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Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 5 Blu-ray Review

Star Wars- The Clone Wars Season 5 Blu-ray

While frustrating at times, the fifth season of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” has some of the best episodes of the entire series.

Despite having a devoted fanbase, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” has never quite received the attention it deserves. Considering how many “Star Wars” fans there are in the world, it’s a real shame that they aren’t all watching ‘Clone Wars’ because it is truly one of the best shows (animated or otherwise) on TV. This is never more evident than in the 20 episode fifth season which offers some of the best “Star Wars” material that we have seen since the original trilogy.

The fifth season started off with a rare stand-alone episode (“Revival”) in which Darth Maul and Savage Opress try to destroy Hondo. Obi-Wan Kenobi intervenes in this conflict and surprisingly forms an alliance with Hondo in order to take down the two renegades.

Since Savage and Maul are two of the best characters in the series, this is a great episode to open the season with. Unfortunately, this episode is NOT listed as the first episode in the season on the Blu-ray set despite it being the first episode aired in the season. On the Blu-ray set, it’s strangely listed as the 13th episode.

Next up is a 4 episode rebel arc made up of “A War On Two Fronts,” “Front Runners,” “The Soft War,” and “Tipping Points.” In this 4 parter, viewers are taken to the Separatist controlled planet of Onderon where a group of rebels (led by Saw, Steela, and Ahsoka’s quasi romantic interest Lux Bonteri) try to take back the planet. Ahsoka, Anakain, Obi-Wan decide to help the rebels by training them, but they are unable to interfere and fight for them (even though they do help out). There are also a few critical subplots involving the former Onderon King and an outside source who decides to lend a helping hand to the rebels.

While the pre-Rebellion storyline has its moments (namely the end of “Tipping Points”), I never felt drawn into this arc. Generally, the story felt slow, overlong, and there was some seriously clumsy writing to boot.

Following the slightly disappointing Onderon arc is another 4 episode arc revolving around 6 Jedi Younglings (Petro, Katooni, Byph, Ganodi, Zatt, and Gungi), Ahsoka, and Hondo in the episodes “The Gathering,” “A Test Of Strength,” “Bound For Rescue,” and “A Necessary Bond.” In this storyline, the Younglings learn about lightsabers and find themselves being tested when Ahsoka is kidnapped. The Younglings have to prove themselves and use their skills to rescue Ahsoka from Hondo and the pirates (who are after the extremely valuable lightsaber crystals). To make matters complicated for both sides, Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grievous also feature into this series of events as well.

While some may scoff at the idea of episodes being devoted to Jedi Younglings, I can assure you that this is not a kiddified “Star Wars” tale. In fact, the story actually gets fairly dark in spots. More than that, however, this arc proves to be rather important as it delves into the mythology of the Jedi and the lightsabers. “A Test Of Strength” even introduces a pivotal new character to the mythology with the  lightsaber architect guru droid Huyang (wonderfully voiced by David Tennant).

After the interesting departure that was the Younglings arc, fans get what are arguably the most reviled 4 episodes with the dreadful droid arc comprised of “Secret Weapons,” “A Sunny Day In The Void,” “Missing in Action,” and “Point Of No Return.” The story of this lot involves a miniature alien (Colonel Gascon) leading a group of droids (R2-D2 included) on a quest to obtain an encryption device. Their quest takes an unexpected turn, however, when the group becomes stranded on the planet Abafar.

While the inclusion of the D-Squad Republic Commandos is a welcome surprise, this 4 episode arc is complete and utter filler. This feels more like material from “Droids” than it does ‘Clone Wars.’ Considering how many unresolved stories there are in this series, I don’t understand why this story was written this late in the show’s run. There are much more pressing matters for the writers to attend to.

After the worst batch of episodes, we get arguably the best bunch of episodes with a Darth Maul/Savage Opress/Death Watch/Mandalore trilogy (“Eminence,” “Shades Of Reason,” and “The Lawless”). In these 3, Maul and Savage team up with Death Watch  and other criminal organizations (including Black Sun!) with the goal of taking over Mandalore. In reality, however, this plan is designed as a trap for Obi-Wan Kenobi.

From major characters deaths to an explosive appearance by a certain Sith, this is an absolutely thrilling three parter. I could go on and on about these episodes, but I don’t want to spoil anything here. You just have to watch them.

Last, but not least is the Ahsoka/Anakin centric 4 parter “Sabotage,” “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much,” “To Catch A Jedi,” and “The Wrong Jedi.” In this season ending four parter, Anakin and Ahsoka investigate a terrorist bombing in a Jedi Temple until Ahsoka is wrongfully framed for murder. With Ahsoka off on her own trying to prove her innocence, she is forced to work with the likes of Asajj Ventress in order to learn who the real culprit of these crimes are.

The story may be a bit uneven and predictable at times, but there’s no denying that these episodes off some great characterization of Ahsoka and Anakin. The ending of “The Wrong Jedi” is particularly a game changer, but I will say no more out of respect for those who haven’t seen it.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.4:1 1080p. How does it look? If you’ve only seen this show on TV or via a Starwars.com stream, you really haven’t seen the show. These Blu-rays transfers are mind-blowingly crystal clear and they make you appreciate the amount of work (and detail) that goes into the gorgeous CGI animation.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? Expect flawless sound thanks to an award winning voice cast, iconic sound f/x, and rip roaring sci-fi action.

Extras:
* Video commentaries on all 20 episodes featuring the likes Ashley Eckstein, Dave Filoni, David Collins, Matthew Wood, David Acord, Kilian Plunkett, Jim Cummings, Brent Friedman, Dee Bradley Baker, Stephen Stanton, and Sam Witwer. Note: These are not full length episode commentaries but rather short discussions about scripts, characters, story arcs, sound, designs, and voice acting. While full episode commentaries would have been preferred, these are still great informative extras.
* “Jedi Temple Archives”- As with the past Blu-ray season sets, this bonus feature contains character and ship sketches, animation model art, animatics, concept art, deleted scenes, character tunrtables, renders, and more for all 20 episodes. Highlights include an extended Sith duel fight from “The Lawless” and the deleted/alternate footage to “The Wrong Jedi.”
* Directors cut editions of “Eminence” and “Shades Of Reason.”

Overall Thoughts: Season 5 may have a few missteps, but there are plenty of incredible “Star Wars” stories to be found here. While the show may be canceled, viewers should know that this is not the last we have seen of ‘Clone Wars’ as season 6 “bonus content” will be headed our way in 2014.

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October 29, 2013 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , , ,

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