TV Series Review
On May 25, 1977, George Lucas changed the cinematic world forever with a little movie that reconfigured our cultural understanding of the word blockbuster. Since then, Star Wars has been eclipsed at the domestic box office by only a handful of other movies … and I seriously doubt they'll be making cartoons about Avatar nearly 40 years from now.
Which brings us to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a CGI-animated show birthed by Cartoon Network with an auspicious theatrical premiere in 2008. Now the entire 13-episode sixth and final season arrives on Netflix (on March 7, 2014). Star Wars cognoscenti, of course, won't need a history lesson to explain where the titular Clone Wars fit into the franchise's timeline. For everyone else, a bit of backstory is in order:
The series chronicles the heroic exploits of Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and (for much of its run) feisty Padawan Ahsoka Tano during the three-year span between the live-action films Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The Jedi warriors fight on behalf of the Galactic Republic against the rogue droid armies of the Confederacy of Independent Systems—more commonly known as the Separatists—led by Jedi-gone-bad Count Dooku and the cyborg menace General Grievous. Together, their adventures span the galaxy, from Felucia to Coruscant, from Christophsis to Mandalore. (There are also a few, often lighter episodes that don't feature the future Darth Vader.)
The script blends equal parts intrigue and battle as the Jedi and their allies seek to outflank cunning enemies—be it in space, on the ground or anywhere in between. Missions include getting supplies to a blockaded ally, helping indigenous peoples ward off interlopers or trying to defuse an assassination plot, among many other things.
A Yoda-like object lesson flashes on the screen for emphasis at the outset of each episode. "Searching for the truth is easy. Accepting the truth is hard," reads one. "In war, truth is the first casualty," reads another. And occasional deeper subtexts ask questions about the nature of good and evil or lightly poke situational ethics. So while some episodes are pretty light or even silly, others can be grim, dark and—in its own cartoon world—pretty violent. Clones and Jedi alike are killed on the field of battle. And as the series has drawn to a close, it's hard to forget that most of the Jedi we see are hurrying toward their own inevitable doom.
As for the mystical energy field known as the Force, my words from The Clone Wars movie review are still relevant when it comes to the series as a whole: " Clone Wars assumes that viewers are already fully in the know regarding the pseudo-spiritual energy field that the Jedi harness for good and the Sith (dark Jedi) for ill. There are no long, expository conversations about the nature of the Force like the ones that pop up occasionally throughout the live-action films. Mostly, we see how it equips Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka … with superhuman agility in combat."
The twist is that many young (some very young) fans of The Clone Wars animated series may have never seen the movies that define such spiritual subtleties. So beyond the cartoon violence, that's a fact parents would do well to grapple with before granting carte blanche permission to travel to a certain galaxy far, far away.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Animation, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Kids, Drama
Voices of Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker; James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi; Tom Kane as Yoda and Admiral Yularen; Ian Abercrombie as Darth Sidious and Chancellor Palpatine; Terrence 'TC' Carson as Mace Windu; Matthew Wood as General Grievous; Corey Burton as Count Dooku; Catherine Taber as Padmé Amidala; Phil LaMarr as Bail Organa; Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano; Phil LaMarr as Kit Fisto