A long, long time ago, in a California mansion far away — George Lucas ran out of ideas. So, for the new cartoon feature Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which is set between episodes II and III, he has outsourced story, script, and direction duties to younglings who take the saga down to the level of an 8-year-old playing with his action figures with many happy shouts of “Shoop! Ptaw! Fwooooooom!”
The look is, bizarrely enough, modeled after that of the 1960s cult TV show The Thunderbirds. That’s right. Lucas decided it would be cool if his characters looked like they were carved out of blocks of wood and moved jerkily, like marionettes. Considering the state of computer animation, that is a little like deciding to model your jumbo jet after an Edsel.
Anakin Skywalker and Ben Kenobi are still the best of buddies, fighting the growing separatist movement that will become the evil Empire. There are clones on one side and droids on the other side, but what’s the difference? Both consist of anonymous armies of automata that appear to have been programmed with only two functions: behave stupidly and be destroyed easily. There’s much light saber battling and laser-gun firing as Anakin learns that he’s been saddled with a pupil, or Padawan. She’s a wisecracking orange-hued girl in a tube top, miniskirt, and knee-high boots who calls him “Sky Guy,” and Anakin’s response to her suggests Mr. Roper with a light saber.
For political reasons, the good guys need the support of Jabba the Hutt, who holds the power to deny the Jedi the rights to pass through his corner of the universe — sort of like an intergalactic France. Like those Saddam-suppliers in Paris, Jabba’s got some shady connections: It turns out he has a purply uncle who lives in an Art Deco sin city. The uncle, dubbed Ziro the Hutt, has an effete manner, a general air of decadence, and a Truman Capote accent, so I kept thinking of him as Nambla the Hutt.