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Star Wars- The Clone Wars Season 1 Blu-ray Review

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The “Star Wars- The Clone Wars Season 1” Blu-ray set is the single best Blu-ray release of 2009.

THE SERIES:

Grade

Content: A

Video: A+

Audio: A +

Extras: A-

The story: With the help of the Clone troops, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mace Windu, and the rest of the Jedi Order fight against the Separatist leaders, the droid army (led by General Grievous), and Sith warrior Count Dooku and his apprentice Asajj Ventress. As we know from the prequels, the entire war is but an evil scheme by Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious (later known as Emperor Palpatine). In the 22 episode season, viewers can expect to see stories revolving around Anakin’s new Padawan Ahsoka, Clone Troopers like Captain Rex and Commander Cody, little-seen Jedi such as Kit Fisto and Plo Koon, political and planet conflicts, R2-D2, a super spaceship called Malevolence, a deadly virus, and a new bounty hunter named Cad Bane.

After seeing relatively little of the Clone Wars in the prequel trilogy, George Lucas, supervising director Dave Filoni and a host of talented writers and artists have joined forces to create a new CGI animated series based on the epic war. The result? Arguably the best “Star Wars” content since Episodes 4, 5 and 6. The half-hour television series format does wonders for “Star Wars” as Lucas and company are not bound by a limited amount of time as they were with the six films. By having 22 episodes per season, the writers have more freedom and time to tell stories. For instance, characters, such as Anakin and Grievous, are now more developed characters and themes, subplots, and stories (especially involving the Jedi) are clearly being expanded upon. Additionally, new fascinating characters (Cad Bane anyone?) are being introduced all the time and we the audience are starting to see MORE planets like Ryloth and Rodia and MORE alien species. What more could a “Star Wars” fan want?

As far as the episodes go, the Clone trooper centric “Rookies” and the General Grievous centric “Lair Of Grievous” are the highlights. The “Band Of Brothers” esque “Rookies” succeeds in giving the Clones an identity while also delivering thrilling action sequences involving battles with the never before seen Commando Droids. ‘Grievous’ is, in my humble opinion, the absolute best episode of the season because it’s a dark, intriguing tale that DOESN’T revolve around Anakin and Obi-Wan. As I stated earlier, one of the elements that makes “Clone Wars” so engaging is that we get to see more of the characters and universe. That is very much the case with this story which centers almost entirely around Jedi warriors Kit Fisto and Nadhar Vebb, Clone troopers, General Grievous, and his assistant droid EV-A4-D. As an added bonus, the episode offers some intriguing ideas about how the Jedi have become affected by the Clone Wars. 

While I enjoyed all 22 episodes, I should point out that I wasn’t too keen on seeing characters Jar Jar Binks (especially when voiced by the mysterious BJ Hughes instead of Ahmed Best) and the utterly over the top and obnoxious Dr. Nuvo Vindi (voiced by the usually reliable Michael York of “Austin Powers” and “Logan’s Run” fame). While I understand that Binks has his place and will appeal to young children, there really was no excuse for Dr. Vindi. I hope he doesn’t return to the series in the future.

Summary: Simply put, “The Clone Wars” is one of the best shows on television. If you have yet to see it, you are truly missing out.

Note: This Blu-ray set contains 7 extended director’s cut versions of the episodes “Rising Malevolence,” “Shadow Of Malevolence,” “Rookies,” “Lair Of Grievous,” “Storm Over Ryloth,” “Innocents Of Ryloth,” and “Liberty On Ryloth.”

PICTURE AND AUDIO:

The 2.4:1 1080p picture quality on this Blu-ray is jaw droppingly beautiful. This is the way the series should be seen. The colors are striking, the character designs are noticeably more detailed, and the environments look sharper than the broadcast version.

From the lightsabers, blasters, and droids to the spaceships, dialogue, and the score, this Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is flawless.

EXTRAS:

The three disc Blu-ray set is packed with extras which include:

* A 68 page booklet is attached to every Blu-ray set. The booklet contains character sketches and notes This is a real treat for fans.
* Trailers for Starwars.com, “Clone Wars” season 2, and the “Republic Heroes” video game.
* Jedi Temple Archives- View TONS of 2D art stills and 3D layouts/animatics/animation tests from each of the 22 episodes.
* “The Voices Of Star Wars: The Clone Wars” easter egg.
* “Behind The Story” featurettes for all 22 episodes featuring interviews with the likes of Dave Filoni Henry Gilroy, Matthew Wood, and artists/animators. Among the topics discussed in these featurettes: Animation, story, characters, voice acting, details, planet, alien, and spaceship designs, Filoni’s love of Plo Koon, references to the “Star Wars” films, etc.

On the downside, I was a bit surprised to find that the “Clone Wars Decoded” subtitles and the Dave Filoni commentary tracks from Starwars.com were nowhere to be found.

November 15, 2009 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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