Star Wars Revisited 5: The Clone Wars 2

A long time ago… I discovered Star Wars. It would define my life. It’s time to rediscover it.

1: The Phantom Menace | 2: Attack of the Clones | 3: Clone Wars season 1 and 2 | The Clone Wars 1

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This show is truly astounding. While I generally enjoyed the prequels, no hate here, I understand the issues they have. Serious mistakes were made in the conception stage by George Lucas that hobbled the films, particularly Episode I and II, with some major problems. This series fixes them almost immediately. I am doing something a bit crazy for this show. I am not watching them by season. No, I am going chronologically. The series actually jumps around quite a bit in the timeline of the clone war. Some episodes from seasons 2 and 3 take place before season 1! A few episodes actually happen before the Clone Wars movie that was in theaters. I am not going to go hog wild on these reviews, just give you guys a taste, every 10 or so episodes, of how the show plays out.

My aim at this point is to finish this entire series, as well as all films and other shows before the release of Star Wars: Rebels in the fall. I previously covered the first 9 stories of the series (including the theatrical release). I decided to wait until I had a sizable chunk of episodes before I did another post. Here are the 35 that I have watched since the last installment.

10: Downfall of a droid: During a space battle, R2D2 is lost and Anakin tries to find him as R2’s data banks contains important secrets.

11: Duel of the Droids: R2 is recovered and fights against “Goldie” the droid that replaced him- a secret traitor to the rebellion. This two part series was pretty good as it started to develop Ahsoka a little deeper while showcaseing R2D2 as an important member of the team.

12: Bombad Jedi: Jar Jar Binks is mistaken for a Jedi and through his bumbling, manages to capture Separatist leader Nute Gunray. Ugh. This show uses Jar Jar better than the movies ever did, but less is better.

13: Cloak of Darkness: Asaaj Ventress reappears to free Nute Gunray with the help of a traitorous Republic Guard. A solid episode that manages to make us feel  like our heroes are actually threatened.

14: Lair of Greivous: Jedi Kit Fisto finds himself in the home of General Grievous himself. This was a cool episode as we got a glimpse of what he looked like before becoming half droid.

15: Dooku Captured: Dooku is…well.. captured. This is where we are introduced to Honda, the pirate leader who will become a threat as the series continues.

16: Gungan General: After being captured by Hondo, Anakin and Obi Wan can only be saved by… Jar Jar Binks. Once again, they try to redeem this guy, but its not worth the effort.

17: Jedi Crash: Anakin and Rex are injured in battle and crash on a planet of pacifists who refuse to get involved.

18: Defenders of Peace: Anakin and Ahsoka rally the Pacifists to put aside their traditions and fight for their homes.

19: Tresspass: An outstanding episode set on the moon Pantora where a primitive race defends their home against imperialistic aliens from the main planet who think the moon is their property.

20: Blue Shadow Virus: A mad scientist has revived an old plague and threatens to unleash it on Naboo.

21: Mystery of a thousand moons: Ahsoka and Padme are dying of the blue shadow virus. Anakin travels to the moons of Iego and has 48 hours to retrieve the cure before his loved ones die.

22-24: Storm over Ryloth, Innocents of Ryloth, Liberty of Ryloth: This three-parter closed out the first season of Clone Wars. It tells of the battle of Ryloth. Episode 1 takes place in space as Ahsoka learns to command battle squadrons to break the separatist blockade of the planet. Episode 2 follows Obi Wan and his clone troopers as the lead a ground assault and try to save some of the victims of the Separatist invasion. The story ends as Mace Windu rallies a rebel leader of the Twi’leks to join with the government forces and save their world.

25: Holocron Heist: Now we meet the best villain of this series- Cad Bane, Bounty Hunter. He is tasked to break into the Jedi Temple, steal a holocron, and deliver it to the Sith. Greatest creation in this series after Ahsoka.

26: Cargo of Doom: Anakin and Ahsoka track Cad Bane across the Galaxy. It appears the Bane is destroyed, but Anakin still feels him in the force.

