Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Clone Wars Review: Witches of the Mist

Well, buenos dias, clonebites, guess who's back.

And no, I'm not entirely sure what I just said.



On that note, Witches of the Mist!

Anyway, su cuy'gar, let's get this show on the road.

Following hot on the heels of the previous episode, Monster, we return to a galaxy far, far away at the Jedi Temple where the remains from Devaron are taken to be CLONE COMMANDOS CLONE COMMANDOS CLONE COMMANDOS CLONE COMMANDOS jedi talking who cares blah blah CLONE COMMANDOS CLONE COMMANDOS

So. Anyway. It's established that whoever killed the Jedi was a reckless, impulsive animal, and we cut to... somewhere, where Dooku and Savage are practice-dueling. The duel doesn't last long, however, as Dooku easily counter's Savage's huge, sweeping swipes with his own precise Makashi strikes, claiming he has no technique. Dooku then proceeds to finish it by choking him, taking his Darth Maul copycat lightsaber and foreshadowing his own death.

MEANWHILE AT THE JEDI TEMPLE, IT IS TIME FOR PLOT. In the council chambers, Yoda, Mace Windu and Obi-Wan confer about the attack on Devaron. Obi-Wan is shocked to see what he thinks to be Darth Maul alive, but Yoda corrects him, telling him it is another Zabrak who is responsible for the slaughter. After some minor retconning, Obi-Wan is sent to Dathomir while Dooku attempts to train Savage in the ways of the Force.

Savage gets a Sith version of the Luke Skywalker scene, where Savage thinks the task of lifting many heavy stone structures, much like the X-Wing, is impossible. Dooku corrects him, saying that it is only impossible because Savage has deemed it so, and the must connect with HOLY CRAP SITH LIGHTNING BAM. After some shock therapy, Savage finds himself able to complete the task. Of course, a good magician never reveals his secrets, and Dooku does not tell Savage how to defend against such power.

Out in space, Obi-Wan and Anakin find their way to Dathomir, where they meet the Zabrack tribe where Savage was raised. After a quick surprise attack, Anakin jumps up atop a building and holds their leader at lightsaberpoint in a very un-Jedi-like manner. The Jedi learn they need to speak with the Nightsisters, and Anakin releases the leader and performs a salute (Much like I would, amusingly.), before heading back to the shuttle.

Back on... somewhere, Dooku gives Savage his first mission- Bring back King Katuunko from Toydaria, who was intruduced back in the very first episode, interestingly enough.

We cut back to the Jedi as they find themselves in the presence of the Nightsisters, who surround them and take their lightsabers before introducing them to Mother Talzin. After some negotiations that almost hit aggressive, they learn of Savage's presence on Toydaria and make their exit, while Ventress and Talzin plot to use Savage against Dooku. (Wow, lotta names right there.)

Meanwhile, Savage storms the Toydarian castle and kills... well, everyone in his way. He makes his way to the throne room and kills everyone else, while Katuuno draws his ceremonial sword. The Jedi swoop in just in time for Katuunko's sword to be chopped in two before he's knocked out. The Jedi then engage Savage, who, in  the middle of the fight that I will again not describe, snaps Katuunko's neck and makes is escape and shoves the Jedi's shuttle off the platform into oblivion.

On a Separatist cruiser Dreadnaught, Savage brings the dead Toydarian king to Dooku, who is so pissed he zaps Savage with lightning for his failure. All of a sudden, Ventress shows up and takes control of Savage, and the pair engage Dooku in a sith-on-sith three-way lightsaber brawl. Amusingly, Savage's weakness seems to be lightning and je just goes berzerk and starts trying to kill everything. Dooku and Ventress make their escape as Anakin and Obi-Wan engage Savage again.

Meanwhile, Dooku and Ventress start fighting again and Ventress leaves in an escape pod. As the fight between Anakin, Obi-Wan and Savage makes its way to the hangar, the droids start attacking Savage as well, who performs a Force Repulse and hops in Dooku's Solar Sailer, and the Jedi make their own escape.

Back on Dathomir, Savage returns to Mother Talzin to learn that he has a famous, red-skinned brother who lives in exile in the Outer Rim who will not be seen until Season 4 and will train Savage to be a plot device later in the show.

The end! Roll the credits!

