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Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 2 Blu-ray Review

Season 2 of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is even better than the first.

Grades:

Content: A-

Video: A

Audio: A-

Extras: B

The 22 episodes of season two of ‘The Clone Wars’ proved to be rather eventful. In addition to the usual Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, Rex and Cody adventures, we are introduced to anumber of new characters (as well as some familiar faces). To give you an idea of what storylines are in this season, let me give you a quick rundown of highlights:

  1. Bounty hunter Cad Bane infilitrates the Jedi archives to find a list of force sensitive children for Darth Sidious.
  2. Boba Fett (with the help of Aurra Sing) reappears to seek revenge against Mace Windu for the death of his father (Jango Fett).
  3. A giant monster known as the Zillo Beast wrecks havoc on not one, but two planets.
  4. General Grievous returns and is up to no good (as per usual).
  5. The Mandalorian Death Watch is introduced.
  6. The Republic attempts to take back Geonosis from the Separatists.
  7. A number of political crises.

As I watched the season premiere (“Holocron Heist”), it was clear that the writers and animators have upper their game as the animation is more detailed and the storylines were darker, more adult, and more complex. Gone is the silly droid and Jar Jar Binks humor. Instead, we see a real focus on the characters we know and love becoming more developed. As incredible and intense as action oriented episodes like “Landing At Point Rain” and “Cargo Of Doom” are, it’s the character oriented episodes that prove to be the most memorable in season two. This is especially evident with the Ahsoka and Jedi Master Tera Sinube centric episode “Lightsaber Lost,” the Boba Fett trilogy (“Death Trap,” “R2 Come Home,” and “Lethal Trackdown”), Obi-Wan and his lost love Duchess Satine in the Mandalore trilogy (“The Mandalore Plot,” “Voyage Of Temptation” and “Duchess Of Mandalore”), and “Brain Invaders” in which we get a glimpse of the dark side of Anakin.  

Another aspect of the season that I enjoyed were the throwbacks to classic films. We saw an ode to monster movies with the Zillo Beast 2 parter, a nod to zombie flicks with the Geonosis story arc, a western/samurai esque episode with “Bounty Hunters,” and even a bit of film noir with the Coruscant underworld in “Holocron Heist” and “Lethal Trackdown.” For me, it’s great to see such a variety of stories as it helps keep things fresh in the “Star Wars” universe.

Regarding the superior animation, just look at the epic “Landing At Point Rain” and compare it to any episode of season 1. The planet environments are more detailed, the battles are more epic and lively, and even the character designs have improved.

As great as this season is, I do have a few minor gripes. First and foremost, the writers really go overboard in teasing the fans this season. For instance, we see an entire army of Mandalorians, but we don’t see them in action. We see a conflicted young Boba Fett seeking revenge for the death of his father, but he quickly goes to jail. We were told this season was dubbed with the “Rise Of The Bounty Hunters” tagline, but only about a third of the episodes are actually about bounty hunters.

Also, and again this is a minor gripe, I was a little disappointed by Dee Bradley Baker’s voice work on Bossk. Considering how outstanding the ensemble voice acting is on this show, I was just perplexed by how awkward and out of place Baker’s voice work was on Bossk. The character sounded nothing like how Bossk sounded in “The Empire Strikes Back.” Granted, he was speaking basic in the series, but why not add that deeper growl tone to his voice?

On a side note, I have to say I love the packaging for this Blu-ray set. The package contains cases for 3 discs, but it’s the slot for a 68 page booklet (that contains sketches and character designs) that caught my eye. The case for the booklet has amazing front and back cover art. The front has a “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly” esque drawing of Anakin, Cad Bane, and Ahsoka. The back has a “Godzilla” esque Japanese poster of the Zillo Beast.

Summary: The ‘Clone Wars’ season two Blu-ray is a must own set for any “Star Wars” fan.

Video/Audio:

The 2.4:1 widescreen 1080p picture quality is flat-out stunning. Having watched the series in hi-def with the television broadcasts, I can honestly say that they don’t hold a candle to the Blu-ray sets. From the planet environments to the epic battles, the picture quality explodes with vibrant colors and an incredible attention to detail. This is far and away the best looking show I have seen on Blu-ray and quite possibly the best looking Blu-ray I’ve seen all year.

Despite there being a mere Dolby Digital 5.1 track, the series sounds great. Whether it’s lightsabers being ignited or blasters being fired, the show is filled with a plethora of sound. With that said, this is the type of series that is ACHING for a hi-def track. The action sequences really need that extra punch to it.

Extras:
* The aforementioned art booklet.
* The Jedi Temple Archives contains 2D artwork and 3D animation tests/animatcs from all 22 episodes.
* “Magic Of The Holocron Episodes”- Dave Filoni, an editor, animators, talk about the Holocron, Cad Bane, original cuts/ideas/details that didn’t make the final cut, character designs, etc. An interesting featurette on the 3 episode story arc.
* “Return To Geonosis”- A featurette on the epic Geonosis story arc. Much of the discussion here is about the animation, the epic battle sequences, the Jedi characters, editing, voice acting, etc. My favorite moment here is Matthew Wood talking about how he created certain Geonosian noises.
* “Creating Mandalore” sees conversation about Boba and Jango Fett, Mandalorian mythology, and animation.

* “Attack Of The Zillo Beast”- The fourth and final featurette on this set sees Filoni and company talking about the Godzilla influence on this 2 parter and character designs.

* Trailers for “The Force Unleashed 2” and “Clone Wars Adventures.”

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November 7, 2010 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , ,

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