27: Children of the Force: Cad Bane is kidnapping force sensitive children for Darth Sidious. The Dark lord’s plan is to form an army of force using spies and assassins in his future Empire. Mara Jade anyone?

28: Bounty Hunters: Anakin, Ahsoka, and Obi Wan team up with some Bounty Hunters to protect a small village from raiding pirates…led by Hondo!

29-30: The Zillo Beast, The Zillo Beast Strikes Back: Clone Wars has their Godzilla tribute as military tests on a super weapon unleash the dreaded Zillo Beast. Anakin and company manage to capture the monster, which is then ordered to be transported to Coruscant for testing. Palpatine gives us his first glimpse of being evil by ordering the torture and killing of the beast to discover it’s secrets- which have military uses. The monster breaks out and comes after Palpatine. Despite wanting to keep the last of its kind alive, the Jedi have no choice but to put it down…as Palpatine orders a secret cloning program to begin. A great story.

31: Senate Spy: Padme and Anakin are sent to a meeting with the Neimoudians for discussions at the invite of Clovis, an old friend/lover of Padme. Clovis sided with the Separatists which leads to a plot against Padme. They escape and Clovis’ fate is uncertain.

32: Landing at Point Rain: An all out battle episode as Anakin leads a tank squad, and Obi Wan and Ki Adi Mundi assault Geonosis. Obi Wan and Mundi are injured, but survive.

33: Weapons Factory: Anakin and Luminara Unduli lead an assault on the Geonosis weapons factory as Ahsoka and Bariss Offee, Luminara’s padawan, sneak into the factory to plant bombs.

34: Legacy of Terror: The battle of Geonosis continues as The heroes pursue Poggle the lesser, leader of the Geonosians. Luminara disappears in a Geonosian temple and Anakin and Obi Wan discover the Geonosian queen, and Zombies!

35: Brain Invaders: As the Jedi prepare to trasnport Poggle back to the Republic, one of the Geonosian queen’s worm/mindcontrol monsters hitches a ride with the clone troopers and infects a whole squad of Clones including Bariss Offee! To get to the cure for the worms, Anakin goes full Vader on Poggle, accompanied by the Imperial March. First direct sign of Anakin’s darkness in the series.

36: Grievous Intrigue: Grievous kidnaps Jedi Eeth Koth as Anakin and Obi Wan, joined by Adi Gallia mount a rescue attempt.

37: The Deserter: In chasing General Grievous on the planet Saleucami, Rex comes across a farmer that is a clone trooper that deserted the army. The clone centric episodes are some of the absolute best.

38: Lightsaber Lost: Anakin and Ahsoka travel into the Coruscant underworld to find an arms dealer. Along the way, Ahsoka loses her Lightsaber to a pickpocket and must reclaim it with the assistance of Old Jedi Master Sinube.

39: The Mandalore Plot: Another terrific ongoing story within this series begins as we travel to Mandalore! Obi Wan travels to Mandalore to see Duchess Satine (named of course after Satine of Moulin Rouge- a famous Ewan McGregor film), a former girlfriend who leads Mandalore. He is following rumors that Mandalore is planning to rebuild it’s army. Here he discovers Death Watch, a movement within Mandalore that wishes to bring back the glory of the Mandalorian Empire.

40: Voyage of Temptation: The battle against Death Watch continues as Satine travels to Coruscant to appear before the Republic. Death Watch tries to kill her with a freaky spider droid along the way. Anakin discovers that Obi Wan had a past love, similar to his situation with Padme. Anakin gets another Dark Side moment as he “cold bloodedly” kills the villain of the episode.

41: Duchess of Mandalore: While fighting against Republic occupation of Mandalore, Duchess Satine is implicated in a murder and is forced to run as she tries to stop the machinations of Sidious.

