There isn't even room for debate that Star Wars is an institution among movies. Generations of kids and grown-ups have been enthralled by the possibilities brought forth by the space western that made it safe for other filmmakers to venture into the outer reaches of this and other planets in search of adventure and cinematic spectacle.
It's also now fairly comfortably acknowledged that the legions of Star Wars fans were disappointed to varying degrees by the travesty that was the new trilogy of sequels that actually served as prequels to the original trilogy.
It's not like wooden acting and cumbersome dialogue were alien to fans of the original trilogy but even that didn't prepare them for atrocities like Jar Jar Binks, midi-chlorians, the definition of a padawan and the jaw-droppingly bad performance of one Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker.
So they grumbled and they grunted and they put up increasingly weak defenses for why the three films, put together, did precious little to enhance the Star Wars universe. Several fans even went so far as to consider the original trilogy the only true Star Wars films. And then, George Lucas, in his infinite wisdom, saw fit to unleash this brand new mess upon his adoring public.
The events within Star Wars: The Clone Wars are supposed to take place in the timeline between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. And it is an animated film. Designed as a precursor to a television series that will also explore similar ground. Confused? Don't be, it's not worth it.
One of the reasons we went to the theatres in droves to watch the live action movies is because they always held the promise of grand spectacle. Human beings we recognized from other movies were transformed into Jedi Knights or other inhabitants of that universe and they stood shoulder to shoulder with robots and other fantastical creatures and did battle or engaged in debate or rhetoric. Absorbing that fantastical universe was a great part of the thrill. So naturally, a major portion of the effect is lost when the whole enterprise is animated.
On the surface, the plot of this movie involves Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi trying to rescue Jabba the Hutt's baby who has been kidnapped by Count Dooku and his cohorts as a way of causing a fallout between the Jedi and the Hutts so that they can cut off Jedi access to space routes that they need to access in order to manage some sort of parity in their battle with the forces of the Republic.
If it sounds like a thin premise to mount a movie on, that's because it is. This feels like a made-for-television movie being given the big screen treatment simply because there might be some money to be made from it.
There are a few companies that do animation well. Lucasfilm is not one of them. Or it might be more accurate to say that they've done a cut-rate job on this one. Some of the character design is interesting but the whole enterprise looks flatter in parts than the first movie did even though it came out over three decades ago while George Lucas's people were still pioneering the technology that is so commonplace in cinema these days.
For the most part, the movie looks like a lengthy cut scene from a video game. The dialogue and line readings are turgid and the action is so unimaginatively rendered that children will get bored and adults won't know what to make of any of it.
This movie is definitely only for the most die-hard fans. And even they might be better off waiting for this to play incessantly on a television channel near them in the not-too-distant future.