Friday, 21 October 2011


Obi-Wan and Captain Rex look down into the abyss, and another of the traps located around The Citadel.

Our Jedi heroes and their loyal Clone Troopers face their biggest challenge yet when they enter the asteroid field encircled, dangerous volcanic world of THE CITADEL-our number three entry on the Top Five episodes of THE CLONE WARS SEASON THREE (now available on box set Blu-ray and DVD from WARNER BROTHERS)- traversing the myriad traps set by it's mastermind controller and his legions of deadly droids, in order to rescue a captured Jedi Master.

And here's five great viewing reasons why you should join them on their quest...

1. Classic movie referencing. From vintage Japanese Kurosawa movies and westerns, to iconic war-time based Alistair Maclean novel to film adaptations like THE GUNS OF NAVARONE and WHERE EAGLES DARE, THE CLONE WARS hasn't shied away in its enthusiasm in adapting classic action and adventure elements and locales from the past and present and giving them a unique STAR WARS twist or reinterpretation- a move which fans of all ages have enjoyed. THE CITADEL certainly has similarities to the aforementioned WHERE EAGLES DARE-one of my all-time favourite movies anyway- where our heroes have to break into an impenetrable Nazi fortress in hostile climes and rescue a captured Military dignitary, and its all the better for it. I'm next looking forward to THE CLONE WARS doing ICE STATION ZEBRA!

2. Classic Trilogy referencing. The hard working creative guys and gals who make this series are just as much loving devotees to the original Classic Trilogy as we are, and this episode is easily one of the most satisfactory examples yet in their dedicated showcasing, what with the way they link so much impressive visual continuity from EPISODEs IV-VI into the CLONE WARS universe. The Citadel interior has lighting and design specifications very similar to that of the original Death Star: the familiar looking control rooms, cell bays and corridors are littered with that previous films observation cameras, wall weapons and Mouse Droids from the detention block area of EPISODE IV, and, of course, there's the now classic carbon freezing scene from EMPIRE given a new spin, this time for heroic use (and obviously remembered by Anakin for the future!), as our brave strike team use it to pierce the planetary defences of the Citadel world (an idea conceived by ex-series story editor Henry Gilory for an earlier CLONE WARS comic book that was well worth revisiting). Finally, how can we not mention the welcome return of EPISODE III and IV's young and snidely Outland Regions Governor to-be, Captain Tarkin (as voiced by Stephen Stanton), who, with an intriguing foreshadowing relationship with Anakin, we're sure to see in future episodes of the series as it nears the shocking events of REVENGE OF THE SITH.

The scheming Osi Sobek springs a new trap for the Jedi.

3. Christopher Walken as a STAR WARS villain! Yep, I never thought that such a thing would happen-or be so successful-either! But skilled voice artist/current Obi-Wan Kenobi James Arnold Taylor's spot on vocal impersonation of the famous actor-the almost Han Solo from 1976 (also iconically impersonated by Kevin Spacey for Saturday Night Live back in 19997)- worked very well for the new villain of Osi Sobek (whose name surely has intriguing foundations in Egyptian mythology). Whoever came up with the inspired idea of bringing voice and character together should be congratulated. Sobek proves an intriguing and enjoyable new baddie for the series within the three episode arc, full of high pitched over confidence and intelligence but showing his unrelenting venom for the Jedi/Clone Troopers who tread into his fearsome territory. Quick to anger, he soon shows sadistic and delighted glee in initiating his lethal traps, many deadly weapons- lithe and constant Super Commando Droids and Anooba beasts against them- within and outside his seemingly invincible fortress (built around a once Jedi containment facility- an intriguing idea that I hope someone fleshes out in a book some day). Fearful of failure to Count Dooku, and prone to great anger, especially at the incompetent Battle Droids and technology that go on to fail him, his overconfidence and ego eventually brings about his ultimate demise, along with an audience cheer in the process, via a classic lightsaber chest spearing from a bold Ahsoka Tano.

4. Clone action! After a dry spell of Clone conflicts since earlier in the season, this episode, and the two to follow, certainly compensate for the oversight and deliver the goods to audiences keenly wanting to see their favourite trooper characters in infiltration and action, of which Captain Rex certainly gets some great Clint Eastwood-esque moments of bravery and general cool appeal, alongside some classic lightsaber swishing and ingenuity wielded by the Jedi (and a special nod here to Artoo Detoo!) as they break in then fight back against almost overwhelmingly impossible escape odds within this super powered labyrinth and its hostile outer environment. Death is but a heartbeat away, though, as, alongside several other faceless soldiers who die in this mission (and in the most horrible ways, too!), one of the series most popular Clones heroically buys the farm in the second episode, whilst trying to help his comrades escape. Its a shocking and actually unexpected scene (the lone Clone helmet on the floor being an effective and subtle visual moment), and a good and important move by the series writers/behind the scenes team in reminding fans that, as this particular storyline and series continues, the danger is real and that none of the popular supporting cast is truly safe or indestructible...

Prior to his capture, Jedi Master Even Piell readies himself for Separatist attack.

5. Jedi Master Even Piell. Barely glimpsed in EPISODE ONE, but given some further screen time in the first CLONE WARS animated series from Genndy Tartakovsky, the diminutive but no less powerful Even Piell is one of those Jedi characters that fans have been waiting to see get a slice of the action pie for some time now (alongside Saesee Tiin and Adi Gallia-both of whom appear in this tales breathless finale), and his story arc/ appearance in The Citadel Trilogy doesn't disappoint. As brave and agile as his fellow Jedi-and with very cool, almost Tasmanian Devil-like reflexes when fighting STAP-based Battle Droids- Piell (voiced by Blair Bess) has a shrewd intelligence and practicality about him, as well as strong mental prowess (a keeper of one half of the Republic's important hyper space routes no less!) and a deadpan wit. Resisting his Separatist interrogators (in which he almost loses his only remaining eye to a Torture Droid-another great moment of darkness within a family orientated series), and then fearlessly fighting alongside his Jedi rescuers, his ultimately final and exciting battle alongside Ahsoka against Sobek's Crab Droids, and then against one of the unleashed Anooba beasts that viciously slays him, is well handled by the shows animators. As Anakin and Obi-Wan lower his wrapped dead body for an honourable cremation into the planets lava flow, we know that the secret knowledge the noble Piell protected to the end is now in safe hands with Ahsoka Tano.

THE CLONE WARS Season Three is now available on Blu-ray and DVD from October 17th. A box set of the complete Season's One to Three is also available in both formats.

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