Final comments? Really, I wasn't completely sold on this story arc, but it was pretty fun and nice to see a darker side to the Clone Wars. Savage was a strong character, and it was interesting to see Ventress stop being Dooku's lapdog and to do her own thing for once. The Jedi's inclusion seems a tad tacked on and I wish the Clone Commandos had more to do, but other than that, a strong story overall. And next, we have that Chosen One arc... ugh. Not looking forward to reviewing these.

Until next time k'oyaci!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Clone Wars Review: Monster

And not the energy drink.

Su cuy'gar, everyone, and welcome to another Star Wars: The Clone Wars review!

Apparently, in a galaxy far far away, there is no greater fear than that of tattooed stuntmen with horns on their heads that jump and flip and wield double-bladed lightsabers. How do I know this? Well, because Darth Maul's fame refuses to die. I don't entirely know why. He's not particularly iconic like Boba Fett or Darth Vader. He's not particularly powerful like IG-88. I suppose it's because the little kids who saw Episode I were scared to death of him, and the older viewers saw the only threatening villain in the entire film, therefore instant awesomeness. Personally, I never got either of them. I was never particularly frightened by Darth Maul as a little kid when this film came out and I never really got hooked by any potential awesomeness of his. He didn't have the presence of Boba Fett or the raw power of Darth Vader, or authority and raw evil of, say, Palpatine. But something about the tattooed terror struck a chord with some dudes, so Maul is something of a fan favorite now. And despite the fact that a few sources have elaborated a bit on his past, Maul is still something of a mystery. However, this episode pretty much has nothing to do with Maul, the marketing is just capitalizing on his status as a freakshow villain and that ticks me off. See, this episode deals primarily with the Nightbrothers, the clan from which Darth Maul was taken by Sidious as a young child. (According to Wookiepedia.) In any case, here it is, Monster!

Tom Kane tells us of what happens in the last episode and reminds us of how easily duped Count Dooku is (Seriously, RIGHT after he has Ventress killed off, he's attacked by invisible Jedi (a tactic he KNOWS the Jedi would not stoop to), and then IMMEDIATELY contacted by the HEAD OF THE NIGHTSISTERS? Is Dooku really that stupid?), we see him land on Dathomir and speaks with Mother Talzin about a new apprentice, and she mentions Darth Maul, and offers to provide another apprentice, of Maul's calibur. As Dooku stupidly mentions his weakness in front of her, he agrees and leaves Dathomir. Once he's gone, Talzin and Ventress plot to use the new apprentice to attempt to kill Dooku. Ventress then proceeds to make her way to the far side of Dathomir, where the Nightbrothers live, the clan in direct opposition to the Nightsisters, and the apparent origin of Darth Maul. Heads of each tribe line up so Ventress can select one, as apparently the Nightbrothers aren't on equal footing with the Nightsisters, who are seemingly superior. I'm... not entirely sure how that works.

Ventress slaps around the Zabracks and selects a handful for what are essentially gladiator games. The The first game essentially pits them all against Ventress, and after a cool fight scene, their numbers are thinned to four. The fight ends with Savage demonstrating caring for his brother Feral, and Ventress punches him for being "pathetic". The second is more or less the same, but turns out the lights to "see what cannot be seen". Two more are killed before the final challenge, where only Savage and Feral remain. (I'm likin' these names.) Another fistfight is incurred, but this time with MOVING PLATFORMS to shake stuff up. After Ventress almost kills Feral, the two fight, and Savage gives himself up to Ventress to spare the life of his brother.

Savage is then taken back to the Nightsisters village and beef him up with their magic. He is turned into a savage and oppressive being (Haha, see what I did there?) and nearly strangles Ventress to death. As a final test, he is forced to kill Feral- the very brother he swore to protect. In an act of pure wickedness, he snaps his brother's neck. He is given a new weapon and brought before Dooku as his apprentice, who accepts him without hesitation. (Man, Dooku's kind of an idiot sometimes, huh?) He is then unleashed upon Devaron, where he slaughters everyone, Jedi and Clone alike. Notably, after Savage kills the Jedi, we do not see the tip of Savage's blade, therefore, we don't see any blood. Savage then returns to Dooku, and officially takes Savage on as his apprentice.

Whoo! What a rush, huh?

