So Star Wars: The Clone Wars is set after Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones, but before Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith, though it's not to be confused with Star Wars: Clone Wars, the animated series that aired on Cartoon Network before Revenge of the Sith. Rather, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a computer-animated TV show, scheduled to air this fall after being introduced by this theatrically released feature fi—
Actually, fuck it. At this point you're either the sort of person who's completely given up on Star Wars, or you're the sort of person who posts as "MaceWinduRox1138" on the message boards of theforce.net, and is already standing in line for The Clone Wars, your homemade Jedi robes proving rather less breathable in the August sun than you'd hoped. Either way, shitty news: Star Wars: The Clone Wars is terrible. Take it from someone who visits theforce.net on a fairly regular basis.
Delving into the creatively bankrupt timeframe that he's already exhausted with Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, executive producer George Lucas has assigned director Dave Filoni with inventing a plot in the middle of a story that everybody already knows. The awkward results: Jabba the Hutt's son gets kidnapped, and Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi (along with Anakin's chirpy new apprentice, Ahsoka), are tasked with the rescue. There are rumblings about how this huttnapping affects the overall fate of the galaxy, but none of it really matters; The Clone Wars' creative team is more interested in exactly how goddamn annoying they can make the warbling tadpole that is Jabba's son (tragically, he's referred to as a "huttlet"), or how many dumbshit nicknames they can come up with (Skywalker becomes "Sky Guy," R2-D2 is "Artooey"), or how they can try to cover up the obvious fact that The Clone Wars is just the first three episodes of the upcoming TV show, clumsily glued together.
There are points when The Clone Wars transcends its grating lousiness: One battle, taking place on the face of a massive cliff, is as good of an action scene as any in the series, and the production design creates some genuinely cool vistas and settings (too bad, then, that the character models are dead faced and wooden). But among all the pretty colors and the occasional snazzy lightsaber duel, there's enough genuinely terrible bullshit to overwhelm even the most ardent defender of The Phantom Menace: There are lines like, "Surrender the huttlet or die, Skywalker!" or there's the character of Ziro the Hutt: He's Jabba the Hutt's flamboyant crimelord uncle, you see, and he wears fabulous neon make-up that glows under his black light, and he lisps out threats in a New Orleans accent. He is worse than Jar Jar Binks.
But the bigger issue is that The Clone Wars simply isn't a movie: It's a so-so Saturday morning cartoon that's been bloated up and shoved onto the big screen. I actually think The Clone Wars TV series might work out fine; in weekly, half-hour installments, the fun of this franchise and the flaws in this storyline might be easier to take. But as is, these 90 minutes feel entirely too long, and after leaving the theater, all one wants to do is get in a car and drive far, far away.