April 09, 2014
I'm trying to be as fair with this as possible. For what is is, I enjoyed it, but "Rise of the Separatists" suffers from some heavy flaws.
In reading that this was pretty much the first two seasons of The Clone Wars packed into a movie format, I understood from the start that this would be flawed project. Of course, one of the main issues is the lack of the standard three-act structure. There are too many plots fitting into the time frame and the whole "movie" feels disjointed. Most of the heart of the series has been gutted out, and what we are almost left with is an hour and a half of continuous action. Character development is practically thrown out the window. Those quiet moments that let you connect to the characters are gone. This is, however, to be expected from such a project. To edit two seasons of a show down into a movie format will obviously cause flow problems.
Continuing with this line of thought, the timing of everything was way off. I found it odd how Obi-Wan seemed to be everywhere. Anakin begins an attack on a ship, we switch to Obi-Wan and hours of time pass, then we go back to Anakin, and it's only minutes later. Then once Anakin disables the ship, Obi-Wan is right there with a fleet of Republic ships. Asoka is introduced, but then we don't get to see much of the bonding process between Anakin and her. She's just there. I was disappointed at the exclusion of the hunter droids as they searched the wreckage for Plo Koon; the part with them cracking open the ships and killing the troopers was too memorable to not be here. The events in this movie take place over several months, yet it's all made to look like it could fit in a few days. The beginning of the movie starts with action, and the movie ends seconds after the action abruptly comes to a halt.
Placing this all aside, I have to say that the first thing that caused me to give this edit bad marks was the 20th Century Fox logo and theme at the start. I know that this is a fan edit, but as someone who produces original work (and not edits of someone else's work), I find it bad taste to steal the credit from Warner Brothers and give it to Fox. That's something of a no-no.
Something else that stood out to me and really annoyed me especially toward the end was how the droids spoke in their own language and huge subtitles appeared on the screen to translate. To my horror, C-3PO came to suffer the same fate. Our beloved golden droid was mostly silenced and when he did speak, it was mechanical garble. YET, the medical droid speaks perfect English! Why was the medical droid allowed to keep his voice while C-3PO's classic personality was stripped from him? (In one bout of inconsistency, we hear 3PO cry out with the voice of Anthony Daniels in a short moment.)
Technically speaking, I liked the integrated material such as the opening scroll, and the editing between scenes was very good. I was looking for errors, so of course I noticed little things here and there (such as concerning musical transitions), but it was all done commendably. There were a few places where the picture suffered serious blocking for a moment, and I don't know how that was caused, but it does seem a little sloppy that such a thing was allowed to pass.
Overall, I somewhat enjoyed this. The unnecessary changes made to the the droids, most especially C-3PO, dampened it a great deal toward the end. Still, I would recommend "Rise of the Separatists" to those who have already seen The Clone Wars and are curious about a project such as this. This isn't for someone unfamiliar with the full storylines presented over the course of two seasons. That said, heed the legal warning at the very beginning that ownership of this video is only for those who own the original series, at least the first two seasons. This isn't meant to be pirated material, and it shouldn't be, since it misrepresents the original work far too much.
Despite all my criticism, curiosity drives me to want to see Q2's next Clone Wars release. For the material he had to tackle, putting aside some of his bad choices, I still think he did a good job. Maybe he'll use this as a learning experience to help make his next release even better.
-M. Strain Jr.
April 25, 2014