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Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Season 4 [Blu-ray]
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Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season Four Box Set (Blu-ray)
Executive Producer George Lucas and Lucasfilm Animation present Star Wars: The Clone Wars The Complete Season Four. The battle to save the galaxy reaches new heights of peril and new depths of darkness. The valiant Jedi Knights and clone troopers defend exotic planets from enemy forces. They wage war underwater, battle across a night-shrouded world, and take on the merciless Death Watch. Our heroes are tested like never before as Anakin is haunted by the realities of his past, Ahsoka fights to free her people and an undercover Obi-Wan braves a deadly bounty hunter tournament. Season Four culminates with the shocking return of a villain from the past: the ruthless Darth Maul, who will stop at nothing to achieve vengeance. The epic action, timeless characters, and sense-shattering sights and sounds of Star Wars surge on in Star Wars: The Clone Wars The Complete Season Four.]]>
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This arc depicts the campaign of the 501st's attack on the planet umbara. The first episode it's named "darkness on umbara" this episode is beautiful, the animation is fluid and the story is strong, the episodes starts with anakin leading his troops and ends with master krell tacking over. The second episodes shows that krell has little respect for the clones and only cares about victory, in a nice addition it bring back Commander appo from the EU but on this episode he's Sargeant appo, appo becomes vader's 501st's commanding officer. The third episodes is about Fives leading a mission to help the war effort. The final episodes it's like watching order 66, krell betrays the clone troops and he scapes the clones go after him to bring him back to be judged.
Overall, this episodes are great, they have a solid story flow and tells a very good story that leads to a great closing episode.
I hope now that Disney has bought Lucas Films, they don't screw up this series and or team, and let them continue what they have been doing on into the future.
If you like Star Wars and in partucular this series, I recommend you support their efforts so they are allowed to continue.
It also features long arcs, which add to the cinematic feel of this series. This season overall has two of the best arcs thus far IMO (Umbara and the Kidnapping) and is pretty consistent in quality. Apart from one disappointing episode (which in itself is still much more bearable than the horrid "Corruption" episode from S3 mind you) the season delivers the goods and is on par with Season 2.
- The battle of Mon Cala. I liked how the battle was much more downbeat than earlier invasion arcs (where it was Republic beats space blockade, Republic wins every ground battle, Republic captures CIS leader). You see the Republic and the Mon Calamari getting hammered, which is a refreshing change. The focus on the growth of the new Mon Cala king, who has to become the leader the Mon Cala need, may not be to everyone's taste but I find that it doesn't detract from the overall arc. The setting of an underwater battle allows for an interesting locale and an interesting battle.
- A single episode, which are almost being extinct in the Clone Wars, follows the bumbling of everyone's favourite Gungan, Jar Jar Binks. It was nice to see Otah Gunga and the major improvements in visuals in this episode, as those were the highlights of the episode. The episode takes a long time with the switch from Jar Jar to Gungan leader (as an imposter, since the real one is injured) and consequently, the second half of the episode feels so rushed it is robbed of every tension and build up it could have had.
- Next up is a arc called Droid Adventures, concentrating on, who else, C-3PO and R2D2. They are quite silly and light hearted and thus aimed towards the younger audience of this show. The second episode in this arc is made up of several short adventures in several places, which is a great idea as it shows some planets/cultures which wouldn't warrant a full episode highlight. All in all, the episodes are entertaining but nothing more.
- One of the highlights in this season must be the Umbara arc, where Rex, Fives and the rest of the 501st are placed under the command of Jedi General Krell, who replaces Anakin Skywalker who is summoned to Coruscant at the behest of Palpatine. Krell sends the clones on head on assaults, which demoralizes the clones (who see them as suicide attacks) and makes them openly question him.. in general, the arc focusses on what makes a good soldier and does a mighty fine job at exploring that topic.
