republic gains the upper hand on Christophsis.
The Jedi are then given a new mission, however: Jabba the Hutt’s son has been kidnapped, and it is vital that the Jedi find Rotta the Hutt in exchange for safe passage through Hutt trading routes. Anakin, Ahsoka, and Rex siege a hideout on the planet Teth (where Rotta is being kept) and scale the mountain before infiltrating the base, only to discover that it was a trap. It had all been a part of Count Dooku’s plan: he arranged for Rotta to be kidnapped, then lured the Jedi in to rescuing the Huttlet, but had his apprentice Asajj Ventress capture footage of the sick Hutt in the care of the Jedi, using this footage to convince Jabba that the Jedi were actually responsible for the kidnapping. Once Ventress captured the footage, her job was then to defeat the Jedi and reclaim the Huttlet, but Anakin and Ahsoka were able to escape. They are forced to leave Rex and the others behind, but Obi-Wan Kenobi (who had been off negotiating with Jabba) arrives to aid Rex and the others, engaging Ventress and winning (though the Sith apprentice escaped)..
While all of this is going on, back on Coruscant, Padme Amidala investigates these matters and goes to Ziro the Hutt (Jabba’s uncle) for help, but discovers that Ziro is working with Count Dooku to bring about Jabba’s demise. Through Padme’s actions, Ziro is arrested for his crimes. Meanwhile, Anakin and Ahsoka arrive at Tatooine to deliver Rotta back to Jabba, but they are delayed by MagnaGuards sent to defeat them. Anakin comes up with a plan that succeeds in tricking Dooku: as the Sith Lord arrives in the desert to confront Skywalker, he soon discovers that Anakin doesn’t have Rotta. Instead, Ahsoka has taken the Huttlet across the desert toward Jabba’s Palace, and she fights off MagnaGuards to successfully bring Rotta to Jabba. The Hutt initially doesn’t believe the Jedi and wants them killed, but Padme sends a transmission and informs Jabba about his uncle’s role in the plot, convincing him that the Jedi had nothing to do with Rotta’s kidnapping.
This was the first thing we saw from The Clone Wars, as the theatrical release preceded the release of season one of the show. It has generally not been too well-received, especially compared to the show itself, and I think that’s definitely fair. At times during the first season The Clone Wars is clearly trying to find its identity, and nowhere is that more obvious than in this film.
It does indeed have some entertaining action sequences, like the battles of Christophsis and Teth (though even there, the music – especially during the Teth sequence – feels very unlike Star Wars; Kevin Kiner has produced some fantastic Star Wars music, but in this film he seems to be trying to find his way in this universe as well). But the overall plot of this film is just rather ‘meh.’ I think there probably could have been better ways to introduce viewers to the series than by the Jedi on a mission to save the kidnapped son of Jabba the Hutt, as that leads to things feeling dull or just not all that important in the larger picture of the war. It’s an easily forgettable storyline that overall isn’t all that entertaining. It’s fine – I do enjoy watching it every once in a while – but it’s nothing special.
The biggest thing that the film did was introduce viewers to Ahsoka Tano. But even there, it’s another sign of the show finding its identity. Early on in the series (including in this film), Ahoska can be pretty annoying, but now many regard her as one of their favorite Star Wars characters, period. She is absolutely awesome, and she grew and developed and matured significantly during this show and other material since. And to be honest, that may just be a microcosm of the show as a whole: just like Ahsoka seemed annoying early on, the show didn’t exactly start out great – but by the end, Ahsoka’s character was incredibly popular and the show was fantastic. In both of these things, this movie served as the first building block in the foundation, and while by itself it doesn’t seem all that great, it began setting the stage for the show and the character to go to new heights later on.
My grade: 6.9/10