By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
WHAT'S STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS ABOUT?
Anakin Skywalker takes on an apprentice and fights to rescue a kidnap victim in this animated film, taking place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. This film launched the far-superior animated series.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: C+)
George Lucas works best when he produces, coming up with ideas but having others execute them. Such was the case for The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Such is the case with The Clone Wars, an animated television series that ran from 2008 to 2013. Producing 40 episodes out of his own pocket before any of them aired (114 total), Lucas decided to launch the series by editing the first few episodes together into a movie. Seen in that light, this is a “just fine” introduction to a phenomenal Emmy-winning series that served to redeem the prequels in the eyes of many fans (and improve upon them for those who liked them already).
However, as a film it has problems, resulting in a harsh critical drumming upon its release. It's not paced or structured like a movie. It's clunky and lacks confidence. The animation, characterizations, and storytelling aren't yet of the quality they adopt in the series. Ironically, the movie feels like a children's television show while the TV series was aggressively more cinematic and intelligent. As a standalone film The Clone Wars would be a disappointment. However, because it launches into some of the best Star Wars storytelling ever done on the series that followed it, it's worth a watch. Plus, your kids will love it. Mine did.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?
The Clone Wars is rated PG. There are lightsaber battles and deaths by explosion and laser blast. There are 2-3 “hells” and “damns.” Jabba the Hut has a pair of slave girls by his side, but their dress is tame compared to Leia's outfit in Return of the Jedi. Note that the animated series grew more intense as it went on, with a few episodes displaying PG-13 level scares and action violence.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
Sometimes people don't immediately welcome you; it has more to do with them than with you. Prove your worth by applying your talents and they may have a change of heart.
After this, be sure to watch the extraordinary Clone Wars animated series, which is essential Star Wars in my opinion and one of my all-time favorite TV shows. It is now available on Disney Plus.
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.