42: Death Trap: The amazing developments of the Mandalore, Bounty Hunter, and other great villains comes together as young Boba Fett enters the fray to get vengeance on the Jedi, Mace Windu in particular by infiltrating a republic Cruiser and causing hell. It was cool that they got Daniel Logan back from Episode II to voice the character.

43: R2 Come Home: The Boba story continues as the Jedi search for survivors of the crash of Admiral Killian’s Star Destroyer. As they look, and dodge Gundarks, Boba tries to kill Windu again, failing. Working with Aurra Sing and Bossk, work their way in to collect the Jedi prize, only R2 can stop them, using mostly Home Alone tactics.

44: Lethal Trackdown: Aurra Sing has Republic hostages, which is creating conflict in young Boba who is not yet totally evil. Trying to lure Windu into the fight, Plo Koon and Ahsoka go instead to face off against the bounty hunters, now teamed with Hondo! Season 2 finale.

This series is SO DAMN GOOD. I feel sorry for Star Wars fans that gave this a pass. I recently read a review, I apologize for no source, I truly forgot who wrote it, which stated that the big failure with the prequel trilogy is that it aimed WAY to big. The original series were small stories, following our few heroes in these relatively small adventures while leaving the rest of the galaxy to our imaginations. The prequels wanted us to see it. The hurdle was that they only had 3 films. This series is the REAL prequel series. The Movies stand as support for the story told in this “little cartoon show”. Dooku, Kenobi, Grievous, and most especially Anakin is revealed in these stories. This batch was particularly interesting as they moved away from the “Early” clone wars, when the writing was more child oriented. As the story ended Season 1 and moved into season 2 the maturity jump was significant. As it moved forward, the creators felt more confidence in trying new things and moving the story ahead. Some truly awesome, and lasting, characters emerged in these stories. It’s all gravy from here on out.

See you next time as we cover another 20 or so episodes.

Next:

6: Clone Wars 3

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Godzilla

The 393rd film I have seen in theaters…

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Nuclear testing awakened a gigantic beast from the depths of the Ocean 60 years ago. It lived down there for decades, the military thinking it dead. In 1999, the discovery of a hive of another ancient monster leads to a nuclear meltdown in Japan as an egg burrows into the plant to feed off of radiation. Decades later, the egg hatches and begins a rampage across the Pacific to find it’s mate, and birth a new race of “Mutos” which will destroy civilization. Godzilla rises from the depths to defeat these creatures and restore balance to the Earth. Now THAT is the plot of a fucking Godzilla movie.

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the lead in this film, the son of the Nuclear scientist who is trying to uncover the conspiracy of the monster egg. He does a good job. It was not until I made it home that I realized that this was the kid from Kick Ass. Typical leading man action role with no weight or real growth. He is playing Quicksilver in Avengers 2. Good actor.

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Elizabeth Olsen plays Johnson’s wife. Small role, nothing really meaty. She is playing Scarlet Witch in Avengers 2- sister of Quicksilver. How nuts is that? Damn good actress.

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Ken Watanabe is the Japanese scientist that is studying the Muto Egg.  He is the only one that thinks Godzilla is a force for good, not evil. Exposition character. Damn good actor.

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David Strathairn plays the General who must destroy the monsters. That’s about it. Damn good actor. Noticing a trend?

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Bryan Cranston is the scientist who run a Nuclear power plant that melts down. His wife is killed in the accident. He spends the next 15 years trying to find the truth of that day. Amazingly good actor.

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This movie was awesome and is easily one of the better Godzilla movies. The human stories are useless though. Cranston and company bring their A game, but there is nothing to use it on. A waste of such great talent, but this series was never about the humans. What on the Monsters?

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The Mutos are amazingly well rendered. We are supposed to root against them, but at the same time we understand and pity them.

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Godzilla is the hero of the film. By the end, even the people are cheering him on. Perfect interpretation of the character. Flawed film, but still awesome. Just needs more Godzilla. I think the sequel will be more comfortable with using him.

