BLU-RAY REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Complete Season Three
Secrets are revealed in the war between the Republic and the Separatists...
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While it's been six years since the last film was released (Revenge of the Sith in 2005), Star Wars continues to dominate the media with plenty of offerings for the fans. One of the greatest sources for new material and currently in its fourth season on Cartoon Network is the hit show Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Telling the stories of Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and a plethora of secondary (and tertiary) characters from the Star Wars universe during the wartime years, Clone Wars takes 3D CGI to the next level with amazing action and beautiful alien planets. While you can catch new episodes of Season 4 on Cartoon Network now, Season 3 has just been released on Blu-ray and DVD with 22 action-packed episodes!
Taking place between the events of Episodes II and III, Clone Wars is a sweeping show that tackles the enormity of the galactic conflict as well as the seemingly miniscule personal stories of those involved. The range of the show is pretty amazing (especially since it's technically aimed at kids); you may watch one episode dealing with a full-scale pitched battle between capital ship fleets and the next will take you along with a small squad of Clone Troopers on a humanitarian mission or deep into Republic politics. With its enormous scope the show’s cast has grown immensely, but the main stories still focus on Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter), Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor), Padme Amidala (Catherine Taber), various Clone Troopers including Rex and Cody (all voiced by Dee Bradley Baker), R2-D2, and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels).
Following the tradition of the Clone Wars releases thus far, Season 3 comes to you with a huge character image on the front cover: in this case it's the scowling glare of Anakin Skywalker holding his lightsaber! The back cover announces the third season along with a description and some of the highlights, while a breakdown lets you know what you’re getting in this Blu-ray "Collector's Edition." Four still images from the season combine action with some of the surprise characters like Savage Opress and Chewbacca! Inside the case you’ll find a cool booklet that lists each disc's contents in detail and which features stills, character art, and a mini poster announcing the debut of Opress.
Each season of Clone Wars has an overall theme, and for Season 2 it was "Rise of the Bounty Hunters." Battles were fierce on both familiar worlds and all new ones while the dangerous scum reared their ugly heads to influence what was already a tumultuous time for the galaxy, and a particularly nasty attack orchestrated by the young Boba Fett and Aurra Sing closed out the season. Season 3's theme was "Secrets Revealed" and it would live up to its name in spades. The first episode "Clone Cadets" starts the action right out of the gate with a peek into the intense Clone Trooper training regimen and back-story for some of the clones we've met before. It also leads directly into the second episode "ARC Troopers" in which some of those very same troops help defend their birth planet Kamino. The first half of the season sees the heroes of the Republic (both martial and political) attempting to help the people through negotiation, strategy, and combat with familiar faces like Bail Organza, Jar Jar, Padme, Aurra Sing, Cad Bane, and Ziro the Hutt.
The second half of Season 3 ventures into some incredible multi-episode stories that really show what the series is capable of. The three-parter "Nightsisters," "Monster," and "Witches of the Mist" reveal a plot between Asajj Ventress and the Dark Side-wielding Nightsisters of Dathomir to supply a Sith-powered apprentice to Count Dooku that will ultimately turn against him. To do this they select a warrior from a nearby camp and turn him into the monstrous Savage Opress, a powerful villain who ends up seeking his long-lost brother Darth Maul who is revealed to be alive! The next story arc, told in "Overlords," "Altar of Mortis," and "Ghosts of Mortis," begins with Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka crashing in a very strange location. Trapped on a planet inhabited by three immensely powerful Force users, the three must face their fears, pasts, and destinies before they can escape. This series in particular featured incredible locales and art as well as a deeply layered story spanning the entire history of Star Wars as well as the conflicting emotions hidden beneath the surface in complex characters like Anakin and Ahsoka. In the end the Jedi escape, but they are forever scarred by what happened to them on Mortis. The season ends with a two-part story in "Padawan Lost" and "Wookiee Hunt." Vicious Trandoshans capture humanoid "prey" to be hunted on a forest planet, and their latest acquisition is Ahsoka! Joining other trapped Padawans she fights back against her captor but only succeeds when she meets another captive, the Wookiee Chewbacca!
With a full 22 episodes (more than some live action TV seasons), Clone Wars Season 3 is a roller coaster ride of action and character development, with tons and tons of Star Wars eye candy like alien races, droids, spaceships, weapons, weird planets, Clone Troopers, and much more. Beyond the episodes themselves the Season 3 Blu-ray is packed with plenty of cool extras. 5 behind the scenes featurettes focus on "Creating Kamino," "Hutts and the Underworld," "Witches and Monsters," "Chewbacca Returns," and "Secrets of Mortis." Meanwhile, Jedi Temple Archives on all three discs bring you all sorts of cool stuff like animation tests, concept art, and much more. Whether you're a young Star Wars fan or you saw the original trilogy in theatres, you'll love the continuing adventures of the Jedi, Senators, and Clone Troopers of the Grand Army of the Republic unfolding in Clone Wars. Get your copy of Season 3 on Blu-ray or DVD wherever TV and movies are sold!
Review by Scott Rubin
Review Sample Courtesy of Warner Bros.