August 22, 2013

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: "Rising Malevolence"

A devastating new superweapon is launched by the Separatist forces, an encounter with which leaves Jedi Master Plo Koon and a team of clone troopers lost in deep space with rapidly diminishing oxygen. Can Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and his Padowan Ahsoka locate Plo and his crew in time? Or will they be the first victims of the starship Malevolence?

"Rising Malevolence" is a vastly superior episode to "Ambush" - so much so that it's slightly bizarre that Lucasfilm elected to release it second. It has more action and gravitas to it, it's got space battles and Jedi, and perhaps most importantly it stars Star Wars protagonist Anakin Skywalker. It almost feels as if "Ambush" was a dry run, and the series actually starts here.

While Anakin features prominently in this episode, the real star is Jedi Master Plo Koon. He's a weird alien guy with goggles and a breathing mask, previously only seen in the background in the movies but given a valuable spotlight here. I really like this: while the series features the movie leads, it's expanding to cover all of the supporting characters as well.

The clone troopers continue to be unsatisfying, which strikes me as a problem with the concept rather than a fault of the writers or directors. They look the same, they sound the same, when one of them is injured or dies I find myself completely unaffected because there's always another three or four identical guys on the screen.

General Grevious, on the other hand, is great. Like the Trade Federation droid soldiers, he seems to work a lot better in animation than he ever did in Revenge of the Sith - and I actually quite liked him in Revenge of the Sith.

This episode is good stuff. Two episodes in, one good and one bad. With the next episode following on directly from this one, I'm hopeful we may get two out of three.

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