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'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' and 'Fly Me to the Moon'
At what point might animators be arrested for doing work so ugly it causes aesthetic blindness in millions of younglings?
It's not a question that comes up every week. But this is the week for it. The two cruddiest animated films of the year, " Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Fly Me to the Moon," have precious little to take your mind or your eyes off the visual crimes against humanity. I suppose I'm overstating it. But woe be to us and our eyes if we get worse animation of any stripe this century.
"Clone Wars" was executive-produced by George Lucas, who may be feeling a tad sheepish about the results. The film's purpose is clear. It is a full-length teaser for the forthcoming TV series of the same name. The animation style, according to Lucas and director Dave Filoni, owes debts to Japanese anime and manga and the marionettes of the old "Thunderbirds" series. What we see in this grinding bore, however, resembles photographs of woodcuts, moving herky-jerky, swinging their light sabers here and there while the battle sequences pound on and on and on and on and on, as surly young Anakin Skywalker and lippy young Ahsoka Tano trade the flattest exposition and the most witless witticisms in the galaxy. There's a Hutt in this thing by the name of Ziro with a voice like Truman Capote, and he appears to be a bit of a cross-dresser. There. You now know the most interesting thing about "Clone Wars."
The most interesting thing about "Fly Me to the Moon" is its 3-D format. The story's about a bland collection of wiseacre preteen flies who become stowaways aboard Apollo 11. The 3-D effects are used mainly to follow the flies in flight, gliding yon and hither. The scenes themselves have no tension or visual interest or anything beyond an astonishing amount of retro-xenophobia (the evil Russian bugs wouldn't have passed muster in a '60s spy caper). Oh, and Kelly Ripa does the voice of the mom fly. The vocal characterizations aren't the problem here; the script and the animation are the problems, and in feature animation, you can't arrange more significant problems than those.
'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' MPAA rating: PG (forsci-fi action violence throughout, brief language and momentary smoking)
Running time: 1:38.
Opening: Aug. 15.
Starring the voices of: Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker); Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano); James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi); Dee Bradley Baker (Captain Rex); Tom Kane (Yoda); Nika Futterman (Asajj Ventress); Anthony Daniels (C-3PO); Christopher Lee (Count Dooku); Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu); Corey Burton (Ziro the Hutt)
Directed by: Dave Filoni; written by Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching and Scott Murphy; animation directed by Jesse Yeh and Kevin Jong; edited by Jason W.A. Tucker; music by Kevin Kiner, with themes by John Williams; produced by Catherine Winder. A Warner Bros. Pictures release.
'Fly Me to the Moon' MPAA rating: G
Running time: 1:29.
Opening: Aug. 15.
Starring the voices of: Kelly Ripa (Nat's Mom); Christopher Lloyd (Grandpa); Tim Curry (Yegor); Trevor Gagnon (Nat)
Directed by: Ben Stassen; written by Domonic Paris; art direction by Jeremy Degruson; produced by Charlotte Huggins, Gina Gallo Paris, Mimi Maynard and Caroline Van Iseghem. A Summit Entertainment release.