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‘The Clone Wars’ 

George Lucas has done it again. And by “done it,” of course, I mean: “made a pale, bloodless and completely unnecessary sequel to a great film he made in his younger days, enriching himself by milking the original of its last ounce of magic.” No, wait. Even that doesn't do justice to the awfulness of “The Clone Wars” — the new animated film based on episodes one through three of the Star Wars saga. It is, in a word, the worst Star Wars product ever, and I'm including in that the infamous, made-for-TV “Christmas Special” from 1978, which featured a coked-up Carrie Fisher belting out a song and a plotline revolving around Han Solo and Chewbacca rushing back to the Wookie home world for “Life Day.” Jeeze. That's some industrial bad there, pal, and “Clone Wars” is worse.

It seems that galactic gangster Jabba the Hutt's larvae/son has been kidnapped! Because Jabba rules the trade routes on the outer rim of the galaxy (shades of the C-Span grade politics that made Episode I: The Phantom Menace about as exciting as watching … well, C-Span), both the good guys (the Jedi) and the bad guys (Count Dooku and his robot army) want to return the little Huttlet safe and sound to curry favor with his dad. Soon on the case are Jedi badass Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter… yep, Lucas couldn't even be bothered to hire the real friggin' actors from the films) and his new, headstrong Padawan apprentice, Ashoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein). Before long, Anakin and Ashoka manage to unravel the plot to kidnap Jabba the Hutt's kid — a trail that eventually leads them to strange worlds, swashbuckling battles and the nightclub owned by Ziro the Hutt, who is (and I am in no way making this up) Jabba's gay, lavender-colored, body-painted, feather-boa wearing uncle, who speaks — in English, mind you — like Truman Capote, if Truman Capote had been 500 percent gayer and had had a massive stroke.

God, this is a bad movie. The action sequences are dull, the animation is jerky and overly angular, the humor is “Hee-Haw”-level cornball, and the main relationship in the film — Anakin and Ashoka — has all the charisma of watching two pre-teen siblings bicker on a cross-country car trip. Beyond that, it's an even more pointless exercise given that we already know how it's all going to end — and that includes (SPOILER ALERT) the five-second scene in “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” where a now-grown Ashoka gets wordlessly offed by her own troops during the final purge of the Jedi. Some hero. This film doesn't even have the charm of watching the original actors expand on their characters, because all the voices are faked, except for Christopher Lee's Count Dooku, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and a brief cameo by Samuel L. Jackson.

It's almost as if some dark, leathery, all-powerful Force was trying to suck the last bit of goodness out of the Star Wars story. That Force, my friend, is George Lucas' wallet. Do yourself a favor: Don't give in!

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