BLU-RAY REVIEW: Star Wars - The Clone Wars The Complete Season Four
Obi-Wan, Anakin And The Jedi Face Tougher Foes And The Return of Darth Maul...
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I've been a Star Wars fan my entire life and have enjoyed the last few years as the back story to some of my favorite characters has continued to grow thanks to Cartoon Network's Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Now, fans of the animated, fan-favorite series can pick up The Complete Season Four on blu-ray and DVD wherever fine home video is sold.
This season fans engaging in more Clone Trooper and Jedi Knight adventures featuring fan-favorite characters like Jedi Master Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano and a number of Clone Troopers as they face the evil Separatists and Sith, including Count Dooku, General Grievous, Asajj Ventress, Savage Opress, the Nightsisters and a newly returned Darth Maul. For fans like me, who've been waiting decades to finally see the Clone Wars stories told, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a dream come true.
While the ongoing plot follows the ever-growing strife within the Galactic between the Republic, its Jedi protectors and the Separatists and the growing ranks of the Sith, some of the episodes in Season Four are single-part stories while most are multi-episode story arcs. Both types of episodes help build the storyline and characters as well as move the series along, though I must say two story arcs in particular impressed me: the "Obi-Wan Undercover" arc, which sees Obi-Wan fake his death, return as a bounty hunter, and gain employment by the Separatists to gather information and maybe every fan's favorite arc from last season, "Darth Maul Returns," which sees Opress find his brother Maul and together the pair face Obi-Wan, the Jedi responsible for wounding Maul so terribly over a decade before.
These arcs as well as a number of other episodes drive Season Four and make it one of the best - if not the best - season so far in the series. No doubt the final episodes featuring Maul's return will keep fans engaged and excited entering this new Season Five (which is on Episode 6 this weekend). Sure to shake things up with Maul and Opress venturing the galaxy on a mission of revenge and the Jedi seeking to defend Republic worlds against Separatist forces as they continue to grow and expand, this new fifth season is a fine place for any and all fans to start watching...though they'd no doubt appreciate seeing Season Four if possible.
The blu-ray video and audio continue to impress with gorgeous animation in full 1080p hi-def video. The 2.35:1 aspect ratio picture is fluid, bright, clean and all-around beautiful. Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track delivers plenty of use of the sound stage, with laser blasts and light sabre clashes filling the air and dialogue clear and easy to hear from the front.
As for extras, the blu-ray set includes five informative and engaging video commentaries focused on the individual multi-episode story arcs by various creators, including supervising director Dave Filoni, CG supervisor Joel Aron, animation supervisor Keith Kellogg, lead designer Kilian Plunkett, supervising editor Jason Tucker, writers Henry Gilroy and Katie Lucas, and voice actors James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Sam Witwer (Maul). These commentaries feature everything from concept art and info on the stories to behind-the-scenes per-visualization and details about the writing. The five individual commentaries included here are the three-episode arc "The Battle of Mon Cala," the four-episode arc "The Darkened World of Umbara," the three-episode arc "The Slaves of Zygerria," the four-episode "Obi-Wan Undercover," and the four-episode arc "Darth Maul Returns."
The blu-ray set also includes the expansive Jedi Temple Archives, which features everything from deleted scenes, development reels, vehicle and character turn arounds, and concept art to design work, character designs, storyboards, and more. Almost ridiculous in the amount of information included, die-hard Star Wars fans will appreciate this Archive and spend hours and hours combing this feature for in-depth information.
If you're a fan of Star Wars and you're not watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars, there's something wrong with you. Unlike anything you've ever seen, The Clone Wars continues to prove itself a series worth watching. While the affects of the sale of LucasFilm to Disney have yet to be revealed, we can only hope we'll continue to see more new episodes of this amazing animated series as it grows towards the ultimate face off between Obi-Wan and Anakin seen in Episode III.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Complete Fourth Season is available now on both DVD and blu-ray wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley