Star Wars: The Clone Wars - A Galaxy Divided [DVD] [Import]
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As a weekly TV series on the Cartoon Network, Star Wars: The Clone Wars was much better than the disappointing movie that preceded it in the summer of 2008. Not bound to the central figures of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the CGI-animated series had the freedom to explore other characters and corners of the Star Wars universe. The series' first DVD, A Galaxy Divided, collects the first four episodes of season 1. In the first episode, "Ambush," master Yoda accepts a challenge from Sith assassin Asajj Ventress that will determine whether the Toydaria system (think Watto of The Phantom Menace) aligns itself with the Republic or the Separatists. The next three episodes--"Rising Malevolence," "Shadow of Malevolence," and "Destroy Malevolence"--comprise a single-story arc about the Separatists' deadly new weapon controlled by General Grievous on the ship Malevolence. Jedi Master Plo Koon is among the missing when the Separatists strike, but Anakin and his padawan, Ahsoka, bend the rules to try to save him. Space dogfights and tactical maneuvers follow, as Grievous attacks a clone medical station and Padme and C-3PO unwittingly get caught up in the middle of the battle.
Two flaws hinder A Galaxy Divided: the first is the decision to release the DVD as a kid-focused product, with only four episodes out of the full season's 22. Second is the failure to anamorphically enhance the picture for widescreen televisions, meaning black bars on the top, bottom, and sides unless you're watching on a traditional squareish 1.33 (4x3) screen. (Stretching the picture to fit 1.78 doesn't look too bad, though.) --David Horiuchi