Following a dramatic first season, which established the animated series of the much-loved Star Wars franchise as a major force in the televised science fiction genre, Lucasfilm knew they had to build on the success of their hit TV show. Did they manage this, or was it all merely nothing more than a slight rumble in The Force? Join us and find out as we take a look at Star Wars:The Clone Wars-Season 2 in the GamesMediaPro review.
With the ending of the first series leaving fan’s of the The Clone Wars with a tantalising and mouth-watering prospect for the highly anticipated second season of the animated smash hit, Lucasfilm has managed to produce that wonderous recipe that eludes so many others by continuing the epic saga with a stronger sequel than original.
Expanding on the first season’s repertoire of villainous characters, expansive location’s and spectacular settings, Star Wars:The Clone Wars-Season 2 pick’s up immediately where the end of the Season 1 left off as we continue to follow the dastardly exploits of one of the new breed of ‘Bad Guys’ that the inspirational animated series has brought to life in George Lucas’ intergalactic melting pot.
In the opening episode we are once again treated to the murderous intention’s of Cad Bane, an impressive bounty hunter who has left a lasting impression on fan’s of the Star Wars saga long after the credits called time on the wonderful opening season. In Cargo of Doom, the first episode of the stunning second season, we are once more invited to fall in love with yet another cracking callous character that the Star Wars universe seem’s ever able to produce. Cold, calculating and undoubtedly as cruel as they come, Cad Bane lives up to, and even surpasses, his growing reputation as a ruthless mercenary. Loyal, like a devoted terrier, to whichever master holds the key to his chain, Cad Bane pledges his allegiance not out of morality or respect but merely who pays, and who pays the most. This first-rate villain is put to good use in the opening episode of Season 2, and in particular the stand out moment of the episode, when he takes out the gravity to the ship on which he does bloody battle with an army of Droids against Ahsoka and Anakin. The first three episodes of the series continue in much the same vein, and are, more or less, the continuation of an ever embittered battle to put the mighty bounty hunter to the sword by an increasingly frustrated Jedi Order.
However, that is not to dismiss the episodes as merely one long dragged out sub-plot. They are all far more important to the grander scheme of things than that, and along the way viewers will be introduced to new twists and turn’s, and even more dubious looking characters, as the storyline get’s ever more involved, and its deceptions and double dealings even more convoluted and conspiratorial.
As ever with the Star Wars franchise, and indeed all of the good Mr Lucas’ work, the animation and the attention to every possible detail from storyline to sub-plots, characters and each and every location is undertaken to the highest possible order, and the calibre of the production and presentation is absolutely second to none. If there is one thing that you can ever be assured of with a LucasFilm production then it is quality, of that there is never any doubt.
Fan’s of the series will be pleased to know that once again all your favourite Jedi’s make their welcome return to the show, with Anakin and Obi Wan propping up the list of interstellar knights like two towering bookend’s of justice and might. Of course the troublesome teen Ahsoka is back and getting into all manner of scrapes and situation’s along the way, but viewers will no doubt be able to see that in the second season of this sci-fi series that the girl has done some considerable growing up in the intervening months. Gone is the annoying naivety and that ‘ I can do it! ‘ attitude that put so many lives in danger, not just her own, in the first season. Ahsoka now comes across as a far more responsible and disciplined young Padowan, and the turn around is one of the hit’s of Season 2, as no longer do you watch the fledgling Jedi and get irate at her quirky behaviour.
Also returning to the small screen are the villain’s from the opening series. So fan’s of the Dark Side will once more be able to cheer for Count Dooku and his menacing underling General Grievous. Brilliantly voiced by . One notable absence is Asajj Ventress, and even though an appearance from the evil First Lady of Chaos would have been a highlight, it does in no way detract from the sheer unadulterated entertainment that oozes from every episode on the cracking collection.
General Grievous also manages to get an entire episode dedicated to his spluttering and hacking self, as we are treated to an absolute corker of an outing with the excellent ‘Grievous Intrigue’. Without wanting to ruin the show for a multitude of Star Wars disciples out there, which we won’t, this had to be one of our favourite episodes on the entire Second Season disc, with the over-the-top antic’s and Phantom of the Opera style of the ‘Coughing Killer’, General Grievous stealing the scene, and indeed the show, at every opportunity.
In the episode ‘The Deserter’ the writers pay homage to the unsung heroes of the Republic, The Clones of the title. Dismissed by many as mere tools of war, to be used as commanding officers see fit, these devoted trooper’s put duty before self every time and yet reap no rewards for their endeavours. So when we spied this solitary showing tucked way in amongst the sprawling three and four-part storylines we knew that it had to be something different, and we are pleased to tell you that we were right. Upon crash-landing on a hostile planet as a result of a Separatist attack we follow the exploits of the downed crafts commanding officer, who was left with a family of natives after being injured in the assault, to recuperate and rest. It is only when the family unit’s father returns to the fold that we get to understand the lot of the ‘clone warrior’, and understand their plight. These are not the brain-washed masses that people expected, nor are they slaves of limited intelligence, whose identities are curbed to deny them free speech and thought. These are men, pre-programmed as soldiers that’s as maybe, but men nevertheless. In a touching episode that ask’s many questions regarding the futility of war and the oppression of an entire race of beings we get to see The Clones in a different light for the first time.