- Next up, the slavers arc. Interesting story and locations, but it feels at times that the writers didn't know how to portray Anakin in this one (as he was a slave, as seen in the Phantom Menace). You often expect a more aggressive stance from someone who is born into slavery. Luckily the episodes also spend time with Obi-Wan, who is forced to become a slave and who can never help anyone, as they will be hurt by the slavers anyway. It is interesting to see how Obi-Wan deals with this dillemma which hasn't been featured before.
It is a good arc but you can never escape the feeling that it could have been better.
- On to the next arc, the kidnapping of Palpatine. Obi-Wan, Yoda and Mace have learned of a kidnapping plot of Palpatine by the Separatists. They set up a plan, where they fake Obi's death so he can become a bounty hunter and then infiltrate the gang of perpetrators. The major highlight in this is how Anakin deals with the situation. He is shown as wreckless and infuriated towards anyone who can help him catch the assassin (the identity of which has been assumed by Obi himself). After learning the truth we can see the first cracks in the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan/the council (which is fully exploited in Revenge of the Sith by Palpatine, adding an extra dimension to that film). The last episode also features a very interesting ending, which again adds to what we see in Revenge of the Sith (Filona elaborates on this in the corresponding documentary).
- Two episodes in which Asajj gets the spotlight. The episodes follow her story after she has failed to defeat Count Dooku with the use of Savage Oppress (who will return in the next arc). I won't spoiler to much, short of saying that Asajj is further developed from a one-dimensional villain towards a more fully developed character and, a series first, we actually see Grievous kick some ass.
- Ah yes, the last episodes, featuring the controversial return of Darth Maul. But first, we start with Savage Oppress, who after the ending of the Nightsister arc from S3, is searching for Darth Maul and finds him on a junk planet, where he has gone utterly insane from being isolated, with his hatred for Obi-Wan his sole motivation to keep going. This is an interesting insight in what the Dark Side entails besides cool Force Powers and a love for the colours black and red. The very last episode sees them confronting Obi-Wan, who gets help from the unlikeliest of persons..
The animation work has seen a major leap once again. You will see a lot of particles, much improved character animation (they have reworked several faces, adding extra emotions to them), more characters on show in every episode (in battle, but also in settlements/places), great lighting as usual..
The picture quality of the blu-rays is great, like we are used to from this series. The caveat of this series in terms of picture quality has always been the banding issues (where colours don't smoothly transition, creating odd patches of colour), which are lower in occurrences than previous seasons (or at least less obvious) :p.
The audio quality is the best from the entire series, in no small part to the lossless track (Season 3 and Season 4 are the only blu-rays in the series so far to be blessed with an DTS-HD MA track). It is more immersive than previous series (better use of surround speakers) and it also had more outstanding moments in terms of AQ (which is of course also heavily reliant on the episode in question).
The bonus features are expansive as usual.
- For the major arcs (Mon Cala, Umbara, Slavers, Kidnapping and Darth Maul Returns) a discussion has been recorded with those involved in it's production. Whilst they aren't perfect (they go off in non-Star Wars things from time to time and gloss over several things), they do add a lot of insight in the things they do discuss. Filoni especially adds some interesting thoughts on several topics, such as explaining how the corporations we see plotting in Attack of the Clones aren't affiliated with the CIS, they just sell to both sides.
- The archives are as expansive as usual, with more deleted/extended scenes than previous seasons. They are also structured per arc instead of per episode, which makes the archives a bit faster to use.
Instead of the progression of a single shot/short scene like in previous seasons we are treated to a much longer sequence, which is played in both it's roughest animatic as well as the end product. I personally found the previous set up better, as it showed multiple stages and you are now more likely to simply watch the end product than constantly switch between them.
And thus I come to the conclusion. The season is as strong as S2, has more mature storytelling and is often aimed at older Star Wars fans instead of the actual demographic for which it is produced (which is a bit odd in itself but I'm not complaining ;)). Visuals are improved once more, the issue of banding is less pronounced, the audio presentation sounds improved IMO and the documentaries per arc give more insightful information for each arc in comparison to the documentaries on S2 and S3 (not only production related info, but also information which relates more to the overall Star Wars universe.
In short, very recommended.
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