Written by Jason Fry
Published by DORLING KINDERSLEY
Reviewed by Scott Weller
You never truly really appreciate what you've got until its gone-we took the highly successful STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS animated series for granted, that it would run for a few more years yet- “for as long as viewers want to see it”, I remember its creator George Lucas’s words passed down to fans a few years back- as the storytelling started to intriguingly make its way towards the epic events of EPISODE III. Well, with the sad retirement of Lucas and the selling of the STAR WARS franchise to DISNEY last year, the cancellation of the series with the completion of its fifth season was a creative decision that truly ripped the hearts out of the shows worldwide fans with the unexpected quickness of one of Mola Ram's hand thrusts, as millions mourned the passing of such a high quality series, especially one that had captured the dedication of so many younger viewers and families – surely the kind of target audience that DISNEY’s top shows have always aimed for.
Regardless of its unexpected cancellation and loss, though, we can at least be consoled by the fact that the series did last an impressive five seasons and a very overall satisfying 108 episodes-a figure worthy of much celebration, courtesy of Jason Fry’s brand spanking new, beautifully designed EPISODE GUIDE book, from those marvels at DORLING KINDERSLEY, and which proves just the tonic to cheer us all up and remember the many good times we’ve spent watching Anakin and co.’s spectacular adventures, during an anxious but exciting time where we all await news on the next animated incarnation of the saga to come, set within a different era of STAR WARS history, and expected to arrive in TV households and Blu-ray/DVD in at least two or three years time.
Richly illustrated with hundreds of photos, the EPISODE GUIDE is the most comprehensive guide to the series yet, and, for the first time, presents them in the definite authorized story order chronicling our heroic Jedi and vicious Sith – form the blockade battle over the besieged world of Christophsis to the bombing of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Each half-hour adventure/mini-film is given an excellent spread with a terrific main image capturing its mood, accompanied by plot synopsis, highlights on the main characters, memorable dialogue and key scenes, plus a look at the planets, weapons and technology. Behind the scenes we also get first US transmission dates, production orders, some fun trivia about the way the various episodes were scripted and made, and the in-jokes/inspirations/homages, used in them, lifted either from other aspects of the STAR WARS saga or beyond, or from other pop culture forms of movies, TV series and entertainment.
Despite early criticisms from fans towards its original feature length pilot (released in cinemas in 2008), the series that followed it ultimately exceeded fans eventual expectations in the way it deftly merged old and new characters from the Prequel and Classic STAR WARS universe so effectively, and filled in the incredible blanks of fantasy history during the tumoltuous three-year period in which the galactic civil war between Republic and Separatists was waged.There was also the bigger and bolder ambitions of the continuing series in its storytelling and visual ambition- clear to see and admire as you follow the book through. Introducing such memorable new characters as Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano, cruel baddie Savage Opress, bounty hunter Cad Bane and comedy pirate Hondo Ohnaka, whilst providing such diverse and epic scenarios like the epic liberation of Ryloth, to the Zillo beast monster rampage across Coruscant, from the Mon Calamari water war epic, to the return of Darth Maul from the grave, to the emerging threat of the Mandalorian Death Watch, THE CLONE WARS gave fans the additional weight and drama to the Prequel Saga and its characters that we always wanted to see-the book reminding us just how much had been accomplished by such a talented and dedicated group of people (most notably Animation Director Dave Filoni and Visual Effects Artist Joel Aron)- all true STAR WARS fans like you and I, over eight years and five on-screen seasons of production in the US and Singapore.
Intriguingly, taking in the fact that the book was presumably completed four to five months ago, there’s very definitely a sense that, unlike the fans (who had no clue that the series was coming to a definite end), Fry and the DK designers likely had some inkling about its ultimate destiny as being only five seasons, well enough to prepare and end the guide with its last spread- literally the final scene of Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Temple- a design choice that is surely no accident. The only major disappointment with the book is that it doesn’t factor in the events of that other CLONE WARS animated series previous shown on CARTOON NETWORK from 2003-2005, made in equally stunning 2D by Genndy Tartakovsky, and which itself was deemed an official part of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS cannon. So popular it inspired George Lucas and led to the series we’ve been watching now. It would have been interesting to see how they could have factored in the continuity of both series into the book-I’m assuming it’s absence is a deliberate choice by LUCASFILM in wanting to maintain the overall visual continuity of the book and this particular animated series in general. A wasted opportunity, though…
|Our heroes try to escape The Citadel.|
|Captain Rex and his brave men face the Carnage of Krell.|
Aimed primarily at the intelligent 8 -12 year olds, there is nonetheless something for every age group of STAR WARS fan to enjoy with this title. One day I hope we also get to see a more detailed, adult book on the shows overall behind the scenes making and evolution, but this colourful and visually exciting title is a must-have that's more than worthy of the existing high caliber STAR WARS and DORLING KINDERSLEY name.
Goodbye and thank-you, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS. We will miss you…
AFICIONADO RATING. Relive the greatest animated moments of that galaxy a long time ago, far, far away… 4.5 out of 5
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