Anyway, this episode was pretty no-surprises, but it was still REALLY GOOD. I enjoyed it, and I liked seeing a little of Darth Maul's heritage, as well as Savage having some... *gasp* CHARACTER! This is madness.

In any case, the commandos had better be used more than that dumb two-second clip we saw at Celebration V. Until next time, k'oyaci!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Clone Wars Review: Nightsisters

Su cuy'gar, everyone, and welcome back! It's been long enough of a break between halves of this so-far-idiotic season of The Clone Wars, so let's see if it's gotten any better!

Before I begin, normally I don't mention the pre-episode "moral" (read: bullshit) text, but I think this one deserves a mention. Mostly because it's REALLY STUPID.

"The swiftest path to destruction is through vengeance."

Okay, WHAT the hell does that even mean? Even in the context of Star Wars? I mean... Whose destruction? Yours? Your enemies? And if you want to destroy your enemies, does that mean you should take vengeance upon them?! And even if it means YOUR destruction, Ventress is the only one getting revenge in this episode, and doing that doesn't hurt her AT ALL! At the end of the episode, SHE'S FINE! So what the hell, writers?! Would it kill you to make some sense every once in a while?

Okay, so the episode opens with a vaguely-defined space battle in some part of the Outer Rim where Tom Kane tells us stuff we could have figured out by just looking at the screen for two seconds. Everybody's wearing their new outfits, Tri-droids are being used, and Ventress is using her fan-fighter thing again, which is nice to see. We cut to... erm, somewhere, where Dooku and Darth Hideous talk of Ventress' power, and Sidious gives Dooku the order to end her. The space battle happens which reminds me a lot of Episode III's opening (In a good way), and the three of them end up in a Seppie flagship due to damaged starfighters. Ventress calls Dooku for help, but all she gets is a death sentence from her Master. Dooku then orders a tactical droid to open fire on the flagship Ventress is on. The Jedi then engage Ventress on the flagship, having a pretty cool-looking lightsaber duel. During the fight, it's evidenced that Ventress has actually gotten stronger when she's able to hold both Anakin and Obi-Wan on a double force stranglehold thing. The Seppies open fire on the command ship, and Obi-Wan and Anakin escape, while Ventress appears to be caught in the blast. (What I wanna know is, Obi-Wan crashed in the hangar and all of a sudden, his ship's operating just fine..? What the HELL. At least Ventress' ship, which was a smoking wreckage, had some trouble getting out of the hangar because of the damage, but... Obi-Wan's is working fine. Um, HOW?)

After the commercial break, Dooku reports back to his Master, while a KO'd Ventress is dragged aboard a salvage freighter. A twi'lek version of the Engineer from TF2 who's obviously being voiced by Dee Bradley Baker holds Ventress at knifepoint while surrounding her with the rest of his crew, but that's pretty useless 'cuz she just strangles all of 'em and takes over the freighter herself, flying her way to Dathomir, the planet of the Nightsisters. There, the Nightsisters welcome her with open arms... said arms being the "weapons" kind, like laser bows and swords... but the... leader mother... person recognizes Ventress and takes her to the "village".

Said village is a huge underground collection of temple-like ruins under a bigger temple. The Nightsisters put Ventress on a table and use the "Water of Life" to give us some flashbacks which lead to some intriguing insight into Ventress' past. Apparently, she was taken from the Nightsisters as a little baby (I gotta admit, little Ventress is actually kind of cute.) by... I don't know if the guy's a Jedi, he certainly doesn't look like one and he never demonstrates any Jedi-like traits, and is never seen with a lightsaber, but she's taken from the clan at a very young age (like the Jedi) and she calls him "Master", so I dunno. (EDITOR'S NOTE: That guy was a criminal, as Ventress had to be given up as payment for a debt. This is not explained in-episode.) Anyway, she's found by a Jedi who takes her under his wing after she demonstrates her abilities in the Force, and trains her to be a Jedi and she... grows some... hair... on her head... which I thought was impossible for her species..? The hell..? (EDITOR'S NOTE: Ventress has been retconned from a Rattataki to a Dathmorian, so she can grow hair now. This, also, is not explained in-episode.)

