by Rachael Soyk Erdman
When I went to see Clone Wars, I was expecting a corny, slapstick mockery of Star Wars ala Kim Possible, The Fairly Oddparents, or any of the other animated kid’s shows popular today. What I discovered was a slightly corny, but entirely enthralling return to the glory days of the Star Wars franchise.
This is not to say that it comes anywhere close to the original trilogy. The movie has a plot, but it is shallow and simplistic. This is not necessarily as big a downfall as it seems, however, as it brings back a return to the classic good vs. evil and a world of moral absolutes. While still obviously a movie geared towards kids, this “new kid on the block” still manages to draw adult viewers in with an action-packed plot and a very intriguing new character. Ahsoka Tano is Anakin’s new padawan learner – something he is not thrilled with. She soon earns his respect, however, when he realizes that Yoda sent him the younger, female version of himself. Reminiscent of Leia and Han’s bickering (but without the romantic overtones), fans soon come to enjoy the verbal sparring between “Skyguy” and “Snips.”
Indeed, the whole tone of the movie is very different from its recent predecessors. The audience is treated to a refreshing break from the Buddhist mumbo-jumbo of the last few movies, and the pacifist arguments are nowhere to be found. As with the classic movies, the Jedi clearly believe that there are some things worth fighting for, and they willingly lead troops into battle. The movie wrestles with questions of responsibility and priorities, as we see Anakin struggle with leaving his men behind in order to complete his mission.
We also see a Providence of sorts at work. The characters refer to the Force helping them when things “just work out.” Anakin and Ahsoka find a ship just when hope seems lost; Padme overhears an evil plot at just the right moment; Yoda arrives with help right when Obi-Wan seems doomed.
In reality, even when things do not “just work out,” we have someone better than some mysterious near-eastern “Force”. We have our Lord, the true Creator of the heavens and the earth, who is continually providing for us and sustaining us. Maybe we don’t get help “in the nick of time,” or have friends that keep us out of trouble by showing up at the right moment. Still, the Lord is our Svior, drawing us to Himself, giving all we need, and leading things to “work out” for our eternal life and salvation.
The film’s biggest surprise, however, is that this movie rescues Anakin as a character. By training a padawan as reckless as himself, he gains some responsibility and learns to care about someone other than himself. He can understand Ahsoka better than anyone else, and we can tell that he feels a responsibility for her behavior because of that.
In Clone Wars, we are not given a clear presentation of the Gospel. Yet we are given a picture of an Anakin that we are able to root for, an Anakin we want to stay good. The Anakin of Clone Wars is a deeper, more sympathetic character than the Anakin of Episodes II and III. Clone Wars gives us an Anakin that we care about, as he struggles with the “desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18b-19.) With the cartoon series set to launch this fall, we will get a chance to see more of this new Anakin. Maybe this will finally be the movie all the fans are waiting for. Maybe Anakin really is the One to save Star Wars, after all.
Rachael Soyk Erdman is a graduate of Concordia University—Wisconsin. She previously wrote “Star Wars at 30” for Higher Things.
Created: August 19th, 2008