Moment of zen… BLUE ATOMIC FIRE. I nearly cried.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The 392nd film I have seen in theaters…

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Not the best Spider-Man movie, but the most faithful adaptation of the character we’ve seen yet.

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Spider-Man has begun his career saving NYC. he struggles with his promise to stay away from Gwen Stacy, to keep her safe. As Peter delves deeper into the secrets of his parents, Harry Osborn comes to town to to take over Oscorp from his sick father. It is revealed that Oscorp is behind all manner of mad scientist experiments. Max Dillon, Oscorp employee and electrical genius suffers an accident and becomes Electro. Harry becomes the Green Goblin, and it all comes to a head as Peter fights to save the city, and Gwen.

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We all love the Raimi Spider-Man films, but Andrew Garfield is by far the Superior Spider-Man (ha). He strikes the correct tone of tragedy and goofiness. Watching his Peter/Spidey is a true reflection of the comic character.

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As soon as I saw the boots and Purple dress…I knew. Great Performance.

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Actually a really good portrayal of Green Goblin. The biggest flaw of the film is that they shoehorned him in. He needed his own movie.

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Goofy Villain of the week. They could have done much more with him, but in the end he is just a henchman. I swear this guy nearly ruined the movie. It’s like something straight out of Batman and Robin.

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So much venom for this reboot. My wife hated it. “Too much like a comic book!” was her main argument. A comic book movie is too much like the comic. What a terrible problem to have. sheesh. That said, this movie had some issues. The Green Goblin should have had his own picture. Electro was useless, a joke. What works are Garfield and Stone as Peter and Gwen. I really wish they had stretched the Gwen Stacy story to a third film, but it is what it is. I feel this improves on the first simply for the correct costume- best yet.

Ranking of all Spider-man movies:

1: Spider-Man 2

2: Spider-Man

3: Amazing Spider-Man 2

4: Amazing Spider-Man

5: Spider-Man 3

Preparing for Godzilla!

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We are only a week away from the release of the all new Godzilla film! I loved these movies as a kid, but have not seen them in decades. To celebrate the return of everyone’s favorite monster I am watching whatever is available to me.  Netflix has a few of the 28 films in the series available on instant. I started at the beginning.

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The original!…sort of. This is the American version of “Gojira”. Actor Raymond Burr, of Perry Mason fame, plays reporter Steve Martin (unfortunate choice of name), who is in Tokyo as Godzilla attacks. They basically shot scenes of him and edited it into the movie. All in all, a good first movie, but unfortunately bastardized by Hollywood.

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This one is another American cock up. For some reason, American distributors did not want to call him Godzilla in “Godzilla raids again”. It was instead changed to “Giganticus”. Why? I have no idea. It’s Godzilla, everyone knows it’s Godzilla. This one has one of my favorite “human” plot of the early movies with the story of the two pilots working to stop Godzilla’s rampage.

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Now we get nuts. My wife was trying to make heads or tails of this one and gave up. This is one of the entries that will help you decide if you are a fan of this genre or not. The fairies, the two little women, or “Shobijin” are definitely an insane element in these movies. What makes it all the more incredible is how easily everyone in this universe accepts that they exist. Godzilla rampages and the fairies call upon Mothra to stop him. The human story centers around a Mothra egg that washed ashore in Japan. Greedy businessmen buy the egg to exploit it for profit.  Mothra dies protecting the egg, and 2 baby mothras hatch and defeat Godzilla. While the American tampering seems less with this entry, they foolishly never refer to Mothra as anything but “The Thing”.

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This one really strikes the “Godzilla as hero” theme that would dominate the remainder of the series. Godzilla and Rodan are fighting it out. The Mothra baby is too weak to interfere. Ghidorah, the three headed monster rampages and threatens the Earth. The Shobijin convince Mothra to intercede. He does and translates a conversation between the monsters. Godzilla and Rodan join with Mothra to defeat Ghidorah.

 

These movies hold up amazingly well.Yes, they are cheesy but they are indicative of a particular place and time. They still work as films, and that is awesome.