Anyways, her Master is killed and she gives in to her anger, becoming a Sith. She is trained and betrayed by Dooku blah blah blah end flashback. She says how she's gonna get revenge on Dooku, and the Nightsisters concoct some weird invisibility potion... or... something... Anyway, Ventress and two other Nightsister warriors use it to become invisible to most. They take a poison dart to dull Dooku's senses and lightsabers to make him think it's a Jedi attack, and set off.

Back at Dooku's house, three big wads of vaguely person-shaped fog- er, Ventress and the Nightsisters, get in undetected with some unnecessary somersaults and flips. Inside, it turns out that Sith, unlike Jedi, are aware of the concept of pajamas, as Dooku sleeps in his bed... without a blanket... Sith don't get cold, I dunno. Ventress uses the Force to stick the dart in Dooku's neck, and as he falls out of bed, he grabs his lightsaber and yanks out the dart. He then utters how he does not need his eyes to see, and he engages the "Jedi" in a lightsaber fight. It's a rather impressive fight, and I always love seeing Dooku's Makashi (Form II) in action because it's a great mix of traditional two-handed lightsaber fighting and fencing. This scene is also good at showing that even drugged, Dooku's a total badass. At the end of the battle, it looks like Ventress is finally going to get her revenge, but Dooku zaps the trio with Force Lightning and tosses them out a window, and they make their escape.

We return to Dathomir where the trio returns to Mother Talzin. They report they have failed, but Mother Talzin sees their infiltration as an opportunity, as Dooku will want to protect himself by finding a replacement for Ventress. The next morning, Talzin contacts Count Dooku, and offers to replace Ventress with a male from their kind- SPOILER- it's a Zabrack Nightbrother, Savage Opress.

And on that, we end the episode with something of a cliffhanger, since the episode doesn't tell us who it is exactly, but we all know Dooku will be training Savage anyway, so who cares.

To conclude!

You'll notice I haven't made fun of this episode a whole lot. Not like the previous ones where I reveled in every dumb joke opportunity I could find. There's a reason for that. This was a GOOD EPISODE. Good? In Season 3? This is madness, you claim! Surely nothing good can come out of the Senatorially Stupid Season 3!

Well, Season 3 Part 2 is on the road to redeeming itself. I'm very glad that this episode didn't just shove a normal Anakin, Obi-Wan, Rex and Ahsoka Adventure on us right from the get-go, since the first two seasons were 80% exactly that. Anakin and Obi-Wan were in the beginning, yes, but they fell by the wayside as plot devices to be used in another episode. It was also nice seeing Ventress' backstory, and although it was butchered a little (She was a Rattataki for the longest time, but was retconned to be a Dathmorian. However, as Baron George Bluecas and his family have shown us, this is not the first time a character's species has been retconned.), it was really for the better. Ventress makes a much better Nightsister than Rattataki anyway, in my opinion. The story also did a really good job of following her original backstory aside from the species change, and she did meet Ky Narec, and she did turn to the Dark Side over his death, so that bit of faithfulness was pretty nice to see. (I just wish they'd saved their faithfulness for Mandalore...) The inclusion of the Nightsisters from The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance (An action-adventure Star Wars game for the Nintendo DS) was also nice to see, and really added to the dark atmosphere the Clone War is taking. There's evil on the fringes of the galaxy, just waiting for its chance to consume everything. Some serious osik is going down, ner vode. Another nice touch was the new costumes (For Ventress, the revert to her old outfit from the original 2003 cartoon), and the Tri-Fighters. You can tell the war is on its fulcrum here, with the addition of SOME of the new tech from Revenge of the Sith, but you can see not everything is new. (They're still using Jedi Aethersprites instead of Interceptors, Phase I Clone Trooper armor is still in use, etc.) You can tell the war is changing, and I like it.

All in all, a very good episode, a great surprise, and a nice change of pace to a boring Season 3. It has a few flaws, like lack of a couple plot point explanations and a really, REALLY stupid moral, I can't fault it because it really is good. I can't wait until this week's episode, with Savage's reveal, and CLONE COMMANDOS YAAAAAAAYYYY.

Until next time, k'oyaci!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Just an update, not a review

So sorry in advance, folks, but due to a family tragedy, I was unable to catch the latest Star Wars, and because of a number of factors (mostly centering around said tragedy), this week's review might be pretty late. I don't know when it'll get written, but when it does, as usual, it'll go here with my apologies for the inevitable lateness.

Sorry, loyal readers. All five or six of you.