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Thursday, July 31, 2014         

TELEVISION SERIES REVIEW


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Final season of ‘Clone Wars’ sports gorgeous animation

By David Wiegand

San Francisco Chronicle

POSTED:

Just four episodes of the previously unaired sixth season of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" are enough to make you wish it would go on forever.

Created by George Lucas and directed by Dave Filoni, the 3-D CGI animated series was launched on the Cartoon Network in 2008 and, like the earlier 2-D series of the same name, "Clone Wars" is set in the years between the saga's prequel feature films, "Revenge of the Sith" and "Attack of the Clones." The plot developments and character evolution provide a valuable missing link between those films, but the genius of the TV series was that it also stood beautifully on its own.

Except that the fifth season ended in 2012 without resolution of several key elements.

'The Lost Missions' Final season of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," available for streaming Friday on Netflix

That makes Friday's release of all 13 episodes of the "Lost Missions" season on Netflix an eagerly anticipated event for "Star Wars" fans. In addition to the new season, Netflix will have all previous seasons available for streaming, including several director's-cut episodes.

Obviously, the new season picks up where season five ended, but any plot details from the four episodes made available to critics would be unwelcome spoilers. All you need to know is that the Clone Wars haven't ended, and Yoda (voiced by Tom Kane) is struggling with a way for the clone army of the Galactic Republic to defeat the droid forces of the Sith, who are as committed to the dark side of the Force as the Jedi are to the good side, to oversimplify.

The first of the new episodes could almost be viewed as a "Star Wars" take on another Netflix hit, "House of Cards." Good versus evil translates especially well in the political realm, even when that realm is intergalactic. Much of it is devoted to catching us up on what happened earlier, but also exploring the metaphysical implications of whatever strategy is deemed to have the most potential for victory.

"Star Wars" has always been about good versus evil, but knowing which is which isn't always easy. No "black hat/white hat" signaling here. While hidden identity and secret motivations have always propelled the "Star Wars" saga, the films and "Clone Wars" also explore the moral duality in many of its characters, regardless of whether we initially see them as good or evil.

In the final season, Yoda has to face not only his own fears, but also his own nature, if he is to lead the galactic forces to victory over the Sith.

As ever, the jaw-dropping sophistication of the animation plays an enormous role in making the episodes come alive. The battle scenes in the first four episodes simply rival anything you'd see in a big-budget feature film.

Voice talent, in addition to Kane, who also narrates, includes Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker, James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Terrence C. Carson as Mace Windu, Tim Curry as Darth Sidious, Corey Burton as Count Dooku, and a couple of names that will go unmentioned because revealing them would spoil some of the fun.






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