Our favourite storyline of the entire collection of Star Wars:The Clone Wars-Season 2 had to be ‘The Mandalore Plot’. Tracing back the lineage of the armour that belongs to one of our most memorable characters in the entire impressive line-up of the Star Wars populus along the way, the iconic Boba Fett. In a ‘three-parter’ that also encompasses the moment when Obi Wan almost threw in his lot with Jedi for the hand of his lost love Satine, viewers get to see the Mandalorian ‘Death Watch’ strut their stuff in all their glory as their legendary armour that they sport sparkles like Kevlar diamonds in the sunlight. Underhanded double crosses and backstabbing acquaintances abound in this politically charged trio of thrillers that explain show some systems even tried to stay neutral during the great war for freedom, but alas, ultimately fell victim to the hatred and despair that ran rampant throughout the entire galaxy during Palpatine’s terrible rise to power.
Storyline of the season has to go to the wonderful quartet of top quality episodes that make up the awe-inspiring Geonosis sub-plot. For those of you out there who will be purchasing this disc without ever having seen any of these superb episodes first time round all we can tell you, without littering this review with spoilers, is to prepare yourself for many a moment of jaw-dropping brilliance, as the scenes from stand-out moments such as The Landing at Point Rain will require you to place a cushion between your feet, because when you take in the atmosphere and visual mastery that makes up the battle scenes your jaw will be somewhat bruised from the amount of time it spends crashing into your floorboards.
In another stand out moment of typically inspired action from Lucasfilm we get to sample our first taste of the dark future for our young Anakin Skywalker. In Brain Invaders, a stunning slice of Star Wars that will leave viewers breathless by the sheer pace of the awesome action that is on offer from the opening titles to the end credits, we get to witness the torture of a helpless prisoner at the hand’s of a darkly powerful Anakin. Shades of things to come indeed for the man destined to rule the galaxy with an iron fist, and so with the memorable anthem of the future empire echoing in our ears we get to glimpse at the future for the doomed Jedi’s and their council.
The season’s finale saw the series introduce our previously mentioned favoured character, the man himself:Boba Fett. Stepping out from every Star Wars fan’s imagination into a meatier role that just aches to be told. Boba Fett has to be the most under-used and over exulted character in the entire franchise, and one, we hope, that will at some point spawn his own break away series involving some of his exploits during his time as a bounty hunter. In this episode, ‘Lethal Intentions’, we get to see the much revered mercenary in his most extensive role to date, and we can but pray for more involvement from our anti-hero in the third series. But for those of you out there who cannot do without your Boba, and fear that his terrible fate in the belly of the sand beast, The Saarlac, in The Empire Strikes Back, was the last that you will ever see of the lovable rogue, well all we can tell you is to seek out a novel entitled ‘The Mandalorian Armour’ and learn the true fate of the man of mystery.
To summarise then, Star Wars The Clone Wars-Season 2 is a far more in-depth look at the darker side of the Separatist Rebellion and the unsavoury characters that Senator Palpatine’s rise to power has unearthed. Gone are the bright and cheery surroundings of a Republic flourishing under the control of the Jedi Council and the Senate, only to be replaced by murder and mistrust as the battle lines begin to be drawn and sides are taken. The DVD and Blu-Ray collection of the second series has to be the best of the bunch, so far, and as stated earlier, the presentation and production of Star Wars:The Clone Wars Season 2 is without question absolutely flawless. Beautiful dark surroundings and foreboding atmosphere’s permeate the very screen that you are watching it from and begin to make the hairs on your neck stand up in terror as you hear the heavy rasping breath of an oncoming General Grievous through the games superb sound quality. Each and every episode, from individual offerings to the many episodes of the more involved storylines and subplot’s, are told with a feeling and an intensity that is unmatched by any other science fiction title out there. You invest so much time with the characters and the saga of the Star Wars universe that it is almost as if you are watching personal friends on-screen, such is the depth of emotion that we all experience after a lifetime of watching this epic take unfurl.
From the moment we first saw a fresh-faced Luke Skywalker take to the evening air and ponder his future against the twin sunset of Tattoine, we have all been deeply involved with the universe that George Lucas has created for us, The Clone Wars continues to tell the story that brought that very opening sequence to fruition. Ever since that long hot summer of 1975 brought to us episode four of Star Wars we have always known that there was nothing else quite like it, in the Clone Wars George Lucas proves once more that our initial assumptions were true, as he continues to take us all on a journey unmatched and unsurpassed. The greatest science fiction saga ever told just got a new feather to its cap. The Clone Wars have begun. 10