It is hard to imagine a more exciting time in the life of a Star Wars fan than the last few months before the release of the final installment of the saga. We all had pre-conceived notions of what we would be treated to: the fall of Anakin Skywalker and the rise of Darth Vader, the separation of the twins, and the death of Luke and Leia's mother. Our expectations stretched back to a time when Return of the Jedi was still on the silver screen, and twenty years later we were prepared for revelation after revelation.
But lo, the font of creativity that is Lucasfilm had a surprise for us because we didn't have to wait until May 16th to fill in all the missing pieces of the puzzle. In an unprecedented move George Lucas allowed Genndy Tartakovsky the honour of unveiling key plot points over the third series of the Clone Wars micro-series. The gold plating on See-Threepio and the events surrounding Anakin's promotion to Jedi Knight were all revealed through the animated series, rather than during Revenge of the Sith. I'm sure that there will be a lot of hard core/non-Expanded Universe fans rolling their eyes at this statement but within the lore of Star Wars you saw it on Clone Wars first!
Not only were these moments exposed ahead of the movie, the cartoon also acted as an introduction to the space battle over Coruscant, introduced the latest arch-villain General Grievous and most importantly told the story of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine's kidnapping by Separatist forces.
To many fans the opening scenes of Revenge of the Sith were somewhat confusing, and many realized that there was a back story that they were unaware of. It is hard to imagine that there are a few Star Wars fans out there who missed the Clone Wars series on Cartoon Network and Hyperspace, and for those who did the record is about to be set straight - because Clone Wars Volume II is about to be released on DVD.
Content and Format
Duration: 60 minutes
Broadcast in the last week of March, 2005 the final Clone Wars micro-series are a perfect link between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, with a story-arc that is as visually stimulating as it is neurally exciting. Spread over an hour the five episodes, which received Emmy awards for Individual Achievement in Animation and Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming One Hour or More), on the DVD are:
Episode 21 - Obi-Wan's squad of ARC Troopers have a new mission - rescuing the Jedi on Hypori. They arrive to find Ki-Adi-Mundi locked in combat with General Grievous and the other Jedi either dead or injured. Driving the cyborg mastermind off they manage to pull an injured Ki-Adi-Mundi, Aayla Secura and Shaak Ti onto the gunship and escape. Back on Coruscant the Jedi Council debates promoting Anakin to the rank of Jedi Knight.
Episode 22 - As a Jedi Knight, Anakin fights bravely across the galaxy, leading ground forces on Kooriva and even accompanying Saesee Tiin on deep space missions. Obi-Wan and Anakin then have to infiltrate on enemy city and soon get a new assignment together - one that leads to another piece in the puzzle of the Chosen One.
Episode 23 - On Nelvaan (an anagram of Nelvana, the animation house responsible for the original Star Wars cartoons) Anakin discovers he has interupted a youth's rite of passage. In order to must good he must take the youths place to slay the great evil of the land. Meanwhile, General Grievous' forces begin a full assault on Coruscant, and Jedi Masters Yoda, Mace Windu and Saesee Tiin must battle the enemy on the ground, in the air and in orbit. But the attack is a feint and Grievous himself then shows up in Palpatine's office...
Episode 24 - Discovering that Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is the true target of the Separatist assault, Shaak Ti and several other Jedi must ferret the Chancellor to safety whilst General Grievous and his bodyguards are in pursuit of their prey. Meanwhile, Anakin discovers a tragic Techno Union secret on Nelvaan.
Episode 25 - On Nelvaan Anakin frees the slaves but ventures close to the Dark Side of the Force, while on Coruscant Grievous slips past Palpatine's security and infiltrates his bunker. Defeating Shaak Ti, Grievous is about to make his escape beack to the orbitting battle fleet when Jedi Master Mace Windu turns up and gives battle.On hearing the news of the seige on Coruscant Obi-Wan and Anakin order their own fleet into the fray.
Much like "Bridging the Saga" on the Volume I DVD, the "Connecting the Dots" featurette is a short documentary that takes the viewer inside the creative process used by Tartakovsky and company while they storyboarded, animated and produced the five Star Wars adventures. The documentary also discusses the relationship they had with Lucas and the numreous meetings at Skywalker Ranch that were necessary to create the story-arc that linked Episodes II and III, as well as feedback that Tartakovsky provided ILM and LFL.
There are also two full galleries of concept art, promotional posters, storyboards and sketches, plus a playable Xbox demo and trailer for Star Wars Battlefront II video game and the trailer for the upcoming Star Wars Empire at War title. Not forgetting the original theatrical trailer for Revenge of the Sith, as well as the full-length Revenge of the Brick movie from LEGO, which is presented on home viewing format for the very first time.
An option in the Audio menu allows the viewer to watch each episode with an audio commentary overlay with Genndy Tartakovsky (director/producer), Paul Rudish (art director/writer), Bryan Andrews (writer/storyboard artist) and Darick Bachman (writer/production manager).
In fascinating detail they describe key points in the development of the micro-series, such as why the series fleshes out the text crawl at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith. One of the main themes of the last five episodes is the strength of the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan as friends and brothers-in-arms. The audio commentary goes a long way to explain how this evolved and changed through the Clone Wars, bringing the viewer closer in touch with the opening scenes of Revenge of the Sith.
There are no known Easter eggs on the Clone Wars Volume Two DVD yet.
The Star Wars: Clone Wars Volume Two DVD is available from November 28th,2005 in Europe, December 5th, 2005 in the UK and Australia, and in the USA and Canada on December 6th, 2005.