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Monday, 17 October 2011

THE CLONE WARS SEASON THREE: SWA's TOP FIVE CLASSIC EPISODES. NO 5: "ARC TROOPERS"

Clone Troopers defend their home against Separatist invaders in ARC TROOPERS.

Season Three of THE CLONE WARS has now arrived in pristine animated quality on Blu-ray and DVD. As with last years season release, here's our personal top five episode choices from the year that gave us Secrets Revealed, and the five reasons why they make the grade as must-see tales for all ages. For viewers who have not yet seen the show and are thinking about dipping their feet in the water to see what all the fuss about, these blog features are a perfect showcase in helping them discover George Lucas's superbly animated universe in greater detail...

In reverse order, first up at Number Five is the action packed second episode of the season, where Separatist enemies make their play in attacking the watery Clone production home world of Kamino, whilst three ex-Clone cadets truly show their worth as leaders and warriors: ARC TROOPERS.

1. Returning to Kamino. Finally, as with the previous Clone Cadets season opener,we get to see the water world-birthing home of The Clone Troopers- in superb realized animated form. Not an easy task to create cgi water, but failure is not an option for THE CLONE WARS design/animating teams, who do a remarkable job in re-creating the environment to match and build on the epic interiors and exteriors previously shown in live-action form with ATTACK OF THE CLONES. Some stunning new environments, like the Clones sleeping areas, as well as some nifty underwater scenery, make their debut in the two episode story arc, and Tipoca City looks incredible even under all the conditions of destruction, chaos and blaster fire wrought on it by Separatist forces. Seeing the Clone birthing tanks being destroyed on the digital screen at CELEBRATION V a few years back not only reminded me of just how good the series looks BIG, but was also a very cool dramatic/action moment for fans to enjoy and be amazed at-part of a storyline that I'd been waiting years for them to explore beyond what was created in a similar type of DARK HORSE comic storyline a few years after the release of EPISODE II. ARC TROOPERS was simply bigger and better, and a bold step whose success would lead to further dramatic and visual dividends to be reaped with Season Four's Mon Calamari underwater war plot line.

Diabolical pairing! General Grievous and Asajj Ventress bring terror to Kamino.

2. Villain team ups. It was great to see Asajj Ventress and General Grievous at last joining forces for  some major league carnage wielding (though they'll soon be enemies lightsaber duelling with each other, if the new extended Season Four trailer recently revealed online is anything to go by!) with the kind of banter and villainy that reminded me a bit of the old BATMAN TV series when our favourite baddies used to get together for special two parters. Obviously, THE CLONE WARS isn't high camp like that classic TV series of the sixties, but there were some strong put downs towards Grievous from Ventress that were certainly of a similar ilk. Its a shame that her spearing/death kiss of a Clone Trooper was cut from the episode by a jittery CARTOON NETWORK, but hopefully the scene will be on the Blu-ray...

3. Action. And all kinds memorable both above and below the seas. From epic space battles above orbit, to Obi-Wan fighting the lethal and impressive new aqua droids (and later a skirmish with General Grievous), to the huge Separatists squid-like Trident machine weapons smashing into the heart of Tipoca City and unleashing wave after wave of enemy droid troops. This was big screen stuff on the small screen capable of blowing the competition out of the water (excuse the pun!) and again a huge leap in animation techniques in such a small space of time behind the scenes between seasons.

In the city's control room, Shaak Ti and her men hold off advancing Battle Droids.

As heroes and villains lock laser swords and blasters (and a nice nod here to noble Jedi Shaak Ti, who finally appears in the series), the only remaining members of the original "Rookies" from Season One- Broadside, Echo and Fives- also valiantly hold their own in this prime adventure, as do all the other main Clone character favourites like Rex and Cody, and a worthy defence force with the next generation of in accelerated growth youngsters (once again voiced by Daniel Logan).

4. A hero's death: 99. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. 99 may have been considered a reject by his Kaminoan creators, and almost shunned by his fellow clones, but this moral building and heart in the right place character-another animated triumph- showed his spirited worth in the courage and bravery stakes during his final episode. Despite physical impairment, he valiantly helps his loyal Clone Trooper brethren family defend his world to the final gasp of his life. His ultimate demise trying to get one last lot of explosive ammunition is well handled on screen and certainly brings a lump to the throat even in repeats. A true and selfless solider doing his duty to the end.

Perfect combatants in fear and aggression: Asajj Ventress and Anakin Skywalker.

5. Anakin versus Ventress. Its always great to see the hairless harpie in any kind of savage and instinctual lightsaber action against our loyal Jedi heroes. Normally fighting against Obi-Wan, whom she clearly shows morally complex love-hate issues with, it was a treat to see her in a more feral type of combat towards an equally determined and less playful foe- Anakin Skywalker-as she tries to steal the Kaminoans top secret Clone DNA. The almost cat and mouse sequence, full of ingeniously choreographed lightsaber moves and physical blow, ends well with the Sith wannabe cornered by a hungry for revenge Anakin and his fellow itchy trigger finger 501st Clone Troopers finally ready to end this pests existence once and for all, but, as ever, she manages to escape to fight another day...


Season Three of THE CLONE WARS is out now on Blu-ray and DVD from WARNER BROTHERS HOME VIDEO.

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